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Supreme Court to hear RICO abortion case

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court agreed Tuesday to review for the third time a 19-year old abortion case. In 1994 the Court held that the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) [text] could be used to challenge anti-abortion blockades of clinics. When the suit went back to trial plaintiff National Organization for Women [advocacy website] won $276,000 in damages from anti-abortion demonstrators and a nation-wide injunction against blockades. However, when the case returned to the Supreme Court again in 2003, the Justices found a lack of evidence of extortion and lifted the injunction. Now, while anti-abortion forces argue that decision put the issue to rest, the court will hear Scheidler v. NOW [Duke Law backgrounder] and Operation Rescue v. NOW as a consolidated case beginning in October of the 2005-2006 term. The Court is expected to address whether the 2003 decision was intended to eliminate all bases for a RICO violation with respect to clinic blockades. Bloomberg has more.

The Court also granted certiorari Tuesday in Rice v. Collins, a Ninth Circuit case involving a prosecutor striking a black woman from the jury panel in the trial of a black man for drug charges, and a Sixth Circuit capital case, House v. Bell involving the standard for judging a claim of actual innocence. The Court's full Order List [PDF] is available online.

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