The U.S. Supreme Court ruled today that aggressive pro-life protests do not violate Federal laws against racketeering, as the National Organization for Women has claimed. In a stunning 8-1 decision, the nation’s highest court completely exonerated Chicago pro-life leader Joseph Scheidler, Operation Rescue, and others and released them from having to pay $258,000 in judgments. The ruling also dissolved a national injunction ordering the groups not to interfere with abortion businesses around the country.
The suit was brought against peaceful protestors who routinely engaged in civil disobedience at abortion clinics in the late 80’s and early 90’s. NOW contended that the civil disobedience disrupted the clinics in violation of the federal Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act and the Hobbs Act, two anti-racketeering laws.
Today, the Supreme Court overwhelmingly disagreed.

Chief Justice William Rehnquist, speaking for the majority wrote of the Christian protestors, “But even when their [pro-lifers] acts of interference and disruption achieved their ultimate goal of ‘shutting down’ a clinic that performed abortions, such acts did not constitute extortion.”
Even non-Christian activists and protest groups, including actor Martin Sheen, joined with the pro-life protestors in asking the court to throw out the nearly two decades old case.
“This is a victory for all people who engage in aggressive, peaceful, direct action against the purveyors of child murder.” said ORW director Troy Newman, who has engaged in clinic blockades as well as legal protest against abortion for 12 years. “The baby killers have wasted millions of dollars and two decades attempting to silence the outcry against the national shame of abortion. Today, the Christians who stood valiantly in the face of extreme opposition have been vindicated and the death merchants have received a partial judgment for their fanatical abortion views.”
“This key triumph, led by Joseph Scheidler, will be a tool to prick the conscience of our nation and call upon them to act against the devils that kill pre-born babies.” Newman said.
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