Twenty U.S. state attorneys general have come to the defense of investigative reporter David Daleiden who was fined nearly $200,000 for releasing undercover video footage exposing Planned Parenthood’s illegal activities, including partial birth abortions on viable babies.
After Daleiden’s organization, the Center for Medical Progress, released a series of videos exposing Planned Parenthood for harvesting aborted baby parts, the National Abortion Federation filed a lawsuit and sought a gag order that would prevent the release of further footage.
After U.S. District Court Judge William Orrick III ordered the unconstitutional gag rule, he came down hard on Daleiden and his attorneys, Steve Cooley and Brentford Ferreira, for releasing an additional video. Orrick claimed footage from NAFs annual convention put abortion industry workers at risk. He stated the $200,000 fine was compensation for NAF lawyers, travel, employee time, and security costs.
Orrick is no stranger to the abortion industry and is anything but impartial. According to the Center for Medical Progress, he even “helped open and run a Planned Parenthood clinic.” To no avail, CMP made a motion to disqualify Orrick for bias based primarily on his position as a board member of an NAF member organization.
Orrick is now holding Daleiden in contempt for simply trying to defend himself with the same videos the California attorney general is using in his prosecution. The gag order prevents Daleiden and his attorneys from releasing videos not only to the general public but also to law enforcement.
After the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld Orrick’s ruling, Daleiden petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case, arguing that no federal court has ever upheld a prior restraint like that of Orrick’s, thereby, suppressing speech of overwhelming public interest.
In addition, a brief submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court by 20 state attorneys general provides sound reason for the Supreme Court to take the case. The brief clarifies:
Amici Attorneys General (and the justice system) will be harmed if the Ninth Circuit’s decision in this matter stands. The decision sets a precedent that hampers law enforcement’s ability to effectively receive information and investigate possible civil or criminal wrongdoing. …
[T]he Ninth Circuit’s decision specifically hampers law enforcement’s ability to effectively receive information and conduct initial investigatory steps into possible wrongdoing. The decision empowers would-be wrongdoers, especially those engaged in collusion, conspiracy, or other multi-party enterprises, to shroud their actions and hamper investigations. The effect of this is real—the earliest investigatory stages can be the most productive, when law enforcement is best situated to determine the truth and obtain evidence without the potential target taking evasive action (e.g., destroying records, hiding assets, and influencing witnesses).
The attorneys general refer to hundreds of hours of material that Daleiden may wish to disclose to law enforcement. For example, appropriate responses to Arizona and Louisiana subpoenas would include at least 47 hours of video and 100 hours of banned audio, along with information necessary for the material to be placed in context and made sufficiently meaningful.
NAF has embargoed almost all of this material, refusing to consent to petitioners’ disclosure of responsive materials except for snippets of materials. NAF is thus blocking state investigatory efforts by imposing its own relevance and responsiveness standard on law-enforcement subpoenas issued to a third party.
Attorneys general who have joined the brief to the U.S. Supreme Court are from the states of Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.