Editorials and Press Statements Praise the 8-1 Supreme Court Decision

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Newspaper editorial boards and op-ed columnists around the country applauded the 8-1 Supreme Court decision that overturned the RICO judgement against pro-life protesters. They were joined by innumerable pro-life and church leaders. Here is a sampling of editorials, op-ed pieces and press statements in praise of this victory for freedom of speech and peaceful protest.

From the Chicago Tribune:

“No matter where they stand individually on the divisive issue of abortion, all Americans should applaud the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision Wednesday. . . . It is clear now, as it was when this lawsuit was filed, that this is more about free speech than abortion. It’s about the right to gather and protest without unreasonable restraint. It’s about not allowing those who oppose protest to overreach, using laws that were used for one purpose to be twisted in a way that threatens a basic American right.”

From the Wall Street Journal:

“The Supreme Court reminded everybody yesterday that one of America’s founding principles is the right to nonviolent protest. . . . The encouraging news here is that the First Amendment prevailed. Furthermore, an unusually wide range of interest groups put aside their politics to push for the greater good.”

From a Statement by Francis Cardinal George, Archbishop of Chicago:

“Today’s Supreme Court decision in favor of Joseph Scheidler and other pro-life demonstrators is welcomed by all who support the American principle of peaceful protest against human rights violations and social injustice. . . . I am grateful to the defendants in this case, who endured tremendous adversity to uphold the principle of freedom of speech for all Americans. The Archdiocese of Chicago will continue to support prayerful, non-violent witness against the injustice and violence of abortion.”

From the Chicago Sun-Times:

“Relying on RICO . . . to prosecute nonviolent protesters like Chicagoan Joseph Scheidler , head of the Pro-Life Action League, is neither appropriate nor conscionable. Contrary to NOW’s position, it would result in the silencing or chilling of people’s First Amendment rights—not only those demonstrating against abortion . . .”

From a Statement by Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life:

“Abortion is not just a ‘legal procedure.’ To groups like NOW, it is a sacred ritual. They try to use any maneuver of power they can to perpetuate it. Today their efforts have hit the brick wall of our nation’s sacred right to protest. . . . The Scheidlers have been our friends for years, and I have been privileged to stand with them, and many other pro-life activists, at killing centers from coast to coast. We look forward to standing with them until legal abortion is no more than a bad memory.”

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From the Pittsburg Post-Gazette:

“It’s the right decision. The ruling takes away a five-year-old victory for an alliance of abortion providers and pro-choice organizations that troubled even fervent supporters of abortion rights, including this editorial page. . . . Thanks to the Supreme Court, those who would engage in public protests can indeed sleep easier.”

From an Op-Ed by Dennis Byrne in the Chicago Tribune:

“The Supreme Court last week struck one of the most important blows for free speech and political dissent in a decade. . . Scheidler’s technique—sidewalk counseling—provides women with well-researched information about abortion, including its dangers. Love the mother as much as the child. Offer real options, the chance to change a life and start anew. . . . Of course, Scheidler has been so ‘demonized,’ some won’t believe he means any of this. But now that some free speech protections have been returned to Scheidler, maybe it’s time to listen with an open mind to what he has to say.”

From the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

“In dulling the misdirected force of a racketeering law against political protests, the Supreme Court acted in the best traditions of a nation committed to the fullest possible freedom of speech. Such protesters, acting within existing legal limits, are not gangsters. They are Americans exercising their cardinal birthright.”

From an Op-Ed by Steven Chapman in the Chicago Tribune:

“Like a lot of protesters who have engaged in civil disobedience, Scheidler was prepared to go to jail for breaking laws. He just wasn’t willing to lose everything he owns. NOW’s approach, as several Supreme Court justices noted during oral arguments, could have been used against civil rights sin-ins. Had NOW won, this tactic might also be deployed against feminist groups. . . Both benefit from policies granting ample space for protest. So do we all.”

From a Statement by Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family:

“This is a great victory for the men and women who’ve sacrificed so much for so many years to protect preborn babies. The court was right to say that those who oppose the slaughter of innocent life should not be treated like racketeers. The court’s ruling should help thwart the abortion industry’s efforts to silence and punish the free speech and loving outreach of Christian men and women.”

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