Pro-life investigators ask Supreme Court to end censorship of Planned Parenthood videos
WASHINGTON, D.C., August 3, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – David Daleiden and the Center for Medical Progress appealed to the Supreme Court today to lift a federal judge’s gag order barring release of undercover footage of Planned Parenthood leaders at an abortion tradeshow.
The petition argues that no federal court has ever upheld a prior restraint like Judge William Orrick’s order to suppress speech of overwhelming public interest.
“At issue in this appeal is a gag order,” it states, “a preliminary injunction imposed specifically for the purpose of hiding information from the public, precisely because the information is of such significant public interest and concern — the procurement and sale of aborted fetal body parts.”
The footage that Orrick banned last year was taken at the National Abortion Federation’s (NAF) 2014 and 2015 conferences. It exposed high level abortionists speaking frankly about abortion and exposing gruesome details about the industry.
Daleiden, the CMP project lead, says there is information being suppressed by the order that is of significant public interest and concern.
“Judge Orrick’s gag order, issued at the behest of Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion Federation, is an unprecedented attack on the First Amendment by a clearly biased federal judge,” Daleiden said in a statement. “Judge Orrick even wants to press his gag order in the California Attorney General’s bogus criminal case against me — though he, NAF, and Planned Parenthood insist the gag order only applies to my defense, and not to the Attorney General’s bogus prosecution.”
The suppressed NAF footage is part of some three years of undercover video captured by CMP documenting the abortion industry and its questionable handling of the remains of children aborted at its facilities.
The videos have led to a Congressional investigation and heightened calls to end the multi-millions awarded to Planned Parenthood annually in taxpayer subsidies. Numerous executives from the abortion giant were documented in the videos bartering in the trafficking of body parts from aborted children.
Publicly accessible links to some of the footage were posted on a website belonging to Daleiden’s criminal attorneys in May.
The attorneys have argued that release of the footage is necessary to provide Daleiden with proper defense in his criminal case. Orrick rejected this argument when he found Steve Cooley and Brent Ferreira in violation of his court order last month. Daleiden faces both civil and criminal charges.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra had charged Daleiden and his associate, Sandra Merritt, with 15 felony counts of recording confidential conversations without consent from all parties.
San Francisco Superior Court Judge Christopher Hite dismissed the first charges in the criminal case for being “legally insufficient.” Becerra later amended and refiled the charges, subsequently adding in the file names of specific videos.
Orrick later followed up on Cooley and Ferreira’s contempt charges last month, finding Daleiden and CMP in contempt as well, awarding the NAF around $137,000 for attorney fees, security costs, and staff time the abortion group contends it has expended searching the Internet for links to Daleiden’s videos.
Daleiden was also ordered to turn over videos and any materials relating to the court order.
CMP had petitioned for Orrick to recuse himself from the case in June, due to Orrick’s previous involvement with a San Francisco resource center that partners with Planned Parenthood, but the request was initially denied.
"As a key leader of the “Good Samaritan Family Resource Center” in San Francisco, Judge Orrick helped open and fund a Planned Parenthood Northern California clinic inside the Center’s headquarters,” CMP said Thursday in a statement. “Planned Parenthood Northern California has membership in the National Abortion Federation and is a named plaintiff against CMP and Daleiden in Judge Orrick’s courtroom. A motion to disqualify Judge Orrick is still pending.”
Daleiden’s attorneys and pro-life advocates have repeatedly contended that charges against him and Merritt are politically motivated and driven by the abortion lobby and its supporters.
Daleiden still has a significant amount of video that has not yet been released.