National Organization for Women, Inc. v. Scheidler, 510 U.S. 249 (1994)

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certiorari to the united states court of appeals for the seventh circuit

No. 92-780. Argued December 8, 1993—Decided January 24, 1994

In this action, petitioner health care clinics alleged, among other things, that respondents, a coalition of antiabortion groups called the Pro-Life Action Network (PLAN) and others, were members of a nationwide conspiracy to shut down abortion clinics through a pattern of racketeering activity—including extortion under the Hobbs Act—in violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) chapter of the Organized Crime Control Act of 1970, 18 U. S. C. 1961-1968. They claimed that respondents conspired to use threatened or actual force, violence, or fear to induce clinic employees, doctors, and patients to give up their jobs, their right to practice medicine, and their right to obtain clinic services; that the conspiracy injured the clinics' business and property interests; and that PLAN is a racketeering enterprise. The District Court dismissed the case pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). It found that the clinics failed to state a claim under 1962(c)—which makes it unlawful "for any person employed by or associated with any enterprise engaged in, or the activities of which affect, interstate or foreign commerce, to conduct or participate . . . in the conduct of such enterprise's affairs through a pattern of racketeering activity or collection of unlawful debt"—because they did not allege a profit-generating purpose in the activity or enterprise. It also dismissed their conspiracy claim under 1962(d) on the ground that the 1962(c) and other RICO claims they made could not stand. The Court of Appeals affirmed, agreeing that there is an economic motive requirement implicit in 1962(c)'s enterprise element.

Held: 1. The clinics have standing to bring their claim. Since their complaint was dismissed at the pleading stage, the complaint must be sustained if relief could be granted under any set of facts that could be proved consistent with the allegations. Hishon v. King & Spalding, 467 U. S. 69, 73. Nothing more than the complaint's extortion and injury allegations are needed to confer standing at this stage. Pp. 255-256. 2. RICO does not require proof that either the racketeering enterprise or the predicate acts of racketeering in 1962(c) were motivated by an economic purpose. Nowhere in either 1962(c) or in 1961's


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