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Guest Article

Abortion, Lawsuits, The Satanic Temple

November 15, 2023

Why did The Satanic Temple lose its Indiana abortion lawsuit?

TST’s failure in The Satanic Temple Inc. vs Rokita highlights how ill-equipped and deeply unserious the Temple’s owners are about confronting the Christian right, especially in a post-Dobbs world

In late September 2022, TST filed two nearly identical federal lawsuits in Idaho and Indiana, once again in an ostensible attempt to establish a religious exemption from each state’s near-total abortion ban. Each suit features an array of alleged constitutional violations of the religious and economic freedoms of both TST as an organization, and of the members supposedly affected by these bans. Each got widespread, credulous national news coverage at the time.

While the Idaho case is still pending final opinion, the judge in Indiana recently issued her own ruling on Oct. 25, 2023, handing TST another defeat by way of dismissing the case without leave to amend.

The thing is, a core part of due process is the court being able to ensure that it actually has the authority to wield its power over the attending parties. Per Article III of the Constitution, it doesn’t matter how strong your arguments are if you can’t show that the court is within its authority to hear them.

The Satanic Temple knows this. But The Satanic Temple is also very bad at lawsuits, and has been repeatedly derelict in its obligation to meet its legal burden of proof in its lawsuits around the country, to an extent and consistency that we can’t help but call intentional at this point.

TST’s refusal to show standing was foundational to how we beat their misbegotten SLAPP against us in January this year. Friendly word of advice: if you’re going to falsely accuse multiple people of running an organization called “The Satanic Temple 2: Electric Boogaloo” as the basis for a trademark infringement claim under federal law, don’t act surprised when the court kicks it back asking for evidence that such an organization actually exists. At the very least, get a lawyer smart enough not to go on Reddit right afterward and voluntarily admit that he made up the allegation as a half-assed way to falsify standing in the absence of real merits. Apparently, that was too much to ask of the Temple’s owners.

More recently, TST’s refusal to establish standing — as well as their habitual insistence on suing people unrelated to the thing they’re supposedly suing about — was the crux of their failed attempt in Texas to manufacture a religious exemption from the targeted restrictions on abortion providers (TRAP) laws in effect at the time. We encourage you to read our discussion of that suit because thanks to TST’s refusal to learn from its failures there, we’ll be retreading much of that territory in Rokita as well.

We actually pointed out well over a year ago that standing was going to be a problem for TST in Rokita, in a Twitter thread shortly after the initial filing.

We’re more than a little amused: you’d think that with the money that TST has explicitly admitted to spending on stalking us and its other critics on social media, they would have taken the hint from that thread and adjusted their complaint accordingly. But here we are.

This article, like the one covering Hellerstedt, will attempt to make the events of Rokita easier to access and understand to the lay audience: what arguments TST ultimately made, and why they were found to be insufficient by the court. We’ll address some of the common platitudes from TST supporters that inevitably pop up after their courtroom defeats, and why those rejoinders are particularly inadequate here — especially when coming from Doug “Lucien Greaves” Misicko directly.

And we’ll give our opinion on how this suit reflects the priorities of TST as an institution — and why we believe, once again, that TST is a threat to the earnest struggle for religious freedom and bodily autonomy everywhere, and must be stopped.

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