Chicago, IL - May 9, 2007 - The National Organization of Women (NOW) was handed a final defeat yesterday as U.S. District Judge David Coar once and for all ruled that federal anti-racketeering laws cannot be applied to pro-life protesters, putting an end to 21 years of litigation that resulted in an unprecedented three trips to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Joe Scheidler, head of the Pro-life Action League in Chicago, hailed the long awaited ruling as a victory for free speech and said pro-lifers can now offer help to women outside abortion clinics across the nation without the fear of being sued under the anti-racketeering laws.
Judge Coar also struck down a 1999 national injunction that NOW had obtained against Scheidler and others. The cases involved in the ruling were NOW v. Scheidler and NOW v. Operation Rescue.
"Throughout the twenty-one year battle, we never allowed the legal issues to interfere with our mission of saving lives," said Scheidler. "Our capable legal team, led by Thomas Brejcha of the Thomas More Society, Pro-Life Law Center, handled the Courts, while we remained on the front lines of the fight for life."
Troy Newman, President of Operation Rescue, praised Scheidler's courage and determination during the sometimes-wearisome process that stretched over two decades.
"The pro-life movement owes much to Joe Scheidler for persevering to the end of this case and insuring that life-saving efforts of men and women across the country are protected from unfounded legal harassment," said Newman. "Joe is a true American hero."