Pro-lifers ask courts to stop blocking release of Planned Parenthood baby parts videos
April 13, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) and its co-counsel filed a request today with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals asking them to withdraw the gag order placed on the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) that is preventing it from releasing videos recorded at the National Abortion Federation (NAF) conference.
This gag order is a result of NAF suing CMP. NAF is trying to suppress CMP from releasing full undercover footage of its abortion conference. CMP investigators have been fighting to release the full footage for more than a year now but have been prevented from doing so by the preliminary injunction (gag order). The ACLJ represents Troy Newman, a former CMP board member and the president of Operation Rescue. Newman is named in the lawsuit.
"We’re asking either the three judges who heard the original case to reconsider their decision or for what’s called full court en banc review – in the Ninth Circuit, that’s 11 judges – to consider this case," ACLJ attorney Ed White told LifeSiteNews. "The decision of the trial court and the court of appeals conflicts with Supreme Court cases and also with other Ninth Circuit cases."
White said that preventing a citizen journalist like CMP head David Daleiden and his collaborators from sharing the truth is unconstitutional. It's a form of "prior restraint, where the court is preventing the public from hearing information ahead of time, and ... the court is being final arbiter of what is in the public interest," said White.
"Ever since these videos were released back in July 2015, there’s been immense public interest in the sale and buying of aborted baby parts," said White, noting that committees of the U.S. House and U.S. Senate both investigated the scandal. They referred Planned Parenthood, baby parts brokers, universities, and other entities to the Department of Justice and local law enforcement.
"When it comes to abortion, there’s what’s called the abortion distortion," said White. "Everything is done to protect abortion as a sacrament even though all these terrible things go on. Just look at Gosnell in Philadelphia. [The] mainstream media never even reported about it and it’s horrific."
"At issue in this appeal is a gag order, a preliminary injunction imposed specifically for the purpose of hiding information from the public, precisely because the information is of significant public interest and concern — the sale of fetal body parts," the ACLJ wrote in its petition to the court. "The [Ninth Circuit] Panel took the unprecedented step of making this Court the first federal circuit to uphold a prior restraint of speech, based on the private agreement of parties, to defeat the public’s right to know."
The petition argues that Daleiden and his co-workers didn't give up their First Amendment rights when they signed a confidentiality agreement at the NAF conference. Citing precedent, the ACLJ argues, "putative waivers of First Amendment rights 'must be construed narrowly.'"
"The Panel approved the district court’s construction of the [confidentiality agreement] in the broadest possible terms to cover all information learned at the NAF meetings, no matter the source, including the informal conversations with other attendees that were the focus of Defendants’ activity," the ACLJ argues. "This sweeping interpretation of the agreement, approved by the Panel, compounds the peril posed by the decision: not only can First Amendment rights be waived merely by signing contracts of adhesion, but those contracts will be construed broadly, not against the drafter, but against the signer."
The public has a right to know the content of these videos, and CMP has a right to release them, the attorneys argue.
"When it comes to abortion cases, there is always a vigorous fight on the side of the culture of life to get the public aware of what is actually going on in the abortion industry," White concluded.
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