On November 9, 2023, Thomas More Society is celebrating 25 years of defending life, family, and freedom. Thomas More Society’s first quarter century has been marked by critical national cases, heroic clients, and a growing roster of staff and special counsel—beginning in 1998 amid defending pro-life advocates in the NOW v. Scheidler lawsuit. That victory, conclusively achieved in 2014, paved the way for Thomas More Society’s 2023 vindication of Mark Houck in a decisive triumph over the Biden Department of Justice’s aggressive campaign against innocent pro-life Americans. Today, the national not-for-profit public interest law firm is managing more than 150 cases at any given time.
Tom Brejcha, Founder, President, and Chief Counsel, said:
“Thomas More Society engages in protecting the unborn, preserving traditional morality, and steadfastly defending religious liberty. From keeping Baby Jesus in the manger of Nativity scenes in public squares across America to fighting for justice for pro-life advocates all the way up to the United States Supreme Court, Thomas More Society is passionate, practiced, and persistent. We are protecting the legal rights of individuals against unjust governmental and other persecution, upholding the rights of faith-based organizations and businesses who refuse to promote abortion, and guarding against the erosion of religious liberty and the devaluing of Judeo-Christian principles and practices.”
Thomas More Society’s Christian worldview informs their dedication to providing legal defense for those who defend life. “Banding together with fellow citizens to advocate for the sanctity of each and every human life—born and unborn, wanted or allegedly ‘unwanted’—are precious rights of all American citizens,” declared Brejcha.
The legal battles fought by Thomas More Society have had major implications for churches, faith-based organizations, and families. “Societal shifts have sharpened the attacks against Christians,” added Brejcha, affirming that Thomas More Society is ready to energetically meet the rising challenges to life, family, and freedom.
In a case that rocked the nation, Thomas More Society attorneys secured a January 2023 victory for pro-life advocate Mark Houck. The FBI’s heavily armed raid at the Houck residence stunned the nation—drawing broad support for the father of seven who was dragged away from his family at gunpoint and falsely accused by the Department of Justice of violating the FACE Act outside of a Planned Parenthood facility.
“That was a big win for us. It sent an important message: the Department of Justice’s weaponized prosecution of pro-lifers will not be tolerated,” shared Peter Breen, Thomas More Society Executive Vice President & Head of Litigation, who led Houck’s defense. “But our work extends far beyond the headline makers. We fight just as hard for the rights of the ‘little guy’ in cases that do not make front-page news.” Breen recounted the recent case of a church musician and high school teacher who was targeted by abortion promoters and then falsely accused of battery.
“The case was fabricated, our client and his wife were harassed, and he lost his job,” explained Breen. “Why? Because they were innocent bystanders at a statehouse on a day that pro-abortion protestors wanted to make an example out of someone. We believe every pro-life advocate deserves the best defense possible.”
Thomas More Society has represented parents, students, teachers, pastors, priests, nuns, doctors, military members, professional athletes, men, women, and children, from all walks of life. Over the past 25 years, Thomas More Society has proudly represented the Pro-Life Action League; Lila Rose & Live Action; David Daleiden & the Center for Medical Progress; Abby Johnson & And Then There Were None; 40 Days for Life;
South Bay United Pentecostal Church; Sidewalk Advocates for Life; Cathy Miller & Tastries Bakery; Elizabeth Mirabelli & Lori Ann West; Sr. Deirdre Byrne; the Notre Dame 88; Lauren Handy; Students for Life; Church @ The Rock; National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA); Heartbeat International; and many others.
The landmark three-decade legal battle, NOW v. Scheidler, started it all. The abortion lobby filed a lawsuit against peaceful pro-life advocates, including the late Joseph Scheidler—using a law designed to combat organized crime—seeking to shut down pro-life sidewalk counseling. Brejcha eventually left his corporate law firm to defend Scheidler and others, founding Thomas More Society in 1998 to continue fighting the decades-long legal battle. In an unprecedented journey, the case appeared before the Supreme Court three times. In 2006 and 2003, Thomas More Society dealt decisive blows to the abortion lobby on behalf of the pro-life movement—defending the future of the sidewalk counseling and pro-life advocacy. Scheidler, known as the “godfather of the pro-life movement,” passed away in 2021, but the Pro-Life Action League he founded continues to be represented by Thomas More Society. Ann Scheidler, his widow, serves as Chairman of the Board at Thomas More Society.
“Tom Brejcha and Thomas More Society have been friends and trusted legal counsel to the pro-life movement for many years,” stated Scheidler. “These attorneys have worked hard to set and uphold a standard of excellence in the legal realm.”
In recent years, successful lawsuits brought by Thomas More Society against the governors of California, Illinois, and New York made their way to the United States Supreme Court, successfully culminating in the reopening of houses of worship. Thomas More Society attorneys have also stopped the forced inclusion of Aztec prayers in California’s school curriculum and successfully defended the right of cake designer Cathy Miller to refuse to create a custom cake for a same-sex wedding ceremony.
Current notable legal challenges include:
· ProtectingFamilies from Gender Ideology in Schools: When Escondido, California, schoolteachers Elizabeth Mirabelli and Lori Ann West were told they must lie to their students’ parents about children’s “preferred gender identities,” Thomas More Society attorneys filed a lawsuit on Elizabeth and Lori’s behalf. Though the case is still in court, the judge has granted a first-of-its-kind preliminary injunction stating that the school’s new policy creates a “trifecta of harm” damaging to students, parents, and teachers.
· State Targeting of Pro-Life PregnancyHelp Ministries: As California pursues frivolous claims of false advertising against Heartbeat International and providers of Abortion Pill Reversal services, Thomas More Society is mounting solid, science-based defense against this dangerous species of illegal content-based discrimination. When Illinois attempted to target Christian pregnancy help centers with the state’s consumer fraud law, Thomas More Society stepped in to defend NIFLA. The federal judge assigned to the NIFLA and ThomasMore Society-filed lawsuit said that the state law is “both stupid and very likely unconstitutional.”
· Defending Sidewalk Counselors and Challenging Bubble Zones:Across America, abortion providers have successfully lobbied for “bubble” and “buffer” zone ordinances around abortion facilities to stifle pro-life speech, resulting in pro-life advocates and sidewalk counselors being fined and arrested. Thomas More Society is defending these pro-life advocates both inside and outside of the courtroom, seeking to protect their First Amendment rights—while also fighting against measures that give abortionists protections granted to no other industry.
· David Daleiden’s Aborted Baby Body Parts Exposé: In July 2015 undercover journalistDavid Daleiden released a series of videos exposing Planned Parenthood’s involvement in trafficking aborted baby body parts. Since then, abortion proponents have sought to jail and financially destroy Daleiden and his Center for Medical Progress. Thomas More Society attorneys continue to defend the undercover journalist, who has been widely lauded as a hero in the pro-life movement.
As for the future, Brejcha added:
“These legal battles are growing more intense, and our nation is increasingly polarized. After the overturn of Roe v. Wade, there are now 50 battlefields in addition to ongoing federal battles. We have our work cut out for us, but we are ready meet the new challenges on the horizon. Now beginning our next 25 years, Thomas More Society is on the cutting-edge of the legal battle for life, family, and freedom: protecting pregnancy centers against new legal maneuvers that attack their very right to exist, defending Abortion Pill Reversal, and safeguarding families and children from the rising tide of gender ideology. From the bottom of my heart, I would like to thank everyone who has supported Thomas More Society this past quarter century, all who have said a prayer for our attorneys and clients or lent a helping hand—we would not be able to fight for life, family, and freedom if it were not for you. The best is yet!”