Monday, January 20, 2014

Prairie State Report: Free At Last: Federal Court Hands Bloggers Legal First Amendment Protections

Good news via PSR below,

Lawyer Eugene Volokh reports that the ruling in Obsidian Finance Group v. Cox (9th Cir. Jan. 17, 2014) holds that, “all who speak to the public, whether or not they are members of the institutional press, are equally protected by the First Amendment.”  
The relevant section in the ruling is as follows: The protections of the First Amendment do not turn on whether the defendant was a trained journalist, formally affiliated with traditional news entities, engaged in conflict-of-interest disclosure, went beyond just assembling others’ writings, or tried to get both sides of a story. As the Supreme Court has accurately warned, a First Amendment distinction between the institutional press and other speakers is unworkable: “With the advent of the Internet and the decline of print and broadcast media … the line between the media and others who wish to comment on political and social issues becomes far more blurred.” Citizens United, 558 U.S. at 352. In defamation cases, the public-figure status of a plaintiff and the public importance of the statement at issue–not the identity of the speaker–provide the First Amendment touchstones.

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