March 7, 2023

Sandra Merritt to Appeal Undercover Journalism Case to US Supreme Court

After the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals denied Liberty Counsel's request to hear Sandra Merritt's case in front of the entire court, the legal firm announced plans to appeal to the US Supreme Court.

Sandra Merritt worked alongside David Daleiden, founder of the Center for Medical Progress (CMP), to release undercover videos in 2015 exposing Planned Parenthood for illegally harvesting body parts from aborted children for sale to medical research groups. The footage shows abortionists haggling over prices and admitting that they change abortion procedures to obtain intact organs.

Planned Parenthood sued Merritt, Daleiden, and the CMP for their undercover work, arguing that the journalism was criminal conduct under California privacy law and RICO violations. Liberty Counsel argues that US District Court Judge William Orrick III, who owns property used by Planned Parenthood of Northern California, was biased against the pro-lifers. He refused to recuse himself despite his conflict of interest, Liberty Counsel writes that he severely restricted evidence and gave instructions to the jury on how they should rule.

In the end, the court found the pro-lifers liable for $2 million in damages and almost $14 million in attorney's fees. This is the first time that California's privacy law has been used to punish dissenting journalism.

Liberty Counsel’s Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said, “The Supreme Court is our next destination to undo the injustice of this case. The High Court will have the final say. Every journalist and person who values free speech and a free press should be concerned with the implications of this case. We will fight for the free speech rights of all people.”