The Thomas More Society makes legal arguments against abortion, contraception, LGBTQ rights under the guise of relgious liberty, and has represented anti-abortion extremists. Its Amistad Project filed lawsuits seeking to overturn the 2020 election, and spread election disinformation.
Tom Brejcha is the founder, president, and chief counsel of the Thomas More Society. Brejcha’s bio on the Thomas More Society website claims he has spent over 40 years as a litigator “defending the sanctity of life, family, and religious liberty.”
TMS’ executive vice president Andrew Bath has spent his career fighting against abortion rights.
Bath was the chairman of the board of the Wisconsin Right to Life PAC and is a member of the Heritage Foundation and the Federalist Society.
Ann Scheidler is a director of TMS’ board and the widow of anti-abortion activist Joseph Scheidler, whom TMS represented in its founding case. Ann Scheidler is also the chairwoman of the Pro-Life Action League.
Amistad Project Director Phill Kline previously served as the Attorney General of Kansas. In 2013, the Kansas Supreme Court suspended Kline’s law license indefinitely after the court “found he had committed 11 violations of the Kansas Rules of Professional Conduct in connection with his investigations of abortion providers.” Kline is credited with introducing the idea of the Amistad Project to the Thomas More Society.
The Thomas More Society is one of many legal groups seeking to impose ultraconservative religious values on the public writ large. Its prominence and longevity in the anti-abortion movement made TMS a legal powerhouse in the right-wing religious sphere. The organization has since expanded to target other rights and protections.
TMS was founded in 1997 to fight against abortion access following efforts by abortion rights and feminist groups to reign in the violent anti-abortion protests of the 1980s and 1990s.
TMS refers to NOW v. Scheidler as “the case that started it all.” In 1986, Tom Brejcha joined the defense team for anti-abortion activist Joe Scheidler and other fringe anti-abortion activists that were sued by the National Organization for Women (NOW) for allegedly conspiring to close women’s health clinics.
Since taking on the NOW v. Scheidler case, TMS has focused heavily on fighting abortion rights and access to contraception by:
The group has fought against the legalization of same-sex marriage and represented businesses that sought to discriminate against LGBTQ customers.
In 2020, TMS turned to litigation, attacking COVID-19 public safety measures such as mask mandates and restrictions on indoor gatherings.
In one of its many COVID-related lawsuits, TMS represented a family in a lawsuit claiming that the San Diego Unified School District’s COVID-19 vaccination requirement violated students’ religious liberties.
In July 2021, the Thomas More Society filed a lawsuit over the name change of a school in California, a move that students and staff celebrated as a step toward “righting a wrong from a brutal period in California’s history.”
TMS said the name change was “erasure and anti-Catholic bigotry” and “another example of the ‘cancel culture’ mentality that radical leftist people in education are trying to force on an unwilling American public.”
TMS claims to represent “some of the nation’s most renowned pro-life and religious leaders,” some of which are at the violent fringes of the anti-abortion movement.
TMS provided legal representation for Father Norman Weslin, the founder and head of the anti-abortion group Lambs of Christ.
TMS’ clients also include the violence-stoking anti-abortion group Operation Rescue and its president, Troy Newman, who was denied entry into Australia out of fears that his visit would lead to “threats or the commission of acts of violence against women and medical professionals.”
The Thomas More Society joined conservatives’ attempts to overturn the election results in 2020 by creating the Amistad Project, an initiative to file federal and state lawsuits challenging the presidential election results in key swing states won by Biden. The Amistad Project’s litigation efforts surrounding the 2020 election were ultimately unsuccessful.
The Amistad Project bills itself as an “election integrity” watchdog, yet the organization itself attempted to interfere with Michigan’s election procedures in 2020. The group was “central in the effort” to replace the electors chosen by Michigan voters with illegitimate electors who would vote for Trump in the Electoral College despite Joe Biden’s victory in the state.
Despite its own attempts to interfere in the 2020 election, the Amistad Project continues to bill itself as “the nation’s leading election integrity watchdog.”
Thomas More Society has received grants from DonorsTrust, an organization affiliated with the Koch and Leonard Leo networks that Mother Jones described as the “dark money ATM of the right.”
The Amistad Project was “central in the effort” to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election after Trump’s defeat. The New York Times reported that the Amistad Project “worked closely with Rudolph W. Giuliani and other members of Mr. Trump’s legal team to file lawsuits challenging the vote results in key swing states.”
Documents obtained by American Oversight show that TMS shared an office with a team of election conspiracy theorists led by former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman, as they conducted a “taxpayer-funded review of the 2020 presidential contest for Assembly Republicans” in Wisconsin. American Oversight noted that this office-sharing arrangement between “a government official and a private organization that has been involved in work related to the official’s work” was cause for concern.
Records show that the law firm Mohrman, Kaardal & Erickson occupies the same office as TMS and Gableman’s team. Erick Kaardal is a special counsel at TMS, and his firm represented TMS and the Amistad Project in lawsuits related to the 2020 election and abortion.
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