Photo credit: Jarek Tuszynski (CC-By-SA 3.0)
Photo credit: Jarek Tuszynski (CC-By-SA 3.0)

(Washington, DC) Attorneys from the Thomas More Society joined their co-defense counsel in filing an appeal with the United States Supreme Court asking the Court to hear the case of David Daleiden, the 28-year old undercover journalist who exposed Planned Parenthood’s involvement in the commercial trafficking of aborted babies’ body parts and to overturn a court imposed gag order that barred Daleiden from releasing hundreds of hours of still more videos – videos whose contents were both politically embarrassing and incriminating for Planned Parenthood and other abortionists.

The National Abortion Federation had filed suit in July, 2015, to bar Daleiden from releasing his undercover videos taken at National Abortion Federation 2014 and 2015 annual conventions. Judge William Orrick granted an “emergency” gag order suppressing the videotapes, and later he entered a preliminary injunction extending the gag order indefinitely, through trial of the case – an injunction that the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco affirmed, although one judge on the three-judge panel dissented from that part of the lower court’s order that forbade Daleiden from releasing the videos to law enforcement without first getting the federal court’s permission to do so after first consulting with National Abortion Federation.

Thomas More Society attorneys Tom Brejcha, Peter Breen, Matt Heffron, and Sarah Pitlyk helped to craft the appeal, along with co-defense counsel, and they have been representing Daleiden in both the National Abortion Federation civil suit, filed under the Federal Racketeering Law, another Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations suit filed by Planned Parenthood and various affiliates, and in criminal felony prosecutions filed both in Houston, Texas, (finally dismissed a year ago) and in San Francisco Criminal Court.

The opinion issued by the lower court, which entered the gag order, had conceded that: “There is no doubt that members of the public have a serious and passionate interest in the debate over abortion rights and the right to life, and thus in the contents of defendants’ recordings”. “I fully recognize that there is strong public interest on the issue of abortion on both sides of that debate and that members of the public, therefore, have an interest in accessing the National Abortion Federation materials. I also recognize that this case impinges on defendants’ rights to speech and the public’s equally important interest in hearing that speech.” Nonetheless, U.S. District Judge Orrick issued a gag order, ruling that release of the videos would risk violent retaliation against abortion providers – despite a total lack of evidence that Daleiden ever advocated, let alone perpetrated violence.  Indeed, David’s pro-life activism arises from his deep aversion to the infliction of physical violence against any human beings.

“This Supreme Court appeal is a historic effort to protect the classical ban against prior restraints of free speech about an issue of paramount public importance, as our Congress is even now debating whether the abortion industry ought to be subsidized by millions of dollars in tax revenues.  Our First Amendment represents a foundational premise of our democracy that citizens ought to be trusted to make up their own mind about such basic issues of public policy,” stated Tom Brejcha, president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Society.  “The notion that government needs to filter the truth and wield the censor’s scissors is anathema here in our United States, and we trust that the Supreme Court will not abide this unprecedented suppression of truth and will soon let it be shared openly with all of our fellow citizens. First Amendment does not permit anybody to be insulated against the scrutiny of law enforcement or freed from political embarrassment.”

Brejcha explained, “We are appealing to the highest court in quest of justice. This lawsuit was brought against Mr. Daleiden by National Abortion Federation, the abortion industry’s trade group because he dared to expose the truth about their members’ profiting from an illegal trade in the remains of human beings. But what is ultimately at stake here is whether those who ‘blow the whistle’ on illegal or inhumane misbehavior in any industry may be silenced and even punished for telling the truth to the public at large and to those charged with enforcing criminal and regulatory bans on nefarious practices.  Whether America will remain an open or closed society hangs in the balance.  We trust that the Justices will stand by our traditional disapproval of “prior restraints on free speech,” hear Daleiden’s appeal, vindicate his First Amendment rights, and reverse the lower courts’ egregious mistakes.”

Read the Thomas More Society’s Petition for a Writ of Certiorari, filed August 3, 2017, with the United States Supreme Court in David Daleiden et al v. National Abortion Federation here.

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