The Thomas More Society Pro-Life Law Center is defending the “ND 88” – those arrested during protests to Obama’s appearance on campus. Their website is www.FreeTheND88.org An open letter to Fr. Jenkins by Thomas Brejcha was published in the Washington Examiner:
Dear Father Jenkins:
I’m writing you, as president of Notre Dame, my alma mater, with an urgent plea that you drop the criminal trespass charges that have been pending against the many defendants – most of whom are faithful, fervent pro-life Catholics – who “dared” to venture onto Notre Dame’s campus last Spring, 2009, to bear peaceful, prayerful witness to the sanctity of all human life, from conception to natural death.
Among them were at least one priest and several nuns, Norma McCorvey, the “Jane Roe” of Roe v. Wade, former presidential candidate Alan Keyes, two ladies – Jane Brennan, author of Motherhood Interrupted (2008), and Laura Rohling – who preach about healing and hope after abortion in the Archdiocese of Denver, Colorado, and many other non-violent participants in America’s pro-life movement.
Many were praying the rosary or singing religious hymns. The priest – Fr. Norman Weslin, who regularly prays and counsels abortion-bound women about live-saving alternatives outside the Omaha, Nebraska abortion facility of late-term abortionist, Dr. Leroy Carhart – carried a heavy wooden cross and a rosary.
With respect, Father, the future of these cases – if they must go on – is squarely in your hands. Notre Dame is the complainant. Its security personnel directed and/or conducted the arrests, pointing out those who would be arrested (pro-lifers) and those who would not (those carrying pro-Obama signs and/or taunting the pro-lifers).
I’m not only a Notre Dame alumnus but also president and chief counsel of a public interest law firm, based in Chicago, the Thomas More Society. We founded the Society over 10 years ago to carry on the defense of a nationwide federal class action lawsuit against pro-life protesters, NOW v. Scheidler.
The Scheidler case involved charges that what Dr. M.L. King called “peaceable, non-violent direct action” (Letter from Birmingham Jail (April, 1963)) constituted the federal felony crimes of extortion and racketeering.
We won Scheidler only after two decades of litigation and three U.S. Supreme Court appeals. We finally prevailed, with two successive Supreme Court wins, both by decisive, bipartisan margins: by 8-1 (2003) and then by 8-0 (2006).
Notre Dame helped us when we defended NOW v. Scheidler. Fr. Hesburgh wrote letters and agreed to testify as a character witness at the trial. Fr. Joyce sent us many generous donations. Notre Dame law professor Bob Blakey argued our first Supreme Court appeal.
But now the “Notre Dame 88″ have asked us to take the lead in their defense. Not to spite Notre Dame but because we love it, we have agreed. America’s civil rights movement is ongoing, and the pro-life movement is its next phase.
Notre Dame should not only support this new civil rights movement but lead it. It should honor all who dare to speak out for the dignity of all human beings – born or unborn, wanted or unwanted, humble or exalted – not prosecute them!
This open letter to Notre Dame was first published in The Washington Examiner