Citizen journalists' appeal a step closer to Supreme Court

Citizen journalists' appeal a step closer to Supreme Court

Citizen journalists' appeal a step closer to Supreme Court

The Thomas More Society will appeal a ruling that says a pro-life investigative journalist and his team must pay $2.4 million to Planned Parenthood.

David Daleiden played a role in undercover videos that show Planned Parenthood workers discussing the sale of aborted baby body parts. The legal battle has been going on for years now and most recently involved the multi-million-dollar decision from a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Thomas More Society, the law firm representing Daleiden, will now appeal to have all of the judges on the Ninth Circuit Court to hear the case. Attorney Peter Breen tells AFN there could be "some good, strong dissents."

Breen, Peter (Thomas More Society) Breen

"That's been done in recent cases coming out of the Ninth Circuit, particularly where folks who are conservative or people of faith often have a tough time," he continues. "We'll get some good, strong dissents, and then you take those up to the Supreme Court, and hopefully then the Supreme Court will step in and fix this mess."

However, if the decision against Daleiden, who maintains he was acting as a citizen journalist, is upheld, Breen warns it would "create a precedent that would kill undercover reporting across the country."

"What David Daleiden and what his team were doing is no different than standard undercover operations that you would see on any of the major networks," the attorney asserts.

He notes the Food Lion v. ABC case of 1992, where ABC undercover reporters got food handling jobs at Food Lion and were later sued for truthfully telling about their experiences. In that case, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the reporters to pay zero dollars in damages.

"That is what the law has been for the last 30 years," Breen says. "The Ninth Circuit has now just turned that on its head."

Planned Parenthood has claimed that Daleiden and his team violated multiple state and federal laws. At issue was the pro-life activists' use of fake IDs and their recording of conversations that were meant to be confidential, which a lower court concluded violated various laws, including conspiracy, breach of contracts, conspiracy, fraud, fraudulent and unlawful business practices, trespass, RICO, and various federal and state wiretapping laws.

The unanimous decision released last Friday mostly upheld the lower court ruling against the pro-life activists.