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
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