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The Impact of Your Support

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"I'm so grateful. We wanted to protect the [pro-life] movement, and thanks to our phenomenal legal team I had great faith that we would see the truth prevail."

Mark Houck | Pro-life ministry leader

"Thomas more society was a true Godsend, we were so grateful for the relationships we built with them... [they] decided to bring themselves into the fire with us as we walk  together through the trials."

Ronald George | Pastor at Church@theRock

"Without a Thomas more society; without amazing attorneys who pray for you, and work with you, and defend you - businesses like ours would have had to shut the doors after six months of this."

Cathy Miller | California cake artist

“I'm so grateful. We wanted to protect the [pro-life] movement, and thanks to our phenomenal legal team I had great faith that we would see the truth prevail.”

Mark Houck | Pro-life ministry leader

The father of seven was arrested by armed FBI in front of his wife and children after he was alleged to have violated the FACE Act, outside of a Pennsylvania abortion facility in October 2021.

On January 30, 2023, a verdict of “not guilty” was returned by the jury, and Mark Houck was acquitted.

“Thomas More Society was a true godsend; we were so grateful for the relationships we built with them... [they] decided to bring themselves into the fire with us as we walk together through the trials.”

Ronald George | Pastor at Church@theRock

In June 2017, a federal lawsuit was filed against a group of peaceful pro-life advocates from Brooklyn's Church@theRock congregation.

“Without a Thomas More Society—without amazing attorneys who pray for you, and work with you, and defend you—businesses like ours would have had to shut the doors after six months of this.”

Cathy Miller | California cake artist

The owner of Tastries Bakery, CA, was the target of multiple lawsuits after a lesbian couple asked her to bake a wedding cake in August 2017.


NOW v. Scheidler

Feature one

NOW v. Scheidler:

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.


United States of America v. Mark Houck

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United States of America v. Mark Houck:

Mark Houck, a devoted pro-life Catholic and father of seven, found himself caught in a legal battle against the United States of America after defending his young son from an aggressive Planned Parenthood escort. Known for his dedication as an author, speaker, and sidewalk counselor, Houck would often take his twelve-year-old son with him during his weekly trips to speak outside abortion clinics.

However, when the escort confronted his son with ridicule and profanity, Houck stepped in to protect his child. The escort attempted to initiate a private prosecution against Houck, but the case was dismissed when he failed to appear at the hearing. Almost a year later, on September 23, 2022, the Houck family was shocked when nearly twenty-five FBI agents raided their home, arresting Mark without explanation and taking him to the FBI Headquarters in Philadelphia.

The Department of Justice had decided to make an example of Mark, charging him with two felony counts and threatening him with prison time for defending his family and advocating for life.Despite the Thomas More Society having previously offered to bring Mark in voluntarily if there was a federal case against him, the DOJ chose to demonstrate force in an effort to intimidate Mark and others who minister outside abortion clinics.

The prosecution attempted to use the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE Act) against Houck, even though his actions did not constitute a federal violation.The jury trial began on January 24, 2023, before United States District Judge Gerald J. Pappert in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Just one week later, the jury returned a verdict of "not guilty," acquitting Mark Houck. Defense attorneys Peter Breen and Brian McMonagle, representing the Thomas More Society, successfully argued that the abortion escort was the aggressor in the encounter.

Their victory not only freed Mark and his family from the burden imposed by the Biden administration but also protected the rights of every sidewalk counselor who ministers to women entering abortion clinics."We are, of course, thrilled with the outcome," stated Peter Breen, Thomas More Society Executive Vice President & Head of Litigation. "We took on Goliath – the full might of the United States government – and won.

The jury saw through and rejected the prosecution’s discriminatory case, which was harassment from day one. This is a win for Mark and the entire pro-life movement. The Biden Department of Justice’s intimidation against pro-life people and people of faith has been put in its place."

Mark Houck expressed his gratitude to the Thomas More Society, saying, "I'm so grateful to the Thomas More Society! Great lawyers defending me. They said they would defend me as long as it took."

The case of United States of America v. Mark Houck serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of standing up for one's beliefs and the vital role that legal advocates like the Thomas More Society play in protecting the rights of individuals in the face of government overreach.


Hagan Realty Inc. v. The City of East Lansing, Michigan

Feature three

Hagan Realty Inc. v. The City of East Lansing, Michigan

In East Lansing, Michigan, landlords have recently been subjected to an ordinance that compelled them to deliver voter registration messages to their new tenants. This city code imposed penalties on landlords who failed to convey these messages about registering to vote. However, on March 16, 2023, Thomas More Society attorneys filed a lawsuit in federal court to halt East Lansing's unconstitutional requirement. The suit sought permanent injunctive relief, barring the city from enforcing any provision of the city code in question.

Thomas More Society Special Counsel Erick Kaardal stated that the ordinance represented a blatant violation of landlords' First Amendment rights. He explained that by compelling landlords to inform tenants about voter registration or by making them act as couriers for the municipality's ideological messages, East Lansing infringed upon landlords' rights. Kaardal argued that registering to vote is irrelevant to a tenant's decision to enter into a lease agreement, and the First Amendment protects an individual's right to refrain from speaking as much as it protects their right to speak freely.

Kaardal further remarked that the ordinance was "ludicrous" and compared it to conscripting a local grocer to hand out property tax bills while collecting payment for purchases. He said that while engaged in private employment, landlords were being required to perform a function that the municipal government deemed important, even though these two activities did not belong together. Moreover, threatening landlords with civil violations if they refused to participate was simply wrong.

The lawsuit filed by Thomas More Society attorneys highlighted the contrast between landlords' constitutional rights and the city's unconstitutional ordinance. The First Amendment of the United States Constitution protects the freedom of speech and the right to peaceably assemble and petition the government for a redress of grievances. However, the City of East Lansing Code of Ordinances, which required landlords to provide tenants with specific information on voter registration and related requirements, violated these protections.

Kaardal cited a 2020 case in which a federal judge declared similar ordinances enacted by the City of Saint Paul and City of Minneapolis to be unconstitutional for attempting to require landlords to provide voter registration information to new tenants.

As a result of the lawsuit filed by Thomas More Society attorneys, the East Lansing City Council unanimously agreed to repeal the ordinance at their March 21, 2023 meeting. The decision is seen as a significant victory for both individual rights and election integrity. By challenging the ordinance, the Thomas More Society has not only protected the rights of landlords but also helped to eliminate potential avenues for voter manipulation and fraud.

The successful efforts of the Thomas More Society in this case underscore the organization's commitment to defending individual rights and upholding the principles of free speech and election integrity. The society's ongoing advocacy for constitutional rights continues to make a tangible difference in communities across the country.


Everett, Washington Discrimination Against Pro-Life Advocates

Feature four

Everett, Washington Discrimination Against Pro-Life Advocates

In Everett, Washington, the Thomas More Society has secured a victory for pro-life advocate Ian Gallagher, after a district court judge dismissed an abortion promoter's claims against him as "not credible" on March 8, 2023. The Society arranged for a Washington state-based attorney to represent Gallagher, a pro-life sidewalk counselor, in Snohomish County District Court against Cynthia Tamlyn's disingenuous attempt to obtain an order of protection against him.

The intersection of 32nd and Hoyt in downtown Everett is a hotbed of controversy, with a Planned Parenthood abortion facility situated across from the nonprofit pregnancy resource center, Two Hearts Pregnancy Aid. Barricades are often set up by the police as abortion proponents and pro-life sidewalk counselors engage in heated exchanges.

In January 2023, Tamlyn falsely accused Gallagher of harassment and sought a court order of protection against him. The court visited the Planned Parenthood site and reviewed video and audio recordings of the incident, ultimately dismissing Tamlyn's accusations.

Thomas More Society Senior Counsel Matt Heffron explained that if Tamlyn had successfully obtained a protection order against Gallagher, it would have likely prevented him from counseling outside the abortion clinic for an extended period. Heffron emphasized the importance of ensuring that peaceful sidewalk counselors are not intimidated into silence, particularly when faced with clear injustices.

In May 2021, the Thomas More Society threatened a lawsuit against the City of Everett for attempting to enforce an unconstitutional police policy that would have forced pro-life sidewalk counselors off public property in front of the Planned Parenthood. After demonstrating the illegality of the situation, the city relented and avoided legal action.

The Society's legal work has enabled pro-life sidewalk counselors to return to the sidewalk in Everett. The city had previously banned everyone, including pro-life advocates, from the sidewalk in front of the Planned Parenthood after a single confrontation with pro-abortion protesters. The city and police then granted preferential treatment to pro-abortion agitators, allowing them to stand immediately across the street from the facility while pro-life advocates were relegated far away from the entrance.

After pressure from the Thomas More Society, the city informed the national public interest law firm on May 19, 2021, that it was removing all restrictions. The pro-life advocates represented by the Society participate in two national pro-life initiatives, Sidewalk Advocates for Life and 40 Days for Life, which are committed to peaceful outreach and ending abortion.

Thomas More Society attorney Matt Heffron stressed that no one should be banished for offering aid and peaceful prayer. After providing a detailed analysis of the constitutional cases applicable to the situation in Everett, Heffron explained that the city ultimately did the right thing, although legal pressure was necessary at times.

The Thomas More Society will continue to monitor the situation and remains dedicated to defending the First Amendment rights of pro-life sidewalk counselors, ensuring that they can continue their peaceful advocacy without unconstitutional impediments.


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