THURSDAY
March 29, 2001
volume 12, no. 88

Court Overturns Record Verdict Against Pro-Lifers


    SAN FRANCISCO, Mar. 28, 01 (CWNews.com) - The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday threw out a record $109 million verdict against a group of pro-life advocates ruling that their activities were protected by the First Amendment.

    Two years ago, a federal jury ordered a dozen pro-life advocates to pay the record judgement to Planned Parenthood and four abortionists who sued under federal racketeering laws and a 1994 abortion clinic violence law.

    The three-judge appeals panel agreed unanimously that the producers of a web site and "wanted" posters of abortionists could be held liable only if they authorized, ratified, or directly threatened violence. "If defendants threatened to commit violent acts, by working alone or with others, then their (works) could properly support the verdict," Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski wrote. "But if their (works) merely encouraged unrelated terrorists, then their words are protected by the First Amendment."

    The US Supreme Court had recently ruled that a threat must be explicit and likely to cause "imminent lawless action" for it to pass legal muster as unprotected, illegal speech.

    During the original trial, US District Judge Robert Jones had instructed the jury to consider the history of violence against abortionists, including three abortionists killed whose names appeared on the lists.


March 29, 2001
volume 12, no. 88
Pro Life News
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