ANN ARBOR, MI., July 12 /Covenant News Wire Service/ — On Tuesday, July 12th, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in Portland, Oregon, will hear oral arguments in the so-called “Nuremberg Files” case, which many consider to be one of the most important First Amendment cases in the country. The Thomas More Law Center, a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor Michigan, represents several pro-life advocates who were hit with a $120 million jury verdict in 1999. The case against the defendants was primarily based on their use of “wanted” posters specifically naming abortion providers.
The Law Center represents six of the fourteen pro-life defendants. The American Catholic Lawyers Association represents the remaining defendants. Edward L. White III, trial counsel with the Thomas More Law Center, will present the argument on behalf of all defendants.
According to White, “We are hopeful the Ninth Circuit will apply the new Supreme Court cases to defendants’ situation. These new cases require the reversal of the jury’s verdict in this case.”
After the 1999 jury verdict, an appeal was taken to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and in 2001 a unanimous three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit set aside the verdict and injunction because the defendants’ speech was protected by the First Amendment. The unanimous decision, however, was overturned in 2002 by a sharply divided eleven-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit, who voted six to five in the case, and the U.S. Supreme Court refused to review their decision.
However, since their initial refusal to grant a review of the case, United States Supreme Court has issued at least two opinions, which the Law Center believes, require a reversal or at least a new trial. The Supreme Court has now made it clear that for a defendant to be found guilty of making a threat, a jury must determine that the defendant made the threat with specific intent to commit violence. In the defendants’ case, however, the jury was told that it did not have to find specific intent, which is contrary to the new Supreme Court case law.
Also, the Supreme Court has now made it clear that for a pro-lifer to be found guilty of “extortion” under RICO, the pro-lifer must obtain property from an abortion provider. With regard to the defendants, there was no evidence that they had obtained any property from the abortion providers, yet the abortion providers were still awarded more than $11 million based on their RICO claims, which is contrary to the new Supreme Court case law.
The Thomas More Law Center defends and promotes the religious freedom of Christians, time-honored family values, and the sanctity of human life through education, litigation, and related activities. It does not charge for its services. The Law Center is supported by contributions from individuals, corporations and foundations, and is recognized by the IRS as a section 501(c)(3) organization.
Thomas More Law Center
24 Frank Lloyd Wright Drive, P.O. Box 393
Ann Arbor, MI. 48106