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WASHINGTON, December 3, 2002 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The federal racketeering (RICO) case against pro-life activist Joe Scheidler, National Director of the Pro-Life Action League, will go before the U.S. Supreme Court Wednesday, December 4, at 10:00am.  The Court has agreed to review the RICO case on two points:  1. Is a private party (the abortion clinics who sued the pro-lifers) entitled to an injunction under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act; and 2. Is political protest, including sit-ins and demonstrations that obstruct access to a business and interfere with customers’ freedom to obtain services there, properly defined as “extortion?”“This is a fundamental question of the freedom of speech and assembly guaranteed by our Constitution,” said Scheidler.  “Our country was founded on the right to protest injustice.  There is no greater injustice than depriving unborn children of their right to life.  The need to be free to protest injustice in this country has never been greater.”  NOW v. Scheidler, brought by National Organization for Women against Scheidler in 1986, resulted in a seven-week trial in 1998 and a jury finding the defendants guilty of racketeering and extortion, based on the definition of extortion presented by NOW’s attorneys.  “By NOW’s definition, most political protests that have effected social change over the past two centuries would qualify as extortion,” said Scheidler.  “I marched with Dr. Martin Luther King in the now-famous march to Montgomery.  I followed the civil rights movement closely, and, like the fight for racial equality, the fight against abortion is rooted in non-violent direct action,” said Scheidler.  “It is sometimes necessary to peacefully sit-in and risk arrest to make a public statement that some members of society are being excluded from legal protection, and that change is critical.”“I am counting on the Supreme Court to uphold our right to protest and to put an end to the use of RICO to silence protesters,” said Scheidler.

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