By Matthew Bowman
Last week the ACLU lost yet another case in its nationwide campaign to force religious hospitals to perform abortions.
The federal appeals court in Cincinnati rejected the ACLU’s case Means v. U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
You read that right: the ACLU thinks it can sue bishops themselves—through their non-profit advocacy organization—for expressing their view that abortion is unethical because it kills human beings.
The appeals court affirmed dismissal of this case. The ACLU’s theory is so bizarre the court said it wasn’t even possible for the court to consider hearing the case in the first place. In other words, just because you issue a document expressing your religious beliefs about abortion, the fact that somebody somewhere else agrees with you does not give a court “jurisdiction” to drag you into court.
The court also rejected the ACLU’s view that it can sue a religious group that sets ethical policies for a Catholic hospital, because the ACLU didn’t bother to allege that the policy itself actually injured anyone.
Of course it is possible to sue a doctor if injury occurs, and then the court will decide whether there is enough evidence to prove actual malpractice. But the ACLU didn’t bring that lawsuit. The ACLU’s theory is that the non-profit group’s free speech—its agreement with the ethical view that it’s wrong to kill—itself causes injury. The court did reach this issue but noted it is a fraught question.
Indeed—the ACLU literally seeks to punish people for free speech qua free speech: Bishops who say what it means to be a pro-life Catholic, and hospitals just for saying we don’t kill people here. So much for “Civil Liberties.”
Thus far the courts have rejected the ACLU’s outlandish legal theories for forcing groups to perform and say happy things about abortions, including in the case ADF jumped into on behalf of pro-life doctors, ACLU v Trinity Health. But the ACLU is spending millions of dollars to push its coercive abortion and anti-speech campaign. It will not give up, and neither will we.