WASHINGTON — A pro-life activist who has been banned from releasing any further footage of undercover recordings from the 2014 and 2015 National Abortion Federation Conventions has taken his case to the U.S. Supreme Court.
David Daleiden is appealing his case from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which upheld a lower court ruling in March prohibiting Daleiden from releasing any further videos from the event, in part due to the safety risks that they could present to abortion providers.
“We are appealing to the highest court in quest of justice,” Tom Brejcha of the Thomas More Society, which is representing Daleiden in court, said in a statement on Friday. “This lawsuit was brought against Mr. Daleiden by NAF, the abortion industry’s trade group, because he dared to expose the truth about their members’ profiting from an illegal trade in the remains of human beings.”
As previously reported, the National Abortion Federation had sued Daleiden in July 2015 to stop his recorded footage from being made public, claiming that it could jeopardize the safety of its members.
U.S. District Court Judge William Orrick issued a preliminary injunction in February 2016 banning Daleiden from releasing any videos recorded at the National Abortion Federation’s annual conventions.
He noted that the Federation requires attendees to sign confidentiality agreements, promising not to disclose the contents of the event.
“Confidentiality agreements are common to protect trade secrets and other sensitive information, and individuals who sign such agreements are not free to ignore them because they think the public would be interested in the protected information,” Orrick wrote.
Also opining that “the majority of the recordings lack much public interest,” Orrick said that the Federation’s rights to privacy and safety outweighed any public interest in the videos.
“Weighed against that public interest are NAF’s and its members’ legitimate interests in their rights to privacy, security, and association by maintaining the confidentiality of their presentations and conversations at NAF Annual Meetings. The balance is strongly in NAF’s favor,” he wrote.
Daleiden, who possesses hundreds of hours of footage, appealed to the Ninth Circuit, which upheld the ruling in March.
“Even assuming arguendo that the matters recorded are of public interest, however, the district court did not clearly err in finding that the defendants waived any First Amendment rights to disclose that information publicly by knowingly signing the agreements with NAF,” it wrote.
“Nor did the district court abuse its discretion in concluding that a balancing of the competing public interests favored preliminary enforcement of the confidentiality agreements, because one may not obtain information through fraud, promise to keep that information confidential, and then breach that promise in the name of the public interest,” the court said.
Therefore, Daleiden has now presented the matter to the nation’s highest court.
“[W]hat is ultimately at stake here is whether those who ‘blow the whistle’ on illegal or inhumane misbehavior in any industry may be silenced and even punished for telling the truth to the public at large and to those charged with enforcing criminal and regulatory bans on nefarious practices,” Brecha said.
“Whether America will remain an open or closed society hangs in the balance,” he opined. We trust that the justices will stand by our traditional disapproval of ‘prior restraints on free speech,’ hear Daleiden’s appeal, vindicate his First Amendment rights, and reverse the lower courts’ egregious mistakes.”
Daleiden was recently held in contempt of court for releasing a preview of forthcoming video footage in violation of the injunction. The recording featured clips of various Planned Parenthood officials and other abortion advocates making nonchalant statements about the abortion process, including that the baby’s eyeballs fell into their lap or that they had to tear off a leg to avoid technically performing a partial-birth abortion.