The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed in an unusual opinion to review en banc the three-judge panel decision in Planned Parenthood of Columbia/Willamette, et al. v. American Coalition of Life Activists (ACLA), et al., also known as the “Nuremberg Files” case. In this groundbreaking case, the court ruled in 1999 that “WANTED” posters and Internet sites targeting and threatening doctors were “true threats” and not protected free speech by the U.S. Constitution. A jury found the defendants liable for threats under the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE) and the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) and awarded plaintiffs a $107.5 million judgment. In March 2001, a three-judge panel reversed that determination saying that the First Amendment protected ACLA’s actions.
“In fighting terrorism, we must also combat domestic extremist groups in our own country. Just in the last two days, two appellate Circuit Courts have shown their zero tolerance for domestic terrorism,” said Feminist Majority Foundation President Eleanor Smeal. “We are very pleased that the Ninth Circuit has agreed to rehear this case, and we expect that this en banc review panel will agree with the jury and reinstate the verdict.”
Led by the Feminist Majority Foundation’s National Clinic Access Project, a group of reproductive rights groups filed an amicus brief urging that the full Court hear the case. The American Medical Association and 43 members of Congress also filed other amicus briefs.