Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Who wouldn't want the right to tresspass & get violent in the name of protest?

Well this should be interesting (and is more reason to hope rational thought prevail). SCOTUS has announce that it will reconsider the case of using federal racketeering and extortion laws against abortion protesters in front of clinics.
As part of the 1998 ban, anti-abortion demonstrators were barred from trespassing, setting up blockades or behaving violently at abortion clinics
In the last case 2 years ago, SCOTUS lifted that ban on demonstrations
Rehnquist conceded in 2003 that abortion protesters interfered with clinic operations and in some cases committed crimes. But he said because they did not extort money or valuables from the clinics, a lower court had wrongly imposed a ban on protests.
7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago (the next circuit court I expect the Fristians to overhaul) renewed the case based on the threats of violence and violents acts may be considered for qualification under RICO.

The focus on extortion in this case undermines the fact that RICO, which was set up for use against mob activities, and that part of the system used by "organized crime" to compel compliance (and silence) in extortion schemes includes threats (even implied threats) and/or overt acts of violence, as well as intimidation and interference with a business such to the point that the business felt they had to comply.
Section 1961 - Definitions
(1) ''racketeering activity'' means (A) any act or threat involving murder, kidnapping, gambling, arson, robbery, bribery, extortion, dealing in obscene matter, or dealing in a controlled substance or listed chemical (as defined in section 102 of the Controlled Substances Act), which is chargeable under State law and punishable by imprisonment for more than one year; (B) any act which is indictable under any of the following provisions of title 18, United States Code:. . .section 1951 (relating to interference with commerce, robbery, or extortion). . .
Additionally, some localities may apply a broader statutory definition of extortion/blackmail that is broader than receipt of funds or items of financial value
NIBRS Group and Definition - Group A Extortion/Blackmail: To unlawfully obtain money, property, or any other thing of value, either tangible or intangible, through the use or threat of force, misuse of authority, threat of criminal prosecution, threat of destruction of reputation or social standing, or through other coercive means (FBI, 1992, p. 15).
While Jay Sekulow, et al may believe that application of RICO to demonstrations must be limited to cases in which protesters agree to leave for some sort of financial settlement, it appears as though RICO may well have wider implications than a routine shakedown. Whether SCOTUS agrees on legal terms (rather than ideological ones) is a story to be written some time next year.

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