Liberal Judge Hands Planned Parenthood First Amendment Defeat

When it comes down to it, the Center for Medical Progress and their head David Daleiden made their point when the videos were released. The videos, of course, were the undercover reports of Planned Parenthood executives talking about selling the body parts of babies killed during abortion procedures. The people of Planned Parenthood called them a violation of privacy and sued Daleiden and CMP. An Obama appointed judge in California who himself is a Planned Parenthood financial donor disagreed.

In his tentative ruling, which he instructed the parties to treat as if it were substantially final, Judge William Orrick III rejected Planned Parenthood’s false and long-running smear that accused CMP citizen journalists, including David Daleiden, of attempting to incite “threats” and “violence” by publishing the undercover videos.

Judge Orrick wrote he was “inclined to exclude from the case all damages that stem from third parties’ reactions to the release of the video recordings as impermissible damages barred by the First Amendment absent a defamation claim.”Judge Orrick left in place only “damages for investigating intrusions” into Planned Parenthood’s space, and “improvements to access-security measures for conferences and facilities,” as well as nominal and statutory damages.

Parties related to Planned Parenthood were seeking $20 million in damages. The judge knocked that down to what amounts to less than $100,000 as the videos were largely shot in public, not in or around Planned Parenthood itself.

This decision is a first amendment victory that should not be discounted.

According to a CMP statement to LifeNews, the “ruling affirms that citizen journalists exercising their First Amendment rights to speak and publish cannot be held liable for any bad actions taken by others in the free marketplace of ideas, absent a clear showing of defamation or intent to incite imminent lawless action. Planned Parenthood could provide no evidence or testimony in the case to back up either accusation, and so a lawsuit that was once an avalanche of charges has been reduced to essentially a trespassing dispute.”

And in the end, that might not even stick.

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