Last week, The Center for Medical Progress filed a petition for certiorari asking the U.S. Supreme Court to throw out Planned Parenthood’s lawsuit retaliating against CMP’s undercover videos exposing the sale of aborted baby body parts. The case raises serious First Amendment concerns regarding the selective application of California’s anti-SLAPP law and other free speech protections:
1) anti-SLAPP laws protect citizen journalists from “Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation”–SLAPP cases that are brought solely to retaliate against a public speaker.
2) David Daleiden and The Center for Medical Progress should be protected by California’s anti-SLAPP law against the bogus SLAPP cases brought by Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion Federation, but the Ninth Circuit reversed its own established precedent in order to deny David and CMP the protections of the California anti-SLAPP law.
3) To protect the First Amendment, federal courts require claims against free speech to meet a strict defamation standard, which Planned Parenthood and NAF have refused to do. Even apart from California’s anti-SLAPP law, this should terminate the lawsuits immediately.
CMP project lead David Daleiden says, “Planned Parenthood got caught selling baby parts from abortions and remains under federal investigation–so they have relentlessly attacked the whistleblower instead of coming clean and reforming. This is a classic, meritless SLAPP case and a dishonest attack on the First Amendment that should have been thrown out of court long ago.”
CMP Attorney Charles LiMandri of the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund (FCDF), who filed the petition with the Supreme Court, notes: “The billion-dollar abortion industry is stopping at nothing to crush David. The anti-SLAPP laws are designed for cases just like David’s, yet the Ninth Circuit chose to side with the abortionists rather than uphold the law. We hope the Supreme Court recognizes that David should not be punished for exercising his First Amendment rights.”
“In this high-profile, politically-charged matter, the Ninth Circuit has flip-flopped on its own earlier decision, choosing now to deny disfavored speech the special protection to which it is entitled under state law.”
“The Court should review the decisions below and hold that the First Amendment bars Plaintiffs’ claims.”
“Defendants’ investigation and reporting to law enforcement so far has led to successful lawsuits by the Orange County District Attorney against two companies for trafficking in fetal organs. It also has resulted in the ongoing federal Department of Justice investigation of PPFA.”
“The lower courts held that PPFA had a legally-protectable commercial interest in what amounts to squelching future scrutiny of it.”
“The lower courts’ analyses paid no attention to the First Amendment concerns at issue, and instead of engaging in the appropriate scrutiny of PPFA’s case to ensure that no end run was being tolerated, summarily affirmed a novel theory aimed precisely at circumventing the First Amendment.”
“Just like the statutory law at issue in Nat’l Inst. of Family & Life Advocates, the case law announced by the lower courts in this case, “imperils th[e] liberties” of “freedom of thought and belief.” Id. (Kennedy, J., con- curring). This Court should grant review to protect those liberties.”