Thomas More Society attorneys filed an appeal last week with the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit for undercover journalist David Daleiden, arguing for reversal of a preliminary injunction that bars Daleiden and the Center for Medical Progress from publishing undercover videos from the 2014 and 2015 annual meetings of the National Abortion Federation (“NAF”).
Daleiden’s appeal assails the lower court’s decree as a blatantly unconstitutional “prior restraint” on free speech, based on repeated Supreme Court precedents that condemn such gag orders, most notably the famous Pentagon Papers case in which the Justices refused the federal government’s plea to stop publication of top secret files discussing the Vietnam war which had been leaked to the New York Times and Washington Post.
The appeal brief also argues that release of undercover video of significant (if not paramount) public interest should not be suppressed, in order to protect the public’s right to know – a critical element of our professed democratic self-governance as an open and free society.
Indeed, the United States Congress, numerous state legislators, and criminal investigators have subpoenaed and relied on Daleiden’s video releases to instigate hearings, new legal and regulatory initiatives, defunding measures, and also possible civil and criminal enforcement actions against the abortion industry. Congress itself had subpoenaed the suppressed videos and the lower court upheld that subpoena, which in turn led to a public hearing by the House Select Committee on Infant Lives, held last week.
This prejudicial censorship targeted at civilian investigator Daleiden threatens undercover journalism at large, explained Tom Brejcha, president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Society, a national non-profit law firm. “The National Abortion Federation (NAF) is working in tandem with Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers and promoters to suppress David Daleiden’s First Amendment rights and to shut down the resulting investigations focused on the abortion groups’ involvement in baby parts trafficking,” stated Brejcha.
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The Society’s appeal, filed with California-based co-counsel, comes on the heels of the preliminary injunction entered by District Judge William H. Orrick of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. NAF had sought entry of this censorship in response to Daleiden’s public release of a series of videos exposing illegal and unsavory practices by Planned Parenthood and other abortion industry participants. NAF’s principal claim in its lawsuit, filed last summer, is that Daleiden and CMP violated the federal Racketeer Influenced & Corrupt Organizations Act (“RICO”), a 1970 federal law designed to combat organized crime.
About the RICO claims, Brejcha said, “These are totally inapposite charges in this scenario – charges that have been decisively rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court. Equally as other investigative journalists for so-called mainstream news media, such as CBS’s Sixty Minutes, regularly resort to undercover journalism tactics to ferret out hidden crime, citizen journalists like David Daleiden have every right to penetrate the criminal underworld to bring to light and open to public scrutiny evidence of potential criminal wrongdoing.”
Read the appeal filed on April 19, 2016 for David Daleiden in the lawsuit by National Abortion Federation here [https://www.thomasmoresociety.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/160418-Daleiden-NAF-Ds-Opening-Brief-PUBLIC-dkt-19.pdf]