"Life News" reports that the defendant, Susan Pine, had been counseling women who were considering abortion (and providing support for those who chose life) outside an abortion clinic in West Palm Beach, Florida for twenty years. Though the court found no evidence of her ever using force to prevent women from entering the clinic, the Department of Justice charged her with violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE) in 2010, seeking thousands of dollars in fines.
Holder's original complaint stated: "In bringing this action, the United States Attorney General has reasonable cause to believe: (1) Defendant, Mary Susan Pine, has committed, and is likely to continue to commit, violations of FACE; and (2) various persons are being, have been, and will continue to be injured by Defendant's conduct."
Judge Kenneth L. Ryskamp reportedly chastised and questioned the integrity of the DOJ after concluding that Pine had not violated any of the three elements of FACE. “The Court is at a loss as to why the Government chose to prosecute this particular case in the first place,” he wrote. “The Court can only wonder whether this action was the product of a concerted effort between the Government and PWC [Presidential Women's Center abortion clinic], 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.”
“The evidence could not lead a rational jury to find that Ms. Pine’s conduct constituted a physical obstruction within the meaning of FACE," he concluded.
Matthew Staver, whose organization assisted Pine throughout the proceedings, remarked: "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.”
The Life Legal Defense Fund also chimed in: “Despite the struggling economy and skyrocketing federal debt, apparently, the U.S. Government sees fit to expend unlimited taxpayer dollars pursuing these baseless charges against Ms. Pine."
Many have noted that, while Holder's Justice Department aggressively pursued charges against Ms. Pine despite no evidence to support the suit, it has yet to prosecute members of the New Black Panthers for voter intimidation during the 2008 election-- and that was caught on tape.