The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) just filed a reply brief in support of its petition for writ of certiorari with the United States Supreme Court. The petition was filed to correct the unjust result in a major abortion case involving Planned Parenthood. The newly filed brief responds to Planned Parenthood’s opposition to that petition.
Since early 2016, the ACLJ has been representing Troy Newman, a former board member of the Center for Medical Progress (CMP), in a federal lawsuit filed by Planned Parenthood. The abortion giant sued Newman and his co-defendants after CMP released videos from its undercover investigation that exposed some of Planned Parenthood’s horrendous abortion practices. The videos led to congressional investigations and congressional referrals for criminal prosecutions over the sale of the body parts of aborted babies. One of those referrals led to a successful prosecution.
From 2016 through 2019, the case worked its way through the federal trial court and included a six-week trial in San Francisco. Evidence at trial included an abortion doctor admitting the use of specific techniques during abortion procedures to keep certain baby organs intact and another stating that she “wanted a Lamborghini” during a discussion of prices for the sale of such organs.
Despite this testimony, the trial court repeatedly instructed the jury to ignore any evidence of Planned Parenthood’s alleged illegal and unethical acts. The court instead instructed the jury to focus only on the defendants’ investigative techniques and methods. The jury ultimately found the defendants liable to Planned Parenthood and returned a verdict of more than $2 million in damages, even though the truth of the videos was not challenged and Planned Parenthood did not assert a defamation claim. (The court later ordered the defendants to pay more than $13 million in Planned Parenthood’s attorneys’ fees and costs; that order is the subject of a separate appeal in this case.)
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The jury’s verdict and the various rulings issued by the trial court are contrary to the law and the evidence. The ACLJ appealed the unjust verdict to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on behalf of our client. Over the last few years, we have filed appellate briefs advancing our client’s claims and responding to Planned Parenthood’s arguments. Multiple friend-of-the-court briefs (amicus briefs) were filed in support of the arguments that we and the other defendants have made. Oral argument was held in the case last year.
This past October, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit ruled in Planned Parenthood’s favor (aside from one issue). In response, we filed a rehearing petition requesting the court to correct its erroneous decision. As we did in our previous briefing and at oral argument, we focused on the absurd finding that the undercover investigators were part of a racketeering enterprise under the RICO statute, which was enacted to help the federal government combat organized crime families. Owing to this incorrect RICO finding, the amount of damages awarded to Planned Parenthood was tripled.
This past March, the Ninth Circuit denied our rehearing request; in late May, we filed our petition with the United States Supreme Court requesting the Court to review this case and correct this injustice. As we explain in our petition, the Ninth Circuit’s RICO decision is in direct conflict with decisions of the Supreme Court. Ensuring that the Supreme Court’s RICO case law is applied correctly and consistently is a matter of national importance, given that RICO permits the trebling of damages in civil cases as well as other onerous criminal and civil penalties.
Two weeks ago, Planned Parenthood filed its brief in opposition to our petition; and today we filed our reply brief, pointing out Planned Parenthood’s incorrect positions and those of the Ninth Circuit, which had affirmed the unjust jury verdict.
We ask for your continued support as we move forward with this important case, which will set an important precedent for the fight against Planned Parenthood’s abhorrent abortion practices and the future of undercover investigations.
LifeNews Note: Edward White is Senior Counsel with the ACLJ and has been practicing law for more than thirty years.