[JURIST] Breaking news from DC Supreme Court litigators Goldstein & Howe: "Today the Court handed down the opinion in Scheidler v. NOW, No. 01-1118, reversing the Seventh Circuit opinion below [which had favored NOW]. The majority opinion was written by Chief Justice Rehnquist." The Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University provides background on Scheidler, which had pitted anti-abortion groups against NOW in a legal battle over whether abortion clinic protests constitute racketeering and extortion. Opinion and details to follow.
UPDATE: The full text of Scheidler [decision syllabus] is now available from the Legal Information Institute at Cornell Law School [official website]. Chief Justice Rehnquist wrote the Opinion [text], with a Concurrence [text] by Justice Ginsburg and a Dissent [text] by Justice Stevens. Goldstein & Howe provide a summary [SCOTUSBlog post].
From Justice Stevens' dissent: "The term 'extortion' as defined in the Hobbs Act refers to 'the obtaining of property from another.' 18 U.S. C. §1951(b)(2). The Court's murky opinion seems to hold that this phrase covers nothing more than the acquisition of tangible property. No other federal court has ever construed this statute so narrowly. For decades federal judges have uniformly given the term 'property' an expansive construction that encompasses the intangible right to exercise exclusive control over the lawful use of business assets. The right to serve customers or to solicit new business is thus a protected property right. The use of violence or threats of violence to persuade the owner of a business to su