Pro-life journalist asks Supreme Court to review her case

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The religious freedom group Liberty Counsel has filed a petition asking the Supreme Court to review a recent Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision against Center for Medical Progress (CMP) undercover journalist Sandra Merritt in favor of abortion giant Planned Parenthood. 

The appeals court ruled that Sandra Merritt — who along with David Daleiden, founder of Center for Medical Progress, exposed corruption in Planned Parenthood with hidden cameras — caused damages and that the videos in question were “false.” Liberty Council hopes that the Supreme Court will review the case, arguing that there will be massive First Amendment implications if the appeals court ruling stands. 

“Liberty Counsel has filed a petition for writ of certiorari asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review the previous ruling by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals against Sandra Merritt in Planned Parenthood’s multimillion-dollar civil lawsuit for her undercover investigation of the abortion giant. The implications of this case have far-reaching First Amendment consequences involving free speech and undercover journalism,” the organization said in a statement. 

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The videos in question reveal Planned Parenthood employees illegally negotiating over the prices of the body parts of aborted babies that were acquired during abortions. Instead of targeting the abortion giant for this illicit activity, state and federal authorities targeted Merritt and Daleiden, seizing their personal property during the “investigation.” A court subsequently banned CMP from releasing the footage in a blatant attempt at censorship. 

Liberty Council explained that it is asking the Supreme Court to consider “whether 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.’”

It added, “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. Accordingly, the First Amendment not only protects the publication of news; it also protects the newsgathering process, including undercover investigations, because ‘without some protection for seeking out the news, freedom of the press could be eviscerated.’”

Daleiden’s attorneys from the Thomas Moore Society have also filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari asking for “the reversal of lower court rulings that blocked him from airing undercover footage and forced him to pay millions to the abortion industry.” (2) 

The CMP co-founder had his home raided by law enforcement in 2015 over the undercover videos and still faces criminal charges in California. 

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