Supreme Court Asks for Bush Opinion in Anti-Abortion Violence Case
In a somewhat unusual move, the US Supreme Court asked the Bush administration’s Solicitor-General for his opinion on a case involving anti-abortion extremists who circulated “WANTED” posters for abortion providers and launched a Web site called the “Nuremberg Files” that lists abortion providers’ personal information and declares them guilty of crimes against humanity. Doctors who were murdered had lines through them crossing them off, and three doctors listed on the posters were killed in the 1990s.
The administration’s opinion could determine whether or not the Supreme Court agrees to hear an appeal from the extremists who claim their actions are protected under free speech provisions in the Constitution, according to Bloomberg News Service.
The case, American Coalition of Life Activists vs. Planned Parenthood, was appealed to the Supreme Court after the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the extremists were liable for threats under the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE) and the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) and awarded plaintiffs a $110 million judgment. “Violence is not a protected value. Nor is a true threat of violence with intent to intimidate,” the court ruled in May according to Kaiser Daily Reproductive Health Report.
It will most likely take Solicitor General Theodore Olson, the Bush administration’s Supreme Court lawyer, several months to respond to the justices’ request – which means the case will remain inactive on the court’s docket for the remainder of the court’s term, according to the Boston Globe.
The National Clinic Access Project of the Feminist Majority Foundation led a group of 13 reproductive rights organizations that filed an amicus brief in the case. “These posters and the website are threats, which are not protected by the First Amendment,” FMF President Eleanor Smeal stated. We hope that anti-abortion extremists will learn that the violence and fear they preach will not be tolerated.”
Media Resources: Kaiser Daily Reproductive Health Report 12/17/02; Associated Press 12/16/02; Bloomberg News 12/16/02; Feminist Daily News Wire