ACLJ Presents Oral Arguments Before 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Against Unjust Planned Parenthood Verdict
Recently, I presented oral arguments to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in the case of Planned Parenthood Federation of America v. Center for Medical Progress. The case has significant implications for the future of investigations into illegal abortion practices and of other pro-life advocacy and activities.
As you may recall, undercover journalists from the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) released a series of videos in 2015 that documented criminal and unethical activities related to the sale of the organs of aborted babies. For example, an abortionist infamously joked, “I want a Lamborghini,” after haggling over prices for specific body parts of aborted babies. Financial bonuses were offered to individuals who could harvest more valuable body parts.
The United States Senate and House both conducted their own investigations, referred numerous organizations (including Planned Parenthood affiliates) to law enforcement agencies for further investigation, and issued reports that contain extensive evidence of profiting from the sale of fetal organs, altering abortion procedures for financial gain, and other criminal and unethical acts.
Planned Parenthood Federation of America and several of its affiliates sued the undercover investigators, including the ACLJ’s client Troy Newman, who is a former CMP board member as well as the President of Operation Rescue. After several years of litigation, a San Francisco jury ruled in Planned Parenthood’s favor and awarded them millions of dollars.
We filed our opening brief and reply brief with the Ninth Circuit, and asked the court to overturn the jury’s erroneous verdict. Our appeal, including the recent oral argument, has focused on an absurd aspect of the jury’s verdict: the finding that the undercover investigators were part of a racketeering enterprise under the RICO statute that was enacted to help the federal government combat powerful organized crime families. In light of this incorrect finding, the amount of damages awarded to Planned Parenthood was tripled.
Attempting to have the courts deem pro-lifers as racketeers has been a part of the abortion industry’s playbook for decades. For instance, in the Operation Rescue v. NOW and Scheidler v. NOW litigation filed in 1986 that spanned 20 years (in which the ACLJ was also involved), the Supreme Court ultimately rejected a novel theory under which pro-life defendants were held to be liable. We are hopeful that the court of appeals will reach the same conclusion in our case and overturn the flawed jury verdict. If not, we are prepared to take this case to the Supreme Court.