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Federal judge smacks video fraudsters

That’s gonna leave a mark.

Right there with them

Right there with them

In a sharp rebuke, a federal judge on Friday issued a preliminary injunction ordering abortion opponents not to release videos they had secretly made at meetings of abortion providers, and he added that the opponents’ claims that such organizations were illegally selling fetal tissue were baseless.

In the ruling, Judge William H. Orrick of United States District Court in San Francisco also brushed aside claims by the abortion opponents that their use of fraudulent documents and violations of confidentiality agreements to infiltrate meetings of abortion providers were protected because they were journalists involved in what they described as an undercover investigation.

The ruling marked the second major setback in recent weeks for the anti-abortion group, the Center for Medical Progress.

[…]

In his ruling, Judge Orrick said that his review of hundreds of hours of video secretly shot by the center at meetings of abortion providers found no evidence that any of them had violated the law. No one “admitted to engaging in, agreed to engage in, or expressed interest in engaging in potentially illegal sale of fetal tissue for profit,” he wrote.

Lawyers for the Center for Medical Progress argued in the case that the First Amendment protected the group because its members were informing the public about abortion providers — a defense that Mr. Daleiden has also raised against the recent criminal charges.

But Judge Orrick said that the desire of the National Abortion Federation to have its members protected from unwarranted harassment was paramount. And he questioned whether Mr. Daleiden and his colleagues were involved in journalism.

He wrote that the group’s projects “thus far have not been pieces of journalistic integrity, but misleadingly edited videos and unfounded assertions.”

This lawsuit was filed last July; there was already a temporary restraining order barring the CMP from releasing videos, transcripts or other material from the meetings pending the judge’s review. There is a separate lawsuit filed last month by Planned Parenthood against the CMP as well. None of this has anything to do with the criminal case against the fraudsters, but the judge’s ruling does directly address their stated defense that they’re just journalists doing normal journalistic things. I feel confident that ruling will be given a careful reading by the Harris County DA’s office. It’s also a reminder that these guys are lying liars who have lied about pretty much everything so far, and while a strategy of lying can score some political points, it generally won’t get you very far in court. In a more decent society, people who had previously sided with these guys would be backing away from them now, not wanting to have their own credibility tainted by association with them. You can draw your own conclusions as to why Texas Republicans like Greg Abbott, Dan Patrick, and Ken Paxton have not done so.

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