Convicting Dillard would have been a bonus effect, but it was not the Justice Department's objective. Silencing her was the objective, and in this the government succeeded. The larger objective was pour encourager l'autres, and in this it will likely succeed, too.Although it lost the case, the Justice Department may have partially achieved what it wanted when it filed suit against Dillard. The judge concluded that Dillard’s decision to refrain from vigorous anti-abortion activities after the lawsuit began:… may be due to a chilling effect of calls and visits from the FBI, and the filing of the present action by the Department of Justice. Almost immediately after the sending [of] the letter, Dillard became the target of investigations by the Wichita police and the F.B.I., followed by the present civil prosecution. Faced with such investigation and litigation, it is utterly unsurprising that Dillard has ceased political activity she might have otherwise undertaken.
For the real message of the trial is simply to cause pause of those standing against government-approved political positions to make them think about how much money it will cost even certainly to prevail in court.
Political prosecutions define success in ways other than "convict."