The Supreme Court ruled today that federal racketeering and extortion laws can’t be used to stop anti-choice extremists from obstructing access to clinics, damaging property or using violence. (Legal Momentum has a history of the case, Scheidler v. National Organization for Women)
This case has been going on since 1986, when the National Organization for Women (NOW) brought a class action suit against violent anti-choice groups in violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO).
Unfortunately, violent protests are not a thing of the past. From NARAL:
Among other acts, in the past year there has been an attempted firebombing at a Louisiana clinic and one incident of arson in Florida. In the past decade approximately two murders, one attempted murder, two bombings, 18 incidents of arson, 298 acts of vandalism, 642 anthrax threats, 121 bomb threats, and 27 blockades have occurred at clinics. Since 1993, three doctors, two clinic employees, a clinic escort, and a security guard have been murdered. In addition to these seven murders, 17 attempted murders have also occurred since 1991.
This is a huge loss for women and choice, even if it is–as Broadsheet points out–largely symbolic: “[The] ruling will likely do little to change the situation on the ground. But it is the symbolic victory — coupled with South Dakota’s recent anti-abortion vote — that may further embolden a pro-life movement eager to test the country’s more conservative Supreme Court.”