Analysis

Gag order against Planned Parenthood investigators makes a mockery of impartial jurisprudence

Judge-and-Jury
Judge William H. Orrick (via cand.uscourts.gov)

Judge William H. Orrick (via cand.uscourts.gov)

US District Judge William Orrick’s decision to extend the restraining order against the Center for Medical Progress’s release of undercover videos that involve the National Abortion Federation symbolizes everything corrupt about American jurisprudence today.

Where judges are supposed to be the most impartial figures in our entire system of government, putting aside personal desire and political preference in favor of objectively ensuring that the law is accurately followed, Orrick’s ruling rejects the facts to benefit a party on which he has a staggering conflict of interest.

As Susan Michelle covered previously for Live Action, Orrick raised at least $200,000 for Barack Obama’s election and donated $30,800 to pro-Obama committees (he also donated and bundled tens of thousands of dollars to the Democratic National Committee and John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign), and his wife Caroline has been described as an “avid abortion-rights advocate,” her social media profile indicating she’s a fan of a number of radical pro-abortion projects (and other far-left causes), including the Center for Reproductive Justice’s push for a “bill of reproductive rights” (an idea any real judge would know is insane) and a “Keep America Pro-Choice” Facebook group that equates our government protecting babies with China’s government ordering babies killed.

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg rightly (if hypocritically) declared that “a judge sworn to decide impartially can offer no forecasts, no hints, for that would show not only disregard for the specifics of the particular case, it would display disdain for the entire judicial process”—and the Orricks’ activities are much more than hints.

Accordingly, his latest ruling is predicated on “facts” that are at best immaterial and at worst outright false:

Critical to my decision are that the defendants agreed to injunctive relief if they breached the agreements and that, after the release of defendants’ first set of Human Capital Project videos and related information in July 2015, there has been a documented, dramatic increase in the volume and extent of threats to and harassment of NAF and its members.

The basis? According to his full injunction, because NAF told him so. It also notes that Orrick overruled the obvious objections that NAF’s allegations they were under increased threat couldn’t be independently verified, meaning that the good judge has just set the precedent that if your organization is committing major crimes, you can shut up the those who bring them to light by crying “death threat!”

Among those threats, Orrick shamefully tries to tie CMP to the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood shooting, noting it as the “most significant” of NAF’s examples because Savita Ginde, who was featured in the videos, also worked there. Yes, because it’s totally plausible that mentally-disturbed hermit Robert Lewis Dear watched the videos in detail and carefully researched which personnel worked where before deciding to shoot up the place, and didn’t simply snap upon catching wind of a genuine national news story (Orrick overruled objections to playing this card, too).

Having reviewed the records or transcripts in full and in context, I find that no NAF attendee admitted to engaging in, agreed to engage in, or expressed interest in engaging in potentially illegal sale of fetal tissue for profit. The recordings tend to show an express rejection of Daleiden’s and his associates’ proposals or, at most, discussions of interest in being paid to recoup the costs incurred by clinics to facilitate collection of fetal tissue for scientific research, which NAF argues is legal.

A “full review” that somehow missed this part of this video:

When the actors explain, “We do donate the fees that we get from our researchers, we give a portion back to the clinics as just a thank you for letting us come in,” one NAF representative replies, “Yeah, it definitely sounds like something some our members would be really interested in.” The second NAF representative affirms this kickback arrangement to split the money from fetal parts as “a win-win” for the abortion clinics.

Affirming that a “thank you” portion of research “sounds like something some of our members would be really interested in” sure sounds like more than “being paid to recoup the costs.”

Orrick’s “full review” also missed this nugget:

Deborah VanDerhei is the National Director for CAPS, an influential committee within Planned Parenthood that drives abortion policy across the organization. VanDerhei refers to payments for fetal tissue as “donation for remuneration,” which carries the connotation of financial reward or benefit without regard for actual expenses. VanDerhei explains, “I have been talking to the executive director of the National Abortion Federation, we’re trying to figure this out as an industry, about how we’re going to manage remuneration, because the headlines would be a disaster.”

Nope, nothing to see here… but when it comes to CMP’s conduct, Orrick sees plenty that isn’t there:

The products of that Project – achieved in large part from the infiltration – thus far have not been pieces of journalistic integrity, but misleadingly edited videos and unfounded assertions (at least with respect to the NAF materials) of criminal misconduct.

Lies. Two forensic analyses—one of which was commissioned by Planned Parenthood themselves and conducted by a left-wing, pro-Democrat research firm—have both confirmed the videos were not manipulated to make anyone appear to say things they didn’t say. In October, even CNN’s Anderson Cooper and Drew Griffin failed to find any of the infamous, mythical deceptive edits.

When Orrick claims to identify deceptive edits, what he really means is that CMP’s highlight reels omit…

Dr. [Deborah] Nucatola’s comments that “nobody should be selling tissue. That’s just not the goal here,” and her repeated comments that Planned Parenthood would not sell tissue or profit in any way from tissue donations,” [and] that tissue donation was not about profit, but “about people wanting to see something good come out” of their situations, “they want to see a silver lining . . . .”

Nonsense. As I detailed here, these alleged “omissions” aren’t misleading in the slightest. When the statements are considered in their entirety and in context (which Orrick claimed to have done here), it becomes clear that the comments supposedly exonerating Planned Parenthood are really referring to their interest in avoiding the appearance of profit, not the reality—Nucatola also says she doesn’t “think it’s a reservations issue so much as a perception issue” and discusses PP affiliates “want[ing] to come to a number that doesn’t look like they’re making money,” that “looks like it is a reasonable number for the effort that is allotted on their part” (emphasis added).

Ultimately, statements from personnel alluding to innocence do not automatically erase other statements far more strongly indicating guilt, like Dr. Mary Gatter saying “in negotiations whoever throws out the figure first is at a loss,” the payment “has to be big enough that it’s worthwhile for me,” and “we can bump it up. I want a Lamborghini.” Nor do they negate the numerous other laws people discuss breaking on the videos… laws which, despite his job description, Judge William Orrick is scandalously disinterested in ensuring are respected.

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