In mid-September 2015, a federal judge ruled that corporations are not people and are therefore not entitled to invoke the U. S. Constitution’s 5th Amendment rights against self-incrimination. This is apparently very bad news for two corporations involved in a federal hot-button suit.
The notoriously altered videos purportedly showing abortion providers selling aborted fetal tissue is nonetheless causing quite a ruckus in Congress and in areas across the United States. Consequently, the National Abortion Federation (NAF), a professional organization advocating for America’s abortion providers, sued the organizations and individuals responsible for those videos.
The suit, National Abortion Federation (NAF) v. Biomax Procurement Services LLC, The Center For Medical Progress, David Daleiden (a/k/a “Robert Sarkis”), and Troy Newman, was filed in July 2015 in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.
The suit was brought to stop an “ongoing campaign of threats and harassment” against abortion providers due to the videos. Specifically, the suit requested that Defendants be “preliminarily and permanently enjoined from publishing or otherwise disclosing any recordings or confidential information from NAF annual meetings, publishing or otherwise disclosing the names or addresses of any NAF members that they learned at NAF annual meetings, and attempting to gain access to any future NAF meetings.”
The temporary injunction was granted on July 31, 2015, and then extended on August 3, 2015. During a discovery hearing in late August, the Defendants notified the Court of their plan to plead the Fifth Amendment in response to discovery requests.
In a discovery hearing Friday, counsel for defendants notified the court that all defendants, including the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) and Biomax, plan to plead the Fifth Amendment in response to the pending discovery requests in order to refrain from self-incrimination by submitting information about the videos and the names of individuals involved. Apparently, at least some of the individuals masqueraded as Biomax representatives and/or other individuals while videotaping.
U.S. District Judge William H. Orrick ruled that corporations are not people and are unable to invoke those constitutional protections. Prior to that ruling, the judge ruled that individual defendants could also not invoke a blanket Fifth Amendment privilege for all discovery requests, but would have to do so for each request.
Encouraged by the judge’s ruling, NAF President and CEO Vicki Saporta stated, “It’s telling that the defendants have been very vocal in the media saying that they have nothing to hide, yet in federal court they want to plead the Fifth. Moving forward with discovery will help us take steps to ensure our members’ safety during this period of escalating hate speech, threats, and criminal activity.”
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