Ruling Against Anti-Abortion Terrorist Site Overturned
Here's a pretty old legacy post from the blog archives of Geekery Today; it was written about 22 years ago, in 2001, on the World Wide Web.
Award Overturned in Abortion Doctor
Wanted Posters — JACKASSES!
From the New York Times:
SAN FRANCISCO, March 28 – A federal appeals court threw out a record $109 million verdict against abortion opponents today, ruling that a Web site and wanted posters that branded abortion doctorsbaby butchersand criminals were protected by the First Amendment.
A three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit here unanimously said the abortion opponents could be held liable only if the material authorized or directly threatened violence.
The panel ruled two years after a Portland, Ore., jury ordered 12 abortion opponents to pay damages to Planned Parenthood and four doctors, who had sued under federal racketeering law and another law against inciting violence against doctors who perform abortions. The case was seen as a test of a recent Supreme Court ruling that a threat must be explicit and likely to causeimminent lawless action.
If defendants threatened to commit violent acts, by working alone or with others,then their works could properly support the verdict, Judge Alex Kozinski wrote for the appeals court. But if their worksmerely encouraged unrelated terrorists,he said,then their words are protected by the First Amendment.
Planned Parenthood and the doctors were portrayed in the Old West-style wanted posters asbaby butchers,and a Web site called theNuremberg Fileslisted the names and addresses of abortion providers and declared them guilty of crimes against humanity.
The abortion opponents said their posters and Web site were protected under the First Amendment because they were merely a list of doctors and clinics, not a threat.
[… full story from NYT …]