U.S. joins in appeal of ban on blocking Wichita clinics

August 07, 1991|By Knight-Ridder News Service

WICHITA, Kan. -- The U.S. Justice Department joined Operation Rescue yesterday in opposing a federal judge's order that abortion protesters stop blocking access to two Wichita clinics.

Operation Rescue leaders said it proved that the government sided with their view.

But U.S. Attorney Lee Thompson, who filed a motion on behalf of the U.S. government, said, "The filing by the United States takes no position on the activities of [Operation Rescue] but reiterates the government's view that the matters in litigation should be addressed in state court."

U.S. District Judge Patrick Kelly said, "I have to believe that this decision is political."

Judge Kelly's preliminary injunction Monday barred protesters from blocking the clinic entrances. He ordered U.S. marshals to keep access open and later rejected an Operation Rescue motion to stay the injunction.

Operation Rescue is expected to appeal to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver today.

Mr. Thompson asked permission for the U.S. Justice Department to join in the motion in a "friend of the court" brief. Judge Kelly permitted the brief, but not without scolding the government. "I am disgusted with this move by the United States, that they would now put an imprimatur on this conduct," he said.

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