A federal judge has ruled that the Center for Medical Progress may comply with a congressional subpoena to provide lawmakers with its unedited footage despite a temporary restraining order granted to the National Abortion Federation barring the group from releasing the footage.
In a decision issued Tuesday, U.S. District Judge William Orrick ruled that “Congress has the power to investigate, and it is not up to the courts to go beyond the narrow confines of determining that the committee’s inquiry is in its province.”
“Importantly in our Constitutional system, there are three equal branches of government, and courts should refrain from creating needless friction with a coordinate branch of government,” Orrick added.
The judge’s ruling prevents a potential conflict between the congressional subpoena authorized by Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, and the temporary restraining order.
Undercover videos released by the Center for Medical Progress have raised allegations that Planned Parenthood and its affiliates are selling aborted fetal body parts to researchers for profit. Spokespersons for the nation’s largest abortion provider have denied participation in illegal transactions and have claimed that they are only reimbursed for the cost of a donation.
Some of the Center for Medical Progress’ undercover footage was recorded at the annual meeting of the National Abortion Federation.
The National Abortion Federation was granted a temporary restraining order barring David Daleiden, founder of the Center for Medical Progress, and the Center for Medical Progress from releasing the footage of its meeting.
“The National Abortion Federation has gone to extraordinary lengths to keep David Daleiden’s footage of its annual meetings out of the hands of law enforcement and the Congress,” Peter Breen, Thomas More Society special counsel, said in a statement. “We’re pleased that the District Court has today decided to allow Congress to seek the unedited footage of the wrongdoing uncovered by David’s investigation. We will continue to urge the District Court to allow David to release more undercover videos featuring the footage from these annual meetings to the public, so that the American people can make their own assessment of the practices of Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion Federation.”
In a statement, Vicki Saporta, the president and CEO of the National Abortion Federation, denied that her organization had tried to prevent the Center for Medical Progress “from providing compelled responses to lawful subpoenas.”
“We do not believe that all of the footage CMP stole from our meetings is responsive to this subpoena, and we urge the Committee to require Daleiden to also turn over all documents and emails relevant to the conspiracy and fraud he committed against NAF and our members,” Saporta said.
Elizabeth Slattery, a legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation, said, “In yet another delaying tactic, the National Abortion Federation asked Judge Orrick to interfere with the House’s subpoena of the Center for Medical Progress’ videos.”
“The judge is right to allow David Daleiden to comply with this subpoena, which is fully within the House Oversight Committee’s investigative authority. The National Abortion Federation is clearly worried about what other horrendous details may come out in these unreleased videos.”