David Daleiden and the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) announced a new motion Wednesday, asking the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to compel the recusal of Judge William Orrick from the lawsuit between Daleiden/CMP and Planned Parenthood and accusing Orrick of bias in favor of the abortion advocacy organization.
According to charges levied in the petition, Orrick has "an ongoing and longstanding professional relationship with one of the named Plaintiffs," namely Planned Parenthood.
Specifically, the petition claims, Orrick is a founder and longtime officer of the Good Samaritan Family Resource Center (GSFRC), a San Francisco-based organization that provides services to local families and houses a Planned Parenthood facility within its complex. The Planned Parenthood was incorporated into GSFRC's services while Orrick served as the organization's secretary and counsel.
This conflict of interest is further exacerbated because Orrick's image was used in inflammatory Facebook postings attacking CMP and defending Planned Parenthood which Orrick's own wife "liked," an action that CMP contends makes the post partially attributable to the liker.
The posts, one in 2015 and one in 2016, attacked CMP as "a sham organization run by extremists," alleging that the published undercover videos of the sale of fetal tissue were "heavily edited," and suggested that the whole endeavor amounted to domestic terrorism.
All of this has only emerged now because CMP was not previously aware of Orrick’s bias, according to CMP lawyer Peter Breen. This is partially because Orrick claimed to have left the board of GSFRC in 1999 on the questionnaire he returned to the Senate Judiciary Committee prior to his confirmation, according to the complaint. However, Orrick remained affiliated with GSFRC up through the time when he issued the gag order against Daleiden and CMP.
All of this may have bearing on a court case that has drawn significant attention to Planned Parenthood’s activities and prompted a debate about its receipt of federal funding.
"He is the last best weapon that Planned Parenthood has on their side as they're now facing federal investigation from the Department of Justice," Daleiden said of Orrick during a Wednesday press conference.
Daleiden and CMP were placed under a gag order in May for continuing to distribute videos, collected by Daleiden and colleagues, purporting to show the willingness of Planned Parenthood abortionists to sell fetal tissue at a profit. Daleiden attacked the gag order as a product of clear bias in August.
"Judge Orrick even wants to press his gag order in the California Attorney General’s bogus criminal case against me," he said at the time. "Judge Orrick’s gag order, issued at the behest of Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion Federation, is an unprecedented attack on the First Amendment by a clearly biased federal judge."
CMP and Daleiden filed a motion in June seeking the recusal of Orrick in the state-level court where Orrick presides. That motion was denied, prompting Wednesday’s appeal to the Ninth Circuit.
Last week, it became public knowledge that the Department of Justice is investigating Planned Parenthood’s sale of fetal tissue, an investigation prompted by the revelations from Daleiden and CMP’s investigation. That investigation was prompted by a 2016 judiciary committee report on "Human Fetal Tissue Research: Context and Controversy."
"The report documents the failure of the Department of Justice, across multiple administrations, to enforce the law that bans the buying and selling of human fetal tissue," wrote Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa) last December. "It also documents substantial evidence suggesting that the specific entities involved in the recent controversy, and/or individuals employed by those entities, may have violated that law."