Lecture 9: Access to Information and Freedom of Information Act COM 451 Communication and Law I. The Access Battle on Many Fronts Constitutional Rights News Sources Places and Events Records and Documents Meetings Electronic gadgets and privacy Discriminatory access
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Communication and Law
The Supreme Court has set three general principles related to gathering of information.
Two views, three pages apart, in a Supreme Court ruling that are a bit contradictory…
“Without some protection for seeking out the news, freedom of the press would be eviscerated.”
(eviscerate = disembowel, i.e. destroy, kill)
“The First Amendment does not guarantee the press a constitutional right of special access to information not available to the public generally.”
While the Supreme Court has not recognized a First Amendment right of access to news venues, a few lower courts have noted a First Amendment newsgathering right in public places (though this is not enough to say that journalists have a blanket right to access news scenes).
For example, it has been found that the First Amendment bars the gov’t from arbitrarily or capriciously excluding journalists from news sources.
Courts have ruled that the First Amendment prohibits officials from punishing reporters by denying them access to press conferences or sessions of state legislatures.
Marbury v. Madison (1803)
Administrative Procedures Act (1946)
City of Oak Creek v. King (1989)
Access to War Zones