Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Estrada’s Connection to Today’s Abortion-RICO Case

The Supreme Court ruled 8-1 today that because abortion protesters did not commit extortion under the Hobbs Act--that is, they did not "obtain" property from another by "wrongful use of actual or threatened force, violence, or fear . . ."--such groups therefore did not violate the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), which allows for more aggressive prosecution of, in this case, a pattern of extortion. The Supreme Court opinion in the case, Scheidler v. NOW, is available here, and the AP has an early story here.

Court watchers will recall that this is not the first time that this case came before the court. In 1994, the Supreme Court first took up the case, deciding unanimously that RICO did not require proof that the predicate criminal activity was motivated by economic purpose. This previous opinion is available online here. Now for the interesting part: the Justice Department filed a brief in the 1994 case supporting the position of the National Organization of Women and abortion providers. Who did the Justice Department choose to file the brief on behalf of NOW and the clinics? Miguel Estrada. Can we please have a vote . . . NOW?

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