By Jack Minor
In a stunning courtroom development in Denver, Barack Obama’s Justice Department suddenly agreed to drop all charges and claims against a sidewalk abortion counselor, despite having five prosecutors assigned to the case.
“This is exciting and a complete and total victory for our client.” said Peter Breen, executive director and legal counsel with the Thomas More Society.
As part of the settlement, the government agreed to drop all charges with prejudice, meaning they can never be filed again.
The agreement is an astounding capitulation by the Justice Department, which had assigned five federal prosecutors to go after Ken Scott, a pro-life advocate, for passing out information outside of a Planned Parenthood clinic in Denver.
Last June, Scott was charged by the Department of Justice for violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, which creates an eight-foot floating bubble around anyone within 100 feet of the entrance of an abortion facility.
The government claimed that Scott routinely stood in the driveway of the clinic and created a “physical obstruction and unreasonable hazard” for cars entering the facility.
Breen said it was apparent from the beginning that the government did not have a case.
“When you watch the video he was standing on the side of the road, and if people want to come over to talk and receive literature about abortion alternatives, they are free to do so. He was in no way blocking people from entering or exiting the facility.”
The government filed a civil case against Scott in which the burden of proof was much lower than for a criminal trial. But despite the lower threshold, the government was stymied by the judge.
It was in January when U.S. District Court Judge Philip Brimmer dismissed 10 motions made by federal prosecutors, including one that would have barred Scott from being within 25 feet of the entrance to the parking lot of the clinic.
Breen said the dismissals spelled the beginning of the end for the government’s case.
“Prior to this, we took 17 depositions, and after the motions were dismissed there was very little evidence left for the prosecution to use against Scott,” he said.
“This was never a meritorious case, and this should have been done sooner, but we are glad to see the government admit they did not have a case by their decision to drop the charges,” Breen said. “This is a total victory for Mr. Scott and those who believe in the First Amendment.”
A possible reason for the government dropping the charges was to avoid paying attorney fees. Breen said the organization had spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to fight the case, and as part of the conclusion to the case, both sides were responsible for their own attorney fees.
While the Obama administration has engaged in a pattern of actions against pro-life protestors, it has recently been hit with a series of setbacks.
In January a case similar to Scott’s involving a Florida woman was dismissed by a judge who said the government appears to have colluded with the abortion clinic.
U.S. District Judge Kenneth L. Ryskamp said in a decision granting summary judgment for Mary Susan Pine:
It is rather curious that the Department of Justice was able to meet with the [Presidential Women's Center in West Palm Beach, Fla.] staff and police officers the very next day after the alleged violations occurred. It is also curious that the government failed to make any efforts to obtain the identities of the passengers who are the alleged victims in this case – the court finds it hard to believe that the government was completely unaware of the existence of the sign-in sheets and video surveillance system.
The court can only wonder whether this action was the product of a concerted effort between the government and the PWC, which began well before the date of the incident at issue, to quell Ms. Pine’s activities rather than to vindicate the rights of those allegedly aggrieved by Ms. Pine’s conduct.
Ken Scott and his wife, Jo, have a long history with the Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains facility in Denver. In 2008, Jo was convicted of violating the state’s first-in-the-nation bubble law after a pair of Planned Parenthood employees, pretending to be patients, recorded her moving within eight feet of them.
Earlier, Breen said the case has implications far beyond the pro-life movement.
“If the attorney general is successful in Denver against Ken Scott, it will shut down the free flow of information outside of abortion facilities across the country. The information offered is desired, no one is forcing those drivers to pull over and get the information.”
The decision by the Obama Justice Department to prosecute Scott is part of an ongoing pattern of actions by the administration against pro-life protesters.
Under Obama’s administration, at least six pro-life supporters have been charged under the law compared to only one under President Bush.
The move reflects Obama’s ardent pro-abortion position. While a senator in Illinois, Barack Obama opposed a bill that would have given infants born alive after a “botched” abortion the right to life-sustaining medical treatment. Obama said his reason for opposing the bill was that it would “burden the original decision of the woman.”
Obama has received a 100 percent rating from the National Abortion Rights Action League. NARAL recently opposed granting religious organizations exemptions from providing abortion-inducing drugs under Obamacare.