Angel Dillard, the anti-abortion activist accused of sending a threatening letter to a
doctor training to perform abortions in Wichita, is now claiming that her letter is protected by the First Amendment. Clearly our forefathers were concerned that whack jobs might not be able to send intimidating letters to abortion providers, warning them that if they provide the legal medical procedure, they should expect car bombs to be planted under their cars.
Around January 15, Dillard mailed one such letter to Dr. Mila Means.
"Thousands of people are already looking into your background,
in Wichita, but from all over the U.S." Dillard wrote. "They will know your habits and
routines. They will know where
you shop, who your friends are, what you drive, where you live. You
will be checking under your car everyday-because maybe today is the day
someone places an explosive under it."
Dillard has filed a counterclaim against the U.S. Department of Justice,
claiming that the government is violating her rights to free speech and religious choice, the Associated
Press reports. The Department of Justice filed a civil complaint against Dillard for
violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act,
which outlaws intimidation and threats of force against abortion
providers and those seeking reproductive health services.
The government wants to bar Dillard
contacting Means or coming within 250 feet of the doctor, her home, her
or her place of business. The government is also seeking damages of
$5,000 for the doctor and a civil penalty of $15,000.
Dillard claims that she can't go to church because her house of worship is
located less than 250 feet from Means' office. (Maybe you should have
thought about that before you bought stamps, Angel.) Dillard
wants her attorney's fees and court costs paid, along with statutory
damages of $5,000 per violation and punitive damages.
A filing on Dillard's behalf claims that the government's actions "have
had, and continue to have an unlawful chilling effect on Defendant's and
others' right to free speech and free exercise of religion."
Dillard has claimed that her letter wasn't intended as a "true threat of
force against" Means.
Last month, a federal judge refused to grant a preliminary injunction
that would have ordered Dillard to stay away from Means. This despite Dillard's having openly expressed admiration for Scott Roeder, the man who
assassinated abortion provider George Tiller.
Marten's ruling said:
The First Amendment is the
absolute bedrock of this country's freedom, and I think the ability to
express an opinion on a topic that is important to one -- even if it is
controversial -- has to be protected so long as the line is not crossed
and becomes a true threat. I don't think this letter constitutes a true
threat," Marten said in his ruling from the bench.
Marten did concede that Dillard's letter was intended to intimidate Means.
Means has pointed out Dillard's association with Tiller's killer. Dillard told the AP in July 2009, "With one move, (Roeder) was able ... to accomplish what we had not been
able to do. So he followed his convictions, and I
Dillard was featured in the
2009 documentary film What's the Matter With Kansas? See her