The investigative journalists who exposed Planned Parenthood’s apparent practice of selling the body parts of babies it aborts on the open market have rejected plea deals offering them probation.
Center for Medical Progress (CMP) project lead David Daleiden and his colleague Sandra Merritt each face a felony charge for allegedly using a fake driver’s license in order to conceal their true identities while they investigated Planned Parenthood’s fetal tissue trafficking practices. Daleiden has also been charged with a misdemeanor related to the purchase of the organs of aborted babies.
Both Daleiden and Merritt have said they won’t settle their cases through pretrial diversion, which would keep them out of prison and eventually have the charges against them dismissed, reports Fox News.
CMP filed a motion this week to dismiss the charges made by Planned Parenthood against it, citing numerous inadequacies that should dismiss the case. That motion comes in the wake of an appeal filed last week by CMP with the U.S. Court of Appeals to reverse a preliminary injunction that a U.S. District Court judge granted the National Abortion Federation (NAF) in February, prohibiting Daleiden and CMP from releasing certain undercover videos and other materials that they obtained during 2014-2015 NAF meetings.
According to a press release from the national non-profit law firm Thomas More Society, which represents Daleiden, the appeal criticizes the lower court’s decree as “a blatantly unconstitutional ‘prior restraint’ on free speech, based on repeated Supreme Court precedents that condemn such gag orders, most notably the famous Pentagon Papers case in which the Justices refused the federal government’s plea to stop publication of top secret files discussing the Vietnam war which had been leaked to the New York Times and Washington Post.”
The appeal brief also argues that the public has a right to know information, such as what is revealed in the undercover videos, that should not be suppressed.
After Daleiden and Merritt were indicted under suspicious circumstances by a Houston grand jury, two pro-choice law professors wrote that the journalists’ indictment – instead of Planned Parenthood – amounted to “a stunning act of legal jujitsu” and was a “deeply disturbing” outcome both for the First Amendment and undercover citizen journalists attempting to expose corruption.
The press release continues:
Indeed, the United States Congress, numerous state legislators, and criminal investigators have subpoenaed and relied on Daleiden’s video releases to instigate hearings, new legal and regulatory initiatives, defunding measures, and also possible civil and criminal enforcement actions against the abortion industry. Congress itself had subpoenaed the suppressed videos and the lower court upheld that subpoena, which in turn led to a public hearing by the House Select Committee on Infant Lives, held last week.
Tom Brejcha, president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Society, states:
The National Abortion Federation (NAF) is working in tandem with Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers and promoters to suppress David Daleiden’s First Amendment rights and to shut down the resulting investigations focused on the abortion groups’ involvement in baby parts trafficking.
Amicus briefs have been filed on behalf of Daleiden by numerous organizations including: American Catholic Lawyers Association, Charlotte Lozier Institute, Justice and Freedom Fund, the law firm of Peace | Crowell, the Attorneys General of 14 states, and several Members of Congress. The briefs address a wide range of issues, including the American public’s “unfettered right in our society to have access to important information about controversial matters,” such as abortion.
Another “neutral” brief was filed by a group of constitutional scholars concerned about the critical First Amendment issues at risk of being violated.