A federal judge has lifted an injunction that is in place on the pro-life investigative journalism group, Center for Medical Progress, and allowed it to turn over to [mc_name name=’Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’C001076′ ]’s committee video and documents it obtained from a meeting held by the National Abortion Federation.
U.S. District Court Judge William Orrick said Tuesday that he would not prevent activist David Daleiden and the Center for Medical Progress from complying with the subpoena issued last month by House Oversight and Government Affairs Committee Chairman [mc_name name=’Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’C001076′ ].
“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. … Nor may courts assume (and I do not assume) that an unworthy purpose prompts a congressional act,” Orrick wrote in his order (posted here). “And, 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.”
The videos in dispute are part of a broader set of videos that have prompted national controversy and led to Republican calls for the defunding of Planned Parenthood. The footage already made public shows doctors and other clinic personnel discussing details of fetal tissue donation practices while dining at restaurants.
Acting on a request from the National Abortion Federation, Orrick issued a temporary restraining order against publication of videos taken at the organization’s conventions as well as those depicting members of the group. The judge said there’s evidence that the video makers signed non-disclosure agreements saying they would not make such images or information public.
The National Abortion Federation asked Orrick to block Daleiden from responding to the subpoena, but the judge declined to do so.
Once the material is delivered to the House it is pretty much up to Chaffetz how it is handled. One hopes that it plays a central role in another round of hearings.
In the meantime, the pro-abort Democrats on the Oversight Committee are trying to make CMP the issue. They are writing nasty letters to CMP, which are being ignored, and making demands that Chaffetz investigate allegations of illegality by CMP.
Democrats on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee are demanding answers from the maker of a series of anti-Planned Parenthood videos, whom they accuse of potentially breaking laws to target the women’s health organization.
The lawmakers sent a stern letter Tuesday to committee Chairman [mc_name name=’Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’C001076′ ] (R-Utah) complaining that the majority had stood by as David Daleiden, the mastermind behind the videos, stonewalled repeated requests for information. By contrast, they said, Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards appeared in person to be grilled at a hearing, and her group has produced 20,000 documents.
There are three salient points about the Democrat sniveling: First, the Democrats have no authority to actually demand anything. All official requests on behalf of the committee have to come via the chairman’s direction. So CMP is not “stonewalling,” it is merely not responding to requests by random people to which they have no duty to respond. Second, even if CMP committed every violation the law that the Democrats assert that does not take away one iota from their findings. And those alleged violations are a matter for other investigative agencies to sort out, not Congress. Third, the only Congressional issues here are federal funding for an abortion service and violations of federal laws on the harvesting of parts from dead babies by an organization that receives north of $500 million in federal funding each year.
The Democrat’s sternly worded, but ultimately toothless, letter was issued when they knew an injunction was in place forbidding the release of the National Abortion Federation video. Now that that video is with committee staff, they might not be so anxious to see all the material they were demanding.