Free speech wins
Today a California court dissolved a temporary restraining order banning the Center for Medical Progress from releasing footage showing high-ranking StemExpress executives discussing the sale of fetal body parts.
The Alliance Defending Freedom issued a press release:
“The First Amendment protects every American’s free speech, regardless of how damaging the truth is for scandal-ridden organizations like StemExpress and Planned Parenthood,” said Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund President Chuck LiMandri. “Our client has the right to expose StemExpress’ role in the potentially illegal sale of aborted babies’ body parts. The court was correct in lifting this gag order, which only served to protect StemExpress’ gruesome business.”
“The American people deserve to know the truth about the hideous industry that buys and sells the hearts, lungs, heads, and livers of unborn babies,” said Life Legal Defense Foundation Vice President of Legal Affairs Catherine Short. “The Center for Medical Progress should not be silenced and StemExpress and Planned Parenthood should not be able to get off the hook when there is credible evidence that they have colluded in numerous illegal activities.”
From the opinion (full opinion embedded below the fold):
Equitable Assessment and Balancing of Harms.
In addition to establishing the likelihood of prevailing, Plaintiffs also must establish that the interim harm they are likely to sustain if the injunction is denied is greater than the harm Defendants will suffer if the preliminary injunction is granted. Huong Que, Inc., supra, 150 Cal.App.4th at 408.
On this point, Plaintiffs’ application comes into direct conflict with Defendants’ free speech rights. Plaintiffs’ proposed injunction would prevent Defendants from publishing the recorded material from the May 22, 2015 meeting. This proposed injunction would be a prior restraint on Defendants’ right to free speech under the First Amendment…
This significantly tilts the balance of harms in favor of Defendants. Elrod v. Burns (1976) 427 U.S. 347, 373 (“The loss of First Amendment freedoms, for even minimal periods of time, unquestionably constitutes irreparable injury.”). This is true even where the speech is false, defamatory, violative of privacy rights or otherwise tortious in character. Gilbert v. National Enquirer, Inc. (1996) 43 Cal.App.4th 1135, 1147-1148 (“The threatened invasion to [the] right of privacy and the threatened harm to reputation are not the sort of •extraordinary circumstances• required to justify a prior restraint.”); Evans v. Evans (2008) 162 Cal.App.4th 1157, 1168. The harms Plaintiffs assert in their moving papers are generally the harms discussed in Gilbert and are thus insufficient to counterbalance the constitutional harms that the injunction would cause Defendants. Gilbert, 43 Cal.App.4th at 1147-1148.
This legal battle dates back to the end of July, when a Los Angeles judge handed down a temporary restraining order barring the Center for Medical Progress from releasing a new video featuring high-level StemExpress executives. This move prompted conservatives and pro-life activists to challenge StemExpress and Planned Parenthood’s narrative that their business arrangement was above board.
More from ADF:
“People who don’t have anything to hide don’t go to court to stop journalists from reporting the truth,” said CMP’s attorney, Katie Short, legal director of Life Legal Defense Foundation. “As has been more than apparent from the videos that have been released, including the latest one, StemExpress and Planned Parenthood have plenty to hide.”
StemExpress, which advertises that it “fiscally rewards clinics” who provide it with baby parts for research, tried to block the release of several documents posted on the CMP website, including a price list for baby parts, but the judge denied that request.
As CMP explains on its website, the latest video shows Ginde “negotiating a fetal body parts deal, agreeing multiple times to illicit pricing per body part harvested, and suggesting ways to avoid legal consequences.”
This isn’t the only legal battle the Center for Medical Progress is fighting. Planned Parenthood has moved on from outright lies and attempted media blackouts to floating actual lawsuits in an attempt to protect their brand.
More from The Hill:
In an exclusive interview with The Hill, Planned Parenthood Executive Vice President Dawn Laguens said she believes the videos are illegal and that her organization is “considering everything” in going after the Center for Medical Progress, the group behind the videos.
“I absolutely do believe that they have violated laws in terms of how they secured these videos,” she said in an interview at the group’s Washington, D.C., headquarters. “But the fraud is also in how they have presented them and in the editing.”
We’ll keep you updated as CMP works its way through the legal system—and on any future videos exposing the moral inversion of StemExpress and Planned Parenthood.
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