In a landmark decision Tuesday, U.S. District Judge David Coar in Chicago held that the evidence against Operation Rescue and other anti-abortion extremists on racketeering charges aimed at closing that clinic was enough to continue to a jury trial.
NOW filed the class-action lawsuit under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). NOW President Patricia Ireland said “the court has said that Randall Terry and his co-conspirators will be held responsible for all the acts of terrorism and violence Pro-Life Action Network (PLAN) has orchestrated in their war to deny women our constitutional right to abortion.”
Judge Coar ruled that NOW provided sufficient evidence that Operation Rescue and PLAN had forced “the closing of clinics through the use of fear,” actions that fall under RICO.
Terry and co-defendant Joseph Scheidler called RICO unconstitutional, claiming they had a “moral imperative” to stop abortion by violating the law. The NOW vs. Scheidler case was initiated in 1986 by then NOW President Eleanor Smeal, when the president of the local Pensacola NOW chapter was injured during a clinic invasion by John Brut, a leader of the local Rescue America.