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Leader of Chicago-based Pro-Life Action League under siege.

Chicago -- Pro-abortion National Organization of Women (NOW) lawyers have persuaded three federal judges to ignore an earlier U.S. Supreme Court ruling that exonerated Joe Scheidler in an anti-trust suit by a vote of eight to one. In a renewed effort to bankrupt and silence Scheidler and pro-lifers like him once for all, NOW's lawyers are using the Racketeer-Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) to persecute him.

RICO makes it a crime to direct or manage an association--formal or informal--whose members work together to commit certain crimes characteristic of organized crime, such as extortion or gambling. Racketeering lawsuits are costly to defend and provide triple damages and lawyers' fees. To date, Scheidler and co-defendants have been assessed triple damages of $280,000, as well as two decades of legal fees.

Defending Scheidler and his codefendants are Chicago lawyer Tom Brejcha and the Thomas More Society of Pro-Life Law Centre. He will need to hire the same Supreme Court specialists who won the eight to one victory the last time Scheidler was exonerated.

While the abortionists, funded by many corporations, pharmaceuticals and other publicly supported pro-abortion organizations, such as Planned Parenthood-which itself operates more than fifty abortion clinics-have millions of dollars to spend, Scheidler and other pro-lifers must raise funds from individual prolifers (Nat. Cath. Reg., Nov. 20 and Dec. 4, 2005).

Constitutional law experts worry that using the anti-racketeering law against demonstrators could have a chilling effect on free speech. The original Supreme Court ruling found no extortion had taken place and said that a jury finding of a RICO violation must be reversed. Now, on a technicality, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has sent the case back for another trial.
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Title Annotation:United States
Publication:Catholic Insight
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 1, 2006
Words:283
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