WASHINGTON, D.C. (LifeSiteNews) — The attorney for one of the 10 pro-life activists on trial for alleged violations of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act said he has filed a notice with the district court chambers concerning a significant decision this week in which the appeals court for the jurisdiction sided with pro-lifers against the same district court.
John Kiyonaga, an attorney for anti-abortion activist Rosemary “Herb” Geraghty, told LifeSiteNews he filed the notice shortly before midnight on Wednesday.
Kiyonaga said he advised the court of an August 15 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for D.C. to green-light a lawsuit by pro-life advocates against the city.
In their Tuesday ruling, a three-judge panel on the appellate court opted to overturn a decision by the district court – the same district court in which the 10 activists are being prosecuted for FACE Act violations – to dismiss a lawsuit brought by pro-lifers in 2020.
Plaintiffs in the 2020 case are contending that Washington, D.C. engaged in selective enforcement of the law by prosecuting them for writing pro-life messages with temporary chalk on the pavement while letting Black Lives Matter protesters engage in far more destructive graffiti.
Thanks to the appellate court ruling, the pro-lifers’ challenge can now proceed.
“The District permitted individuals expressing the ‘Black Lives Matter’ message to violate the defacement ordinance,” wrote Trump-appointed judge Neomi Rao in the majority decision. In refraining from arresting BLM activists, Rao said, “the police effectively exempted advocates of the ‘Black Lives Matter’ message from the requirements of the ordinance.”
“In contrast, the police showed up in force to the [pro-life] rally and arrested individuals who chalked ‘Black Pro-Born Lives Matter’ on the sidewalk,” the appellate court judge said.”The government may not play favorites in a public forum – permitting some messages and prohibiting others.”
In his comments to LifeSiteNews outside the district courthouse on Thursday, Kiyonaga pointed out that, since “the local crimes and the federal crimes alleged in this district are both prosecuted by the same office,” the appellate court’s Tuesday decision is one “of some import” in the FACE Act case.
As LifeSiteNews previously reported, anti-abortion activists including Geraghty are currently on trial – or are set to face trial – facing up to 11 years behind bars after a federal grand jury last year handed down a two-count indictment of nine abortion opponents.
According to the indictment, the defendants took part “in a conspiracy to create a blockade at the reproductive health care clinic to prevent the clinic from providing, and patients from receiving, reproductive health services” for blocking access to the notorious Washington-Surgi Clinic.
Lauren Handy, 28; Jonathan Darnel, 40; Jay Smith, 32; Paulette Harlow, 73; Jean Marshall, 72; John Hinshaw, 67, Heather Idoni, 61; William Goodman; and pro-life heroine Joan Bell, 74, were charged with conspiracy against rights and violation of the FACE Act for the effort.
Jury selection kicked off Wednesday for the first of two separate trials for the pro-lifers. If convicted, they could each face 11 years in prison plus three years of supervised release and up to $350,000 in fines.