Other News



In 2012, ACLA Maryland affiliate counsel Howard Walsh III commenced a civil rights lawsuit against the City of Aberdeen, Maryland, and an individual police officer.

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 property.”

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 motion.

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.


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 public forum.

The training includes a PowerPoint presentation and classroom lectures, including slides that warn the troopers not to repeat the mistake they made in our case.

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.


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 defendants.

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.


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 counselor.

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.


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.


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 Americans.

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 penalty.”

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 destroy.

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 taxes?”

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.


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 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 prior matters.

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.


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.


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 procedures.

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.


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 depositions.

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 before trial.

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 Robert Sungenis.

“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 Ferrara.

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

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 added.

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 A. Ferrara.

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 expectant mothers.

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 activity…”

“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 rights litigation.”

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 released McMillan.

"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


NEW 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.


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 NJ.

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. McCafferty.

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 judicial intervention.


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.


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 complaining witness.

“We were thrilled with Denis and the help ACLA rendered, and of course the outcome,” said Tim Nohara.


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 scene.

“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 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.


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 endorsement.

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.


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.


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 liberty.”

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.”


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.


US 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.


PENNSYLVANIA: 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.


BEL AIR, MD: ACLA has been requested to represent several young pro pro-life advocates who were arrested Bel Air, MD during a pro-life demonstration.

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 were dismissed.

“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 Chief Counsel.

If the matter is not settled, a civil rights lawsuit is contemplated.


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.


NEW 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 NYPD.

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 floor.

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 abortion mill.

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.


JACKSON, 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 fierce!”


NEWARK, 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 District.

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 offended her.

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.


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 abortion clinic.

Mr. Farmer, who has been demonstrating at this abortion mill for more than a decade, was arrested, handcuffed, booked and charged with “disturbing the peace.”

ACLA attorneys are conducting pretrial depositions of the State’s witnesses in preparation for the trial, which is schedule for April 2009.


FEDERAL: 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 propaganda.

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.”


NEW JERSEY: 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.


ALLENTOWN, 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.


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 (CID).

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 left-wing propaganda.

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.


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.


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.


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 rooming house.

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.

Association Defends
Pro-life Advocate in Upstate New York

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 U.S. Constitution.

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.”

ACLA Sues in Mississippi

MISSISSIPPI: 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 September 2005.

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 officer.

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 there.

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 belt.”

Another ACLA Win in Mississippi!

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 these fear-mongers.”

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

PORTLAND, OR: 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, 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 in Allentown.

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.


PHILADELPHIA, 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.


JACKSON, 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 stage.

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:

"The unconstitutional 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 for."


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 behalf.

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.


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.


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 numbered.

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," Ferrara added.


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

NEW 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 Yellow Pages.

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 Court.”

“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: Ordinance repealed

SPRING 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 been settled.

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 Catholics.”

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
Pro-Life Acquittal

JACKSON, MS: ACLA’s Mississippi affiliate, James (Jim) T. McCafferty, Esq. has won the acquittal of veteran pro-life activist Richard Mahoney, of Jackson, Mississippi.

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

ACLA 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 Heights boardwalk.

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 'speech-fee' zone."

New Jersey Borough Agrees
To Allow Distribution Of
Catholic Literature

BELMAR, 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 municipality.

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
Third Circuit

SOUTH 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 religious music.

"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.


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, Expectant 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."

The 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 services."

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 the future.


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.


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'
Suit Against Allentown

ALLENTOWN, PA: 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
Dismiss Criminal Charges

MANHATTAN, NY: 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 Greenwich Village.

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 added.

Pro-Life Advocate Charged with
"Obstruction of Traffic"
Outside Abortion Mill

MANHATTAN, NY:  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 dismissed.

"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.

Preliminary Injunction
Hearing Completed

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

WASHINGTON 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

NEW 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
Charges Filed

NEW 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

ALLENTOWN, 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 abortion mill.

Forty-one (41) prosecutions were initiated, and all of them ended in either acquittal or dismissal of all charges against the pro-life activists.







|   HOME  |    NEWS   |   LIBRARY   |   ABOUT US   |   CONTACT US  |   DONATE  |
© 2002-2013   The American Catholic Lawyers Association, Inc.