Judicial Watch Files Briefs in the U.S. Supreme for Review of Ninth Circuit Decisions Penalizing Group for Exposing Sales of Fetal Body Parts
(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today that it filed two amicus curiae (friend of the court) briefs in the U.S. Supreme Court in support of The Center for Medical Progress (CMP) and its founder David Daleiden, one of which asks for review of the Ninth Circuit Court’s affirmation of a monetary award against CMP (Center for Medical Progress et al. v Planned Parent Hood et al. (22-1168)), the other asks for review of an injunction granted to the National Abortion Federation that prevents CMP from publishing more abortion-related videos (Center for Medical Progress et al. v National Abortion Federation (22-1135)).
In 2015, The Center for Medical Progress released videos that exposed employees of Planned Parenthood engaging in negotiations for the sale of fetal tissue and body parts for use in medical research.
On October 21, 2022, the United States Ninth Circuit affirmed most of a 2019 lower court jury verdict that declared that a series of undercover videos produced by The Center for Medical Progress harmed Planned Parenthood, and that CMP was not protected by the First Amendment, requiring CMP to pay millions in damages to Planned Parenthood.
The Judicial Watch brief highlights how the lower court’s awarding of monetary damages for these accurate videos is a fundamental threat to First Amendment protections.
Separately, in August 2022, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the ruling of a judge in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California that granted National Abortion Federation a permanent injunction barring The Center for Medical Progress from releasing recordings and materials obtained at National Abortion Federation’s meetings. The injunction also forbids CMP from talking about the videos or using them in the defense of CMP’s Founder and President David Daleiden in his criminal case.
In its brief Judicial Watch states:
The ability to inform the public on matters of genuine and profound public interest is an essential aspect of free speech rights. The Ninth Circuit’s erroneous decision upholding the lower court’s permanent injunction amounts to unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination that must be corrected. In addition to the constitutional injuries Petitioners will continue to suffer, the public continues to suffer as well, by being purposefully prevented from learning the facts regarding an exceptionally important issue. Abortion affects not only personal choices, but national choices like elections, federal funding, and agency regulations. It is absolutely essential that the public have the full story of what transpired on Petitioners’ videos.
Judicial Watch argues that upholding the Ninth Circuit decision would have a “chilling” effect on the First Amendment:
The Ninth Circuit’s decision to uphold the district court is a blow to First Amendment rights that rises to the level of significant public importance. The Ninth Circuit’s decision to rubberstamp viewpoint discrimination has caused substantial adverse consequences for the Petitioners in this case, including an especially unjust and onerous monetary award, the inability to use the videotapes as evidence in their criminal trial, and a chilling of their First Amendment rights. But the damage of the Ninth Circuit’s decision goes far beyond the Petitioners. The decision has also caused substantial adverse consequences for the public in general. The freedom of speech logically incorporates the right to receive the speech as well. The right to speak is rendered meaningless without an audience free to listen.
Judicial Watch also argues these videos and what they exposed are a matter of public interest:
By permanently silencing the Petitioners’ speech, the general public is subsequently harmed by not being able to receive the information contained on the videotapes. The importance of the information on the videotapes being suppressed by the Ninth Circuit cannot be overstated. As Amicus will demonstrate, the videotapes that were released changed the national and state landscape in dramatic ways. The general public was largely unaware of the shocking underbelly of the abortion lobby which Petitioners exposed through the release of the videotapes. Petitioners videos changed federal and state laws, spurred federal and state investigations, changed private business changes, and led to severe public backlash. By suppressing the further release of information, the Ninth Circuit effectively blocked access to information the public had a right to know. Absent this Court’s intervention, the Petitioners and public are left with no avenue for legal relief for the adverse consequences they have suffered and will continue to suffer.
“The Center for Medical Progress exposed the horrors of the sales of fetal body parts, and the courts effectively joined the abortion industry in trying to destroy the Center for telling the truth about this nightmarish conduct,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “The Supreme Court should step in and protect the First Amendment right of citizens to expose and criticize the dark secrets of the abortion industrial complex.”
Judicial Watch has repeatedly fought to expose the sale of human fetal tissue obtained by killing unborn human beings through abortion.
In March 2021, Judicial Watch filed two separate Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuitsagainst Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for grant applications related to the use of human fetal tissue.
In August 2021, Judicial Watch and The Center for Medical Progress (CMP) received recordsfrom the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that revealed nearly $3 million in federal funds were spent on the University of Pittsburgh’s quest to become a “Tissue Hub” for human fetal tissue ranging from 6 to 42 weeks gestation.
Through a separate lawsuit, in September 2021, Judicial Watch exposed records and communications from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) involving “humanized mice” research with human fetal heads, organs and tissue, including communications and contracts with human fetal tissue provider Advanced Bioscience Resources (ABR).