United States District Court
Northern District of Ohio
Eastern Division

 

United States of America
v.
Alan Maurice Smith

The National Legal Foundation was recently provided the opportunity to become involved in this Ohio case challenging the constitutionality of the Freedom of Access to Clinics Act (FACE). Mr. Alan Smith has been accused, by the Attorney General of the United States, of engaging in practices that "constitute violations of [FACE] 18 U.S.C. 248(a)(1) and caused injury to persons attempting to provide reproductive health services."

Mr. Smith is guilty of no such thing!  He has not engage in any violence of any kind.  He has not threatened to engage in any violence of any kind.  He has not physically prevented any person from obtaining an abortion.  Mr. Smith, like we at the NLF, simply believes abortion is wrong.  Mr. Smith deplores abortion because it is murder.  All murder is wrong.  Including the recent killings of abortion doctors.  We stand with Mr. Smith because he seeks to speak the truth.  He stands on the public sidewalk and presents an alternative viewpoint to the women who are about to murder their unborn child.  The United States Government considers this activity dangerous, and worthy of criminal prosecution.  We think the squelching of legitimate protest speech is the dangerous activity.

The constitutionality of FACE rests upon the validity of the authority Congress claims for enacting the statute. Like so many other statutes, Congress contends that the commerce clause grants it the power to enact FACE. They concluded that abortion protests affect interstate commerce, and made four basic findings to support their conclusion: (1) abortion protest activity is national in scope; (2) clinics and other abortion providers operate within the stream of interstate commerce; (3) both patients and providers engage in interstate commerce because they sometimes travel across state lines to obtain or provide abortions; and (4) abortion protest activity has a negative effect on interstate commerce because it results in fewer abortions and less interstate movement of people and goods.

This case does not involve flashy facts or captivating legal theories. However, it is a critical battle in our efforts to stop abortion and restore a proper understanding of our Constitution. This case will help to define the scope of congressional authority. It will begin to answer the question, can Congress regulate anything it wants? We at the National Legal Foundation believe that question must be answered--NO! If the government's reasons in this case are allowed to justify federal regulation, then truly nothing is beyond the reach of federal legislation.

In United States v. Lopez, the United States Supreme Court began to agree with the NLF and other conservative groups that believe current trends will result in unlimited regulatory authority for Congress. "Thus, if we [Supreme Court] were to accept the Government’s arguments, we are hard-pressed to posit any activity by an individual that Congress is without power to regulate." They also agreed this would be unconstitutional.

This case provides a unique opportunity. It allows the NLF to address three very important issues at the same time. First, we are fighting to protect the innocent unborn children from the scourge of abortion. Second, we are able to advance the rights of pro-life citizens to speak out against abortion, and offer a valid choice to the women and young girls who have never been presented an option. Finally, we are seeking to curb the unauthorized regulatory authority of the federal government.


 

 


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