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Chicago law firm fights for civil rights, against death culture

10/29/2007 - PST

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By Matt Abbott
Op/Ed

I recently attended the 10th year anniversary benefit dinner for the Chicago-based Thomas More Society, Pro-Life Law Center (www.thomasmoresociety.org), a “not-for-profit, public interest law firm … dedicated to fighting for the rights and dignity of all human life. The Society vigorously defends clients in state and federal courtrooms around the country, addressing vital issues across the pro-life spectrum, including pregnancy discrimination, end-of-life health care, the right of conscientious objection for medical workers, and freedom of speech for peaceable nonviolent protest.”

The dinner’s program book contained the following summary of the Thomas More Society’s many accomplishments in the last 10 years. The summary, written by TMS president and chief counsel Tom Brejcha, is most impressive!


"Some of the Many Cases Handled by Thomas More Society from 1997–2007"

by Tom Brejcha

Thomas More Society was forged in the crucible of courtroom conflict—the marathon landmark federal antitrust and “RICO” lawsuit, N.O.W. v. Scheidler. And so, we are “litigating lawyers” and our efforts over this last decade very largely have been undertaken in trial and appellate courts across the country. But as experienced litigators familiar with trials and appeals, we’re often called upon to render advice and counsel to pro-life clients to help keep them out of court and to work toward their goals and, if at all possible, to achieve them by means that avoid going to court—writing demand letters, negotiating with federal, state and city officials, consulting with legislators, regulators and other decision-makers, and helping our clients to find ways to foster and advance pro-life values without undue or unnecessary sacrifice of their time, treasure or freedom.

We’re not afraid to take on the toughest cases. And we persevere in them. Our aim and resolve is to “pitch complete games,” even when cases go into “extra innings,” and to help as many of those who call on us for help to the maximum extent possible. We’re not merely interested in finding and pursuing “test cases” because every pro-life case is an important case! We’re like David, and we cannot match the financial resources of the pro-abortion Goliaths—Planned Parenthood, American Civil Liberties Union, National Organization for Women, National Abortion Rights Action League Pro-Choice America, National Abortion Federation, Center for Reproductive Rights, etc. But pardon our immodesty if we declare that—with God’s grace and our supporters’ prayers from all over the U.S.—we can match them in lawyerly skill and experience. We’ve got truth and right on our side. We don’t give up. As Yogi Berra said, “It ain’t over till it’s over.” We bring this conviction to each of our cases. We’re in this for the long haul.

We also believe in winning, wherever possible. It’s not good enough merely to “make a good showing.” Over the years we’ve found it all too common that pro-lifers go into court without benefit of qualified legal representation, only to find their legal rights ignored or trampled. Yes, we do our best to see that pro-lifers get legal help. But that’s not good enough. It’s important to do whatever it takes—provided we can find the lawyers and resources needed to do the job—to win every case that deserves to be won when our clients are in the right. And most of the time, they are in the right!

One key element in winning cases is to open dialogue and forge links and alliances with others similarly situated whose own causes and advocacy may be hurt by virtue of adverse legal precedents handed down against pro-lifers. Indeed, bad decisions against pro-lifers imperil the rights of other citizen activists, advocates and protest groups. This works in both directions. A key element in winning successive pro-life victories before the U.S. Supreme Court in N.O.W. v. Scheidler was our seeking and securing wide support among other protest leaders and groups—civil rights groups (e.g., Dr. King’s SCLC), death penalty advocates and groups (e.g., Sister Helen Prejean and Citizens United Against the Death Penalty), disability rights groups (e.g., Not Dead Yet), animal rights groups (e.g., Fund for Animals, PETA), and peace advocates and groups (e.g., Pax Christi, the Berrigan brothers, Jonah House, Kathy Kelly, et al). When called on to lend aid to these folks who helped us, we do so whenever time permits and the effort is consistent with our paramount pro-life mission.

Here are some of the important cases we’ve handled, some of which are still going on:

N.O.W. v. Scheidler—We must tell you a bit more about this marathon mega-litigation than about our other cases, as this case triggered—indeed it necessitated—the birth of our Thomas More Society. This case will go down as a landmark in the annals of American law, having been before the U.S. Supreme ...

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