Aborted-fetus photos: U.S. Supreme Court refuses to hear case brought by protester

abortion protesters 205x205.jpg
A protest in 2008.
The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear a Colorado case that asked the question, Should abortion protesters be allowed to wave signs featuring "gruesome images" in places where children might see?

The case started in 2005, when abortion protesters did just that outside St. John's Cathedral in Denver on Palm Sunday. Parishoners were upset, especially since children were at church that day, and the church sought an injunction against the protesters. It was granted, but the protesters think it violates their rights.

The injunction states that the protesters are barred from displaying posters "depicting gruesome images of mutilated fetuses or dead bodies" that may be seen by children under twelve on Sundays from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. and also half an hour before any religious service starts and half an hour after it ends. In addition, the protesters cannot shout in a way that would disturb church services.

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Kenneth Scott with his wife, Jo.
Protesters Kenneth Scott and Clifton Powell appealed the court-ordered injunction, but were unsuccessful. The appeals court justified the injunction by saying it was "narrowly tailored" in the interest of protecting children. After the Colorado Supreme Court declined to hear the case, Scott and Powell appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court with help from the Chicago-based Thomas More Society, a national pro-life law firm. On Monday, the nation's highest court also declined to weigh in but did not give a reason why.

"Obviously, we're disappointed that the court didn't take the case, but it's frankly never unexpected -- because the odds are worse than a hundred to one," says Tom Brejcha, president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Society.

But Brejcha expects that the high court won't be able to ignore the issue for long. Lower courts have split on cases involving what Brejcha terms "content-based censorship" for the benefit of children, and he says the court's refusal to hear the Colorado case will make the subject even more pressing in the future. "This is a very, very serious issue that is really at the cutting-edge of First Amendment law," he says, "and it will be there more prominently now that the court has declined to hear this case."

In their petition to the Supreme Court, lawyers for Scott and Powell argued that the protesters believe the fetus photos are necessary "to show exactly what the abortion produces." To back up their argument, they cited examples from history.

"Photographs of Holocaust victims similarly helped show the evil of Nazism in ways words could not easily convey," the petition says. It also mentions the case of Emmett Till, who was lynched in 1955. "Photographs of Till's body in the coffin published in Jet Magazine became powerful images of the civil rights movement," it notes.

Brejcha notes that the petition received support from a wide array of First Amendment scholars, including two past presidents of the American Civil Liberties Union. Religion scholars weighed in as well, as did art historians. "Photographs, especially gruesome photographs, can speak with a power that text often cannot," wrote an attorney who filed an amicus curiae brief on behalf of several art historians and professors.

The Thomas More Society will be watching for similar cases, Brejcha says, and will likely continue to ask the Supreme Court for its opinion. "We'll be keeping track," he says.

More from our Follow That Story archive: "Jo Scott, abortion zealot, permanently enjoined from using threat of force at clinic protests."


Follow me on Twitter @MelanieAsmar or e-mail me at melanie.asmar@westword.com


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59 comments
Schittphaiç Magü
Schittphaiç Magü

Picketing funerals wouldn't exactly be considered "obscene" by almost anyone's standards.

Juan_Leg
Juan_Leg

Melanie, you're joining the likes of Alan & Patricia, w/ your writing . Good company !

Christian Allen
Christian Allen

If Fred Phelps and company can picket soldiers' funerals, as sickening as it may be, then I don't really see how this would cross a line. It's a shame we have to deal with any of these kinds of people, but that's the way it is.

Che Harness
Che Harness

It's also horrible that some parents try to push the job of parenting on to society.

Emily Epstein
Emily Epstein

They can say or display whatever they please, as long as they don't block or assault people.

Che Harness
Che Harness

Obscenity is a personal opinion. I don't find anything obscene about nudity or children being exposed to objectionable material. It's just an opportunity for parents to talk to their children about their values. But I understand, people are typically selfish and only care about their own values. I've met very few people who understand why "An injustice allowed to happen anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere" -MLK Jr.

Ashley Grayson
Ashley Grayson

also at 4 (when my child saw these images) his values only consisted of not eating candy when i wasnt looking, not aborted babies ....

Ashley Grayson
Ashley Grayson

Why are there no naked people on billboards??? Because its OBSCENE, its not an opinion its a LAW

Tracy Minor Enriquez
Tracy Minor Enriquez

No this freedom of speech and press can be soo over the line sometimes. Its horrible what are kids and grandkids have to be expose to just driving down the street. Just so a bunch of adults think they have a right to speak their mind.

Stephanie Sarad
Stephanie Sarad

i think that they should be able to protest if they are willing to adopt the babies that would be aborted. otherwise they need to mind their own damn business

Jeremy Mahall
Jeremy Mahall

why not? the anti-smoking campaign shows gross pics of lungs and holes in throats.

CloudGang
CloudGang

30 million abortions encouraged by the church.....all the churches. You see? The problem lies with the church selling hope....tax free. But that's another topic. I can not differentiate between a mother drowning their children and a mother cutting the life from the unborn baby....I mean fetus's, violently shoving chemicals and tools up the vagina thru the cervix stopping the life from forming any further. The vacuum comes next to suck it all out, only then is the fetus thrown onto a medical table or bowl to sit with the hundreds of other fetus's waiting to be gathered up and tossed in a black glad bag and into the public trash....its all the same to me

Che Harness
Che Harness

Obscenity is a personal opinion. I don't find anything obscene about nudity or children being exposed to objectionable material. It's just an opportunity for parents to talk to their children about their values. But I understand, people are typically selfish and only care about their own values. I've met very few people who understand why "An injustice allowed to happen anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere" -MLK Jr.

Alena Wasserman
Alena Wasserman

Possibly pics of starving/abused children that probably should be adopted.

Skid Jarrett Gilmore
Skid Jarrett Gilmore

Will there be pics of starving/abused children that probably should have been aborted?

Ashley Grayson
Ashley Grayson

it should fall under being obscene, when children are subjected to these photos, it should be considered child abuse. Showing nudity certainly is not ok. This is not ok either.

Øbserve Gnarly
Øbserve Gnarly

freedom of speech but i also get the right to flip them off

Che Harness
Che Harness

actually I should say, ESPECIALLY if the speech is gruesome and offensive.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@Tracy Minor Enriquez ... like Marijuana magazines ?

Juan_Leg
Juan_Leg

@Che Harness  Excellent point ! Additionally, one can NEVER be discredited when quoting MLK Jr. !

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@Ashley Lynch = legal FAIL.

Nudity =/= Obscenity


DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@Stephanie Sarad ... I'll adopt you, Stephie !

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@CloudGang ...

HipTip: if you're against abortion, then don't have one.

HipTip #2: if God didn't want abortions to occur, he wouldn't spontaneously abort MILLIONS of pregnancies every month ... of every year ...since the beginning of mankind.


Juan_Leg
Juan_Leg

@Che Harness  I find 'god & christianity' obscene . Opinions are like assholes .....

Juan_Leg
Juan_Leg

@Ashley Lynch  Are we talking about your stretch marks ???

CloudGang
CloudGang

Funny. Not..... Although you seem generally interested i find it odd that you mention nudity as what's "not ok" over things like forced vaccination as well as the flu shot. These medicines have not been proven to prevent and is contrary to the beliefs, assault with a deadly weapon, according to the definitions I read. The list goes on and on about how people like you try to push your values on me.

GuestWho
GuestWho

@DonkeyHotay  <-- Behold the stupid stoner, always trying to change the subject to marijuana on every topic.  Pathetic.

Juan_Leg
Juan_Leg

@DonkeyHotay  Which is more dangerous & has caused more deaths, 'High-Times', 'Playboy', or the Bible ?.....

And my point is .......

CloudGang
CloudGang

@DonkeyHotay @CloudGang when the baby is born alive AFTER a botched abortion, then killed, how does this not stem directly from getting an abortion?  

CloudGang
CloudGang

@DonkeyHotay @CloudGang This has nothing to do with god.

Contrary to what you assume I am absolutely not against abortion.

I am however bothered that men do not get the same exact choice.

Woman aborts baby in America = nice mom

Father chooses not to pay child support = dead beat

It is the thinking that men are disposable and in turn everything is. We have a nation of sheep. If you ask them to challenge any government or court they stick their head in the sand like a ostrich thinking they can't be seen .

I have a problem with putting women on pedestals......or anyone for that matter. In a true republic we would be free to choose.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@CloudGang ... those babies were BORN first, THEN KILLED.

No question or debate, under the law, it's homicide.


CloudGang
CloudGang

Thank you Sir.

I VERY much like yourself and the donkey......

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@CloudGang "I'm a hybrid of a mangina ..."

Well, that explains a lot ...

HipTip: cut back on the estrogen a bit.

hth.

CloudGang
CloudGang

I'm a hybrid of a mangina and a white knight, but I'm trying to reform myself. I just can't help myself. Whenever I hear another male raise his voice to a Woman or even question a Woman's ideas, I immediately attack the other man either verbally or physically. Then, I begin kissing the Woman's beautiful ass so that she might deign to share it with me. Bashing other men so that I can protect and curry favor with Women is deeply ingrained in my cognitive hard-wiring. I want to stop, but I can't

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@CloudGang "I can not get pregnant."

Which is why you have NO SAY in OTHER PEOPLE's decisions to abort parasites inside THEIR BODY.


 @CloudGang  "If I do get a woman pregnant however, I can not choose to have that fetus inside her aborted!"

And a woman can not choose to have you vasectomized ... see how that works? Your body, your choice -- Her body, her choice.


@CloudGang "I do not hate woman.....i just..."

Despise and whine about them constantly.

CloudGang
CloudGang

@DonkeyHotay I can not get pregnant. If I do get a woman pregnant however, I can not choose to have that fetus inside her aborted!

I do not hate woman.....i just point out things like more women kill children annually than men. Yet society sends children to schools ran by mostly females. Its don't hit a girl ever....not don't hit anyone ever.  Suicides  are something like 80% males. Work place death ratio anyone?

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@CloudGang "Contrary to what you assume I am absolutely not against abortion. I am however bothered that men do not get the same exact choice."

Damn son, you really should cut back on the drinking, it's done pickled your brain.

You DO have the same choice! -- if YOU ever get PREGNANT, you are free to abort that parasite inside your womb, same as a woman.

We get it, you got burned by a woman -- YOUR POOR MATING CHOICE -- and now you're miserable and hate all women.

How's that working out for you?


CloudGang
CloudGang

The flu vaccine has not been proven to prevent the flu. It does however accelerate the flu virus.

google it for reference. hth.

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