Discovery Institute Accuses Rioters of Rights Violations

Nathan Newman nathan.newman at
Fri Aug 4 21:34:26 PDT 2000

On Fri, 4 Aug 2000, Carrol Cox wrote:

> > On Fri, 4 Aug 2000, Nathan Newman wrote:
> >
> > > When someone sues all these groups under RICO, we will be able to
> > > thank NOW for having established the precedent that non-economic
> The trouble with NOW is not that it's feminist but that it supports the
> Democratic Party. What can you expect from a bunch of Demireps?

Give it a break- the good First Amendment precedents were established by Dem judges under pressure of the labor and civil rights movements, from THORNHILL V. ALABAMA in 1941 to CLAIRBORNE in 1982 - mostly guided early on by my favorite Justice, Hugo Black - a Dem hack of epic proportions before being appointed.

The problem with NOW and Planned Parenthood is that they ultimately chose a court-oriented strategy for abortion rights over a political mobilization model. The result was two-fold: first, they ended up choosing court power over the 1st Amendment, the point above; secondly, they ended up narrowing abortion rights down to a "right to privacy" which ultimately tossed poor women overboard, since privacy as opposed to equality has little class character.

Many other feminists saw the court strategy early on as dangerous for these exact reasons. Interestingly, even Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has argued that Roe v. Wade may have hurt the feminist movement by isolating it from electoral politics in favor of court maneuvers, thereby in many ways undermining the coalitions that might have pushed through the ERA and other majoritarian feminist goals (which would have protected abortion rights as part of a broader agenda).

> When was the RICO act passed? (I really don't remember.) Given the
> existence of the law, its reactionary use was inevitable and there's no
> point in blaming NOW. Liberals will be liberals. Democrats will be
> Democrats.

RICO was passed in 1970 to go after the mob and has mostly been expanded as a tool to go after white collar business crime. It is only in the 1980s that it has really become a threat to activist groups, with the 1995 NOW case being the first case to ever apply it to a group with no economic motive for their acts.

And sorry, Stalinists have had no problem with conspiracy laws and other repression of activists. In fact, the liberals have a better track record on that score.

-- Nathan Newman

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