WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Supreme Court agreed Monday to use a long-running lawsuit over violence and harassment outside abortion clinics to clarify how an anti-racketeering law applies to all manner of demonstrations and civil disobedience.
The court said it will consider appeals from Operation Rescue, anti-abortion leader Joseph Scheidler and others who were ordered to pay damages to abortion clinics and barred from interfering with their business for 10 years.
Federal courts found that the anti-abortion protesters illegally blocked clinic entrances, menaced doctors, patients and clinic staff and destroyed equipment during a 15-year campaign to limit or stop abortions at several clinics.
The case, which the Supreme Court will hear in the term that begins in the fall, raises raise broad free-speech questions about court treatment of political and social protest, as well as more arcane legal issues.
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