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Supreme Court maintains gag order on new baby-parts videos exposing Planned Parenthood

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WASHINGTON, D.C., April 3, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – The U.S. Supreme Court will not reverse a lower court’s decision to block the release of additional undercover videos alleged to show further evidence that the abortion industry illegally trafficked in organs from aborted babies.

On Monday, the court declined to review U.S. District Judge William Orrick’s decision to block the pro-life Center for Medical Progress (CMP) from releasing videos taken at the National Abortion Federation’s (NAF) annual 2014 and 2015 meetings, Reuters reports.

The Thomas More Society, the Life Legal Defense Foundation, and the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund had petitioned the Supreme Court to review the injunction, which the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed. The court’s rejection of that petition came without comment or any count of how the justices voted.

“Justice is not only blind, but it remains gagged for the time being,” Thomas More President and Chief Counsel Tom Brejcha said in a statement emailed to LifeSiteNews.

“We are confident David Daleiden’s First Amendment rights will be upheld ultimately. We are disappointed with what appears to be the Supreme Court’s decision that these problems are better addressed at lower court levels at this time. When the smoke finally clears, we believe David Daleiden will be completely vindicated for exposing the truth about the abortion industry,” he added.

In order to attend the pro-abortion conference, CMP founder David Daleiden and other pro-life investigators had posed as representatives of a company called BioMax Procurement Services. Orrick sided with NAF’s argument that the videos violated confidentiality agreements the investigators had signed in order to attend the events, which he said negated CMP’s argument that it had a First Amendment right to release the videos.

The Life Legal Defense Foundation says this is a striking detour from how courts normally handle similar cases. “No federal appeals court has ever upheld a gag order that was based on the alleged agreement of the parties to hide information that is of significant public interest and concern,” the group said.

Life Legal notes that the Supreme Court has previously taken a dim view of such gag orders, citing prior rulings that “prior restraints on speech and publication are the most serious and the least tolerable infringement on First Amendment rights,” because the First Amendment’s “dominant purpose” was to prevent “governmental suppression of embarrassing information.” Life Legal argues that the undercover videos are precisely the sort of content the Founders intended to protect.

“The abortion industry went after David Daleiden for one reason-to protect the reputation it carefully cultivated in four decades of public deception,” Life Legal Executive Director Alexandra Snyder said. “The Ninth Circuit’s ruling effectively extinguishes public scrutiny of issues of fundamental social and political importance.”

The judge also claimed the videos did not show evidence of criminal wrongdoing. But CMP notes that the U.S. Department of Justice saw fit in December to open an investigation into the matter. In the already-released videos, Planned Parenthood officials such as Dr. Deborah Nucatola can be seen expressing a desire to “do a little better than break even” on fetal organ transfers, despite federal law stating that compensation for human tissue can only cover expenses, not profit.

Orrick’s ruling further suggested that releasing the videos would endanger the lives of abortion industry workers, citing Robert Louis Dear’s November 2015 shooting at a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood which left 3 dead and 9 injured. Leading pro-life groups uniformly denounced the attack, and Judge Gilbert Martinez repeatedly ruled that Dear was mentally incompetent. 

The abortion lobby has praised the Supreme Court's decision to decline to revisit the ruling.

“We are grateful that the Supreme Court denied the defendants’ latest attempt to circumvent the very necessary security precautions NAF has in place,” National Abortion Federation President Vicki Saporta said.

Questions remain about Orrick’s impartiality in the case. CMP and its attorneys have previously requested that he be removed from the case due to his past role as a board member for San Francisco’s Good Samaritan Family Resource Center (GSFRC), which lists Planned Parenthood as a “key partnership.” They also cite his wife’s history of supporting pro-abortion articles and pages on Facebook, including her use of an “I stand with Planned Parenthood” profile picture. CMP says that “at no time” did Orrick disclose his role with GSFRC to them.

“The Supreme Court seems to have decided that the problems with Judge Orrick’s gag order are better addressed at lower court levels at this time,” Catherine Short, Life Legal Defense Foundation’s Vice President of Legal Affairs, said in response to the latest decision. She added that she and her clients are still “confident that ultimately the tapes will be released and that our position on the law will be vindicated.”

Daleiden expressed confidence, as well.

“Planned Parenthood and their allies are on notice that [the Center for Medical Progress] will continue to pursue every appealable avenue to vindicate our First Amendment rights and those of all citizen journalists,” he said in a statement to BuzzFeed.

“As the U.S. Department of Justice continues to investigate Planned Parenthood for the criminal sale of baby body parts, the undercover footage that Judge Orrick continues to suppress will only grow more and more relevant until it can finally be revealed to the public,” Daleiden continued.

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