CURRENT NEWS ITEMS
ACLA FIGHTING DISMISSAL OF FEDERAL SUIT IN SIGN-TOSSING CASE
In 2012, ACLA Maryland affiliate counsel Howard Walsh III commenced a civil
rights lawsuit against the City of Aberdeen, Maryland, and an individual police
The suit arises from an incident in which, as the complaint alleges, the
officer seized the pro-life protest signs of the plaintiff, Catholic pro-life
activist Kurt Linnemann, and hurled them into the street, after falsely
asserting that the sidewalk on which the signs were being displayed was “private
The complaint further alleges that the officer’s conduct violated Mr.
Linnemann’s First Amendment right to freedom of speech, his Fourth Amendment
right to be free from unreasonable seizures of his property, and his equivalent
rights under the Maryland Declaration of Rights, and that the City failed to
provide the officer with adequate training on respect for constitutional rights.
In November, in federal court, the defendants brought a motion seeking
dismissal of the lawsuit. The ACLA will file a comprehensive brief opposing the
Please pray for our success in opposing the motion to dismiss and for a
speedy and just conclusion to this action in defense of First Amendment freedoms
for pro-life Catholics.
MARYLAND STATE TROOPERS ATTENDING FIRST AMENDMENT 101
The historic spring 2012 settlement in the ACLA’s civil rights suit filed
against numerous Maryland state troopers on behalf of a group of Catholic
pro-life advocates, falsely arrested and jailed in 2008 because of their graphic
signs, is being implemented.
The entire State Police force, including recruits at the academy, is
undergoing training in the basics of respect for First Amendment rights in a
The training includes a PowerPoint presentation and classroom lectures,
including slides that warn the troopers not to repeat the mistake they made in
Thanks to your support, there is every chance that the massive violation of
First Amendment rights suffered by our Catholic pro-life clients will never
occur again at the hands of a Maryland State Police officer.
FEDERAL JUDGE UPHOLDS ACLA SUIT AGAINST MISSISSIPPI:
CASE PROCEEDING TO DISCOVERY
In a 14-page decision issued on May 31, 2012, U.S. District Court Judge
Daniel P. Jordan III, of the Southern District of Mississippi ruled that a civil
rights lawsuit filed by ACLA attorneys on behalf of Catholic nurse Tanya Britton
against the State of Mississippi and various individual defendants will not be
dismissed and must proceed against the State and three of the named individual
The suit alleges that Nurse Britton was wrongfully discharged from her
employment as a registered nurse in the post-partum, ante-partum, and
gynecology/oncology units of the Wiser Hospital for Women and Infants, part of
the University of Mississippi Medical Center, because she refused in conscience
to provide prescribed contraceptives or participate in sterilizations, and
further advised her supervisors that she would not assist in abortions.
The suit further alleges that “throughout her employment before the actions
giving rise to this suit, Ms. Britton’s religious beliefs were accommodated by
having other nurses on duty perform in her stead services related to
sterilization, contraception, and abortion.”
The suit includes claims against the defendants for violation of Nurse
Britton’s rights under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution and
Mississippi’s Health Care Rights of Conscience Act. In fact, this suit appears
to be the first ever brought under the Health Care Rights of Conscience Act,
which prohibits transfers, shift changes, loss of specialty, and terminations
because of conscientious objections by medical service providers, including
nurses, who decline to participate in medical procedures contrary to their
“religious, moral or ethical principles.”
In denying defendants’ motion to dismiss, Judge Jordan held that “the Court
can draw a reasonable inference that defendants Lawson, Richardson, and Bass
were personally involved in the disputed employment decisions” and that if the
allegations of the complaint are proven, “the State is responsible for their
acts and omissions” under the Conscience Act.
The Court also found that said defendants could be held liable for the
individual conduct in violation of federal law as alleged.
“We look forward to proceeding with pre-trial discovery in this important
case for the conscience rights of Catholics,” said ACLA Mississippi affiliate
counsel James T. McCafferty after Judge Jordan’s decision was handed down.
Briefing in the case was handled by ACLA President and Chief Counsel
Christopher A. Ferrara, who remarked that “this case appears to represent the
first judicial interpretation of Mississippi’s Conscience Law, an important
measure for the protection of the right of medical professionals to decline to
participate in procedures that violate the fundamental tenets of their religion.
The Mississippi legislature is to be commended for providing that not even
state agencies may violate this right of conscience.”
Please pray for a successful outcome in this key case.
CIVIL RIGHTS SUIT IN NEW JERSEY
OVER “SEX CHANGE” CONTROVERSY
Some months ago, the ACLA filed a civil rights suit under New Jersey’s Law
Against Discrimination on behalf of Anthony Martini, a licensed professional
The suit alleged that Mr. Martini was fired from his counseling position on
account of his conscientious Catholic opposition to a policy of treating
psychiatric patients contemplating “sex change” operations as if they were
really members of the sex to which they want to “change.”
The suit further alleged that Mr. Martini was also subjected to a pattern of
religious discrimination by a supervisor who accused him of “imposing” his
Catholic morality by merely answering questions about what the Church teaches.
The supervisor, the complaint alleged, also confronted Mr. Martini over his
Catholic beliefs on abortion, contraception, homosexuality, transgender
reassignment and other issues, while defending her own non-Catholic beliefs and
insisting that her contrary beliefs were valid.
“My wife and I would like to express our heartfelt gratitude for the wise
counsel you provided, and the proficient manner the case was brought to a just
settlement [in 2012]…We thank you for defending our faith and religious rights
in this matter!,” Mr. Martini told us.
ACLA REPRESENTING PRO-LIFE ADVOCATE IN SIDEWALK ARREST
The ACLA is defending a veteran pro-life activist on a charge that he
“obstructed pedestrian traffic” for simply offering pro-life literature to women
approaching a Bronx, New York, abortion mill.
ACLA’s client was arrested, handcuffed, and taken to the local police
precinct at the command of a female police sergeant who had ordered him to stand
behind metal barricades stored by the abortion mill on its premises and
regularly deployed to thwart the approach of pro-life advocates to women about
to enter the clinic.
Our client reportedly explained to the officers at the scene that he could
not stand behind the barricades because they would have prevented him from
getting his pro-life message to the women and offering them literature as he has
been doing for years at the location.
There was no court injunction or any other legal basis for ordering this
75-year-old anti-abortion activist to stand behind a NYPD metal barricade the
abortion clinic keeps on its premises and then sets up to stop pro-life
advocates from effectively communicating with women during the crucial final
moments before they enter the abortuary.
Like all other ACLA cases in which pro-life advocates are subjected to the
criminal process for simply exercising their First Amendment rights on public
sidewalks – which are quintessential public forums – this case will be defended
vigorously at the bench trial scheduled for January 24, 2013.
ACLA’S AMICUS BRIEF AND THE “OBAMACARE” DECISION
During the summer of 2012, as the world knows, the United States Supreme
Court issued its “ObamaCare” decision. In a stunning and alarming upset, Chief
Justice John G. Roberts joined four associate justices to uphold the “individual
mandate” to purchase health insurance or suffer a federal penalty.
The ACLA, prior to the fateful decision, filed with the Supreme Court a
friend-of-the-court brief which opposed the mandate by supporting the legitimate
rights of individual autonomy and religious conscience – understood, of course,
in a Catholic sense, as we made clear in our brief.
In the process of preparing the brief, ACLA attorneys recognized that if the
defenders of the individual mandate saw that the Court was not receptive to the
argument that the mandate is a valid exercise of Congressional power to regulate
interstate commerce, they might seize on the flimsy alternative argument that
the mandate, with its penalty for failure to buy health insurance, is a “tax”
within the taxing power of Congress merely because it is imposed and collected
by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). And this argument, we worried, might be
made even though President Barack H. Obama had actually insisted that the
mandate was not a tax!
Our worse fears were confirmed: the Court upheld the mandate precisely on the
basis that it was a “tax” permitted by the Taxing Clause of the Constitution,
even if it could not be upheld as a legitimate regulation of interstate commerce
under the Commerce Clause.
The implications of this ruling are catastrophic for the freedom of
The Supreme Court has now set a precedent wherein Americans can be penalized
by a tax for simply not doing what the government wishes, even if it violates
one’s conscience to do so.
But the High Court acknowledged the ACLA’s argument in one respect, and to
that degree we scored a victory. Chief Justice Roberts’s majority opinion held
that the Commerce Clause does not authorize the mandate precisely because of its
impact on personal autonomy: “Every day individuals do not do an infinite number
of things. In some cases they decide not to do something; in others they simply
fail to do it.” And so, he wrote:
“Allowing Congress to
justify federal regulation by pointing to the effect of inaction on commerce
would bring countless decisions an individual could potentially make within the
scope of federal regulation, and – under the Government’s theory—empower
Congress to make those decisions for him.”
“That,” the Chief Justice said, “is not the country the Framers of
our Constitution envisioned.”
But then, in a sudden turn-around, Roberts avoided the ACLA’s argument by
holding that the ObamaCare individual mandate is not a mandate, but “only” a
tax. Why? Because the mandate does not actually order individuals to buy
insurance, but merely imposes a “tax” on those who choose not to buy it:
“The mandate is not a legal command to buy insurance. Rather, it makes going
without insurance just another thing the Government taxes, like buying gasoline
or earning income.”
Since the mandate involves “only” a tax, held Roberts, it was within
Congress’s power to enact under the Constitution’s Taxing Clause.
This, the Chief Justice acknowledged, was not the most straightforward
interpretation, but he looked to legal precedents holding that if a statute can
be interpreted two different ways, one of which will render it unconstitutional
and the other constitutional, it should be interpreted to make it
constitutional. If it is “fairly possible” to read it that way, that is how it
will be read.
The four dissenting justices led by Justice Antonin Scalia vehemently
disagreed, protesting that “we cannot rewrite the statute to be what it is not.”
In the dissenting justices’ view, “there is simply no way, without doing
violence to the fair meaning of the words used, to escape what Congress enacted:
a mandate that individuals maintain minimum essential coverage, enforced by a
Commentators will argue for years to come whether Chief Justice Roberts’s
interpretation was a “fairly possible” reading of the statute. But the more
pressing problem is this:
This new precedent could
well give Congress carte blanche to get around the limitations of the
Commerce Clause by using the Taxing Clause to impose on individuals obligations
which under the Constitution it could not otherwise impose.
Now, Chief Justice Roberts admits that “Even if only a tax, the payment
remains a burden that the Federal Government imposes for an omission, not an
act. If it is troubling to interpret the Commerce Clause as authorizing Congress
to regulate those who abstain from commerce, perhaps it should be similarly
troubling to permit Congress to impose a tax for not doing something.”
But, incredibly, he goes on to say that taxes are just part of life, citing
Benjamin Franklin’s famous remark that “In this world nothing can be said to be
certain, except death and taxes.”
But not to worry, Justice Roberts assures Americans, for the U.S. Supreme
Court will never—no never!—allow the power to tax to become the power to
As the principal author of the ACLA’s amicus brief, the brilliant New Jersey
lawyer Bertram P. (Skip) Goltz, Jr., asks: “Does this take into account the
American values of individualism and autonomy, not to mention personal
conscience, that the ACLA stressed in its friend-of-the-court brief? And how far
will the ingenuity of Congress reach to impose other mandates in the form of
Indeed! Moreover, if a Catholic surrenders and buys the health insurance
instead of paying the tax, he may well have to buy it through one of the
ObamaCare-created insurance exchanges that has nested within it an involuntary
premium covering abortion.
So what does the future hold? It seems that this new precedent gives
Congress a green light to use the Taxing Clause to impose on individuals
obligations which under the Constitution it could not otherwise impose.
The Chief Justice assures us that “there comes a time [when] the so-called
tax…loses its character as such and becomes a mere penalty with the
characteristics of regulation and punishment.”
But surely, as Skip Goltz observes, “Congress will be canny enough to
write its ‘tax’ laws so as to avoid this. In how many other ways will Americans
be mandated—sorry, taxed—into buying things and doing things that violate their
consciences? The governmental power to tax has always been given broad leeway by
the courts, and so we enter uncharted waters…The waters are uncharted—and
likely, rough and stormy as well.”
As the ACLA declares in its mission statement, we are “a non-profit religious
organization run by Catholics, to defend the rights of Catholics,” and to
provide “free legal services on behalf of Catholics needing legal defense in
matters of faith and conscience.”
We are dedicated to establishing the Social Kingship of Christ and to
“upholding the Divine prerogatives and moral law.” There has always been much to
do in furnishing legal defense in matters of faith and conscience.
Our commitment is great, but our resources are few. As the implications of
the Supreme Court’s decision become manifest, we commend ourselves to your
prayerful and practical support in what are sure to be challenging days ahead.
MAJOR PRO-LIFE VICTORY IN MARYLAND
BALTIMORE, MD: On July 12, 2011, Hon.
Richard D. Bennett of the federal district court for the District of Maryland
issued a 49-page opinion in a civil rights action filed by attorneys with the
American Catholic Lawyers Association (ACLA) in 2009.
The decision, following extensive motions for summary judgment by both
plaintiffs and defendants, holds that the First and Fourth Amendment rights of
the seven pro-life advocates who are the plaintiffs (as well as two pro-life
advocates represented by the Alliance Defense Fund) were violated as a matter of
law when State Troopers arrested and jailed them in Harford County, MD on August
1, 2008 for displaying signs deemed offensive by passing motorists. (Another
plaintiff in the action, the organization Defend Life, Inc., is represented by
attorneys Tom Brejcha and Pat Gillen of the Thomas More Society in Chicago.) The
plaintiffs’ First and Fourth Amendment claims against the Troopers would proceed
to a jury trial for the assessment of damages only.
Quoting controlling case law, the Court held that “[A] reasonable police
officer faced with the facts confronted by the Defendants would have known that,
in ordering the demonstrators to leave Harford County, he would violate the
Plaintiffs’ First Amendment rights. Moreover, arresting the Plaintiffs for
exercising those rights was a violation of the Plaintiffs’ Fourth Amendment
rights. In engaging in this manifestly unlawful behavior, the individual
officers could not have reasonably misapprehended the law, nor can it be said
that they made a bad guess in a gray area.”
The pro-life advocate plaintiffs in the case, Ames, et al. v. Colonel
Terrence Sheridan, are being represented by ACLA President and Chief Counsel
Christopher A. Ferrara, serving as lead counsel, and ACLA attorneys Denis Brenan
and Howard Walsh, III, assisted by local counsel Matt Paavola.
Commenting on the decision, Monsignor Ignacio Barreiro, a member of ACLA’s
Advisory Board and interim President of Human Life International, stated: “This
is an important judicial decision that protects the natural right of persons
involved in an active way in the defense of the right to life of the unborn.”
“We are gratified by the court’s comprehensive decision, and we are preparing
to move ahead to a final resolution of this case,” said Mr. Ferrara.
Meanwhile, however, the State Trooper defendants have appealed Judge
Bennett’s decision to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. “We will respond
appropriately to the Trooper defendants’ brief, and will demonstrate the Judge
Bennett’s decision is well-grounded in law and fact,” Ferrara added.
NEW YORK FEDERAL JUDGE STRIKES DOWN LAW
TARGETING CRISIS PREGNANCY CENTERS
NEW YORK NY: The ACLA is serving as local
counsel to the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) in a constitutional
challenge to a New York City law that seeks to “regulate” pro-life crisis
pregnancy centers (CPCs) out of existence, including the crisis pregnancy center
headed by the renowned pro-life advocate Chris Slattery, represented by ACLA in
On July 13, 2011, U.S. District Court Judge William H. Pauley, III issued an
opinion finding that the CPC plaintiffs are likely to prevail in their challenge
to the law, and he has temporarily forbidden its enforcement until there is a
final court hearing.
Penalties for non-compliance with the new law include fines, shutting down
the CPC, and imprisonment. Furthermore, the law defines a CPC in a way that
would allow the City of New York to fine and imprison the volunteers at CPCs
based on “criteria” such as offering women pregnancy tests they can buy at any
local drugstore without a prescription.
As Judge Pauley found, the onerous City law impermissibly burdens the First
Amendment rights of CPCs by compelling them to utter government-required
messages that would impose both a financial burden in terms of advertising costs
and would “significantly alter the manner in which plaintiffs approach these
topics with their audience.”
CPCs provide “life-saving information about alternatives to abortion, such as
adoption; and many provide ultrasounds that show expectant mothers that their
babies are not mere blobs of tissue but living human beings,” said ACLA chief
counsel Christopher A. Ferrara. “The ultrasounds alone have saved countless
thousands of unborn children.”
The City of New York has appealed Judge Pauley’s ruling to the U.S. Court of
Appeals for the Second Circuit.
MAJOR PRO-LIFE VICTORY IN MARYLAND
South Bend, IN: On May 5, 2011, ACLA President Christopher Ferrara announced that all
pending criminal charges against the "Notre Dame 88" represented by the ACLA
were dismissed with prejudice by the St. Joseph County, Indiana Prosecutor.
The dismissals were requested by the University of Notre Dame as part of the
joint efforts of the University and the ND 88 to reconcile and pledge to move
forward together for the sake of the faith and the pro-life cause.
"I wish to thank Christopher Ferrara and the ACLA for their invaluable
assistance in the criminal matters, which are now definitively resolved," said
Tom Dixon, who was lead counsel in the criminal cases, and who, along with
attorneys from the ACLA and the Thomas More Society in Chicago, negotiated this
outcome on behalf of the ND 88.
"ACLA's attorneys were honored to assist Tom Dixon and TMS attorneys Tom Brejcha
and Peter Breen in bringing these important cases to a successful conclusion,
and I look forward to working with them in other pro-life matters in the
future," said Ferrara.
CIVIL RIGHTS SUIT FILED IN MISSISSIPPI
JACKSON, MS: ACLA’s Mississippi
affiliate, James McCafferty, Esq., has filed a major civil rights suit against
the University of Mississippi Medical Center under that state’s Health Care
Rights of Conscience Act and other statutes.
The suit alleges that the Catholic nurse plaintiff was subjected to a
punitive transfer, a shift change, and then was fired on account of her
conscientious refusal to be involved in contraception or sterilization
A Mississippi conscience law specifically prohibits any adverse employment
action based on an employee’s religious or moral objections to certain medical
procedures. The law provides for triple damages to remedy discrimination against
employees who will not surrender to the Culture of Death.
The suit, recently removed to federal court, also involves as claim under the
federal Civil Rights Act.
CIVIL RIGHTS SUIT FILED IN NEW JERSEY
OVER “SEX CHANGE” CONTROVERSY
CAMDEN, NJ: The ACLA has filed a civil
rights suit under New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination on behalf of Anthony
Martini, a licensed professional counselor.
The suit alleges that Mr. Martini was fired from his counseling position on
account of his conscientious Catholic opposition to a policy of treating
psychiatric patients contemplating “sex change” operations as if they were
really members of the sex to which they want to “change.”
The suit further alleges that Mr. Martini was also subjected to a pattern of
religious discrimination by a supervisor who accused him of “imposing” his
Catholic morality by merely answering questions about what the Church teaches.
The supervisor, the complaint alleges, also confronted Mr. Martini over his
Catholic beliefs on abortion, contraception, homosexuality, transgender
reassignment and other issues, while defending her own non-Catholic beliefs and
insisting that her contrary beliefs were valid.
The lawsuit is in the discovery phase and will soon proceed to pretrial
Trial for Falsely Arrested Pro-Lifer
NEW YORK, NY: On September 13, 2010 jury
selection will begin in the trial of a lawsuit ACLA attorneys filed on behalf of
John Cain, a veteran pro-life activist in New York City, whose civil rights, the
complaint alleges, were violated by a false arrest outside a NY abortion mill
and malicious prosecution on charges that were finally dismissed.
As noted in earlier updates, Mr. Cain was arrested, confined to a jail
cell, rushed to a hospital by ambulance, treated in handcuffs, released after a
night in the notorious “Tombs” jail, and then was dragged through the criminal
process for nearly a year before the bogus charges against him were dropped.
Video evidence ACLA attorneys uncovered shows that the allegations against
John in the criminal complaint, concocted by the abortion mill’s security guard
and a partisan police officer, are patently false, and that what the abortion
mill claims happened never happened.
A judge earlier denied a bid by the abortion mill to have the suit dismissed
ACLA Chief Counsel Debates Protestant
Apologist on Immaculate Conception; ACLA to Publish Apologetics Book
SOUTH HUNTINGTON, NY: On August 28,
2010, ACLA Chief Counsel Christopher A. Ferrara engaged in a public debate in
defense of the Immaculate Conception of Mary with James R. White, an inveterate
public opponent of Catholic teaching who heads an organization based in Phoenix,
AZ. White has debated such prominent Catholic apologists as Pat Madrid and
“This debate covered the usual Protestant objections to the defined dogma of
the Church, but here I wished to emphasize that ultimately these questions are
not debatable but rather depend on the final authority of the Church that Christ
established to settle such disputes infallibly. The Protestant position that no
infallible authority exists on earth except the Bible—which does not interpret
itself and which, in fact, teaches that the Church is the final authority in
theological disputes—is nonsensical. We saw that during the debate,” said
The debate was part of ACLA’s activity in the field of Catholic apologetics,
which will include the upcoming publication of THE BIBLICAL BASIS FOR TRADITION:
Why Catholics Don’t Rely On Scripture Alone by John Salza, the renowned Catholic
author, apologist and attorney who appears regularly on Relevant Radio and
hosted a series on EWTN.
“Grinch who Stole Christmas” case
TO BE CONSIDERED BY THE SUPREME COURT
WASHINGTON, D.C.: On September 27, 2010
the Supreme Court, at its “mega-conference” of justices, will consider a petition
for certiorari, filed jointly by attorneys for ACLA and the Thomas More Law Center
(whose Rob Muise is serving as attorney of record), in the nationally reported
“Grinch who stole Christmas” case. (See “Grinch” story below).
The petition seeks review of a Third Circuit Court of Appeals decision
upholding a ban on Christmas music during the traditional holiday concerts in
the South Orange/Maplewood School District in NJ, ending a more than
forty-year-long tradition of student ensembles performing traditional Christmas
music in the District. “We are hopeful the Court will grant this petition and
begin the process of ending the increasing hostility of public schools to any
manifestation of Christianity—but not Islam or eastern religions—in the public
schools,” said ACLA President and Chief Counsel, Christopher A. Ferrara.
Fired in New Mexico for Pre-Game Prayer
TAOS, NM: ACLA has agreed to assist James
Branch, a faithful Catholic devoted to Saint Jude, who was pushed out of his
position as Athletic Director and Basketball Coach in the Taos, NM school
district after being “reprimanded” because his team had engaged in traditional
locker-room prayer before a game.
ACLA will be working with local Catholic attorney Anthony Lopez, who filed a
Notice of Claim on behalf of Mr. Branch, putting the school district on notice
of Mr. Branch’s claims for wrongful termination, religious discrimination in
violation of the New Mexico Human Rights Act, the New Mexico Religious Freedom
Restoration Act, and Title VII of the federal 1964 Civil Rights Act.
The Notice of Claim notes that locker room prayers before “the big game” are
a long-established tradition in the Taos school district (and indeed throughout
the southwestern United States) and that Coach Branch was penalized on account
of his professed Roman Catholicism, reported in the local press, which noted his
custom of rubbing a holy card of Saint Jude during games.
ACLA Investigates False Advertising
By Another Abortion Mill
FAIRFIELD, NJ: ACLA has been requested by
a New Jersey pro-life organization to investigate legal remedies against a New
Jersey abortion mill that falsely advertises its services in the “Abortion
Alternatives” section of the Yellow Pages.
“The investigation is being led by our brilliant New Jersey litigation
counsel, Skip Goltz (a former Deputy Attorney General),” said ACLA chief counsel
Christopher A. Ferrara. “At issue,” he continued, “is whether the abortion mill
is engaging in deception, fraud, false pretense, false promise and
misrepresentation in connection with the sale or advertisement of any
merchandise in violation of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act.”
In New York, ACLA attorneys recently obtained a settlement and court ordered
prohibiting this deceptive practice by another abortion mill. (See “Buffer Zone”
story below). “We hope to vindicate the same principles in this case,” Ferrara
ACLU Now Attacking Catholic Hospitals
That Refuse To Provide Abortions
WASHINGTON, D.C.: The American Civil
Liberties Union has requested “a government investigation into and action
against Catholic hospitals that refuse to provide abortions,” as California
Catholic Daily reports.
The ACLU has written to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
to claim that the refusal by Catholic hospitals to provide abortions violates
the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act and the Conditions of
Participation of Medicare and Medicaid.
“Surely, major attacks on Catholic hospitals and Catholic medical
professionals in the courts and by bureaucrats, both state and federal, are
coming soon. And we stand ready to assist Catholics in defending against this
threatened violation of religious liberty,” said ACLA Chief Counsel, Christopher
Police Impose “Buffer Zone” Around
Notorious NYC Abortion Mill
NEW YORK, NY: ACLA has been asked to
intervene in the matter of police action creating a 15-foot “buffer zone” around
the entrance to the infamous “Dr. Emily” abortion mill in Bronx, NY.
ACLA supporters will remember that the “Dr. Emily” abortion mill is the same
one ACLA attorneys sued successfully for false advertising when it ran ads in
the “Abortion Alternatives” section of the Yellow Pages. Under a settlement
constituting a court order, those misleading ads were removed, as a direct
result of ACLA’s interventions.
In that case ACLA represented one of the world’s most renowned pro-life
advocates, Christopher Slattery, and his phenomenal Expectant Mother Care (EMC)
organization, which provides sidewalk counseling and free ultrasounds to
These free ultrasounds have been amazingly successful in persuading expectant
mothers to accept God’s precious gift of life and not to allow the butchers at
“Dr. Emily” and other “clinics” to destroy the innocent lives within them.
“Well, now it seems ‘Dr. Emily’ is very upset about the effectiveness of
EMC’s peaceful pro-life witness. Saving lives is bad for ‘Dr. Emily’s’ business
of taking lives for profit,” said ACLA chief counsel, Christopher A. Ferrara.
After a series of unfounded complaints about “offenses” committed by such
“threatening” EMC pro-life advocates as three Franciscan friars, the police have
put up wooden barricades that keep these holy friars in a pen, preventing them
or any other pro-life advocate from standing within fifteen feet of the entrance
to the abortion mill.
“As someone who has defended pro-life advocates all over the country, I can
tell you that those last fifteen feet between the sidewalk and the doors to the
baby-killing factories are the last, best chance pro-life advocates have to
change the minds of expectant mothers,” Ferrara added.
It appears that the local precinct commander has justified this action based
on a new City ordinance that enhances criminal penalties for alleged
“harassment” by pro-life advocates within 15 feet of an abortion mill.
But ACLA, employing a Freedom of Information Act request, uncovered
a Police Department memo that concedes he ordinance does not create any 15-foot
“frozen zone” outside of abortion mills.
Accordingly, ACLA advised the precinct commander that “NYPD officers should
not attempt to create a 15-foot ‘frozen zone’ at Dr. Emily’s and should
permit…activists to freely engage in peaceful First Amendment-protected
“ACLA stands ready to defend the rights of advocates for life on the public
sidewalk outside of this abortion mill,” said Ferrara. “If this police directive
is not rescinded, ACLA will pursue all necessary legal remedies, including civil
ACLA Attorney Wins
Another Pro-Life Victory in Mississippi
JACKSON, MS: ACLA’s Mississippi affiliate
counsel James McCafferty has chalked up another victory with the dismissal of
charges against veteran pro-life activist Roy McMillan.
McMillan was prosecuted under a Jackson, MS sign ordinance prohibiting
“portable signs” after he used a placard during his sidewalk counseling against
abortion at the state's last remaining abortion mill.
McMillan placed the signs on the public sidewalk adjoining the abortion
mill’s property and against his vehicle.
At the July 22, 2010 trial, McCafferty moved to dismiss the charges. He
argued that the signs were exempt from the coverage of the ordinance by the
law's own terms. The ordinance, he told the Court, specifically permits the use
of signs that are "held or used" in First Amendment activity.
Despite the prosecution's strenuous argument that the exception applied only
to signs actually held in one’s hands, the court refused to permit the
prosecution to proceed. Instead, the judge remanded [dismissed] the charges and
"The city," notes McCafferty, "still does not seem to understand that its own
ordinance protects signs of the type Mr. McMillan was using. It may be necessary
for ACLA attorneys to seek an injunction against the city to prohibit further
illegal prosecutions of pro-lifers under the sign ordinance."
Discrimination Suit Settled
NEW JERSEY: A religious discrimination
suit filed by ACLA attorneys on behalf of Lauren Walters, a practicing Roman
Catholic who was fired from her position with a New Jersey firm for refusing to
cooperate in a project involving a “fertility center” that would engage in the
destruction of human embryos, has been settled. “We have reached a mutually
agreeable financial settlement with the defendants, and the suit will,
accordingly, be dismissed,” said ACLA chief counsel Christopher A. Ferrara.
“ACLA has stood by my side during this most difficult time,” said Walters.
“Their professionalism, expertise, compassion, and faith have been paramount in
this wonderful outcome. May God bless them abundantly for the good works they do
for His namesake!”
Court Denies Motions to Dismiss ACLA suit
in Mass Arrest of Pro-life Advocates
BALTIMORE, MD: On May 4, 2010, Hon.
Richard D. Bennett of the United States District Court for the District of
Maryland issued a 17-page opinion denying all motions to dismiss, and upholding
as amply pleaded, all of the claims in a civil rights lawsuit filed by ACLA
attorneys in connection with the mass arrest of pro-life advocates by State
Troopers and local police in Bel Air, Maryland on August 1, 2008.
The suit alleges that the arrests were conducted to silence and punish the
pro-life advocate plaintiffs’ advocacy for life in a public forum alongside a
public highway at the subject location, and that female pro-life advocates were
strip-searched in a public location after the arrest.
“We are gratified that the Court denied the motions to dismiss both as to our
state law claims and our federal claims in this complex case. We look forward to
proceeding to discovery and trial in this matter,” said Christopher A. Ferrara,
ACLA chief counsel.
ACLA Chief Counsel Addresses
Columbia Law School Students on Pro-Life Strategies
YORK, NY: On April 9, 2010 ACLA President and Chief Counsel
Christopher A. Ferrara participated as one of the featured speakers at a
pro-life conference sponsored by Columbia Law Students for Life.
Mr. Ferrara’s presentation covered “front line” strategies for defending
sidewalk advocates, and noted some of the legal victories, at the trial and
appellate level, that ACLA attorneys have won in recent years. One of the other
participants on the panel, the leading Catholic attorney and legal scholar Mark
L. Rienzi, cited one of ACLA’s victories (the case of Spitzer v. Operation
Rescue) in a petition to the United States Supreme Court.
“The very occurrence of this event at Columbia Law School is a hopeful sign
for the future of pro-life advocacy in America,” said Mr. Ferrara.
ACLA and THOMAS MORE CENTER PETITION
U.S. SUPREME COURT IN “GRINCH WHO STOLE CHRISTMAS” CASE
WASHINGTON, DC: On March 29, 2010
attorneys for ACLA and the Thomas More Law Center filed a petition for
certiorari in the United States Supreme Court seeking reversal of a decision by
the Third Circuit Court of Appeals upholding a ban on Christmas music during the
traditional holiday concerts in the South-Orange/Maplewood School District in
The ban, ending a more than forty-year-long tradition of student ensembles
performing traditional Christmas music in the District, was prompted by the
complaint of single parent that Christmas carols offended her.
The petition to the Supreme Court notes that “Christmas is a national
holiday, and religious music in the public schools is one of the rich traditions
of this season. The Third Circuit’s opinion, if left unchecked, will ensure the
demise of this tradition, and it will embolden those who use the Establishment
Clause as a blunt instrument against religion to continue to do so.
Consequently, this case is about much more than holiday music. It is about
halting the proliferation of government policies and practices that disfavor
religion. A decision with such potentially broad and troubling implications
merits review by this Court.”
The School District’s brief opposing Supreme Court review was filed June 1,
2010. A decision is expected shortly.
Pro-Life Nurse Fired in Mississippi
JACKSON, MS: ACLA attorneys, including
ACLA affiliate counsel James McCafferty, have agreed to assist a devout Catholic
nurse, Tanya Britton, who was fired by a public hospital in Mississippi after
she refused a punitive reassignment in retaliation for her refusal to be
involved in dispensing contraception, abortion or sterilization.
“Tanya’s conscience rights were respected until a new supervisor began
harassing her because of her conscientious Catholic beliefs,” said Mr.
Events culminated with a “disguised termination” in the form of an “offer” to
reassign Miss Britton to a graveyard shift at a different location, involving
nursing services outside of her specialty, including a requirement that she be
prepared to assist in sterilization procedures.
If internal grievances procedures are unavailing, ACLA attorneys will seek
ACLA AND THOMAS MORE CENTER CONSIDER
CERTIORARI PETITION AFTER APPEALS FEDERAL COURT DECISION UPHOLDS PUBLIC
SCHOOL “BAN” ON CHRISTMAS MUSIC
NEWARK, NJ: A three-judge panel of the
U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld the Maplewood-South Orange school
district’s ban on all religious Christmas music including instrumentals, which
had been part of the school district Christmas program for more than forty
years. The ban, which came after one parent complained, prohibits Christmas
selections such as “Silent Night,” “Joy to the World,” “Oh, Come All Ye
Faithful,” and “Hark the Herald Angels Sing.”
A suit challenging the ban was filed in 2004 by ACLA and the Thomas More Law
Center on behalf of Michael Stratechuk, who sued on his own and on behalf of his
two school-age children on the grounds the policy is hostile to religion in
violation of the Establishment Clause.
“Once again, the Grinch has been allowed to steal Christmas in our public
schools,” said ACLA chief counsel Christopher A. Ferrara. ACLA and Thomas More
Center are now considering a petition to the United States Supreme Court,
following the denial of a petition for rehearing of the case by the full Third
Circuit. “Sooner or later the Supreme Court must confront the growing official
hostility to religion in our public institutions. This case is a perfect vehicle
to do so,” added Ferrara.
CHARGES AGAINST PRO-LIFE ADVOCATE
DISMISSED IN PITTSBURGH
PITTSBURGH, PA: ACLA Pennsylvania
litigation counsel Denis Brenan has obtained dismissal of criminal charges
against Adelaine Nohara, a sophomore at University of Steubenville, a straight
“A” student and pro-life advocate. Charged with “harassment” because she had
approached a woman to advocate against abortion at a Pittsburgh abortion mill,
Nohara appeared on December 17, 2009 in the Court of Common Pleas in Pittsburgh
with Brenan, who argued successfully for dismissal of the charges when the
abortion clinic staffers who appeared at the hearing failed to produce a
“We were thrilled with Denis and the help ACLA rendered, and of course the
outcome,” said Tim Nohara.
ACLA FILES CIVIL RIGHTS SUIT OVER MASS
OF PRO-LIFERS IN MARYLAND
MARYLAND: ACLA attorneys have filed suit
in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Maryland against
Maryland State Police, local police, and other named officials for violation of
the civil rights of seven Catholic pro-life advocates and their organization,
Defend Life. The suit stems the mass arrest of 18 pro-life advocates by State
troopers and local police after passing motorists called 911 to complain about
being offended by the pro-life advocates’ signs, which were part of a
demonstration on public property adjacent to a local roadway.
The arrest was ordered by one of the Trooper defendants, one Dona Bohlen, who
is heard stating on the 911 tapes: “they can all sit in a cell for an hour… and
two, or three or four and rot…” Although the original pretext for the arrest was
failure to obtain a “permit” for the demonstration, no permit was in fact
required, and the arresting officers substituted other charges, all of which
were dismissed on the prosecutor’s own motion.
After their arrest, the plaintiffs were handcuffed, transported to jail, and
“booked” like common criminals, and two of the female plaintiffs, the suit
alleges, were subjected to humiliatingly invasive searches.
The suit further alleges that the mass arrest was part of an unconstitutional
Maryland State Police policy of treating Defend Life and its associates as
possible “terrorists” whose activities should be monitored by the Maryland
Homeland Security Intelligence Bureau, one of whose agents was dispatched to the
“This is one of the most shocking abuses of police power to censor pro-life
speech that we have yet seen,” said ACLA’s President and Chief Counsel,
Christopher A. Ferrara.
This case is to be consolidated with a companion case filed by attorneys for
the Alliance Defense Fund. ACLA attorneys are now opposing motions to dismiss
the case filed by various defendants. Please pray for a successful outcome in
this important First Amendment case.
ACLA TO REPRESENT PUBLIC SCHOOL TEACHER
FOR CRITICIZING OBAMA
ACLA attorneys have been retained to represent a
substitute teacher who was dismissed by a local school system for having made
remarks highly critical of Barack Obama, even though other teachers have been
permitted to criticize previous Republican presidents without adverse
consequences. Details of the case will be provided as it develops.
SUIT OVER SEIZURE OF CAMPAIGN LITERATURE
BY SHERIFFS CONTINUES
MEDIA, PA: ACLA attorneys are
continuing their prosecution of a civil rights lawsuit against Delaware County,
PA officials arising from the seizure of campaign literature by deputy sheriffs
in what the suit alleges was a bid by the Delaware County Republican
establishment to stifle the political participation of the Catholic plaintiffs,
who were running for Republican Party offices without “official” Party
ACLA attorneys have taken depositions in this case, which have focused on how
a court order “banning” the campaign literature was obtained without any prior
notice to the plaintiffs, within a matter of hours, and how the order was then
turned over to deputy sheriffs for “enforcement” by seizure of the literature,
even though the order did not authorize the sheriffs to seize anything. The
order was set aside by another judge within 24 hours.
After completion of pretrial discovery, it is expected that the matter will
proceed to trial.
FEDERAL COURT DENIES BID TO DISMISS
ACLA CIVIL RIGHTS SUIT BY PRO-LIFE ACTIVIST
NEW YORK: A federal district judge has
rejected a bid by attorneys for the City of New York to dismiss a federal civil
rights lawsuit by pro-life advocate John Cain against the City and named police
officers. In denying the City’s motion for summary judgment on several counts,
the court cleared the way for the case to proceed to trial.
The suit alleges that one of the officers has illegally imposed a “bubble
zone” on the sidewalk in front of an office building containing a Manhattan
abortion mill, has repeatedly threatened plaintiff Cain with arrest, and has
even resorted to physical force in an effort to intimidate Cain into ceasing his
pro-life advocacy. The suit further that the police officer and two others have
issued retaliatory criminal charges against Cain, all of them dismissed as
“legally insufficient” by the court.
Cain, a retired schoolteacher and the holder of two Masters degrees in
education, has been advocating for life since the 1970s. “This is yet another
example of the abuse of police power to punish and restrict pro-life advocacy,”
said ACLA Chief Counsel Christopher A. Ferrara.
CHARGES AGAINST FLORIDA PRO-LIFE ADVOCATE
FOLLOWING acla'S PRETRIAL DEPOSITIONS
PENSACOLA, FL: On April 22, 2009, only
days before trial, prosecutors dismissed a criminal charge against veteran
pro-life activist Mark Farmer instigated by an infamous local abortion mill in
that city. The charge of disturbing the peace was lodged after Mr. Farmer
protested vocally that a women was being pushed into the abortion mill against
her will by a companion.
The charge was dismissed after extensive pretrial depositions of witness
taken by ACLA attorneys Christopher Johnson and Christopher A. Ferrara. “In our
view,” said Mr. Ferrara, “the depositions showed that there was no disturbance
of the peace and no factual basis at all for this criminal prosecution. We are
gratified by the prosecutor’s decision, which is a victory for First Amendment
Commenting on the outcome, Mr. Farmer stated: “Chris Ferrara of New Jersey
and Chris Jonnson of Pensacola did a wonderful job of questioning the State of
Florida’s witnesses against me. Their testimony was contradictory…. Thanks be to
God, the Blessed Mother and all the angels! Special thanks to my very capable
lawyers. Without them the pro-life movement would be much less effective.”
ACLA SUIT AGAINST ABORTION CLINIC FOR
CIVIL RIGHTS AND PUBLIC NUISANCE CONTINUES
ALLENTOWN, PA - A federal district court
judge has denied a bid by an Allentown abortion clinic to dismiss a suit against
it by ACLA attorneys. The suit alleges that Allentown Women’s Center (AWC) and
the City of Allentown and its police chief have engaged in a civil conspiracy to
violate First Amendment rights and subvert a prior federal court settlement
agreement under which the City is obligated to permit pro-life advocacy in an
alley abutting the abortion clinic, and in particular a cross-walk that
traverses the alley.
The suit alleges that the City, in violation of the settlement, has
authorized the use of tarpaulins, a “human cocoon” and a “wall of noise” by AWC
staffers to prevent communication of the plaintiffs’ pro-life message to women
entering the crosswalk as they proceed toward the clinic. The judge, in denying
AWC’s motion to dismiss, noted that ACLA’s complaint sufficiently alleges the
elements of a civil rights conspiracy including “alleged multiple actions taken
by the alleged conspirators to achieve the purpose of the conspiracy,” and that
the complaint also states a valid claim for public nuisance.
SUPREME COURT CITES ACLA AMICUS BRIEF
IN TEN COMMANDMENTS MONUMENT CASE
SUPREME COURT: The Supreme Court of the United States made reference
to a friend-of-the-Court brief filed by ACLA its recent decision in Pleasant
Grove v. Summum. In Summum, the Court unanimously rejected a suit seeking to
compel the City of Pleasant Grove to allow monuments of all kinds to be placed
on its public property merely because a donated monument of the Ten Commandments
had been erected by the City on public land.
Had the lower court decision not been reversed, cities across the country
might have been precluded from honoring the Ten Commandments or any other
traditional religious symbol by demands that all symbols, including
anti-religious ones, be allowed in the same public forum.
“We are gratified that the Supreme Court saw fit to cite our amicus brief in
support of the majority opinion in this very important case,” said ACLA chief
counsel Christopher A. Ferrara.
ACLA FILES SUIT OVER SEIZURE OF
PRO-LIFE CAMPAIGN LITERATURE BY SHERIFFS
ACLA attorneys have filed a civil rights law suit in federal district court in
Pennsylvania over the seizure of pro-life campaign literature by county
sheriff's deputies during the Republican Primary in 2008.
The suit alleges that ACLA’s clients, who were running for party offices or
to be delegates to the Republican National Committee, are considered
“dissidents” by the local Republican establishment.
The suit further alleges that, without notice to the plaintiffs, a
Republican-connected law persuaded a judge to sign an order declaring that the
plaintiffs’ campaign literature was “fraudulent” and that they must turn it over
to the County Board of Elections.
According to the suit, county deputy sheriffs, acting without authority under
the order, took it upon themselves to confiscate plaintiffs’ literature on the
very day of the voting. The court order was voided within 24 hours by another
judge, but too late to prevent confiscation of the literature, says the suit.
A motion to dismiss the suit has been resolved, and the case will now proceed
to the pre-trial discovery stage.
ACLA INTERVENES IN MASS ARREST
OF PRO-LIFERS IN MARYLAND; FILES NOTICES OF CLAIM
AIR, MD: ACLA has been requested to represent several young pro
pro-life advocates who were arrested Bel Air, MD during a
ACLA Maryland affiliate attorney Howard Walsh, III has filed notices of claim
on behalf of the pro-life advocates, who caught up in a mass arrest conducted by
State Troopers who demanded that the demonstration, on public property adjacent
to a roadway, cease.
One of the pro-life advocates, age 18, was shoved to the ground by a trooper,
who cuffed her, took her to jail and charged her with “disorderly conduct” and
“obstruction of a pubic highway.”
As a result of ACLA's represenation of these pro-life advocates, the charges against all the arrested pro-life advocates
“This case is yet another example of the shocking abuse of police power to
suppress the pro-life message,” said Christopher A. Ferrara, ACLA President and
If the matter is not settled, a civil rights lawsuit is contemplated.
CHARGE AGAINST PRO-LIFE
LOWVILLE, NY: After ACLA Chief Counsel
Christopher A. Ferrara filed an extensive motion to dismiss, the Lewis District
Attorney’s office agreed to dismiss a pending charge of “harassment” against Joe
Kraeger in connection with his pro-life advocacy at a local Planned Parenthood
affiliate. The dismissal is to be treated as one following an “adjournment in
contemplation of dismissal.”
The dismissal follows earlier withdrawal of a charge against Mr. Kraeger for
“criminal interference” with health services, which ACLA had argued was legally
and factually unfounded.
“We hope this dismissal brings to a close a history of attempts to
criminalize Mr. Kraeger’s vigorous Catholic advocacy against Planned Parenthood
and its evil works,” said Mr. Ferrara.
ACLA FILES MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
ON BEHALF OF PRO-LIFE ACTIVIST
YORK, NY: ACLA has filed an extensive motion for summary judgment in
the United States District Court in New York City seeking a permanent injunction
to protect pro-life activist John Cain from further harassment by members of the
The motion alleges that since February 2006 Mr. Cain has been subjected a
series of unfounded summonses, all dismissed by the court as “legally
insufficient,” and to a number of patently unconstitutional “rules” imposed by a
particular police officer, including a “bubble zone” under which he and other
pro-life advocates are not allowed to stand anywhere on the public sidewalk in
front of 800 Second Avenue, where an abortion mill is located on the seventh
The motion further avers that the officer issued a “no crossing over” rule,
forbidding pro-life advocates to cross over the “bubble zone” to get from one
side to the other in order to speak to expectant mothers approaching the
According to the motion, the same officer has further “decreed” that pro-life
advocates, including Mr. Cain, unlawfully “obstruct pedestrian traffic” during
their pro-life advocacy if other people have to “walk around” them or wait for
“a few seconds,” while they offer literature and speak to people.
“According to these ‘rules’ imposed by a police officer, practically every
sidewalk protest in New York City would be an illegal “obstruction” of traffic,”
said Christopher A. Ferrara, ACLA Chief Counsel and NY litigation counsel.
A decision on the motion (as well as opposing motions filed by the
defendants) is expected in the near future.
CIVIL RIGHTS SUIT SETTLED
MS: The City of Jackson, MS has settled a civil rights suit filed by
ACLA attorneys on behalf of Richard Mahoney, Catholic father of eleven, and a
long-time “prayer warrior” outside of abortion mills.
Mr. Mahoney was put in handcuffs, tossed into a squad car, put into leg
shackles and imprisoned overnight for doing nothing more than objecting to the
female police officer that she should be investigating the man who had just
threatened him with a knife outside the abortion mill where he had been praying.
Mr.Mahoney will receive a financial settlement (which will assist his
pro-life advocacy) and the City will investigate and report to him concerning
prosecution of the knife-wielding man and Richard’s internal affairs complaint
against the officer.
“With heartfelt gratitude I thank Christopher Ferrara and the ACLA for their
faithful Christian witness to truth and justice,” said Mr. Mahoney after the
settlement was reached. “We cannot thank Chris and his staff enough for
protecting our constitutional rights. We ask your continued support of their
work in this very critical juncture of human history and especially during this
election year when the battle for the life of the pre-born has never been as
ACLA APPEALS FEDERAL COURT DECISION
UPHOLDING PUBLIC SCHOOL “BAN” ON CHRISTMAS MUSIC
NJ: ACLA, in conjunction with the Thomas More Law Center, has filed
extensive appellate briefs in the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in support of
an appeal from the decision of a federal district judge in Newark, NJ upholding
a newly adopted policy of South Orange-Maplewood School District banning all
Christmas carols during the annual “Holiday Concerts” in the District, even
though the same carols had been performed for more than forty years in the
The ban on traditional Christmas carols, which are performed by public school
orchestras all over the country and are part of nationally published public
school music textbooks, followed a complaint by one parent who said the carols
Commenting on the pending appeal, ACLA chief counsel Christopher A. Ferrara
said: “The district judge whose decision is being appealed held that the ban on
Christmas carols did not ‘send a message of disapproval of religion’ in
violation of the First Amendment, even though the entire community was up in
arms over the ban precisely because it did signify official disapproval of
religious music simply because it is religious.”
“The judge further held that there was no hostility toward religion because
the same Christmas music could be performed at some other time of the year in
order to avoid the appearance of a school ‘celebration of Christmas.’ As if a
school orchestra is going to play “Silent Night” in May! Obviously, we strongly
disagree with this decision, which is just one more example of an
ever-increasing hostility of the State toward anything that smacks of
Christianity, while students are encouraged to learn about Islam and other
Eastern religions,” said Mr. Ferrara.
Oral argument of the appeal will be schedule in Spring 2008.
ACLA ATTORNEYS PREPARING FOR
CRIMINAL TRIAL OF PRO-LIFE ADVOCATE IN PENSACOLA
FL: In Pensacola, Florida, ACLA attorneys are preparing for the
upcoming criminal trial of pro-life activist Mark Farmer.
Mr. Farmer, a diabetic who has had open heart surgery, is undergoing criminal
prosecution because he and several other pro-life advocates vocally objected
when they saw a young woman being pushed inside the door of one a Pensacola’s
Mr. Farmer, who has been demonstrating at this abortion mill for more than a
decade, was arrested, handcuffed, booked and charged with “disturbing the
ACLA attorneys are conducting pretrial depositions of the State’s witnesses
in preparation for the trial, which is schedule for April 2009.
FEDERAL AGENCIES DENY
FREEDOM OF INFORMATION REQUEST
CONCERNING SPLC “HATE MAP”
The Department of Defense (DOD) and the Transportation Security
Agency (TSA) have declined to provide, under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)
the names and email addresses of government employees who circulated and/or
received a so-called “Hate Map” Power Point presentation prepared by the
Left-wing Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).
The “Hate Map” lists three traditional Catholic periodicals -- The Remnant,
Catholic Family News, and Fatima Crusader -- in its geographical listing of
“hate groups,” and ACLA is representing those publications in an effort to
obtain full FOIA disclosure so that the public officials who circulated the
“Hate Map” can be provided with true and accurate information to counter SPLC’s
DOD and TSA decline to provide the names and email addresses of the federal
officials on grounds that they have a right to “privacy.” ACLA maintains that
public officials “have no right to privacy concerning circulation of information
that could be damaging to citizens, who have a constitutional right of redress
and petition with respect to the acts of such officials,” said ACLA Chief
Counsel Christopher A. Ferrara.
“If necessary,” Mr. Ferrara added, “ACLA will sue the federal agencies in
question under FOIA so that justice can be done for our Catholic clients. We
cannot allow leftwing propaganda created by self-appointed hate-hunters in the
private sector to be circulated throughout the federal government with no
opportunity for rebuttal.”
CIVIL RIGHTS COMPLAINT AGAINST CATHOLIC
CLIENT TO CHALLENGE REGULATORY SCHEME
A complaint by the New Jersey’s Civil Rights Division against our Catholic
client, Joseph Fabics, alleging that he discriminated in renting his two-family
house by advertising that it is “a Christian household,” has been dismissed with
no admission of guilt and no finding of liability by the Division.
The complaint was dismissed under a settlement agreement which provides that
Mr. Fabics will voluntarily refrain from republishing “Christian household” ads
until such time as he obtains judicial relief declaring that such a restriction
on his speech is unconstitutional.
The settlement avoids imposition of financial penalties for discrimination
and allows Mr. Fabics to bring a constitutional challenge to New Jersey’s Law
Against Discrimination as applied to his premises.
DEFENDANTS SEEK DISMISSAL OF
PA: An Allentown abortion mill has filed a motion to dismiss
ACLA’s federal civil rights lawsuit against it. The suit alleges that the
abortion mill, Allentown Women’s Center (AWC), has used tarpaulins to block a
crosswalk on a public road in order to prevent our clients from offering
pro-life literature to expectant mothers, and a “wall of noise” to drown out our
clients’ oral pro-life message.
The suit further alleges that the City of Allentown, despite a prior
settlement agreement protecting the free speech rights of pro-life advocates
outside the abortion mill, has authorized and condoned this unlawful behavior.
ACLA has filed an extensive brief in opposition to the motion to dismiss, and
is awaiting the Court’s decision.
ACLA OBTAINS A RETRACTION
CONCERNING SPLC “HATE MAP”
NEW JERSEY: ACLA has
intervened in the matter of the circulation on US military bases of a so-called
“Hate Map” published by Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). SPLC publishes the
“Hate Map,” which it features on its Website, under the inflammatory heading
“Find the Hate in Your State.”
SPLC has recently added to this “hate-map” three traditional Catholic
publications—The Remnant, Catholic Family
News and Fatima Crusader—which
have been the subject of SPLC's ridiculous and error-filled exposé of Roman
Catholic traditionalists, which our previous newsletters have addressed.
Just before Easter 2008, ACLA learned that a military security officer at the
Picatinny Arsenal, a massive military base in New Jersey, had sent the “Hate
Map” to more than 1,000 military personnel at the base, along with email falsely
alleging that the groups listed, including the three Catholic publications,
engage in, or promote violence.
The email further stated that military personnel should be on constant guard
for “threats” by these groups. Even more distrubing, the “Hate Map” had been
sent to the security officer by the Army's Criminal Investigation Division
After learning of this alarming development, ACLA sent a detailed letter to
the security officer and the commander of the Picatinny Arsenal, demonstrating
that the officer's allegations were false and that SPLC's “Hate Map” is
In response to our letter, the security officer sent out an email to the same
1,000 people at the military base, retracting his remarks and disavowing any
endorsement of the “Hate Map.”
ACLA has made a formal demand to the CID under the Freedom of Information Act
for all documents and other information concerning whether, and to what extent,
the U.S. Army has been circulating among its ranks SPLC's bogus “Hate Map” and
other material defaming traditional Roman Catholics.
ACLA Files Supreme
Court Brief in Ten Commandments Monument Case
SUPREME COURT: ACLA has filed a
Supreme Court brief in the nationally publicized case of City of Pleasant
Grove v. Summum, which the Supreme Court has agreed to review.
In ACLA's friend-of-the-court brief we argue that Pleasant Grove has the
right to place a privately donated Ten Commandments monument on public property
without converting that property into a “public forum” that would have to be
opened to “competing” monuments.
In this case, a secularist group called “Summum” has employed a tactic being
used all over the country by secularist opponents of Ten Commandments monuments
on public property. Summum demands the right to place its competing “Seven
Aphorisms” monument on the same property as the Ten Commandments monument.
The idea behind this tactic is to turn every place where a Ten
Commandments monument is found into a battleground for “competing” monuments, so
that municipalities will simply throw up their hands and not place any privately
donated monuments at all.
The Tenth Circuit agreed with this approach, holding that Summum has the
right to put its “Seven Aphorisms” monument next to the Ten Commandments
monument in Pleasant Grove.
As ACLA’s brief states, this approach will lead to absurd results if the
Supreme Court does not reverse the Tenth Circuit:
“If all private actors may install permanent, unattended monuments in
public areas once the government has installed a donated monument, it becomes
significantly more difficult for the government to communicate its own speech in
a manner highlighting the value of its message as the speech of the government.
Under the Tenth Circuit’s
ruling… any neo-fascist or other group opposed to the memory of the Holocaust…
would be free to erect its own monument openly challenging the sentiments
communicated by the Holocaust memorial.”
That the Supreme Court has agreed to review this case is a sign that it
intends to undo the injustice created by the Tenth Circuit’s ruling.
Please pray that the Court upholds the right of municipalities to recognize
the Ten Commandments in this limited way, without competition from atheists,
secularists and other crackpots.
ACLA SUES ABORTION CLINIC FOR VIOLATION OF
CIVIL RIGHTS AND PUBLIC NUISANCE
ALLENTOWN, PA: Despite a
breakthrough settlement achieved by ACLA attorneys last year, the saga of
harassment of pro-life advocates at a local abortion mill in Allentown, PA
continues. ACLA has filed an action against a local abortion mill and its
director, as well as the City of Allentown, in order to remedy harassment of
pro-life advocates by AWC personnel.
The suit alleges that, despite the prior settlement with the City of
Allentown, which AWC failed to block in federal court, AWC “escorts” have taken
to holding up plastic tarps, six feet in height and fifteen feet in length,
across both sides of the entire crosswalk leading to the abortion mill. By this
means, AWC hopes to create a veritable “wall of silence” to block out our
clients' saving pro-life message.
In addition, the suit alleges, AWC “escorts” form a human shield or scrum
around the expectant mothers as they walk across Keats Street in order to “body
block” the pro-life advocates and interfere with normal conversation and
interaction between them and the expectant mothers.
The suit seeks damages and an injunction against further interference with
the rights of the pro-life advocate plaintiffs.
BREAKING news: ACLA INTERVENES IN SEIZURE
OF PRO-LIFE LITERATURE
ACLA has been asked to investigate and pursue possible legal action concerning the
seizure of pro-life campaign literature during a recent election for delegates
to the upcoming Republican Convention.
The seizure occurred after attorneys for parties opposing the activity of the
pro-life candidates obtained an injunction banning the literature on the basis
of the allegation that the literature was in violation of state election law.
Some of the pro-life candidates lost the election by only a few votes, so
that seizure of their campaign literature could have affected the outcome of the
race, as well as being a violation of constitutional rights. Details will follow
upon completion of ACLA’s investigation.
ACLA OPPOSES MOTION TO DISMISS CIVIL
RIGHTS CASE IN JACKSON, MS
JACKSON, MS: ACLA has filed a major
brief and exhibits in opposition to motion by attorneys for the City of Jackson,
MS to dismiss a civil rights lawsuit brought by ACLA attorneys on behalf of
veteran pro-life activist and father of eleven, Richard Mahoney.
Jackson City attorneys are claiming the police officer who arrested Mr.
Mahoney without grounds and caused him to be shackled and confined to a City
jail is “immune” from suit because the arrest was justified.
ACLA's opposition papers contend, however, that the police officer and her
partner, during depositions conducted by ACLA chief counsel Christopher A.
Ferrara, conceded that the grounds for arrest stated in her police report did
not exist, and that Mahoney was wrongfully arrested for objecting to the
officer’s conduct at the scene, a local abortion mill where Mahoney had been
praying to end abortion.
A decision on the motion is expected shortly.
ACLA Appeals “Rooming House” Finding in
Connection with Discrimination Charge against Catholic Evangelist
NEW JERSEY: ACLA has filed a
notice of appeal to New Jersey’s Appellate Division seeking reversal of the
decision of the Department of Community Affairs that Joseph Fabics, a devout
Catholic and lay evangelist, is operating an “illegal rooming house.”
The appeal argues that Mr. Fabics’s two-family home, in which he resides, is
not a rooming house merely because it is divided into two apartments, like
innumerable other two-family homes, and that an apartment is by definition not a
The appeal is being handled in connection with ACLA’s defense of Mr. Fabics
against a charge by the Division of Civil Rights that he is guilty of religious
discrimination because of religious statements contained in his lease forms and
in advertisements for the apartments.
ACLA’s position is that the premises, as a two-family, owner occupied house,
are not subject to New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination, and that, in any
event, Mr. Fabics has a constitutional right to express his religious beliefs to
tenants, who have included a Muslim and other non-Catholics.
Pro-life Advocate in Upstate New York
The ACLA is defending long-time Catholic pro-life advocate Joseph Kraeger, who
has been charged with “harassment” for allegedly following a man and his wife
outside a Planned Parenthood clinic in upstate New York while warning them of
the eternal spiritual consequences of procuring an abortion. Such
religiously-motivated speech is clearly protected by the First Amendment to the
After ACLA’s intervention, more serious charges of “criminal interference with
health services” were dropped. Trial on the lesser charge is now scheduled for
January 2008. “We are hopeful that this charge will be dismissed without need of
a trial,” said chief counsel Christopher A. Ferrara. “We believe this is a clear
First Amendment case, and we will vigorously defend it every step of the way.”
The Association’s chief counsel, Christopher A. Ferrara, and its Mississippi
affiliate, James McCafferty, have brought suit in the U.S. District Court for
the Southern District of Mississippi on behalf of a hospital therapist who was
wrongfully arrested outside a notorious abortion clinic in that state in
The pro-life activist had been praying the Rosary on a public sidewalk with a
few other individuals when another man suddenly appeared on the scene and thrust
a knife through the fence so that it came within three inches of the pro-lifer’s
face. Two police officers responded to the scene. Although they refused to take
any action against the knife-wielder, one of the officers placed the pro-life
activist arrest on a charge that he allegedly refused to obey the command of the
The pro-lifer was acquitted by the County Court judge, and
the federal lawsuit followed. “With this suit we hope to send a message to the
City of Jackson that police power may not be used to silence the voice of
advocates for the unborn, while knife-wielding thugs get a pass,” said Ferrara.
The case is now in pretrial discovery.
ACLA Forms an Alliance in Europe
IRELAND: The ACLA has joined forces with the new Association of Catholic Lawyers of
Ireland (ACLI), formed by Barrister (Mrs.) Johanna Higgins, an advisor to the
group “Precious Life”, to combat the pro-abortion forces at work in the North of
Ireland. ACLA President Christopher A. Ferrara co-signed a letter from Mrs.
Higgins in support of a motion in the Northern Irish Legislative Assembly to
correct draft Guidelines of the Health Department which would mislead women and
physicians about current abortion law, which fortunately is still quite strict
Mrs. Higgins said: “We were delighted to receive the support of Mr. Christopher
Ferrara on behalf of the ACLA which has some great pro-life victories under its
Another ACLA Win in Mississippi!
ACLA Mississippi Litigation Counsel James T. McCafferty recently scored another
win in court. Veteran anti-abortion activist C. Roy McMillan was protesting at a
noted abortion clinic in that state. Obedient to a prior court order, Mr.
McMillan stayed across the street, in front of an apartment building and old
plantation house owned by a man influential in politics. He made himself
comfortable on a lawn chair that he placed in a public right-of-way along the
sidewalk directly in front of a fenced-in area used by the apartment complex for
placing refuse cans. The owner of the plantation house, hostile to pro-life
activists, obtained Power of Attorney from the apartment complex managers to
take Mr. McMillan to court for trespassing.
Despite testimony in his favor from the sympathetic Protestant former City
Engineer, the local judge found Mr. McMillan guilty and fined him. He appealed
to the County Court; Attorney McCafferty handled the appeal. The former City
Engineer again testified in our client’s favor. Mr. McMillan was acquitted. Both
Mr. McMillan and Mr. McCafferty are converts to Catholicism.
Settlement of Pro-Life Suit Approved
Court Rejects Abortion Clinic’s Attempt to Scuttle Settlement
ALLENTOWN, PA: The ACLA is pleased
to announce that after nearly three years of litigation, ACLA
attorneys obtained final court approval a ground-breaking settlement in the
federal civil rights suit ACLA filed on behalf of 13 pro-life advocates against
the City of Allentown, PA and named officials.
A non-party abortion clinic which played a key role in the case filed a Motion
to Intervene, in a last-ditch effort to scuttle the settlement. The
district court issued a 52-page decision denying the motion and thus paving the
way for the settlement to be consummated. It now has been.
Under the terms of settlement—which ACLA believes to be the first of its kind in
the country—the City has made substantial cash payments to each of the
plaintiffs as compensation for the police harassment they suffered outside the
non-party abortion clinic. The City is also creating
a designated walkway within which the ACLA’s clients will be able to engage in
their pro-life advocacy without further threats of prosecution for supposedly
“obstructing” the alleyway.
ACLA Pennsylvania Litigation Counsel Denis V. Brenan and Chief Counsel
Christopher A. Ferrara expended some 2,000 hours of their time to bring this
case to a highly successful outcome.
ACLA to Launch
Catholic Defense Bureau
With the all-too-frequent public attacks on Catholics and the Catholic Church
these days—attacks often led by highly-funded organizations with radical secular
humanist agendas—the ACLA has decided to expand its work to include a special
public relations and investigative wing, the Catholic Defense Bureau (CDB).
The CDB will fight back against the enemies of the Catholic Faith not only in
the civil courts, but in the often more important court of public opinion. The
CDB will conduct investigations into spurious charges made by anti-Catholic
groups—especially reckless charges of “anti-Semitism” and “homophobia”—and
conduct public relations counter-offensives on behalf of Catholics and Catholic
organizations under attack by the Left.
“The real hate groups are the ones who
are trying who are trying to demonize and marginalize traditional Roman
Catholics, while paving the way for hate crimes legislation in America,” said
ACLA chief counsel, Christopher A. Ferrara. “We intend to shine the spotlight on
The CDB is to be spearheaded by ACLA’s Georgia Litigation Counsel, Michael R.
Hirsh, who recently came into the Catholic Church with his wife and seven of
their thirteen children. “We are fortunate to have on board for this project an
attorney as talented, aggressive and quick-witted as Mike Hirsh,” said Ferrara.
“And, as Jewish convert to the faith, Mike will make quick work of Leftist
demagogues who try to accuse good Catholics of anti-Semitism.”
ACLA Defends Catholic
Accused of Discrimination
NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ: ACLA has undertaken the defense of Joseph Fabics, a devout Catholic from New
Brunswick, NJ, who has been subjected to proceedings by the NJ Attorney General
on grounds that he discriminated in the rental of apartments in his
owner-occupied two-family house when he advertised the apartments under the
motto “This is a Christian household.”
“In fact, Mr. Fabics rents to a Muslim tenant and has not engaged in religious
discrimination against anyone,” said Chief Counsel Christopher A. Ferrara. “The
motto ‘This is a Christian household’ merely signifies to those who choose to
rent from Mr. Fabics that they will be renting an apartment in the same
two-family house as a devout Catholic who displays religious images and does not
hesitate to speak of his faith to tenants. Mr. Fabics has a First Amendment
right to declare his religious beliefs to tenants.”
ACLA is also handling a related proceeding against Mr. Fabics by the NJ
Department of Community Affairs on grounds that Fabics is operating an illegal
“rooming house.” ACLA’S motion to dismiss that charge argues that the DCA is
attempting to establish that Mr. Fabic’s two-family owner occupied premises are
a rooming house because owner-occupied premises are not subject to New Jersey’s
Law Against Discrimination.
New Jersey ACLA Litigation Counsel Bertram P. Goltz, Jr., a former Assistant
Attorney General, is acting as co-counsel with Mr. Ferrara in this matter.
Oral Argument on
Portland Pro-Life Case
ACLA President & Chief Counsel Christopher A. Ferrara
argued a third appeal before a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals
for the Ninth Circuit in Portland, Oregon in Planned Parenthood of the
Columbia/Willamette v. American Coalition of Life Activists, et al.
This epic case was originally brought by Planned Parenthood and several abortion
doctors in the U.S. District Court in that city on October 26, 1995. After a
month-long trial with mountains of prejudicial testimony allowed, a federal jury
awarded nearly $120 million in compensatory and punitive damages. The ACLA
appealed. In 2001, a 3-judge U.S. Ninth Circuit panel reversed the judgment. In
2002 the judgment was reinstated by an eleven-member en banc panel, voting
6-to-5, with three vigorous dissents.
The pending third appeal relates to the computation of interest on the award and
could lead to further proceedings in the United States Supreme Court, depending
upon the outcome.
ALLENTOWN PRO-LIFERS' SUIT SETTLED
PA: The suit by 13 pro-life advocates against the City of Allentown
has been settled. The settlement, which appears to be the first of its kind in
the nation, resolves all issues in the pending suit, which arose from what the
suit alleges was a pattern of harassment and wrongful arrest and prosecution of
the plaintiffs on account of their First Amendment-protected protest activities
outside Allentown Women's Center, an abortion mill located on Keats Street alley
Under the terms of the settlement, each plaintiff will receive a cash
payment, the City of Allentown will provide a defined pedestrian walkway within
which pro-life advocacy can be conducted, and the mere presence of plaintiffs on
Keats Street to engage in pro-life advocacy will no longer be treated by the
City as "obstruction" or "loitering."
Allentown Women's Center has moved to intervene in the case in an effort to
block the settlement, and plaintiffs' attorneys, together with counsel for the
City of Allentown, have argued against intervention. If the settlement is
approved by the Court, it will bring an end to years of litigation over pro-life
activity on Keats Street, including 42 attempted prosecutions of plaintiffs, not
one of which was successful.
"The plaintiffs are pleased with the terms of the settlement and are hopeful
this case will soon be over," said Christopher A. Ferrara, ACLA chief-counsel
and co-counsel in the suit with Denis V. Brenan, ACLA's Pennsylvania affiliate.
Court action is expected in the near future.
APPEALS COURT THROWS OUT "HARASSMENT"
PA: In a unanimous decision the Superior Court of Pennsylvania has
reversed the conviction of pro-life activist Philip Pongracz for harassment.
Pongracz was convicted of harassment based on the allegation that he called a
security guard at Allentown Women's Center, a local abortion mill, a crude name
three times over a period a few seconds, which Pongracz denied.
Pongracz's attorneys, Denis V. Brenan, ACLA's Pennsylvania litigation
counsel, and Christopher A. Ferrara, ACLA chief counsel, argued that even if
Pongracz had made the remark in question it was speech protected by the First
Amendment and was uttered for a legitimate purpose: to express outrage over his
false arrest at the abortion mill earlier that day on another charge on which
Pongracz was later acquitted.
The appeals court agreed, holding that the alleged conduct was "protected
speech for a legitimate purpose. Consequently, the evidence was insufficient to
establish appellant harassed [complainant] as a matter of law and, as such,
appellant’s harassment conviction must be reversed."
"We are very gratified by this decision, which demonstrates that members of the
pro-life movement are no less entitled to First Amendment protection than other
political activists," said Mr. Ferrara, who argued the case before the Court.
ACLA MISSISSIPPI AFFILIATE FILES CIVIL
MS: ACLA's Mississippi litigation counsel, James McCafferty, has
brought a civil rights action against the City of Jackson on behalf of veteran
Catholic pro-life activist Richard Mahony.
The suit alleges that Mahony was arrested on trumped up charges of failing to
follow the commands of a police officer, handcuffed so tightly that he suffered
nerve damage to his hands, and confined to jail overnight.
Mahony was arrested when he insisted that he police investigate a heckler who
had threatened him with a knife. Mahony was acquitted of the charge after a
trial in County Court.
The suit further alleges that Mahony's arrest was part of a long-standing
policy and practice in Jackson of harassing pro-life activists with arrest and
prosecution or threats of same in order to discourage and retaliate for their
pro-life advocacy. The suit will no proceed through the pre-trial discovery
Pro-life Clients thank ACLA for Result in
Spring Valley Civil Rights Suit
SPRING VALLEY, NY: As already reported
(see story below) ACLA’s lawsuit against Spring Valley, New York on behalf of
Catholic pro-life activists Father Francis J. Samoylo and Richard Bruno has been
settled in a major victory for the pro-life cause.
Following repeal of the unconstitutional ordinance at issue, which banned all
public assemblies without permission of the Town council, Father Samoylo and Mr
Bruno expressed their gratitude in a letter to the Association:
repealed ordinance was directed towards us in an attempt to intimidate and have
us discontinue our peacefully praying the rosary on public property outside a
Planned Parenthood Abortion Mill asking for Our Lady of Guadalupe’s
intercession. Prior to engaging your superb legal team, pro-bono, (free, without
cost)… we were very concerned with possible legal consequences. Your Christ-like
demeanor and superior professional legal advice quickly removed any anxieties we
were experiencing… renewed our courage and strengthened our resolve.
“The unbelievable speed with which you accomplished this despite your existing
heavy caseload was truly remarkable. Both Father Frank Samoylo and myself are
extremely grateful for your excellent advice, patience, reassurance, time and
superior work in drafting that awesome 26-page legal brief that was submitted to
the court and was instrumental in our victory.”
Commenting on the outcome of the case, ACLA chief counsel Christopher A.
Ferrara said that "it was a privilege and a pleasure to provide effective
representation to these two exemplary Catholics. This is what ACLA was created
MICHAEL HIRSH JOINS ACLA AS GEORGIA
GEORGIA: ACLA is pleased to announce that
Michael R. Hirsh has joined ACLA as its Georgia Counsel. Michael is an
experienced businessman and seasoned litigator and has tried cases at both the
trial and appellate level in dozens of jurisdictions across the country. His
particular passion is defending the unborn and those that speak out on their
Michael and his wife Jo Lynn live in metro Atlanta, Georgia. Recently, he and
his wife and seven of their thirteen children entered the Catholic Church. "We
welcome Michael to ACLA's network of attorneys. But, more important, we welcome
him, his wife and children to the Catholic Church," said ACLA chief Counsel
Christopher A. Ferrara.
ACLA SUES CITY OF NEW YORK OVER HARASSMENT
NEW YORK, NY: ACLA
filed suit against the City of New York and several named police officers on
behalf of veteran pro-life activists John Cain.
The suit arose out of attempts by the defendant police officers to use
threats of arrest and prosecution to intimidate Mr. Cain into ceasing his lawful
demonstrations at a Planned Parenthood abortion mill located in the Israeli
consulate building in Manhattan.
ACLA’s suit follows three aborted criminal prosecutions of Mr.. Cain on bogus
charges of “harassment” and “obstruction of pedestrian traffic” -- all dismissed
before the charges ever got to court.
The suit alleges that one of the police officers named in the suit engaged in
constant threats of arrest and prosecution and even chest-butting of Mr. Cain.
The suit seeks an injunction against all further harassment and an award of
compensatory and punitive damages.
ACLA AFFILIATE ATTORNEY WINS ANOTHER
JACKSON, MI: ACLA’s Mississippi
affiliate, James (Jim) T. McCafferty, Esq. has won another acquittal of a
pro-life activist in Jackson, Mississippi.
A Jackson-area pro-life activist was charged with “assault” by the infamous
local abortionist Joseph Booker, based on nothing more than the pro-lifer’s
statement, with reference to the Bible, that Booker’s days on earth are
The message this pro-life activist was seeking to convey is simply that all of
us must die and face God’s judgment, and that the day of judgment comes sooner
than we may think.
But Booker, who kills unborn children for a living, claimed that he had been
“assaulted” by these mere words, which happen to be God’s truth.
The activist was acquitted at a trial in the City of Jackson Municipal Court in
January, after the judge found that no “assault” had occurred, despite Booker’s
alleged “fear” over the activist’s First Amendment-protected statement.
"Here, yet again, we see how the criminal process is being abused as a hammer to
silence pro-life speech. But Jim put a stop to it!, " said ACLC chief counsel
Christopher A. Ferrara.
"ACLA hopes to be working with Jim, a convert and devout Catholic, on many
pro-life and civil rights matters in the State of Mississippi. Jim is truly on
fire for the pro-life cause, and is a real asset to our network of attorneys,"
SUIT AGAINST SEASIDE HEIGHTS SETTLED
SEASIDE HEIGHTS, NJ: ACLA's suit against
the City of Seaside Heights on behalf of Michael Bizzaro has been settled, with
the City agreeing that its current ordinance banning distribution of "anything,
for any purpose" on the Boardwalk does not apply to Mr. Bizarro's First
Amendment-protected activity of handing out religious literature to passers-by.
The settlement, entered as a court order by Hon. Joel Pisano of the U.S.
District Court, ends the threats of prosecution to which Mr. Bizarro had been
subjected before suit was filed.
“Dr. Emily” Lawsuit Resolved
YORK, NY: ACLA’s lawsuit against a major New York City abortion mill
that goes by the trade name “Dr. Emily,” has been resolved with stipulated court
order that permanently bars the abortion mill from deceptive advertising in the
The suit alleged that “Dr. Emily” was deceptively advertising itself in the
“Abortion Alternatives” section of two Yellow Pages-style directories in the New
York metropolitan area, and that in order to place its ads in these sections,
the abortion mill concealed all references to the fact that it kills unborn
children and provides no alternatives to abortion, such as adoption.
The “Abortion Alternatives” section of the Yellow Pages was created for
pro-life crisis pregnancy centers or CPCs, like the one ACLA represented in this
case, Expectant Mother Care-EMC Front Line Pregnancy Centers, which was founded
by pro-life leader Chris Slattery.
The stipulated order, entered by New York Supreme Court Justice Bruce E.
Tolbert, provides that “Dr. Emily” shall “permanently refrain from advertising
in the ‘Abortion Alternatives section of Ambassador Yellow Pages, Yellow Book,
Verizon and any other publisher of telephone advertising directories commonly
known and understood as or similar to “Yellow Pages,” as well as in any online
advertising directories which contain a section for ‘Abortion Alternatives’…
[This] shall constitute a binding and enforceable permanent order of this
“The EMC FrontLine Pregnancy Centers, our staff and supporters are immensely
grateful to Chris Ferrara and the staff of the ACLA for their outstanding work
in obtaining an immediate settlement and order preventing any future recurrence
of deceptive directory advertising by one of NY’s leading abortion clinics, in
the Abortion Capital of America,” said Mr. Slattery.
Lawsuit against Spring Valley Settled:
VALLEY, NY: ACLA’s lawsuit against Spring Valley, New York on behalf
of Catholic pro-life activists Father Francis J. Samoylo and Richard Bruno has
ACLA had brought suit to challenge the constitutionality of a village
ordinance which provided that “No outside public assemblages or meetings on the
public streets of the Village shall be permitted without the consent of the
Board of Trustees”
Father Samoylo, Mr. Bruno and other Catholics known as the Rockland County
Catholic Coalition had been threatened with arrest and prosecution under the
ordinance for failing to obtain a permit to pray the rosary on public property
near a Spring Valley abortion mill.
After receiving the suit papers, including a motion for preliminary
injunction, prepared by ACLA attorneys, the Village agreed to repeal the
ordinance and to cease threatening Father Samoylo and Mr. Bruno with arrest.
“We are gratified that this lawsuit provoked a change of policy in the
Village of Spring Valley,” said Christopher A. Ferrara, ACLA President and Chief
Counsel. “This was an important victory for the First Amendment rights of
Under the terms of the settlement, plaintiffs reserve the right to mount a
constitutional challenge to any new ordinance adopted. The Village did adopt a
new ordinance which is under review by ACLA attorneys.
“I have already advised the Village’s attorneys of my concerns about the new
ordinance, which I trust will not be applied to Catholics who pray the rosary on
public property. Thus far, it has not been and our clients and their fellow
Catholics have been able to pray the rosary in public at the same location
without further threats of prosecution,” said Mr. Ferrara.
ACLA Affiliate Attorney Wins
MS: ACLA’s Mississippi affiliate, James (Jim) T. McCafferty, Esq. has
won the acquittal of veteran pro-life activist Richard Mahoney, of Jackson,
Richard was charged with disorderly conduct for alleged “failure to comply
with the requests or commands of a law enforcement officer,” when he asked a
female police officer responding to the scene of his sidewalk demonstration why
she was not arresting the man who had just threatened him while he was engaging
is sidewalk pro-life advocacy.
“Jim McCafferty did a very skillful job of exposing this criminal charge as
baseless,” said ACLA chief counsel Christopher A Ferrara. “This charge is only
part of a nationwide pattern of abusing the criminal process to persecute
pro-lifers,” he added.
Mr. McCafferty is a 1976 graduate of Millsaps College (B. A., cum laude) and
received his law degree from the University of Mississippi, where he served on
the editorial board of the Mississippi Law Journal. He has practiced at all
levels of the state and federal court systems, from justice court
(misdemeanors/small claims) to the United States Supreme Court, and formerly
served as senior attorney for the Mississippi Department of Environmental
Quality (MDEQ) and as a special assistant attorney general.
In addition to his law practice, Jim is an award-winning freelance magazine
and newspaper writer, and is the author of two published children's books.
“We are very fortunate to have this gifted attorney in our network of
Catholic lawyers,” said Mr. Ferrara.
Suit Against Seaside Heights On for
Preliminary Injunction Hearing
attorneys Christopher A. Ferrara and Bertram (Skip) Goltz have filed a motion
for preliminary injunction in ACLA’s lawsuit against the Borough of Seaside
Heights in New Jersey.
The motion seeks a preliminary
injunction barring enforcement of a Seaside Heights ordinance that prohibits
solicitation or distribution of “anything for any purpose” on the Seaside
Veteran Catholic activist Michael J. Bizzaro, an Annapolis graduate and
Marine Corps Lieutenant, was threatened with arrest and prosecution under the
ordinance for handing out Catholic literature on the boardwalk.
"We believe this ordinance is blatantly over-broad and unconstitutional,"
said ACLA chief counsel Christopher A. Ferrara. "The mile-long boardwalk at
Seaside Heights certainly meets the definition of a traditional public forum, in
which speech by citizens is given the highest level of protection by the courts.
There is no legitimate government interest in turning the boardwalk into a
New Jersey Borough Agrees
To Allow Distribution Of
NJ: The Borough of Belmar, NJ has given assurances to ACLA that
police will no longer threaten a Catholic activist with arrest for distributing
Catholic apologetical literature on the streets and boardwalk of that
This assurance was provided by the Borough following its receipt of a legal
opinion letter from ACLA Chief Counsel, Christopher A. Ferrara, whose
intervention followed threats of arrest last St. Patrick’s Day.
"ALCA’s opinion letter, which was ably drafted by our affiliate counsel Skip
Goltz, a former New Jersey deputy attorney general, carefully explained our
client’s First Amendment rights and the limits of government authority to
restrict pamphleteering," said Mr. Ferrara. "ACLA is pleased that we were able
to reach an amicable resolution that protected our client’s constitutional right
to spread the Catholic faith in the public square."
ACLA Suit Against
Millburn/South Orange School District Reinstated by
ORANGE, NJ: Reversing a trial court dismissal of ACLA's and Thomas
More Center's lawsuit against the Millburn/South Orange, NJ School District, the
Third Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the suit, Stratechuck v.
Millburn/South Orange School District, et al, states a legally sufficient cause
of action and that the trial judge erred in dismissing it.
The Third Circuit directed the trial judge to allow the plaintiff, a parent
with a child in the school district, an opportunity to demonstrate that the
District has, as the suit alleges, banned all religious music from its
curriculum in a violation of the First Amendment.
"There is already substantial evidence that the District, in 2004, reversed
its policy of allowing great classical music pieces such as Handel's Messiah to
be performed and decided to ban any and all religious music from curriculum,
apparently in response to isolated complaints," said ACLA chief counsel
Christopher A. Ferrara. "No school can ban religious music simply and only
because it is religious, since that constitutes forbidden government hostility
to religion," Mr. Ferrara added.
Among the evidence plaintiff has thus far uncovered is a memo from the head
of the music department directing its teachers to “avoid any selection which is
considered to represent any religious holiday, be it Christmas, Hanukkah, etc.
This holds true for any vocal or instrumental setting.”
Also uncovered is a letter of protest the District’s music teachers objecting
to the new policy as "no less than censorship of both sacred musical
masterpieces and non-sacred musical and cultural traditions…As music teachers,
we believe that the religious music that our choral and instrumental groups have
performed in the past is an important part of our music curriculum and the
national standards for music. . . ."
The teachers added that "The courts have held that the constitution
guarantees freedom 'of' religion, not freedom 'from' religion. . . ." These
documents contradict the District's claim that it has no policy banning
"I look forward to working with Rob Muise of the Thomas More Center on this
important case," said Mr. Ferrara.
The court has authorized the depositions of school officials by ACLA in order
to develop further evidence in the case.
ABORTION CLINIC SUED FOR
Order to Show Cause Issued
WHITE PLAINS, NY - ACLA attorneys have
filed suit in Westchester County Supreme Court against a NYC abortion
clinic, known as "Dr. Emily," on grounds that the clinic has engaged in false
advertising and deceptive business practices by advertising in the "Abortion
Alternatives" section of the Yellow Pages.
This section of the Yellow Pages is reserved to organizations
that do not provide abortions but rather seek to persuade expectant mothers to
keep their babies.
ACLA is representing a crisis pregnancy center,
Mothers Care, which provides ultrasound, counseling, financial assistance and
other services in an effort to save unborn children.
The suit alleges that "Dr. Emily" deceptively placed ads in the "Abortion
Alternatives" section of the Yellow Pages that "deceptively omit the phrases
'Gentle abortion. No-pain anesthesia'; 'Abortion pill for natural, at-home
experience', and 'Simple one-day procedure even up to 20 weeks'—phrases all
contained in the defendant’s 'Abortion Providers' advertisement—so as to create
the false impression that defendant is not involved in providing abortions."
suit further alleges that this was done despite a disclaimer in that section of
the Yellow Pages which states: "For organizations that provide counseling and/or
information on abortion alternatives. They do not provide information and/or
counseling on the attainment of abortion services nor do they provide abortion
Justice Colabella of the Supreme Court has issued an order to show cause, at
ACLA's request, ordering "Dr. Emily" to appear and show cause why it should not be permanently restrained from publishing such ads in
TOWN OF SEASIDE HEIGHTS
SUED OVER ORDINANCE BANNING RELIGIOUS LITERATURE ON BOARDWALK
SEASIDE HEIGHTS, NJ -
ACLA has filed suit
against Seaside Heights on behalf of a veteran Catholic activist who was
threatened with arrest for handing out Catholic literature, including a pamphlet
on the Rosary and another on the Church's dogmatic teaching on salvation, on the
famous boardwalk in Seaside Heights.
The suit seeks to have declared
unconstitutional a Seaside Heights ordinance that states: “No person shall
solicit or distribute anything, for any purpose, on the public boardwalk or
public beaches in the Borough of Seaside Heights.”
"We believe this ordinance is an overly broad, impermissibly vague and
patently unconstitutional restriction on free speech in a classic public forum,"
said Chief Counsel Christopher A. Ferrara.
"We are asking the court to issue a
judgment declaring the ordinance unconstitutional and forbidding Seaside Heights
to enforce the ordinance against our client's speech," he added.
A motion for preliminary injunction is expected to be filed shortly.
FORMER DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL
JOINS ACLA TEAM
ACLA is pleased and proud to announce
that a former New Jersey Deputy Attorney General, Bertram (“Skip”) Goltz, has
joined ACLA’s attorney network as a New Jersey litigation counsel.
"Skip is a brilliant lawyer and a masterful researcher and brief writer. He
wants to devote his retirement to the pro-life cause, and has already produced
excellent work for ACLA. We are very privileged to have Skip on our team," said
Chief Counsel, Christopher A. Ferrara.
"With the help of lawyers like Skip, we
will be able to mount an even stronger resistance to the forces of secularism,
especially Big Abortion, in our society."
Upcoming Jury Trial in Pro-Lifers'
ACLA Pennsylvania litigation counsel Denis
V. Brenan, with the assistance of Chief Counsel Christopher A. Ferrara, is
completing discovery in a second federal lawsuit filed against the City of
Allentown on behalf of thirteen pro-life activists. The suit seeks both
injunctive relief and damages against the City and other defendants.
The upcoming jury trial in the suit will revolve
around claims that the Allentown Police, acting pursuant to an official policy,
subjected the pro-life activists to arrest, prosecution, and threats of same,
for "loitering" and other charges in an effort to ban pro-life protests outside
the entrance to a local abortion mill on Keats Street in Allentown.
"The plaintiffs' contend that their civil and
constitutional rights were violated by abuse of the criminal process and by
arbitrary police commands aimed at restricting or entirely eliminating
plaintiffs' presence on Keats Street by forcing the plaintiffs to keep moving,
walk entirely around the block, stay off the street completely, and so forth"
said Mr. Ferrara.
"We hope to obtain a major plaintiffs' verdict that
will send the message that pro-life activists are just as entitled to use the
public forum as any other stripe of political activist," he added.
Decision Expected in Motion to
decision is expected on a motion to dismiss criminal
charges against a pro-life activist, Luis Menchaca, charged with "harassment" by
an "escort" for a Manhattan abortion mill operated by Planned Parenthood in
The motion argues that the activity alleged to
constitute harassment is protected speech, and that defendant has been denied a
speedy trial as required by New York law and the U.S. Constitution.
"We believe this case is a typical example of
improper attempts to criminalize protest against abortion," said Chief Counsel
Christopher A. Ferrara, who is representing the defendant.
"We are hopeful that the Court will dismiss this
unfounded charge, which chills my client's First Amendment rights," Mr. Ferrara
Pro-Life Advocate Charged with
Outside Abortion Mill
ACLA will provide representation to a
veteran pro-life activist, John Cain, who has been charged with "obstructing"
pedestrian traffic on the sidewalk outside a Manhattan abortion mill located in
the Israeli Consulate building in Manhattan.
The activist was engaged in protesting against abortion at the time he was
cited and had been the subject of several threats of prosecution on account of his protests. An earlier charge of "harassment" was
"This case, like other we have handled, is part of a
national trend of using local criminal statutes to chill the First Amendment
rights of pro-life activists. We will provide Mr. Cain with a vigorous defense,"
said Chief Counsel Christopher A. Ferrara.
Yellow Pages Agrees to Drop
Misleading Abortion Clinic Ads
NEW YORK, NY:
After an intervention by ACLA's chief
counsel, Christopher A. Ferrara, Ambassador Yellow pages has agreed, in a letter
from its attorneys, that a New York City abortion mill will no longer be allowed
to place ads in the "Abortion Alternatives" section of the Yellow Pages.
The "Abortion Alternatives" section was created for
organizations that do not provide abortions but rather seek to persuade women to
keep their babies or place them for adoption.
"Placement of an abortion clinic ad in this section
of the Yellow Pages was a misleading and deceptive practice by the abortion
mill, which removed all references to abortion from its ad in order to gain
placement in that section, despite a disclaimer in that section stating that
organizations advertising there do not provide abortions.
"Ambassador Yellow pages is to be commended for its
correction of this abuse," said Mr. Ferrara, who is representing a NYC-based
crisis pregnancy center that helps women find alternatives abortion.
PHILADELPHIA, PA: ACLA attorneys have
completed preliminary injunction hearing in the United States District Court for
the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
In this action, ACLA is representing pro-life activists who are seeking an
injunction against the City of Allentown barring further attempts to cite the
activists for “loitering” in order to discourage their peaceful pro-life
advocacy outside an abortion mill in the same city.
ACLA attorneys previously won an injunction from the court preventing the
City of Allentown from requiring a “permit” for the same pro-life activities.
The court has scheduled summations in the case and a decision
is expected shortly thereafter.
Certiorari Petition Filed: Supreme
COURT Conference April 28
DC: A certiorari petition filed
in the United States Supreme Court on behalf of clients represented by ACLA and
Thomas More Law Center in the widely publicized “Nuremberg Files” case is
scheduled for a conference by the court The
Court will vote on whether to accept this case for Supreme Court review.
Twenty-two friends of the court have joined in six separate amicus briefs
urging the court to accept the case. This case, which ACLA has been litigating
for the past ten years (see earlier news items), has profound implications for
the First Amendment rights of political protestors across the nation.
“The five dissenters from the Ninth Circuit decision now before the Supreme
Court warned that the Ninth Circuit’s reasoning posed a threat to political
protestors across the country. We agree and we hope that the Supreme Court
agrees,” said Christopher A. Ferrara, ACLA Chief Counsel.
Attorney General Lawsuit
YORK, NY: Attorney
General Eliot Spitzer’s lawsuit against two pro-life activists
represented by ACLA Chief Counsel, Christopher A. Ferrara, has been
resolved. The Attorney General has agreed to drop all claims for money
damages, civil penalties and attorneys’ fees, and the parties have
negotiated a permanent injunctive order that will allow pro-life
advocacy to continue on the sidewalk immediately across from the doorway
of the abortion mill located at 26 Bleecker Street in Manhattan. “This
resolution spares my clients the risks of a trial, damage awards and
civil penalties against them, and a final injunction that would have
been more restrictive of their rights,” said Mr. Ferrara.
Motion to Dismiss Criminal
YORK, NY: ACLA Chief Counsel
Christopher A. Ferrara has filed a motion to dismiss criminal charges filed
against a pro-life activist by the Manhattan District Attorney. The activist was
charged with “harassment” and “disorderly conduct” The motion seeks dismissal on
First Amendment grounds and for failure to grant a speedy trial. “In our view,
the facts alleged do not establish any criminal offense,” said Mr. Ferrara.
“This pro-life activist was peacefully exercising his First Amendment rights on
a public sidewalk.”
Pro-Life Jury Trial scheduled
PA: ACLA attorneys will be representing pro-life activists as plaintiffs in a
jury trial seeking damages against the City of Allentown for violation of the
civil rights of the activists. The suit alleges that Allentown’s Police Chief,
Assistant Police Chief and Mayor adopted a policy of using unwarranted criminal
prosecutions to keep the pro-life advocates off the sidewalk an Allentown
Forty-one (41) prosecutions were initiated, and all of them ended in either
acquittal or dismissal of all charges against the pro-life activists.