April 4, 2012

Susan Who? DOJ Agrees to Pay Prolife Sidewalk Counselor It Sued $120,000; Media Mum

The Department of (I don’t know what kind of) Justice has decided to drop its case again prolife sidewalk counselor Mary Susan Pine and pay her $120,000 in legal fees. DOJ had no case in the first place.

If this were an antiwar protester or someone else favored by the left, this would be “DOJ run amok” news. But you will search in vain for a story about Ms. Pine at the Associated Press, the New York Times, the Washington Post, or the Los Angeles Times (searches are on “Pine abortion,” not in quotes). You will find 18 references to her in a Google News search on “Pine abortion” (not in quotes, sorted by date, with duplicates), only one of which is an establishment press outlet (Fox News). What follows is the press release from Liberty Counsel, which defended Ms. Pine, and excerpts from J. Christian Adams’s related column at PJ Media (bolds are mine throughout):

First, the press release from Liberty Counsel and its Chairman Mat Staver:

Department of Justice Drops Appeal and Pays Pro-life Sidewalk Counselor

Washington, DC – The Department of Justice (DOJ) has dropped its appeal in Holder v. Pine against pro-life sidewalk counselor Mary “Susan” Pine, who is represented by Liberty Counsel. The DOJ has agreed to pay $120,000 for this improper lawsuit. The DOJ had unsuccessfully sought thousands of dollars in fines against Susan Pine, as well as a permanent injunction banning her from counseling women on the public sidewalk outside the Presidential Women’s Center (“PWC”) abortion clinic.

After 18 months of litigation, the DOJ’s case was thrown out of federal court, and the department was chastised for filing a case with no evidence. Federal Judge Kenneth L. Ryskamp stated that Holder’s complete failure to present any evidence of wrongdoing, coupled with the DOJ’s cozy relationship with PWC and their joint failure to preserve video surveillance footage of the alleged “obstruction,” caused the court to suspect a conspiracy at the highest level of the Obama Administration. “The Court is at a loss as to why the Government chose to prosecute this particular case in the first place,” wrote Judge Ryskamp. “The Court can only wonder whether this action was the product of a concerted effort between the Government and PWC, which began well before the date of the incident at issue, to quell Ms. Pine’s activities rather than to vindicate the rights of those allegedly aggrieved by Ms. Pine’s conduct.” After this ruling the DOJ appealed on the last day possible and gave indication that President Obama ordered the appeal.

Ironically, this past December, in the midst of the case, Ms. Pine actually counseled a woman outside of PWC and convinced her not to have an abortion, thus saving the life of the child and possibly the mother as well. Her email to Liberty Counsel read, “We saved a life today.”

Mathew Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel, commented, “It is irresponsible for the U.S. Department of Justice to place politics above principle when deciding to prosecute, and thus attempt to silence, a pro-life sidewalk counselor without any evidence of wrongdoing. When the nation’s highest law enforcement officer files suit against any citizen, the suit must be based on the law coupled with compelling evidence. Anything less is an abuse of the high office. Susan Pine will not be silenced or detoured from her mission to save the lives of innocent children.”

At PJ Media, Adams elaborates:

The Department of Justice has been forced to hand over $120,000 for bringing a meritless abortion clinic access lawsuit against a clinic protester.  This loss is one of multiple lost cases by the Department of Justice against abortion clinic protesters.  The Special Litigation Section is the unit bringing the meritless cases.  It was profiled in the PJ Media Every Single One Series as being headed by and filled with Leftist ideologues.

… As a condition to dropping the appeal of this meritless lawsuit, Eric Holder’s Justice Department has agreed to pony up $120,000 in attorneys fees to Mrs. Pine. If you think the attorneys who brought the bogus case should have to pay instead of you, the taxpayers, you’re note alone.

… It’s one thing for the Department of Justice to enforce the FACE Act. It’s quite a different matter when Leftist ideologues sign pleadings without merit against private citizens. Obviously federal courts are catching on to the ideologically driven overreach by the DOJ Civil Rights Division. Wouldn’t it be nice if Zisser, Smith, and Abbate had to pay for their failures instead of the American taxpayers?

While it is worth celebrating Ms. Pine’s victory, an emailer threw a bit of cold water consistent with Adams’s point about personal liability on its conclusion:

It’s my money that pays Holder.
And now it’s my money that pays the fine.
And they don’t care.

Holder and DOJ think they can just do whatever they want, and they’re probably right — because as noted earlier, the press could care less about a drop-dead obvious instance of politically-driven prosecutorial abuse.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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