Pro-life activists facing heavy fines for releasing undercover videos exposing Planned Parenthood employees will not be able to argue their case before the U.S. Supreme Court. The court earlier this week declined to hear appeals of this and several related cases.
The pro-life activist group known as the Center for Medical Progress garnered national headlines in 2015 when it released a series of undercover videos that showed Planned Parenthood officials and other abortion providers discussing illegal activities, such as altering the way an abortion is performed to acquire a baby’s organs, tissue and limbs intact. Since releasing the undercover videos, the activists have found themselves dealing with a wave of litigation from Planned Parenthood
The court, in an orders list, declined to hear an appeal, which allows earlier court rulings against the pro-life activists to stand, Liberty Counsel, which is helping represent defendants, warned that the refusal to hear the cases has “far-reaching First Amendment consequences involving free speech and undercover journalism,” “The Christian Post “reported.
The legal group then quoted from its petition to the Supreme Court in which it asked if “the First Amendment’s Free Speech Clause protects newsgathering journalists, who operate under an alias to document and expose what they reasonably believe to be unlawful conduct, from being subjected to punitive liability for fraud. This case concerns whether, and to what extent, the press may raise the First Amendment as a defense against generally applicable tort laws when undercover journalists gather and publish truthful news of significant public importance.”
In April 2020, U.S. District Court Judge William Orrick of the Northern District of California ordered the Center for Medical Progress, its founder David Daleiden and others tied to the group to pay more than $1.2 million in damages related to Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. Last October, a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit unanimously upheld a lower court ruling requiring the activists to pay $2.4 million in damages. The activists also were the subject of prosecution from the state of California.
–Alan Goforth | Metro Voice