Pro-Life Activist Vindicated: NOW v. Scheidler Goes to the History Books

To: National Desk, Legal Desk
Contact: Joseph M. Scheidler of the Pro-Life Aciton League, 773-777-2900, cell 312-965-1030

Chicago, June 7—After exactly twenty years the NOW v. Scheidler RICO case is finally history. On Thursday, June 8, 2006, just one day short of the twentieth anniversary of the filing of the lawsuit, Judge David Coar will enter judgment for the defendants, Joseph M. Scheidler, Timothy Murphy and Andrew Scholberg and the Pro-Life Action League, negating all charges against them.

“Judge Coar’s action tomorrow will be a great weight off of me,” said Joseph Scheidler, National Director of the Pro-Life Action League. “It has taken all this time to vindicate the pro-life movement and declare that our peaceful protests are not criminal acts.”

The National Organization for Women sued Joseph Scheidler under anti-trust laws on June 9, 1986. The suit was expanded to a RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) charge in 1991. After a seven-week trial in 1998 a jury found the defendants guilty. Judge David Coar issued a nationwide injunction against pro-life activists and assessed a triple judgment against the Scheidler defendants in the amount of $257,780. A three-judge panel of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the District Court finding, and Scheidler appealed to the Supreme Court.

On February 26, 2003 the United States Supreme Court ruled 8-1 in Scheidler’s favor. But NOW’s attorneys claimed the Supreme Court had overlooked four predicate acts that could maintain the nationwide injunction issued by Judge Coar in 1999. The Appellate Court sided with NOW. So Scheidler had to appeal once again to the Supreme Court. On February 28, 2006 the U.S. Supreme Court once again reversed the case, ruling unanimously in Scheidler’s favor. NOW v. Scheidler is the first case in U. S. history to be heard by the Supreme Court three times.

“Tomorrow Judge Coar will finally do what the Supreme Court ordered him to do,” said Scheidler. “The injunction will be vacated, the judgment reversed and the bond released. Now we can get on with our work—saving the lives of unborn babies by stopping abortion.”

“It’s also a great relief to get my house back,” said Scheidler. The Scheidlers had had to put their home up for the bond while they appealed the case to the Supreme Court. Judge Coar will also release the house from bondage on Thursday.

A complete case summary of NOW v. Scheidler is available at https://prolifeaction.org/nvs.

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