Thomas More Society Attorneys Seek Restoration of David Daleiden’s First Amendment Rights
Thomas More Society attorneys have asked the United States Supreme Court to take up the case of undercover journalist David Daleiden, whose 30-month investigation generated videos and evidence that spurred Congressional hearings, criminal referrals, policy and law changes, along with a vigorous national debate on the buying and selling of “baby body parts.” The Thomas More Society’s Petition for Writ of Certiorari, filed on May 17, 2023, seeks a reversal of lower court decisions that permanently prohibit Daleiden from publishing video he took of National Abortion Federation (“NAF”) trade shows and that awarded NAF over $6 million in attorney’s fees and costs.
The National Abortion Federation sued Daleiden in 2015, asking a California district court to suppress the videos recorded and produced by the investigative journalist and the nonprofit he founded, the Center for Medical Progress. The district court entered, and the court of appeals affirmed, a sweeping permanent injunction against the release of any of the over 500 hours of recordings at NAF conferences, without applying any level of First Amendment scrutiny.
Peter Breen, Thomas More Society Executive Vice President and Head of Litigation, explained that the petition describes how the lower courts ran roughshod over Daleiden’s First Amendment rights and made impermissible value judgments against Daleiden’s videos, claiming that there was minimal public interest in showing those videos.
“The First Amendment prohibits courts from stopping journalists from publishing their work, other than in the most extreme cases, but here, the courts were quick to denigrate David Daleiden’s videos and speech and to silence him on an issue of supreme public importance,” stated Breen. “The American people have a right to all of the relevant information on an issue, not just what certain judges think they should see and hear.”
“These are not private videos—they’re videos of an 800-person abortion trade show that Mr. Daleiden was invited to attend,” shared Breen. “David Daleiden is one of the most notable undercover journalists of our time, reporting on one of the most contentious political issues of our day. If the high-profile work of someone of David’s stature can be banned, no undercover journalist is safe from the risk of ruinous financial sanctions and never-ending lawsuits. The Supreme Court must step in to save undercover journalism.”
“The American people deserve to see and hear what the abortion providers of this country are willing to say and do to skirt and even violate the law. We are asking the high court to rectify this situation, restore respect for the First Amendment, and vindicate David Daleiden. This is necessary to hold bad actors like the National Abortion Federation to account.”
Additionally, Breen noted, “The court’s injunction unconstitutionally restricts David Daleiden’s defense against California’s prejudicial criminal charges against him—charges that are based on the video recordings.”
The petition states that Daleiden should be allowed to freely introduce the court-banned video footage in his defense to the pending criminal charges against him, instigated by then-California Attorneys General Kamala Harris and Xavier Becerra, at the behest of NAF and Planned Parenthood. Breen observed that the injunction has already inflicted irreparable harm by forbidding Daleiden from proving his innocence to the public.
Read the Petition for Writ of Certiorari filed in the Supreme Court of the United States on May 17, 2023, by Thomas More Society attorneys on behalf of the Center for Medical Progress, Biomax Procurement Services, and David Daleiden in Center for Medical Progress, et al. v. National Abortion Federation here.