The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments on April 21 in the civil lawsuit against pro-life journalists Sandra Merritt, David Daleiden, and others involved with the Center for Medical Progress (CMP), regarding their 2015 undercover investigation of Planned Parenthood’s alleged tracking of human fetal body parts.
Videos obtained by Daleiden and Merritt in the investigation of Planned Parenthood showed evidence of the abortion giant’s participation in the sales of body parts of children they aborted. Those videos reveal employees haggling over the pricing of the body parts, and the admission that abortion procedures are sometimes altered illegally in order to obtain more intact organs.
According to Liberty Counsel, “Throughout the previous six-week trial that began on October 2, 2019, the U.S. District Court severely restricted the evidence, and at the end, gave instructions to the jury on how they should rule on critical issues. The jury decided in favor of the abortion giant on each count, including RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations), and awarded more than $2 million in damages. The court subsequently awarded Planned Parenthood nearly $14 million in attorney’s fees and costs, for a total judgment of over $16 million.”
During the hearing on Thursday, a three-judge panel asked Planned Parenthood attorney’s how the abortion giant could validate the claim for using RICO, as the Supreme Court had previously ruled that RICO cannot be used against freedom of speech. The judges also questioned Planned Parenthood’s claim that Merritt and Daleiden had “trespassed,” when they were actually granted access to the events and buildings by abortion organizations, including Planned Parenthood itself. In addition, the judges questioned the abortion giant’s claim of damages related to security expenses due to the media exposure the videos created.
“I think the argument went about as well as could be expected, given that we were facing a panel of Democrat appointees,” Catherine Short, Chief Legal Officer for the Life Legal Defense Foundation — who represents former CMP board member Albin Rhomberg — told Live Action News. “Two of the judges appeared very skeptical of Planned Parenthood’s assertions that everything that CMP has ever done and continues to do is part of a ‘criminal conspiracy’ under RICO. I think the judges were looking at the record and asking themselves, ‘OK, we understand about the false IDs at the beginning, but were there any other crimes? Where’s the ‘criminal’ in the ongoing criminal conspiracy?'”
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