“The only security of all is in a free press. The force of public opinion cannot be resisted when permitted freely to be expressed.” -Thomas Jefferson
The First Amendment of the United States Constitution guarantees all Americans the freedom of religion, freedom of speech and freedom of the press. Nonetheless, at various times in our nation’s history, journalists have been the targets of government censorship of one sort or another. Government “prior restraints” on publication are presumed by the courts to be unconstitutional. After publication, journalists can be threatened with costly lawsuits alleging libel (defamation), misappropriation of trade secrets or invasion of privacy.
When gathering news, members of the press sometimes obtain highly sought-after information. As a result, they may be subpoenaed by someone demanding the identity of a confidential source or access to notes, video outtakes, or other unpublished information. As a journalist, your sources and news gathering materials may be protected under a combination of state and federal constitutional and statutory provisions. Journalists or bloggers subjected to subpoenas should consult an experienced First Amendment attorney. Press protections applied to online publications like blogs, tweets and Facebook posts raise complex and novel legal issues.
If your freedom of speech has been infringed, or if you have been blocked from gaining access to government activities or information, please call us at (212) 685-0999 for a consultation.