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Friday, July 1, 2016

A Personal Appeal from Chris Ferrara

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Christopher Ferrara Christopher Ferrara
...on behalf of the American Catholic Lawyers Association

Please help ACLA continue its 24-year-long mission of providing free legal assistance to Catholics whose constitutional and civil rights are under attack.

Remnant readers may know that I wear another hat besides that of Remnant columnist.  Back in 1991, at the suggestion of a close friend and confidant, I founded the American Catholic Lawyers Association, leaving behind the private practice of law and devoting my legal career to the defense of the rights of Catholics in the law courts and in the court of public opinion.

Over the past 25 years ACLA, http://www.aclainc.org/,  has provided free legal assistance to Catholics under fire by Big Abortion and the forces of secularism in general, providing representation in state and federal courts around the country, in both civil and criminal matters.

ACLA attorneys have been involved in cases as prominent as the fight to save the life of Theresa Schiavo as well as the lesser-known street-level defense of Catholic pro-life activists and conscientious Catholics who are the victims of police harassment employment discrimination and other violations of constitutional and civil rights.   For example:


 

A landmark settlement of our federal lawsuit for a nurse wrongfully fired for refusing to administer the contraceptive Depo-Provera.

A federal lawsuit resulting in the rewriting of a local ordinance in Pennsylvania to respect the First Amendment rights of pro-life demonstrators, which ACL attorneys participated in rewriting.

Another federal lawsuit resulting in the payment of damages and the adoption of First Amendment training for law enforcement and security personnel in Rockland County, NY and at Rockland County Community College.And here is a list of some of our other victories over the years.

When a public school in upstate New York ordered a student to stop wearing a shirt with a pro-life slogan on it, ACLA went to federal court and obtained an injunction barring the school from infringing on this student’s right to freedom of speech.

When a husband and wife team of pro-life activists was charged with "contempt of court" by the New York Attorney General, ACLA pursued the video and other evidence which demonstrated that the charge was unfounded, produced that evidence in federal court, and won a dismissal of the contempt charge and the Attorney General’s demand for a "buffer" at the protest location.


When the City of Allentown began harassing and arresting Catholic pro-life activists who were demonstrating for life in front of the local abortion mill, ACLA attorneys filed a federal lawsuit and won a permanent injunction protecting the First Amendment rights of our clients.

When the same City continued to initiate bogus criminal charges against our clients, the ACLA filed a second federal action, tried and won 40 consecutive acquittals of our pro-life clients on the criminal charges, and ultimately obtained a damages award for each of the thirteen plaintiffs and an agreement to secure the exercise of their First Amendment rights.

 When a pro-life mother with ten children was dragged into federal court by New York’s Attorney General on a trumped-up charge of "contempt of court," based on a peaceful, civil, sidewalk encounter with a Planned Parenthood "patient," the ACLA defended her at the contempt proceeding. Planned Parenthood’s witness was destroyed on cross-examination, and the federal judge threw out the contempt citation, warning the Attorney General not to clutter his court with such matters again. 

When the same pro-life mother was then indicted on criminal charges arising from the same incident, the ACLA defended her at the criminal trial and won an acquittal.

This courageous pro-life mother of ten is now free to continue speaking out against the evils of Planned Parenthood.When a pro-life activist was saddled with a federal court injunction creating expanded "bubble zones" around an abortion mill where her presence was forbidden and prohibiting her from using sound amplification that could allow her to be heard, the ACLA appealed that decision to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.

The Court of Appeals threw out the expanded bubble zones and the order prohibiting sound amplification, allowing our client to go on saving babies at the Planned Parenthood abortuary in Rochester.  

When a Jesuit priest was fired as a military chaplain for being too Catholic to suit the Protestant minister who ran the interfaith chapel on an army base, the ACLA filed a federal lawsuit and obtained an immediate settlement for the priest.

When a staunch Catholic student was discharged from a physician’s assistant training program only a few credits short of graduation because he refused to condone contraception and abortion, the ACLA intervened, vowed to bring a civil rights lawsuit, and obtained our client’s immediate reinstatement to the program.  Upon graduation shortly thereafter, our client sent us a note which is all the payment we need:  "Thank you, thank you, thank you!"


When a Catholic nurse in Wisconsin was fired from a so-called Catholic facility for the mentally disabled because she refused to instruct the residents on contraception and how to masturbate, the ACLA filed a federal lawsuit under Title VII, defeated a motion to dismiss by the facility’s lawyers, and obtained a financial settlement.When a pro-life activist was arrested, carted off to jail, and charged with "obstructing traffic," the ACLA represented her in criminal court and obtained an acquittal.

The ACLA then filed suit on her behalf for false arrest and obtained for her a very large financial settlement.

Since then, whenever the police come to harass her and they learn who she is, they immediately back away and leave her alone.

When Planned Parenthood tried to get an injunction against a pro-life activist in Pennsylvania who was hurting their business, the ACLA defended her, fought Planned Parenthood to a standstill, and finally prevailed when Planned Parenthood dropped the entire lawsuit.

When the Borough of Seaside Heights, New Jersey, confiscated the pro-life signs of our clients and threatened them with arrest, the ACLA brought a federal lawsuit and obtained an immediate settlement in which the town promised never to interfere with our clients’ First Amendment activities again

When a Catholic father whose wife left him was saddled with a court order forbidding him to expose his son to the Catholic religion, the ACLA filed an appeal in the Nebraska Supreme Court, which threw out this restriction.

When a pro-life pregnancy counseling center on Staten Island was being harassed by New York’s Attorney General with subpoenas and threats of lawsuits for "unauthorized practice of medicine," the ACLA moved to quash the subpoena.

After our motion and briefs were filed, the Attorney General withdrew the subpoena and stopped harassing our client.

When a local school district tried to stop a Catholic pro-life advocate from displaying "offensive" pro-life signs near the school, ACLA brought suit in federal court where the judge informed the school district that it was violating the First Amendment


The district promptly abandoned its effort to stifle our client’s free speech.
As you can see, ACLA has done, and is doing, good work for Catholics whose civil and constitutional rights might well be extinguished without the free legal assistance we provide.

In fact, ACLA is the only religious organization dedicated to defending the civil and constitutional rights of Catholics as opposed to "religious freedom" in general.

A Critical Moment for the Continuation of Our Mission

At this moment, however, ACLA is at a crossroads. We have never employed the aggressive fundraising and "donor development" techniques of much larger organizations.  We have simply written to our loyal supporters, periodically advising them of the latest developments in our work. 


But over the past quarter-century our donor base has aged and the level of support has in consequence declined. Quite simply, if our work is to continue we need to attract new supporters through direct appeals such as this one. 

My request, then, is quite simple: 

Will you help ACLA continue to provide free legal assistance to Catholics under attack on account of their adherence to the Truth? 
Now, more than ever before in our nation’s history, Catholics who stand up for their faith in the public square will need a defense in the courts of law and in the court of public opinion.

Your response to this appeal, as the instruments of Providence, will help determine whether ACLA can continue its 25-year-long mission in the dark days to come.

Please, consider making a tax deductible gift to ACLA at its website, here:  http://www.aclainc.org/support.html. (Please bear with us as we seek alternatives to pay PayPal, which we have no choice but to employ for now).  Or, to donate by mail, write to our office address:

American Catholic Lawyers Association, Inc.

420 Route 46 East, Suite 7

PO Box 10092

Fairfield NJ 07004

May God bless you and yours.

Mary, Help of Christians, Pray for Us!Christopher A. FerraraPresident and Chief Counsel

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Last modified on Friday, July 1, 2016
Christopher A. Ferrara

Christopher A. Ferrara: President and lead counsel for the American Catholic Lawyers Inc., Mr. Ferrara has been at the forefront of the legal defense of pro-lifers for the better part of a quarter century. Having served with the legal team for high profile victims of the culture of death such as Terri Schiavo, he has long since distinguished him a premier civil rights Catholic lawyer.  Mr. Ferrara has been a lead columnist for The Remnant since 2000 and has authored several books published by The Remnant Press, including the bestseller The Great Façade. Together with his children and wife, Wendy, he lives in Richmond, Virginia.

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