July 3, 2023
Contact: James Bopp, Jr.
Cell Phone 812/243-0825; Phone 812/232-2434; Fax 812/235-3685; [email protected]
In June, the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) asked the U.S. Supreme Court to accept for review cases involving undercover-journalist reporting of personnel at a Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) conference negotiating the sale of fetal tissue. The potentially illegal activity that was recorded made national headlines, triggered investigations, caused closure of two bioscience companies, and helped make abortion a 2016 election issue.
But a California federal district court awarded exorbitant money damages against the undercover journalists, along with forcing the journalists to pay punitive damages (to punish them) and PPFA's attorney's fees. The Ninth Circuit affirmed that decision. So the U.S. Supreme Court is now being asked to accept the cases involved for review.
NRLC's friend-of-the-court brief was joined by California ProLife Council, Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, and Family Research Council. Find it here on the Supreme Court's docket.
The brief illustrated the importance of undercover journalism and its strong First Amendment protection by showing how the Ninth Circuit's erroneous legal analysis would have applied to four iconic undercover investigations outside the abortion context. First was Nellie Bly, who in 1887 investigated an insane asylum and reported the horrible abuses, leading to reforms. Second was Upton Sinclair, who in 1904 investigated the meat packing industry and reported unsanitary, harmful conditions, leading to pure-food laws. Third was Gloria Steinem, who in 1963 got employed as a Playboy Club “bunny” and reported harmful conditions, leading to reforms. Fourth was The Chicago Tribune, whose reporter in 1976 exposed unsanitary and fraudulent hospital practices, leading to reforms. In each situation, the lauded investigatory work would have been severely penalized under the erroneous standards applied in the PPFA case. That illustrates both the abortion-distortion effect and the need to reverse the Ninth Circuit.
James Bopp, Jr., of The Bopp Law Firm, PC and counsel of record for NRLC in the Supreme Court, says: “The law has long suffered from the abortion-distortion effect, whereby the usual legal rules are twisted to favor abortion. In Dobbs, the Supreme Court put an end to that by applying normal legal principles, which proved the Constitution has no abortion right. The Court needs to apply that approach to the present case and reverse the Ninth Circuit.”