Judge Refuses to Dismiss Stalking Case Against Wichita Anti-Choice Activist


The stalking case against Wichita, Kansas, pastor and anti-abortion activist Mark Holick will proceed to trial, a Kansas judge ruled over the weekend.

Holick is accused of harassing South Wind Women’s Center operator Julie Burkhart, who won a temporary protection against stalking order against Holick earlier this year. Burkhart’s attorneys accuse Holick of a pattern of harassing and threatening actions, including making and distributing “wanted” posters of Burkhart that list her home address and pointing a sign at her house that read “Where’s your church?”—an apparent reference to the 2009 murder of Dr. George Tiller, who was killed at his church. Burkhart’s clinic is the first to open in Wichita since Tiller’s murder.

Holick’s lawyers had tried to get the case against him dismissed, arguing his statements and actions were protected political and religious speech under the First Amendment.

But Sedgwick County Judge James Beasley disagreed, citing Supreme Court precedent that protects the “well-being, tranquility and privacy” of a person’s home, noting that courts are clear that individuals are not required to “welcome unwanted speech into their homes.” Only a trial would sort out the real meaning of Holick’s statements, including whether they amount to a “true threat” and are therefore not protected by the First Amendment, the judge ruled.

This is the latest case coming from Wichita to test the limits of anti-choice activist free-speech rights versus the legitimate safety concerns of abortion providers and patients. The Obama administration is appealing a federal court ruling that Wichita-area anti-choice extremist Angel Dillard’s letter to Dr. Mila Means promising explosives under her car was protected by the First Amendment.

Judge Beasley’s ruling leaves in place the temporary order while the court considers making that order permanent. A trial date has not yet been set.

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  • L-dan

    If that defense holds, then every stalker has an out. “I was just exercising my first amendment rights to point out that the complainant belongs with me and nobody else.” Creepy as fuck.

    • cjvg

      Absolutely, you are so right if this is affirmed as a legit exercise of the first amendment even bullying becomes protected speech

      Since when is intimidation and harassment of a private person with direct references to their (private) home protected speech?
      Why would this not fall under the legit and reasonable restrictions placed on the first amendment?

      Like the famous example that you can not yell fire in a crowded theater( thereby endangering others) while insisting it is your right to willfully risk the safety of said others under the first amendment ?!

    • fiona64

      ^^ This.

      Communicating a threat is not “free speech.”

  • cjvg

    Since when is intimidation and harassment of a private person with direct references to their (private) home protected speech?
    Why would this not fall under the legit and reasonable restrictions placed on the first amendment?
    Like the famous example that you can not yell fire in a crowded theater, and endanger others, while insisting it is your right to willfully risk the safety of said others under the first amendment ?!

  • CJ99

    That defense holds even less intelligence than “the devil made him do it” which is probably more accurate.

  • http://plumstchili.blogspot.com/ Plum Dumpling

    I have been following this. Good news.

  • Jennifer Starr

    Mr. Holick is a stalker and a terrorist and deserves to be treated as such.

  • JamieHaman

    Good for the judge, not everyone in Kansas has lost their minds! Too bad some idiot in a federal court thought Angel Dillards letter was acceptable, and the POTUS admin is appealing that one.