Justice Department Attacks Prayerful Protests
by J. CHRISTIAN ADAMS
September 8, 2011
Eric Holder’s Justice Department has launched an attack on prayer, at least where it occurs outside abortion clinics. A civil complaint filed this summer against a prayerful abortion protester reveals a wider campaign by Holder’s radicalized Civil Rights Division.
The lawsuit was filed against 79-year-old Dick Retta. According to the Washington Examiner, Retta stands outside abortion clinics “in a blue windbreaker, khaki pants belted high, and brown shoes with thick soles. He carr[ies] rosary beads and a packet of brochures filled with information about the dangers of abortion.”
The Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act protects access to abortion clinics and allows criminal and civil prosecutions against those who threaten or intimidate those seeking abortions. But the First Amendment protects those who non-violently speak and pray outside clinics as part of their effort to urge mothers not to abort their children. This, though, the abortion advocates cannot abide.
Compare the Justice Department’s zeal towards Retta with its dismissal of the New Black Panther voter intimidation case. It is a sad and discouraging exercise, at least if you believe in the rule of law. It appears that prayer itself has antagonized the bureaucrats who filed the complaint.
Consider the particulars of the DOJ’s complaint. Paragraph 9 says that Retta is among the “most vocal and aggressive” anti-abortion protesters. That means he loudly prays the Lord’s Prayer, which some individuals entering the clinics apparently find deeply disturbing. The complaint also notes in paragraph 11 that Retta “walks in front of escorts” causing the escorts to “change course.” Alas, a “course adjustment” is enough to constitute violation of federal law in the context of an abortion clinic, even though a New Black Panther duo brandishing a nightstick is not.
Retta, not coincidently, teaches classes to other Catholics about compliance with the FACE Act, and clearly states in his materials: “DO NOT block the woman’s path.”
The complaint is larded up with allegations that Retta “yells,” including such intimidating content as prayers or “don’t let them kill your baby.” The complaint makes two allegations, in paragraphs 16 and 23, that Retta “blocked” access to the clinics. Paragraph 27 further makes a fascinating allegation that his “physical obstruction” constituted an “intentional intimidation” with people seeking abortions.
Even if the DOJ is able to prove these facts, it nakedly exposes the rotten priorities of the Eric Holder regime. The allegations in the complaint are less than what New Black Panther Jerry Jackson did in Philadelphia seeking to help elect Barack Obama, but the case against Jackson was dismissed.
Think about the irony of this enforcement policy. Retta is sued for yelling prayers and “don’t let them kill your baby,” while an armed New Black Panther (and Democratic Party official) Jerry Jackson is cut loose by DOJ even after screaming to white voters, “You are about to be ruled by the black man, cracker!”
Retta is sued by Eric Holder for causing purported “course adjustments,” while New Black Panthers find the suit against them voluntarily thrown out by Holder despite having brandished a nightstick in uniform and aggressively blocked the entrance to a polling place.
Retta’s unnamed pro-life conspirators are sued, while the New Black Panther Party and party officials were dismissed because DOJ bureaucrat Steve Rosenbaum thought an internet posting by the panthers disclaiming the events in Philadelphia bought absolution.
What sordid, tawdry and politicized hypocrisy the case against Retta reveals.
Dick Retta was even sprayed with pepper spray by an abortion advocate. No DOJ action was taken against the person who attacked Retta for exercising his protected federal free speech rights under 18 U.S.C. section 245. After all, Eric Holder has his priorities. Abortion and the New Black Panthers rank high on the list.
Perhaps what also annoys the abortion advocates and the bureaucrats at DOJ is that Retta has saved lives. Over 350 women have responded to his prayer and “intimidation” by deciding not to abort their babies. These 350 individual choices, these hundreds of lives now to be lived, these thousands of birthdays and first days of school, provide a glaring example of the moral choice available to the women walking past Dick Retta. It is a terribly shameful record of success to those seeking to silence Retta’s prayers. Retta demonstrates choice comes in many forms.
I and others have covered the radicalization of Eric Holder’s Special Litigation Section at DOJ, and now you know why it matters so much. My forthcoming book Injustice, also describes in detail the ideological corruption now infesting the DOJ. After a fight in federal court, DOJ finally turned over the resumes of the approximately 115 new lawyers hired into the Civil Rights Division under Eric Holder. These ideological foot soldiers include three of the attorneys suing Retta.
When she was fighting against the detention of illegal aliens, one of the attorneys suing Retta, Michelle Leung, was quoted as saying, “Social systems (academia, law) can be used in powerful ways to work towards social justice, even if this may not have been their originally designed purpose.” In other words, the law matters less than the ends sought by the activist.
Another attorney on the lawsuit, Aaron Zisser, was a critic of the prosecution of Osama Bin Laden’s driver at GITMO. The unit at DOJ suing Retta has been filed with attorneys who have worked for GITMO terrorists, People for the American Way, abortion activist groups, and even a group called the “Junta for Progressive Action.”
And what of those who betrayed their cause like Doug Kmiec, and others, who vigorously supported Obama, insisting that he would be acceptable on pro-life issues? Kmiec, who had briefly headed the Office of Legal Counsel in the Reagan Justice Department, openly supported Obama, claiming that Obama was really sympathetic to pro-life causes. Kmiec was offered his 30 pieces of silver in the form of a short-lived ambassadorship to Malta. Thousands of other pro-life advocates took a similar stance, although they at least can argue that they were duped by the President’s lies.
Next year, pro-life Americans who were tricked in 2008 get a chance at redemption. The DOJ harassment of Dick Retta tells them all they need to know.