Thursday, July 28, 2005

Injunction that protects patients and staff of women's clinics heads to the Supreme Court

For seven years, the National Organization for Women has had a court-ordered injunction that protected patients and staff of women's clinics from anti-choice protestor violence--because I suppose violence, assault, hurling hateful slurs, bombings, shootings, stalking, threats, and vandalism are all apart of the misogynist "pro-life" dogma. This injunction was known as NOW v. Scheidler, and recently the Supreme Court agreed to review the case. And what is at stake is the safety and even the very lives of those who enter, exit, and work at women's clinics all across the country.

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to take another look at the nationwide injunction the National Organization for Women (NOW) obtained seven years ago against the Pro-Life Action Network (PLAN), Joe Scheidler and others, to stop violent attacks on women's health clinics.[...]

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals granted the injunction after a jury concluded that the defendants' actions violated Rackteer-Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act. After that decision, instances of clinic violence plummeted, and the defendants have relentlessly challenged this injunction against violent acts.

In 2003, the Supreme Court ruled that while anti-abortion groups did commit crimes and interfere with clinic operations, the lower court's injunction could not be supported by these acts of extortion because no money or property had been obtained from the clinics as a result. The Supreme Court sent the case back to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals for further action, where NOW argued that even if defendants' acts of extortion were not covered by RICO, their acts and threats of physical violence were.

The 7th Circuit Court did not decide that issue, instead sending the case back to the district court to hear arguments and make an initial ruling. The defendants then appealed to the Supreme Court, demanding that the injunction be lifted without further proceedings in any other court.

"Of course they want to have the injunction lifted," Gandy said. "They want to return to the days of using physical assault to terrorize patients and providers as a way to shut down these clinics. But even if they win, they won't be able to do that—if they return to the violence we will pursue them under the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act."[...]

And remember how cozy Roberts is with Operation Rescue, another violent anti-choice group. Imagine him on the bench when one of these cases reaches the Supreme Court. Explain how violent attacks are covered under the First Amendment again? What, the belligerent anti-choicer version of the First Amendment, who believe that Jeebus and G-d inspired them to commit violence and assault?