In the mid-1980s, the National Organization for Women (NOW) filed a lawsuit against Joseph Scheidler, a charismatic figure in the growing Pro-Life movement. Scheidler had become known for his ability to organize national protests against abortion and bring local activists together from across the United States. In response, NOW filed the landmark federal antitrust and RICO lawsuit, NOW v. Scheidler, a case that would span 28 years and make three trips to the U.S. Supreme Court.Thomas Brejcha, a business lawyer at the time, was asked to help with the case when it was first filed.
As the lead counsel for the defense, Brejcha witnessed firsthand the contentious nature of the case, as well as the opposition's attempts to link Scheidler with violent incidents involving shootings of abortion doctors. Despite these challenges, the team persevered, even in the face of a unanimous Supreme Court decision against them.In 1997, as financial pressures mounted, Brejcha and his colleagues founded the not-for-profit law firm, the Thomas More Society. Despite their lack of resources, the team continued to fight for Scheidler and the Pro-Life cause.
The case went to trial, and although they lost, the team remained determined to challenge the charges against Scheidler. With support from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the team appealed the case, ultimately bringing it before the Supreme Court for a second time. In a surprising turn of events, the court ruled 8-1 in Scheidler's favor, with Justices Ginsburg and Breyer writing a concurring opinion highlighting the similarities between the Pro-Life protests and civil rights movements.Despite this significant victory, the case continued, with NOW persisting in their pursuit of Scheidler.
The Thomas More Society fought on, and the case eventually reached the Supreme Court for an unprecedented third time. Throughout the course of this legal battle, the Thomas More Society had emerged as a powerful advocate for the Pro-Life movement and a staunch defender of the rights of those involved.As Brejcha reflected on the case that had come to dominate his professional life, he maintained his belief in the importance of fighting against the injustice perpetrated by NOW.
The Thomas More Society's involvement in NOW v. Scheidler not only shaped the organization's foundation but also solidified its commitment to upholding the principles of justice and equality in the face of adversity.In the end, the marathon legal battle that started with NOW v. Scheidler forged the Thomas More Society into a formidable force for justice, with a lasting impact on the Pro-Life movement and the broader landscape of protest in America.
Despite the many challenges faced along the way, the unwavering commitment of Brejcha and his colleagues ultimately played a crucial role in defense of free speech and the right to protest for generations to come.