Pro-Life Activists Go Before the U. S. Supreme Court a Third Time

To: National Desk
Contact: Joe Scheidler of the Pro-Life Action League, 773-777-2900, 312-965-1030 cell, joe@prolifeaction.org

Chicago, Nov. 28—The U. S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in NOW v. Scheidler on Wednesday, Nov. 30 at 10:00 a.m. This is the third time this case has come before the High Court.

“This should be our last trip to the Supreme Court,” said Joseph M. Scheidler, the national director of the Chicago-based Pro-Life Action League and the principal defendant in the NOW v. Scheidler RICO lawsuit. “After our second trip here, the Court concluded that ‘the jury’s finding of a RICO violation must be reversed.’ Chief Justice William Rehnquist wrote that ‘the judgment that petitioners violated RICO must also be reversed.'” The ruling was 8-1 for Scheidler.

The Court will review NOW v. Scheidler on three questions:

  • Whether the Seventh Circuit Court disregarded the Supreme Court’s mandate to reverse the judgment in this case;
  • Whether the Hobbs Act (which defines the RICO “predicate crimes”) can be read as broadly as NOW’s attorneys propose;
  • Whether private parties, such as the National Organization for Women, are entitled to injunctive relief under RICO.

“NOW’s lawyers don’t think the Supreme Court meant what it said in ruling that the judgment must be reversed,” said Scheidler. “We think they meant what they said and that they will say it again.”

NOW v. Scheidler was originally filed in 1986 as an anti-trust suit. RICO charges were added in 1989. Anti-trust charges were dismissed by the Federal District Court in Chicago, but the Supreme Court ruled in 1994 that the RICO law can be used against political protesters. After a seven-week trial in Chicago in 1998 a jury found the defendants guilty of RICO violations, a finding affirmed by the Seventh Circuit Court.

Following oral arguments in 2002 the Supreme Court ruled 8-1 on February 26, 2003 in favor of the pro-life activists. NOW’s legal team, however, decided the Supreme Court had made a “mistake.” But, rather than ask for a re-hearing from the Supreme Court, they waited to convince the Seventh Circuit to revisit the case. Scheidler chose to go directly to the Supreme Court for another “final” ruling.

The Chicago-based Thomas More Society and its Chief Counsel, Thomas Brejcha, have represented Scheidler and the Pro-Life Action League throughout the twenty-year history of the case. They have retained the services of Alan Untereiner of the Washington DC firm of Robbins, Russell, Englert, Orseck and Untereiner who will argue on behalf of Scheidler and the Pro-Life Action League. He will yield a portion of his allotted half hour to U. S. Solicitor General who will also argue on behalf of the pro-life petitioners.

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