Life Legal Defense Foundation Ensures Pro-Life Advocate’s Due Process
Last week, a federal judge hit the brakes in what U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder had assumed would be a “slam dunk” case against pro-life sidewalk counselor David Hamilton. The Attorney General went after Hamilton with federal charges under the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act. The judge’s refusal to grant a summary judgment comes on the heels of FACE case rulings supporting the rights of pro-life sidewalk counselors outside of abortion clinics in West Palm Beach and Denver. In March, the Department of Justice dropped charges against Colorado pro-life advocate Kenneth Scott, and the following month dropped the case against pro-life sidewalk counselor Mary Susan Pine of Florida and paid her $120,000 in damages.
In court action to defend Hamilton, the Life Legal Defense Foundation provided funding and legal support to attorneys Vince Heuser and Michael Hirsh, and the team was able to stop the summary judgment. As a result, in a decision on September 20, 2012 from the Western District Court of Kentucky Louisville Division bench, the judge recognized that there are issues of fact to be determined, and therefore would not grant Holder’s motion for summary judgment.
Hamilton, a pro-life advocate, was outside The EMW Women’s Surgical Center in Louisville, Kentucky in January of 2010 in an effort to persuade women to consider alternatives to abortion. At that time, an EMW volunteer escort placed herself between Hamilton and a patient with whom Hamilton wanted to speak. This event led to Holder pursuing Hamilton with a FACE charge. Later, the Attorney General asked for summary judgment, assuming that based on agreed facts, Hamilton did violate the FACE Act.
“I’m certain the Attorney General’s office thought this was going to be an easy case with a forgone conclusion,” said Dana Cody, Executive Director of the Life Legal Defense Foundation, “but the federal court has recognized that there are two sides to every story.” Cody’s observation is based, in part, on recent cases out of Florida and Colorado in which federal courts have upheld the rights of individuals to peaceably offer information on alternatives to women seeking abortions. “U.S. courts are charged with protecting the freedoms of all American citizens,” said Cody. “Sidewalk counselors have the same rights as other people. The Life Legal Defense Foundation wants to ensure that those rights are protected.”