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Seattle Catholic
A Journal of Catholic News and Views
26 Feb 2003

Justice For a True Pro-Life Hero
by Thomas A. Droleskey

Clichés are clichés because they contain undeniable truisms. One cliché goes something like this: "Even a blind mouse can find cheese now and then," meaning that it is possible for otherwise dense people to stumble upon actual facts and to assess them honesty.

The 8-1 decision in the case of Scheidler et al. v. National Organization for Women, Inc., rendered exactly twelve weeks after oral arguments were heard by the justices of the United States Supreme Court on December 4, 2002, is a reminder that even the highest court in this land can still get it right now and then. Indeed, even five out of the six pro-aborts on the Court (Sandra Day O'Connor, Anthony Kennedy, David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer) read the law correctly, an amazing phenomenon explicable only by the countless numbers of prayers offered by millions of people that justice would prevail in this case.

Writing for the Court, Chief Justice William Rehnquist noted that Joe Scheidler was not engaged in racketeering as that term is properly defined by the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organization Act nor was he guilty of "extorting property" as a "bandit" from abortuaries as defined by the Hobbs Act, which was passed by the United States Congress in 1946. Rehnquist went to great lengths to define what constitutes extortion and the "taking of property," explaining that those who were protesting in front of abortuaries may have prevented abortions from taking place but that they did not profit themselves from their activities, which were political in nature. Addressing himself specifically to the Hobbs Act, Rehnquist wrote:

"But even when their acts of interference and disruption achieved their ultimate goal of 'shutting down' a clinic that performed abortions, such acts did not constitute extortion because petitioners did not 'obtain' respondents' property. Petitioners may have deprived or sought to deprive respondents of their alleged property right of exclusive control of their business assets, but they did not acquire any such property. Petitioners neither pursued nor received 'something of value from' respondents that they could exercise, transfer, or sell."

The lone dissenter, Associate Justice John Paul Stevens, who was appointed to the Court by President Gerald R. Ford to replace William O. Douglas in 1975, disagreed. He would have given the broadest possible interpretation to the "taking of property" provision of the Hobbs Act, an interpretation that was articulated by the Solicitor General of the United States, Theodore Olson, in his amicus curiae brief submitted in this case. As a unrepentant legal positivist, Stevens noted that courts should have wide latitude to interpret the language of statutes as they see fit:

"For decades federal judges have uniformly given the term 'property' an expansive construction that encompasses the intangible right to exercise exclusive control over the lawful use of business assets. The right to serve customers or to solicit new business is thus a protected property right. The use of violence or threats of violence to persuade the owner of a business to surrender control of such an intangible right is an appropriation of control embraced by the term 'obtaining.' That is the commonsense reading of the statute that other federal judges have consistently and wisely embraced in numerous cases that the Court does not discuss or even cite. Recognizing this settled definition of property, as I believe one must, the conclusion that petitioners obtained this property from respondents is amply supported by the evidence in the record."

What is tragic, however, about the correct outcome rendered by the Court on February 26, 2003, is that it is premised on the acceptance of baby-killing as a legal "right" and that Joe Scheidler and other pro-lifers had indeed broken various laws while engaged in their activities in front of abortuaries. This false premise communicates the belief that "anti-abortion protesters," although not engaged in racketeering or extortion to take property, can be prosecuted for the commission of such crimes as criminal trespass or harassment or the violation of the "Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrance Act" (FACE) in the course of their activities. The decision in the Scheidler case, though it provides immediate and real relief to individuals facing monstrous fines and punitive damages, is a reminder to us all that even justices who consider abortion to be wrong have to do all sorts of intellectual gymnastics to treat abortuaries as legal businesses while holding back the dam, so to speak, of overkill on the part of abortionists and their supporters to try to intimidate pro-lifers into complete and total silence on the most pressing moral issue of the day.

Joe Scheidler and other pro-lifers who have engaged in sidewalk counseling and other activist pro-life activities have committed no crimes. None whatsoever. Indeed, Joe Scheidler has been in the vanguard of defending the binding precepts of the Divine positive law and the natural law as the foundation of a just civil order. It is no crime according to God's law to try to save lives from cruel deaths and to save souls from the possibility of eternal damnation for contracting for the deaths of the innocent preborn. It is no crime to seek to lovingly approach a woman to inform her of what an abortion is and the fact that there are people who want to give her the love and the care that she may not know exists for her to receive. It is no crime to be present in front of American killing centers to pray Our Lady's Most Holy Rosary. It is no crime to hold signs that depict the graphic horror that is baby-killing. Indeed, it is our duty to actively oppose the evil of the American Holocaust.

Thus, the very fact that American courts saw fit to put Joe Scheidler and countless others through more than seventeen years of legal maneuvers and trials and appeals speaks volumes of the varied ways in which Roe v. Wade poisons the entirety of the American legal system. Sure, Joe Scheidler offered up his suffering to Our Lady's Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. He united himself with the Cross of the Divine Redeemer. He knows that the suffering and the humiliation and the financial losses he has experienced are all redemptive, meant to be used by Our Lady for the honor and glory of the Blessed Trinity, for the salvation of souls, and for his own sanctification. One consecrated to the Mother of God knows that she uses everything we give her, that nothing we suffer is in vain. Nevertheless, it is so very tragic that pro-death groups sought to exploit the corruption of American law represented by Roe to put people whose only real "crime" has been to seek to save lives and souls.

The decision in the case of Scheidler v. N.O.W. is nothing short of miraculous. We must spend time on our knees in front of the Blessed Sacrament to express our thanks that justice has been done for wonderful pro-life heroes. However, our gratitude to Our Lord and Our Lady should not blind us to the fact that this decision came about despite the active intervention of the allegedly pro-life administration of President George W. Bush against Joe Scheidler, who, as I pointed out twelve weeks ago this very night, has actually done real things to save actual lives, something that has been accomplished by no Republican administration in the past thirty years.

Remember these facts, ladies and gentlemen and remember them well:

1) The Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances bill was passed in 1994 with the support of a number of allegedly "pro-life" members of the House and Senate. Not one effort has been made by Republicans in Congress to repeal this law, which will still be used to proscribe the ability of pro-lifers to be a peaceful, prayerful presence outside of American killing centers. (Could one imagine a "Freedom of Access to Death Camps" bill?) Republicans protect abortuaries. They take campaign contributions from abortionists. They even hire active pro-aborts, such as Lewis Eisenberg, to raise funds for them. The Republican Party is not the cavalry coming to the rescue of the babies.

2) By way of reiteration, one of the most outrageous things that any administration has done in the past thirty years, is for a Solicitor General of the United States to term a pro-life hero such as Joe Scheidler as engaging in extortion to "take property" from those engaged in the business of killing babies in their mothers' wombs for a living. Theodore Olson analogized the Scheidler's activities to the "banditry" mentioned in the Hobbs Act. We must never forget this betrayal of the pro-life movement by the Bush administration. The fact that the Supreme Court ignored utterly Olson's arguments is a gift from God. Olson did everything he could to try to uphold Scheidler's conviction on the Hobbs counts. The decision in Scheidler v. N.O.W. is not what the Bush administration wanted. Don't ever forget that, folks. Not ever.

The battle for life continues on many fronts. As I have noted on so many other occasions, the battle we are fighting for the restoration of legal protection for the innocent preborn will prove victorious only if we fight simultaneously for the restoration of the Social Kingship of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and the Queenship of His Blessed Mother. It is not until individual human beings and their societies subordinate themselves to the regal rule of Our Lord and Our Lady that every aspect of popular culture will reflect the realities of First and Last Things. Law will thus be subordinated to the Author of Law. And life itself will be lived with a view to the Particular and Last Judgments.

With heroes such as Joe Scheidler, a man who has stormed heaven ceaselessly each day before he goes out onto the streets to counsel women to save their children, to inspire us, may we give thanks that justice was done in his case and may Our Lady continue to guide us as we seek that the ultimate expression of justice will prevail here and around the world: the Justice of which she is the Mirror, that of her Divine Son Himself.

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