Successful Plaintiffs Against Maryland State Police to Hold News Conference, Monday, April 16th 10am

Legal Counsel and Plaintiffs to Discuss Terms of the $385,000 Settlement 

Read more info about this case

PIKESVILLE, MARYLAND (April 16, 2012) – Plaintiffs and legal counsel for the nine plaintiffs from DEFEND LIFE INC who recently won a $385,000.00 settlement against the Maryland State Police will hold a news conference on Monday, April 16, to disclose the terms of the precedent-setting case.

The news conference will be held at 10am in front of the Maryland State Police Headquarters, 1201 Reisterstown Road, Pikesville, Maryland 21208.

Making statements will be:

–          Congressman Andy Harris (MD -1st)

–          Tom Brejcha, Esq. president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Society of Chicago who represented the Defend Life Plaintiffs

–          Matt Paavola, Esq. a Maryland attorney who represented the Defend Life plaintiffs, he is the former head of the Christian Legal Society.

–          Angela Swagler, a senior at Christendom College, one of the plaintiffs in the case

–          Jack Ames, PE, a professional engineer and a plaintiff in the case; he is the founder and director of Defend Life

–          Derek Howell, Esq., a Maryland attorney, a former Maryland state trooper and an instructor at the Institute on the Constitution of Pasadena, Maryland.

–          Michael Peroutka, Esq., a Maryland attorney and found of the Institute on the Constitution

Jack Ames, found of Defend Life, and one of the 18 arrested in August 2008, explained: “We will discuss three issues at the news conference: 1) the precedent-setting nature of this case; 2) the fact that the Maryland State Police have been mandated by this case to conduct further training to all police officers on the First and Fourth Amendment; and 3) the sexist behavior that occurred at the Maryland Police Academy that was most likely a factor in these illegal arrests.”

Parking for the news conference will be available at the Pikesville Library, near the intersection of the Reisterstown and Church Roads.

For more information, see www.DefendLife.org or contact Fran Griffin at events@DefendLife.org or call 202-643-1048.


Illinois Review Dismissed from Frivolous Lawsuit: Judge Dismisses Complaints Alleging Increased Taxes Based on Blog Posts

September 22, 2011 (Chicago, IL) A lawsuit against the Illinois Review was dismissed by U.S. District Court Judge Matthew F. Kennelly for a blog post [LINK] that the Illinois Review wrote over two years ago. Illinois Review is represented by the Thomas More Society in Chicago.

The Illinois Review’s blog post included documents showing that former Illinois State Rep. Paul Froehlich sought campaign contributions from individuals who won property tax relief with his assistance. After that story ran, the Cook County Board of Review reversed the tax breaks, and Satkar sued the Illinois Review for defamation.

In the decision, Judge Kennelly said that Satkar “failed to show that the [Illinois Citizen Participation Act] is unconstitutional or inapplicable to Satkar’s claims against the Illinois Review …. Satkar brought these claims in response to these defendants’ acts in furtherance of their right of free speech ….”

“We are pleased that the Court recognized that Illinois Review, by bringing to light a story of great public interest, did nothing wrong and that this lawsuit was meritless and frivolous,” said Peter Breen, Executive Director & Legal Counsel of the Thomas More Society, who is representing the Illinois Review.

Judge Kennelly’s decision is available here [LINK]

City of Aurora to Vote Tonight on Proposed Ordinance to Regulate Pro-Life Action League’s Door to Door Campaigns—But It’s Unconstitutional!

UPDATE: JUNE 15, 2011, AURORA CITY COUNCIL REJECTS ORDINANCE AMENDMENT AND UPHOLDS THE PLAL’S FIRST AND FOURTEENTH AMENDMENT RIGHTS

June 14, 2011 (Aurora)—The Aurora City Council will vote tonight on whether or not to adopt an ordinance amending chapter 32 of the Aurora Code of Ordinances Entitled “Peddlers, Canvassers and Solicitors.” This amendment would require those participating in “door to door” campaigns or solicitations to secure a permit with the city before being permitted to proceed with their advocacy. The Pro-Life Action League regularly organizes door to door campaigns to help raise awareness about the pro-life message. The League’s Executive Director, Eric Scheidler, sought guidance from the Thomas More Society on the legality and constitutionality of the proposed ordinance.

“We mince no words in telling you that the proposed ordinance, if adopted, would be struck down in short order as patently unconstitutional in violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution,” Thomas More Society Attorney Thomas Brejcha stated in a letter to the Pro-Life Action League. “[Y]ou would be fully entitled to bring a federal civil rights lawsuit to enjoin its enforcement ab initio. As your counsel, we would be willing to represent you in bringing that lawsuit and to recover reasonable attorney’s fees upon prevailing.”

View the lengthy debate at the city council meeting below:

Thomas More Society Fends Off Planned Parenthood’s Latest Effort to Suppress Lila Rose’s Undercover “Sex Trafficker” Videos, Persuading YouTube to Repulse New Claims of “Privacy Violations” and to Restore Other Videos Previously Taken Off-Line

A key part of Planned Parenthood’s counterattack against Lila Rose’s youth-led group, Live Action, and its staggered release early this year of damning videos depicting Planned Parenthood managers, “health professionals,” and other employees willing to welcome, advise and aid & abet purported “sex traffickers” and “pimps” was to get YouTube to suppress the videos on the basis that they violated YouTube’s published “privacy guidelines.”  This post recalls our long and ultimately successful effort to help Live Action defeat Planned Parenthood’s counterattack.

On their release last January, the Live Action videos “went viral,” winning hundreds of thousands of viewers online, and both sparking and helping to sustain a nationwide firestorm of outrage against Planned Parenthood’s willingness to use federal funds to support criminal exploitation of young people and sex slavery.  The epidemic of outrage prompted Congressional efforts to de-fund Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, by ending its federal subsidies.  Those efforts nearly culminated in a shutdown of the federal government, as House Republicans pushed the issue as far as they could in last minute White House negotiations over the federal budget.

But Planned Parenthood’s vast empire struck back when anonymous complaints about “privacy violations” led YouTube to write Live Action to warn that their video,  www.youtube.com/watch?v=L9zj9yx2j0Y, would be removed from the website early last February unless Live Action could refute the privacy claim. Working with Live Action’s California counsel, Thomas More Society lawyers wrote a letter to YouTube opposing the privacy claim and taking it to task for purporting to wield “the censor’s scissors.”  As a result, Planned Parenthood’s tactic failed, and the videos – depicting the New Jersey clinic manager whose recorded exchanges with the purported pimp and prostitute caused Planned Parenthood promptly to fire her–remained posted.

Months later, however, after the furor over the videos had subsided a bit, Planned Parenthood tried again to suppress the videos.  On May 5, 2011, Thomas More Society attorneys had to issue a second letter in response to another charged privacy violation aimed at Live Action’s video depiction of sex traffickers visiting a Planned Parenthood clinic in Bronx, New York, viewable online at  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XCWf1MB92Pw (edited version) and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hgCZrzQg6ag (unedited version).  This time Live Action videos were taken off-line despite our objections that their contents already had been “trumpeted” nationwide and even beyond, by every major news source.
Read past the break for the rest of the story! Continue reading

Thomas More Society’s Relentless Legal Pursuit Wins Justice for Pro-Life Activists at Notre Dame

Charges Dropped Against Anti-Abortion Protesters at University’s Commencement with President Obama

notre dame
May 5, 2011 (Chicago)… Today, Michael Dvorak, St. Joseph County, Indiana prosecutor, dismissed the criminal trespass charges that he has pressed over the last two years against all of the pro-life protesters, known as the “ND88,” the individuals arrested for trespassing when they entered upon Notre Dame’s campus in peaceful and prayerful protest against the University’s bestowing honors on President Barack Obama at the 2009 Commencement.  Dvorak dropped the charges as part of an agreement between the Thomas More Society and the University.

“This is a big step forward and a victory for the pro-life cause,” said TomTom B Brejcha, president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Society and a 1965 Notre Dame graduate.  “We are appreciative of the steps that Notre Dame has taken, including successive visits by University President John Jenkins, C.S.C., and other campus leaders to the March for Life in Washington, D.C., both in 2010 and 2011, to mark the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, and the creation of new and significant pro-life initiatives on campus. Those who share pro-life convictions may differ on tactics and approaches, but they best serve their sacred cause when they work together to secure the common good for all human beings, born and unborn alike, rather than carrying on as courtroom antagonists.”

Tom Dixon, South Bend, Indiana attorney and Thomas More Society special counsel, had led the defense over the last two years, during which the parties engaged in vigorous litigation, including extensive discovery proceedings.

The parties remain in profound disagreement over the 2009 Commencement, but after prayerful consideration they have decided to put their differences behind them, to cease battling in court, and rather to affirm a commitment to the fundamental proposition that each and every human life is sacred, from conception until natural death, no matter whether rich or poor, humble or exalted, wanted or “unwanted.”

Moreover, both parties have pledged not to rehash the events of the past, but on the contrary, to recognize each other’s pro-life efforts and to work together to find ways to increase those efforts and maximize their impact on the nation’s contentious, ongoing debate over abortion policy.

Read the entire Notre Dame Agreement here

See the official Order by the judge to dismiss the ND88 case here

For more information or to speak with an attorney at the Thomas More Society, please contact Tom Ciesielka at 312-422-1333 or tc@tcpr.net

# #  #

After Thomas More Society Demand Letter, IRS Capitulates and Grants Tax Exempt Recognition to Pro-Life Group

IRS had questioned Christian Voices for Life of Fort Bend County, Texas, involvement with 40 Days for Life and Life Chain

Christian Voices for Life logoApril 18, 2011—Today, the Thomas More Society received notice from the Internal Revenue Service that the IRS has agreed to drop its objections and recognize Christian Voices for Life of Fort Bend County, Texas, as a tax exempt public charity.

The IRS had withheld approval from the group while issuing repeated requests for information, including whether group members “try to block people to [sic] enter a . . . medical clinic” during 40 Days for Life and Life Chain events and whether the group does “education on both sides of the issues.” In their response letter of April 12, Thomas More Society attorneys had alleged that the IRS’ requests were unconstitutional and demanded tax exempt recognition. The IRS’ notice of recognition is dated April 14.

“The illegal IRS requests here clearly sought to delay and hinder the good work of this new pro-life organization,” said Thomas More Society executive director and legal counsel Peter Breen. “This is not the first time that Internal Revenue Service personnel have attempted to place unconstitutional restrictions on pro-life organizations, but we do hope that this will be the last time.”

Christian Voices for Life is a small charitable organization based in Fort Bend County, Texas, dedicated to peaceably promoting a culture of life through education, prayer and other ministry activities.
Read the IRS determination letter here.

The media continues to report on this story! See President and Chief Counsel Tom Brejcha’s interview with OneNewsNow here. To listen to the interview click the link and press “play” on the upper right side of the website!

Thomas More Society Helps Free Speech Prevail Over Censorship of Pro-Life Film

FilmThe Thomas More Society has successfully defended freedom of speech as the pro-life documentary film BloodMoney was shown without any negative consequences at the Wausau library in downtown Wausau, Wisconsin.

After extensive media coverage, a strong editorial by a Wausau newspaper in favor of showing the film, and filing of a federal injunction lawsuit by the Thomas More Society, Marathon County library officials backed off from their decision to censor, suppress, and ban the screening owing to fear of protests. Finally, the library showed the film before a massive crowd.

Janet Nichols from the Wausau chapter of 40 Days for Life wrote the following letter to thank the Thomas More Society:

Yesterday we showed Blood Money at the Wausau Public Library to a sell-out crowd. The room could not hold all who wanted to see the showing. A huge Thank You for keeping the show on Sunday. Your professional and quick response is greatly appreciated!!!!! THANK YOU!

Outside were three pro-choice demonstrators. We invited them in to view the movie, but they declined. We did have one pro-choice gentleman who viewed ‘Blood Money.’ He was brave for coming, and by God’s grace we think we have touched him by the movie and with the discussion following the movie.

We also had an audience of new people come and learn about ’40 Days’ and abortion, which was our goal initially…people were awestruck by the movie’s information and encouraged us to keep up the good work.

Pro-Life Free Speech Wins Over Library Censorship: Canceled Pro-Life Film to be Shown as Scheduled at Wausau, WI Public Library

The Thomas More Society’s Lawsuit Against Marathon County Library Secures Constitutional Rights for Pro-Life Group

BM_Poster_Final_01
March 31, 2011—Today, Thomas More Society attorneys confirmed that Marathon County library officials have agreed to rescind their decision to cancel a showing of the pro-life documentary “BloodMoney” by the Wausau “40 Days for Life” group in one of the library’s public meeting rooms. Scott Corbett, Marathon County Corporation Counsel, said in a letter to the Thomas More Society, “The library will honor its original commitment.” Thomas More Society’s lawsuit, filed yesterday in Madison, Wisconsin, federal court made clear that the library was censoring and suppressing the constitutionally-protected free speech of Wausau 40 Days for Life.

“We are pleased that our client’s right to free speech was vindicated. However, it’s disappointing that a federal lawsuit was necessary to prevent a public library from engaging in censorship,” said Peter Breen, executive director and legal counsel for the Thomas More Society. “In the end, the library followed its stated policy that meeting rooms are to be allocated without regard to the beliefs of those using them.” See the full media coverage below:

News Coverage

 


Letter from Marathon County, WI corporate counsel rescinding their decision to cancel pro-life video screening


Pro-Life Advocates Sue Wisconsin Library in Federal Court for Censorship and Free Speech Violations

National Law Firm Files for Injunction to Allow Pro-Life Documentary to be Show This Sunday in Wausau, Wisconsin

Ralph IllickMarch 30, 2011—Today, Thomas More Society attorneys filed for an injunction to force Marathon County library officials not to censor, suppress and ban the screening of the pro-life documentary, BloodMoney.

The exhibition of the film was planned and promoted by the Wausau chapter of 40 Days for Life, which is sponsoring a 40-day vigil and public awareness campaign against abortion.

The suit names library director Ralph Illick (pictured above) and several other defendants. Illick had cancelled the showing of the movie in one of the library’s “public meeting rooms,” because he alleged that showing a film on the topic of abortion would “interfere with the normal use of the library.”

The suit was filed in the United States District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin, and District Judge Barbara B. Crabb has set a hearing on the injunction for Friday, April 1, at 3:00 pm Central.

“Searching the Marathon County library collection with the keyword ‘abortion’ produces 108 results, so how can the library director credibly say that a movie on the topic of abortion will cause a ‘civil disturbance’?” asks Peter Breen, executive director and legal counsel for the Thomas More Society, which filed the suit along with local counsel. “According to the library’s own schedule, public meeting rooms are used regularly for movies. Why censor this movie, which is presented by a group of local citizens who have been peacefully advocating their pro-life message without incident?”

After a letter from the Thomas More Society last Friday demanding that the documentary be allowed to be screened, library officials offered to move the screening to a closed, empty office space away from the library. “Our clients have an important message on an issue of public concern which should be heard in this public forum. They should not be forced to hide in the shadows because the government disagrees with their message.”

The suit points out that the library’s own policy declares that meeting rooms are to be allocated without regard to the beliefs of those using the rooms. It also cites a number of federal court decisions that reject the suppression of free speech based on the alleged response by others, also known as a “heckler’s veto,’ and based on standards that are vague and allow government officials to determine what speech will be allowed based on their own personal preference.  Read local news coverage here:

Read the Memo in support of the Motion for Temporary Restraining Order below. Click the “Full Screen” button for best reading experience:


Federal Court Filing for Restraining Order Against Marathon County Public Libary for Censorship (Wausau, WI)

Case Documents for Download

Milwaukee Pro-Life Sidewalk Counselor Vindicated: False Charges Dropped

Thomas More Society Secures Justice After Abortion Clinic Harasses Pro-Life Advocate with Trumped Up Charges

Milwaukee mapMilwaukee—Today in Milwaukee municipal court, the Thomas More Society secured justice for a pro-life sidewalk counselor who was falsely arrested and charged with disorderly conduct last August. James Marcou, a veteran sidewalk counselor, was charged after two clinic escorts at the Affiliated Women’s Heath Center claimed he was disorderly and obstructed free access to the abortion facility by striking a “clinic escort.”

“James Marcou can now carry on his life-saving work without this criminal charge hanging over his head,” said Tom Brejcha, president and chief counsel of the Chicago-based Thomas More Society. “The city prosecutor dismissed the charge when the key complaining witness failed to honor the city’s subpoena that he appear this morning to testify at an initial hearing before a city judge. Indeed, we had learned that this witness, known to pro-lifers as Gwynn and who regularly works as a patient ‘escort,’ gave police a false name—Steve Smith—and was subpoenaed to appear by that name. No wonder he didn’t show up, as not only his name but also the rest of his story was falsified, and the whole truth would have come out clearly.” Read past the break for the full story plus news coverage Continue reading