The National Organization for Women (NOW) v.
Joseph Scheidler (anti-abortion protestor) and members of the Pro-Life Action Network
NOW wanted monetary compensation and laws to protect abortion clinics from violence. They referred to the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act and the Hobbs Act, both meant to protect citizens from extortion and violent interference with their businesses. This act was originally meant to target the mafia and organized crime; NOW wanted the Pro-Life Action Network as well as Operation Rescue (one of the largest, most extreme anti-abortion groups) to be classified as corrupt organizations that participate in violent behavior.
This case was heard by the Supreme Court three separate times since 1994. In February 2006, the Court unanimously ruled in favor of Scheidler. The protestors were not trying to obtain any property from the clinics through force (which would qualify as extortion and fall under RICO), but they were interfering with property rights, a less serious offence where RICO does not apply. Also, the Hobbs Act only applies to violence through robbery or extortion, and neither was present in the anti-abortion extremists’ protesting.