Supreme Court Declines to Lift Planned Parenthood Gag Order

Center for Medical Progress still has hundreds of hours of undercover tape

Supporters of Planned Parenthood
Supporters of Planned Parenthood / Getty Images
April 3, 2018

The gag order against undercover videographer David Daleiden will remain in place.

On Monday the Supreme Court declined to lift a federal judge's gag order suppressing the Center for Medical Progress from releasing undercover footage of abortion industry insiders discussing their organ harvesting operations. The National Abortion Federation and Planned Parenthood teamed up to sue Daleiden after he began releasing videos he recorded while posing as an organ buyer. Federal judge William H. Orrick III, an Obama appointee, blocked CMP from continuing to release videos in 2016, just months after the nonprofit group's initial round of videos caused a firestorm and led to federal investigations into Planned Parenthood.

Daleiden's attorney, Tom Brejcha, president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Society, was critical of the High Court's decision to stay out of the case. He said the gag order violates CMP's First Amendment rights as a journalism organization. Despite the setback, he said he is confident Daleiden will be prevail.

"Justice is not only blind, but it remains gagged for the time being," Brejcha said in a statement. "We are disappointed with what appears to be the Supreme Court's decision that these problems are better addressed at lower court levels at this time."

The Center for Medical Progress has already run afoul of the gag order in the past. Judge Orrick held Daleiden in contempt after he released a new video in 2017 showing an abortionist admitting that the unborn baby is "a person, it's [abortion] killing." YouTube pulled the video almost immediately before CMP voluntarily took it down from other video sharing sites.

The gag order is not the only issue CMP has taken to higher courts. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals continues to consider the organization's bid for a new judge in the case. CMP has alleged that Judge Orrick should have recused himself from the case over a conflict of interest. Orrick held senior positions at a nonprofit that houses a Planned Parenthood facility on its campus.

Brejcha said Daleiden, who also faces criminal charges brought by the state of California related to his reporting methods—a Texas judge threw out similar charges in 2016—will be "vindicated" by the courts no matter the legal obstacles.

"We are confident David Daleiden’s First Amendment rights will be upheld ultimately," Brejcha said. "When the smoke finally clears, we believe David Daleiden will be completely vindicated for exposing the truth about the abortion industry."

Neither the National Abortion Federation nor Planned Parenthood returned requests for comment.