HISTORY OF THE THOMAS MORE SOCIETY
The Need for the Thomas More Society
Thomas More Society was forged in the crucible of courtroom conflict — the marathon landmark federal antitrust and RICO lawsuit, NOW v. Scheidler. The lawsuit pitted the nation’s entire abortion industry and a radical feminist group, the “National Organization for Women” (NOW), against Joe Scheidler and other pro-life leaders throughout the country. In addition to serving as a party plaintiff, NOW sought and was allowed to serve as class representative for a plaintiff class of all women in America who were actual or potential patrons of abortion providers. Apart from the named defendants, NOW and the other plaintiffs complained of “all persons in active concert or participation” with these pro-life leaders, and plaintiffs later explained they were really seeking relief from as many as a million persons! The sole initial charge against the pro-lifers was that they were “conspiring in restraint of interstate commerce” — that is, by agreeing to work together in trying to suppress the trade of abortionists — they were in violation of the federal antitrust laws. But, the charges grew as the case proceeded.
Brejcha Champions the NOW v. Scheidler Case…
Tom Brejcha was brought into the case shortly after its filing to assist and advise the lead attorneys, but due to Brejcha’s experience in several U.S. Supreme Court appeals in business cases, including a major appeal in the field of federal antitrust law, Brejcha was asked to become lead counsel in the lawsuit. Brejcha accepted the challenge and gathered advice and help from experts across the nation, setting out to wage the lawsuit of a lifetime.
“Quit the Case, or Quit the Firm”
By early spring of 1997, after a decade of litigation including depositions held across the country, the case finally was set for jury trial. However, at this point, Brejcha’s law firm decided it could no longer bear the huge financial burden nor the time commitment that the case required. The firm gave Brejcha an ultimatum: “quit the case, or quit the firm.” Brejcha stepped out in faith and chose to defend the pro-lifers, giving up his law partnership.
Knowing the enormous financial burden that lay head, Brejcha set up a non-profit, tax exempt organization to gather donations from people of good will throughout the country to support the defense, which had to proceed pro bono, due to the incredible legal costs that the pro-life leaders were unable to afford. Thus, the Thomas More Society was born. Brejcha didn’t know then, but NOW v. Scheidler would continue almost 15 years more, eventually making its way three times for briefing and argument before the United States Supreme Court.
Bearing Witness for the Right to Life
The final two trips to the Supreme Court yielded victories, 8-1 (2003), 8-0 (2006), which have helped to usher in a whole new phase of peaceful protest — “bearing witness” for the sanctity of all human life, from conception to natural death, at the site of abortion providers throughout the nation. Since our victory in NOW v. Scheidler, many new pro-life initiatives have swept the United States, from sidewalk counseling to prayer vigils, such as 40 Days for Life.
Thomas More Society After N.O.W. v. Scheidler
This success in NOW v. Scheidler brought much attention to Thomas More Society and its President and Chief Counsel, Tom Brejcha. Brejcha began to field calls from pro-life activists all over the United States, and as Thomas More Society’s and Brejcha’s time, funds, and resources permitted, those calls were answered. Today, due to generous donations from thousands of supporters around the world, the Thomas More Society fights daily to restore respect in law for life, marriage, and religious liberty. We find ourselves in courts high and low across the country, from Supreme Courts down to police courts. But the stakes are as large at the lower courts as they ever were at higher altitudes, for each and every life saved by those valiant souls who patrol the sidewalks outside abortion facilities has a value that is infinite.