(WOMENSENEWS)–Overlooked in the welter of news on terrorism and war, a landmark federal lawsuit about politically and religiously motivated violence in the United States has taken a major step toward the U.S. Supreme Court.
The Nuremberg Files case, as it is widely known, requires courts to balance the constitutional right to free speech, however menacing and offensive, and the need to protect individuals and society from explicit, criminal threats to safety.
In an uncommon move, on Oct. 3 the federal Court of Appeals in California nullified a dramatic six-month-old decision of a three-judge panel from the same court.
However, the Web site involved in the case, The Nuremberg Files, and its proprietor, Neal Horsley, have gone far beyond threatening abortion providers. In fact, he is calling for a civil war and declares on his site that President George Bush made a “covenant with the devil,” specifically referring to his decision to allow the federal government to fund stem cell research.
In the original appeals court decision, the three judges had overturned the 1999 verdict of a federal jury that determined that the “Deadly Dozen” poster campaign was not protected speech but actual threats. The jury awarded Planned Parenthood, the Feminist Women’s Health Center of Portland, Ore., and doctors from several states $107 million in punitive and compensatory damages paid to the abortion providers.
The trial judge also issued an injunction against further publication of the “Deadly Dozen” posters and similar content posted on the anti-abortion Web site, The Nuremberg Files. Judge Robert Jones declared that the posters were “a blatant and illegal communication of true threats to kill, assault or do bodily harm.” His injunction remains in force.
The appeals court panel, however, found that the same materials were protected by the First Amendment. The action of the full court means that 11 members will sit together in December and rehear the anti-abortion coalition’s appeal.
Medical Providers Contended the Site Threatened Their Lives
The medical providers contend that their lives and safety, or the lives and safety of other abortion providers, are threatened by “wanted” posters and the Nuremberg Files’ publication of names, addresses, photos and other personal information about them. The site takes its name from the German city where Nazi war criminals were tried by Allied forces. Nuremberg Files proprietor Horsley asserts one the Web site’s functions is to gather information for future use in prosecuting “crimes against humanity.”
Horsley’s site has, at various times, listed hundreds of abortion doctors, including Dr. Barnett Slepian, the abortion provider assassinated in November 2000 in upstate New York. Immediately after Slepian’s death, Horsley crossed out his name.
Horsley, of Carrollton, Ga., also agrees with some of his critics that anti-abortion violence is a form of terrorism.
Horsley List Now Includes Political Leaders, Supreme Court Justices
In a series of essays he has posted on his warren of related Web sites, he presents the Army of God as holy warriors. “The government of the U.S.A.,” he believes, “has become a godless and apostate body.” He therefore seeks to “realize our power to use the Internet against Satan’s plans.”
“Face it folks,” Horsley concludes, “the majority of citizens in the United States of America are the enemies of the God of the Bible! Whether they go by the name of Christian, Jew, Muslim, pagan, atheist, Democrat, Republican or whatever, they’re all the same! Hasn’t the day come when those who seek to do the Will of God will face the fact that it is the majority itself that is reprobate in this nation?”
From abortion to the abandonment of what he views as God’s laws, he sees the need for revolution. In a series of essays he celebrates those who have committed anti-abortion violence, including convicted murderers Paul Hill and Michael Griffin.
He further calls for a secessionist movement in order to stop what he calls “the desecration of God’s authority,” and for “the establishment of a new government, one that can obey God’s plan for government instead of destroying God’s plan for government as is done by the present government of the U.S.A.”
To accomplish this, Horsley hopes for a new leader “with the cold-eyed ruthless determination of Paul Hill” to lead a secession movement using state militias to seize nuclear weapons and threaten to use them.
“One of the first acts a seceding State militia must accomplish,” Horsley writes, “will be the seizing of those nuclear weapons. Once in hand, that seceding State will have the power to force the rest of the citizens of the U.S.A. to choose between accepting secession as a fait accompli–a done deal–or launching nuclear civil war in the heretofore United States of America.”
Horsley’s site also now holds the nation’s leaders responsible for ostensibly abdicating their responsibility to protect what he calls the “unborn.”
Horsley’s list reads like a who’s who of current and former constitutional officers of the United States. In addition to President Bush, Horsley’s list includes former President Bill Clinton and former Vice President Al Gore, as well as dozens of members of Congress of both parties.
Horsley also lists federal judge Robert Jones, who presided over Planned Parenthood v. American Coalition of Life Activists, as well as six current members of the U.S. Supreme Court who have voted to uphold Roe v. Wade–and would hear the ultimate appeal in Planned Parenthood v. American Coalition of Life Activists.
Frederick Clarkson has written about the intersection of politics and religions for 20 years. He is the author of “Eternal Hostility: The Struggle Between Theocracy and Democracy,” Common Courage Press, 1997.
For more information:
The Nuremberg Files:
Feminist Majority Foundation:
National Abortion Federation:
Rep. Nancy Pelosi Elected Next House Minority Whip
(WOMENSENEWS)–Democratic Rep. Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco on Wednesday was elected House minority whip, the highest position ever attained by a woman in Congress and next in line to be speaker of the House.
“We made history. Now we have to make progress,” Pelosi said after the secret ballot vote of 118-95. She takes over on Jan. 15, 2002. She ran against Rep. Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland.
Pelosi has a staunch pro-choice and women’s rights voting record. She will replace as whip Rep. David Bonior of Michigan, who has an anti-choice voting record.
Pelosi’s focus has been on full reproductive rights, international family planning, AIDS prevention, human rights in China and environmental issues.