SCHEIDLER v. NATIONAL ORGANIZATION FOR WOMEN (NOW)

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Case Basics
Docket No. 
01-1118
Petitioner 
Scheidler
Respondent 
National Organization for Women (NOW)
Consolidation 
Operation Rescue v. National Organization for Women (NOW), No. 01-1119
Advocates
(Argued the cause for the petitioners)
(Argued the cause for the respondents)
(Argued the cause for the United States, as amicus curiae)
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Facts of the Case 

The National Organization for Women, Inc. (NOW) filed a class action alleging that certain individuals and organizations that oppose legal abortion violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) by engaging in a nationwide conspiracy to shut down abortion clinics through "a pattern of racketeering activity" that included acts of extortion in violation of the Hobbs Act. Ultimately, the District Court entered a permanent nationwide injunction against the abortion opponents. Upholding the injunction, the Court of Appeals held, in part, that the things abortion supporters claimed were extorted from them, such as women's right to seek medical services from the clinics and the clinic doctors' rights to perform their jobs, constituted "property" that was "obtained" for purposes of the Hobbs Act. (Together with No. 01-1119, Operation Rescue v. National Organization for Women.)

Question 

Do abortion opponents, who protest at abortion clinics, commit extortion within the meaning of the Hobbs Act? May abortion supporters obtain injunctive relief in a civil action pursuant to the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act?

Conclusion 
Decision: 8 votes for Scheidler, 1 vote(s) against
Legal provision: 18 U.S.C. 1951

In an 8-1 opinion delivered by Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, the Court held that abortion opponents did not commit extortion because they did not "obtain" property from the abortion supporters as required by the Hobbs Act. The Court further held that is first holding renders insufficient the other bases or predicate acts of racketeering supporting the jury's conclusion that the abortion opponents violated RICO. While the opponents' conduct constituted the separate offense of coercion, reasoned Chief Justice Rehnquist, the opponents neither pursued nor received something of value from the supporters that the opponents could exercise, transfer, or sell, and thus did not commit extortion. Without an underlying RICO violation, the Court vacated the District Court's injunction and did not reach the second question. Justice John Paul Stevens dissented.

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SCHEIDLER v. NATIONAL ORGANIZATION FOR WOMEN (NOW). The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 23 October 2014. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/2000-2009/2002/2002_01_1118>.
SCHEIDLER v. NATIONAL ORGANIZATION FOR WOMEN (NOW), The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/2000-2009/2002/2002_01_1118 (last visited October 23, 2014).
"SCHEIDLER v. NATIONAL ORGANIZATION FOR WOMEN (NOW)," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed October 23, 2014, http://www.oyez.org/cases/2000-2009/2002/2002_01_1118.