This post first appeared online at Newsbusters on October 26, 2011.
Local Media Fail: Judge in ‘Sore Loser’ Driehaus-Susan Anthony Case in Cincinnati Has Unreported Conflict of Interest
By Tom Blumer
On Saturday, Barbara Hollingsworth at the Washington Examiner (HT Peter Roff at US News) reported on the latest development in lawsuit filed by former congressman Steve “Sore Loser” Driehaus against Susan B. Anthony’s List (SBA).
Democrat Driehaus, who served one term in Congress before losing to Republican Steve Chabot, is suing SBA under a Ohio’s False Statement Law for “loss of livelihood.” Seriously. Driehaus says that his vote for ObamaCare, which has no prolife protections hard-wired into the law, was not a betrayal of his prolife beliefs. SBA says it was a betrayal, and is correct. Driehaus’s excuse was that President Obama wrote up an Executive Order with supposed prolife protections, which of course can be revoked at any whimsical presidential moment — like, say, January 21, 2013 if he’s reelected (or January 19, 2013 if he’s not).
Driehaus’s lawsuit hasn’t been laughed out of court, perhaps because the judge who heard his original pleading had an obvious conflict of interest which prolife blogger Jill Stanek found a year ago, but no media outlet before the Examiner, including Gannett’s Cincinnati Enquirer, bothered to note: The judge, Timothy Black, an Obama appointee, is a former director of Planned Parenthood. The questionnaire he submitted in advance of Black’s federal appointment is here.
Some excerpts from Hollingsworth’s writeup:
When 15 House pro-life Democrats joined Republicans earlier this month to pass the Protect Life Act amending the Patient Protection Affordable Care Act by explicitly prohibiting federal funding of abortion (or abortion coverage) because the Obamacare law does not, somebody should have told former Rep. Steve Driehaus and Ohio U.S. District Court Judge Timothy S. Black.
Driehuas was the sore loser who sued the Alexandria-based Susan B. Anthony List, a pro-life PAC, claiming that the group’s accusations that he voted to fund abortions when he voted for Obamacare resulted in his “loss of livelihood” — i.e., his defeat in the 2010 election.
The day after losing the election, Driehaus dropped his criminal complaint charging that the PAC had violated a precedent-shattering Ohio state law that makes it a crime to tell “malicious lies” about a public official.
… The SBA List is currently requesting permission to file an appeal challenging the law’s constitutionality on First Amendment grounds before the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals.
… Driehaus’ defeat at the polls was a result of his own duplicity, not the result of SBA pointing it out. Nevertheless, on August 1 Judge Black ruled that Driehaus’ preposterous lawsuit should proceed to trial. The judge, an Obama appointee, is the former president and director of the Planned Parenthood Association of Cincinnati, according to answers on the questionaire he submitted to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
He probably should have recused himself from the case, since Planned Parenthood will be a major recipient of federal abortion funding if the House amendment doesn’t make it through the Senate.
The Cincinnati Enquirer’s coverage of Black’s August ruling (linked item obtained at from Proquest database) indicated that the judge was particularly strident — and obviously wrong — in his statements:
… the judge refused to throw out Driehaus’ defamation lawsuit against the group, saying the Susan B. Anthony List made untrue statements when other ads it sponsored tied Driehaus’ vote on health care reform to support for taxpayer-funded abortions.
“The express language of (the health care law) does not provide for taxpayer funded abortion,” Black wrote. “That is a fact, and it is clear on its face.”
The judge’s decision does not end the case, but it allows Driehaus’ suit against the group to move forward. Black was appointed to the federal bench by President Barack Obama.
The Enquirer failed to note Black’s conflict of interest, and failed to report Black’s involvement with Planned Parenthood in its February 2009 report (linked item obtained at from Proquest database) when Obama nominated him to the bench.
The local paper’s failure to point out Black’s Planned Parenthood background in both instances is particularly pathetic given that the issue involved in the dispute is abortion. Nice job by Hollingsworth in doing the job the Cincinnati Enquirer wouldn’t do.