First Amendment topicsAbout the First Amendment
News Story
 
High court turns away 2 abortion-related cases

By The Associated Press,
First Amendment Center Online staff
10.06.08

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court today rejected for the third time an appeal by anti-abortion activists to undo a multimillion-dollar verdict for their use of "wanted" posters to identify abortion-clinic doctors. And in a second abortion-related case, a group won its long legal fight to force Arizona to issue "Choose Life" license plates, after the high court declined to hear the state’s appeal.

In the wanted-posters case, American Coalition of Life Activists v. Planned Parenthood, 07-1546, the justices did not comment today in turning down a dozen individuals and two groups that oppose abortion rights. The Court turned down similar appeals in 2003 and 2006.

Four physicians and abortion clinics sued in 1995 after the activists released a Wild West-style poster that named a dozen abortion doctors underneath the headline, "Wanted." A related Web site, titled the "Nuremberg Files," declared the doctors guilty of crimes against humanity, and listed their addresses and telephone numbers.

During trial, targeted abortion doctors said they feared for their lives. They testified they used disguises, bodyguards, wore bulletproof vests, and instructed their children to crouch in the bathtub if they heard gunfire.

In 1999, a Portland, Ore., jury awarded the doctors and clinics more than $100 million under racketeering laws and a 1994 federal law that makes it illegal to incite violence against abortion doctors. Courts reduced the judgment to more than $16 million.

The activists said the verdict violated their First Amendment free-speech rights.

In the Arizona case, the justices without comment left in place an appeals court ruling in favor of the Arizona Life Coalition, which has sought the special “Choose Life” plates for six years.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, based in San Francisco, said the state commission on license plates violated the group's constitutional right to free speech by turning down its application.

The case is Stanton v. Arizona Life Coalition, 07-1366.


Previous
Last appeal refused in 'wanted' poster case
9th Circuit decision, which ordered anti-abortion activists to pay nearly $5 million in damages, stands. 05.02.06

Related

9th Circuit: Ariz. wrong to deny 'Choose Life' plates

Unanimous three-judge panel finds state's decision not to issue specialty tag violates group's free-speech rights. 01.29.08

2008-09 Supreme Court case tracker

News summary page
View the latest news stories throughout the First Amendment Center Online.

print this   Print


Last system update: Saturday, January 24, 2009 | 17:52:34
 SEARCH  MORE
About this site
About the First Amendment
About the First Amendment Center
Video/RSS/podcasts
First Amendment programs
State of the First Amendment
reports

First Reports
Supreme Court
Experts
Columnists
First Amendment publications
First Amendment Center history
Glossary
Freedom Sings™
Events
First Amendment
Schools

Congressional Research Service reports
Guest editorials
FOI material
The First Amendment
Library

Lesson plans
freedomforum.org
Newseum
Contact us
Privacy statement
Related links