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Supreme Court: ‘racketeer’ law wrongly used on pro-lifers

WASHINGTON (BP)–The U.S. Supreme Court declared Feb. 26 that the use of the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) statute — a law designed to combat drug dealers and organized crime — was wrongly used against the pro-life movement.

“This decision is a tremendous victory for those who engage in social protests,” said Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice, who served as counsel of record for Operation Rescue in the case.

“The Supreme Court forcefully rejected the argument that pro-life demonstrators were racketeers engaged in extortion. The decision removes a cloud that has been hanging over the pro-life movement for 15 years. The ruling clearly shuts the door on using RICO against the pro-life movement.”

The ACLJ filed a brief with the Supreme Court on behalf of Operation Rescue in the consolidation of the cases of Scheidler v. National Organization for Women (NOW) and Operation Rescue v. National Organization for Women.

In its brief, the ACLJ contended that a nonviolent pro-life sit-in at an abortion business does not qualify as federal criminal extortion. The ACLJ asked the Supreme Court to overturn a 2001 federal appeals court ruling that upheld a lower court judgment making pro-life defendants liable for “extortion” and “racketeering” under the federal RICO statute and that awarded damages to abortion businesses, while upholding a nationwide injunction issued against the pro-life groups.

The American Center for Law and Justice is an international public interest law firm that specializes in constitutional law and the defense of life. The ACLJ is headquartered in Virginia Beach, VA and the web site is www.aclj.org.

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