The Founders Win One

2011 August 27

From a First Circuit of Boston 3 Panel decision —

The First Amendment issue here is, as the parties frame it, fairly narrow: is there a constitutionally protected right to videotape police carrying out their duties in public? Basic First Amendment principles, along with case law from this and other circuits, answer that question unambiguously in the affirmative. It is firmly established that the First Amendment’s aegis extends further than the text’s proscription on laws “abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press,” and encompasses a range of conduct related to the gathering and dissemination of information. As the Supreme Court has observed, “the First Amendment goes beyond protection of the press and the self-expression of individuals to prohibit government from limiting the stock of information from which members of the public may draw.” …

Gathering information about government officials in a form that can readily be disseminated to others serves a cardinal First Amendment interest in protecting and promoting “the free discussion of governmental affairs.”

And —

Moreover, changes in technology and society have made the lines between private citizen and journalist exceedingly difficult to draw. The proliferation of electronic devices with video-recording capability means that many of our images of current events come from bystanders with a ready cell phone or digital camera rather than a traditional film crew, and news stories are now just as likely to be broken by a blogger at her computer as a reporter at a major newspaper. Such developments make clear why the news-gathering protections of the First Amendment cannot turn on professional credentials or status.

HT: UniversalHub

This ruling reaffirmed the citizens role in watching the watchers. We all do have a role to point out abusive behavior and improper procedures in those we hire. And we the taxpayers are the one’s hiring these people.

More importantly, the Circuit made no distinction as to the matter of journalistic credentials in this case. The lone citizen has the same validity as the `journalist` in their role of reporting. This is probably one of the clearest utterances by a federal magistrate on the protections and responsibilities that citizens possess in their fight for freedom.

33 Responses leave one →
  1. 2011 August 27 10:54 pm
    JustMary permalink

    GOOD!!!!!! This was lingering in the back of my mind as something we would have to deal with sooner rather than later- and it probably isn’t over. There was talk at one point calling for bloggers to have an FCC license! It is pretty scary not to have full control of what we see and hear if you are Lord Obama and you require only the best news be presented at all times (unless we are talking about Bush, of course). They want to be able to say “black clouds and debt” mean “Obama is black”, but want us to remain silent when we see someone with the magical (D) after their name doing xyz newsworthy bad thing.

  2. 2011 August 28 5:19 am
    judyt2009 permalink

    Bloggers and the internet will replace journalists… and we must remain free to do so. It will be up to the individual to sift the news and decide truth.

    Consider this week. I posted there was an earthquake in Virginia virtually as it was happening. (Our clock must be a minute slow … because my post time was xx:51 and the earthquake was at XX:51.04.)

    I turned to the internet for information. The tv was not reporting until at least 10 minutes after the event. Local radio was about the same.

    In another 3 or 4 years we will be using our cell phones/computers to tell us what is happening by the very people who are standing in the middle of the news.

  3. 2011 August 28 5:28 am
    judyt2009 permalink

    The news is trying so hard to make Irene a serious event and put Lord Obama as an incredible leader. The photo on Drudge makes me ill.

    Governor McDonnell did say Virginia was substantially more prepared (10x) than when Isabel hit 8 years ago. Mark Warner (D) was Governor during Isabel. I hope that the power is restored quickly. This morning is a sunny blue sky day with only a few whisps of cloud.

  4. 2011 August 28 6:15 am
    justrand permalink

    I am truly trying to keep an open mind about “Hurricane” Irene…truly.

    But more and more I think this has been a test of the Emergency Bullshit System.

    KhightHawk pointed out late last night that he found GUSTS of 65-69 on Cape Hatteras (looking at weather reporting stations). That isn’t a hurricane.

    This morning they are STILL calling this “Hurricane Irene”…but NOWHERE does this storm actually show sustained winds of 75 mph (the definition of a hurricane).

    Folks, it’s not that I was hoping for devestation…I was NOT. But I would like the TRUTH (for a change). And the truth appears to be:
    – this was a rally big STORM…
    – that slowly traveled up the East Coast…
    – dumped a bunch of rain…
    – had some strong winds…
    – and where it coincided with high tide it did more storm surge damage

    But to contrast this with Andrew or Katrina or Isabelle is utter NONSENSE! Yet we will hear over the next few days that the REASON we didn’t see as much damage is that Barry showed up in shirtsleeves at FEMA!

  5. 2011 August 28 6:22 am
    drdog09 permalink


    The hype is because of the old real estate term — location, location, location. You know, Hurricanes are for Florida, the Gulf Coast, maybe the Carribean that we don’t give two s@#$ about except when we book a vacation. But hurricanes arent supposed to grip the eastern seaboard. How dare they! So its news beyond all proportion.


    I say that pic on Drudge of Obama sitting there and all I could think about was Dukakis sitting in that tank.

  6. 2011 August 28 6:29 am
    justrand permalink

    btw…good post, drdog…sorry to go all O/T on ya…but as long as I AM already O/T…

    I checked all the “news” coming out of NYC which is supposedly “directly under Hurricane Irene now”…the reporters are going to have to start bringing portable fans with them.

    One guy was in a place that looked REALLY WINDY…and I actually thought, “OK, so there IS a hurricane”. But then his very next sentence was: “I’m told the wind where I am is GUSTING to 45 mph”. Yikes! We have a term for that where I come from: “Windy!” We don’t call it: “Hurricane”

    All the channels are now using the phrase: “barely a hurricane”. Easy easy prediction: the INSTANT the “hurricane” exits NYC it will cease to be a “hurricane”…and the winds which are still reported at a “sustained 75” will miraculously drop to somewhere in the 50’s.

    Again, I’m trying to keep an open mind here…but I think the over-hype on this storm has deadly consequences later on…deadly!

  7. 2011 August 28 6:36 am
    RepublicanPundit permalink

    The coverage of Irene is a study of Journalism’s self importance. Hype with very little substance, same with the “killer earthquake” of last week which did no damage. “Look at us, it said, we survived with bravery”

    What a crock.

    Judy, you were the first to announce the quake, as far as I know.
    Good job.

  8. 2011 August 28 6:38 am
    RepublicanPundit permalink

    …I was second when it woke me up from my vaunted nap. As the Ole Miss cheer says: “Who in the hell are we”. Who needs the major media any more?

  9. 2011 August 28 6:40 am
    justrand permalink

    RP, once again I took the NOAA current position and claim of “sustained winds of 75 mph” (i.e., a “hurricane” and could not find even ONE weather reporting station showing winds above 60. I did find ONE station that said: “59 mph”…but the ones to either side of it showed winds in the 40’s.

    Is EVERY wind gauge on the ENTIRE East Coast broken??? Yikes!!! Which means the only one working is the one our Dear Leader possesses…Allen be praised!

  10. 2011 August 28 7:10 am
    judyt2009 permalink

    It was rain and a flood… so why did we not have wall to wall news coverage of the midwest floods this year. It was on the news for a short time but then it went away. Obama flew over to look at flooded areas about a week after the events.

    When Nashville flooded last year it was a non-event.

    I find it disgusting elitism that the only people that matter are the ones who live in NYC and DC (maybe Boston)…

    Heck even this week… all the news was about the people in DC and the earthquake… I heard nothing from the people down here at the epicenter

  11. 2011 August 28 7:11 am
    drdog09 permalink

    Its marketing gang. Hurricane Irene sounds a heck of a lot sexier than `sustained gusts of 45mph`. 🙂

  12. 2011 August 28 7:19 am
    justrand permalink

    even NOAA couldn’t keep up the pretense of it being a “Hurricane” when it “hit” NYC and the millions of people there. SOMEONE was bound to notice the lack of a, well, hurricane!

    So now (as yours truly predicted) they finally downgraded it to a “Tropical Storm”. Praise Allen!

  13. 2011 August 28 7:47 am
    JustMary permalink

    “I’ve got to imagine that the damage estimates are going to be in the billions of dollars, if not in the tens of billions of dollars,” -Chris Christie

    Uh, dude? You just went from conservative porn, to the scrambled channel.

  14. 2011 August 28 7:50 am
    JustMary permalink

  15. 2011 August 28 8:27 am
    JustMary permalink

    I’m bracing for those 40 mph winds from the remnants of this category eleventy. Already see several leaves down, some in the driveway right near my car. I’ll go pick them up when it’s safe.

    Comment of the day from a reader of HA. 😆

  16. 2011 August 28 8:27 am
    justrand permalink

    a STORM travelled up the East Coast. The “hurricane” portion hit very little land…but yes, caused a storm surge. I’m not trying to minimize the POTENTIAL this had…but the REALITY is vastly different. Sadly, even FoxNews went with the POTENTIAL long after REALITY was shown to be vastly different! And even the hurricane part was [quote] “barely a hurricane”, i.e. the windspeed inside the actual hurricane part dropped to 75 mph after it left North Carolina. AGAIN, the danger here is that next time, if a hurricane (even a Cat 1) is going to make a DIRECT HIT and people really DO need to flee…they are NOT going to!

    FoxNews was interviewing a guy this morning who totally screwed the narrative…and they switched away as fast as they could. In Long Branch, NJ (supposedly a DIRECT HIT at Cat 1) they asked a local why he stayed, since he lives right across the street from the seawall??? “We wanted to see it…so we sat around drinking and frankly it was just some wind and rain…it was no big deal”. The reporter stuttered and said: “Uh…but it might have been…back to you in the studio”. That was supposedly a DIRECT HIT location. A LIFEGUARD SHACK was knocked down…and the footage of a LIFEGUARD SHACK being knocked down is being shown on a loop on every channel!!

  17. 2011 August 28 8:32 am
    JustMary permalink

    The “MEH” factor was the most dangerous part of this whole thing, I agree. Will folks evacuate if there is a real need to next time? Meh…’ll be fine.

  18. 2011 August 28 8:34 am
    bc3b permalink

    The media likes to get attention and weather is a great way of getting it. Those of you in the north can relate with the coverage of major snow storms or potential major snowstorms that don’t reach their potential. In Detroit, most of the local channels have a team of 10 people covering it, stationed at various freeway overpasses, interviewing people shoveling snow, etc.

  19. 2011 August 28 8:38 am
    JBoz permalink

    “… the biggest concern I’m having right now has to do with flooding and power,” Obama said during the videoconference.

    “I’m having”???!!! Like he and he alone is strategizing and managing this. The reality, even though this turned out to be a minor hurricane, lots of folks at the National Weather Service, the National Hurricane Center, FEMA and state and local authorities worked long hours watching, tracking and preparing. There is no “we” with this clown…only me and I.

  20. 2011 August 28 8:45 am
    JustMary permalink

    Good catch, JBoz. But you may have missed the part where he flew up into the sky and broke those clouds apart by hand. He had to hold his breath for a really long time, because his special suit was on hold at Roveco cleaners (always trying to sabotage him!). Somehow, in his omnipotence, he forgot to channel the floodwaters properly (ok, ok, he didn’t really forget, he was busy saving orphaned squirrels from the threat of global warming), so now all he has to do is focus his concerns like a laser beam, and all will be healed. The NHC, FEMA, and the NWS are just the elves to his Santa. You know they did all the work, but you don’t see children rushing to sit on their tiny laps, do you?

  21. 2011 August 28 8:54 am
    JustMary permalink

  22. 2011 August 28 8:55 am
    gnqanq permalink

    The media loves train wrecks. The worse, the better. As they say, “If it bleeds, it leads.”

    My brother was stationed in Connecticut in 1991 when Hurricane Bob hit New England. Hurricane Bob hit as a Category 2 hurricane (not a 1) and it was reported that Irene was down graded to a tropical storm before it hit New York. When Bob hit New England, the naval base lost power for 3 days (the base substation was put out).

    But we don’t want the facts to get in the way of promoting government that can not help you when it really does SHTF.

    I have to laugh when I see the people in New England have to deal with a little inconvenience. When a real disaster comes, they are going to die waiting for the government to come to help them.

    YOU, are the first responder to your emergency. Not the federal government, or state or even local government – YOU are.

    Prepare, so that when it comes you can help yourself and your neighbors in need.

  23. 2011 August 28 9:00 am
    JustMary permalink

    Prepare, so that when it comes you can help yourself and your neighbors in need.

    Ok. Lets start there. What did Obama have going for him on this one? Several days of preparation. What happens if the big one hits CA while he is still PRIC (putz resident in chief)? Guarantee he can’t and won’t do $#@!. We get no warning. No charts and graphs, no evac orders. So if we are caught unprepared, we are skrood. Guess what! Lots and lots of folks here DO NOTHING to prepare. Have at it, Obama! Save us all! Having said that, the Kentucky ice storm occurred on his watch, and people froze to death. The media didn’t make a peep about it- OR the party Obama threw that same night where they dined on Kobe beef.

  24. 2011 August 28 9:11 am
    gnqanq permalink

    JM – the vast majority of Americans are not prepared for anything. Look no further how they hit the grocery stores prior to a hurricane, blizzard or some other disaster.

    Are you prepared? Do you have backup plans? If you do, then you are far ahead of a majority of Americans.

    Am I where I want to be – NO. But I am a head of 99% of my fellow Americans.

    I realized a long time a go that I am dependent on myself to save me and my family. If I wait, then I am depending on others who may never show up.

  25. 2011 August 28 9:34 am
    JBoz permalink

    I live in suburban Chicago – lots of S could HTF here. Earthquake is a possibility, though not as likely as in CA. Dirty bombs, bio terror attacks are all possibilities. The emergency preparedness factor is likely quite low here given the low incidence of disasters, and the local government here is more focused on fraud, nepotism, and corruption than planning to effective disaster planning. So, the Boz family stays well prepared. But our plan is based primarily on getting the hell away from Chicago. We have our remote meeting spot, keep both cars gassed up at the 3/4 to full levels at all times. We have water, first aid and some basic food supplies ready to go.

  26. 2011 August 28 9:39 am
    JBoz permalink

    Oh, the bug out plan supply stash also includes several bottles of fine wine 🙂

  27. 2011 August 28 9:44 am
    JustMary permalink

    #24 That is the thing- we aren’t as prepared as we’d like to be either- but you will not see me on the news frantically making purchases from the store within the first 3 days, either (longer, but you get my drift). The thing I thought was funny (not funny haha) was that Drudge mentioned plywood and generators flying off the shelves at the Home Depot- as though they don’t sell plywood and generators before a hurricane is on the way. Just like the yearly rush on school supplies. Does the list change THAT MUCH every year to where you can’t buy supplies a few months ahead of time and not worry about the crowds? Or double up when you find a good sale if you have to go out during the rush? Glue sticks don’t expire from year to year!

    JBoz, I only put in 1/2 tank a week, because that’s all I drive, but 3/4 is a much better idea than not dropping below 1/2. I’ll have to be more mindful of that.

    I think that if you are even CONSIDERING being prepared, you are better off than 99% of Americans. With meager preparedness- even if you aren’t where you want to be, you are still ahead of the game.

  28. 2011 August 28 9:45 am
    JustMary permalink

    #26 Oh yes.

  29. 2011 August 28 9:50 am
    judyt2009 permalink

    My ex owns property in the Pensacola, Florida area that was hit by Ivan. Off and on I lived in/spent about 6 months in the area.

    The storm surge for Ivan was measured exceeded 12 feet. A number of fatalities were in a neighborhood across from what was Johnson Beach on Perdido Key. Johnson Beach, part of the National Seashore more or less disappeared. I saw a car bent half around a tree where the front and rear bumpers almost touched. It is a very sad thing go through a neighborhood over a year later and see the search and rescue marks with a 3 still listed. A retired couple and their 80/90 year old mother died when the mother was too ill to move to a shelter.

    Mobile Bay did not have water for over a week after Ivan… the westside /counter winds swept it all over to Florida.

    When these news reports make such a big deal over the Irene they diminish those who have suffered real loss both in the past and even with Irene — Virginia 2 fatalities are from falling trees.

  30. 2011 August 28 11:15 am
    justrand permalink

    JM…awesome finding the “Canoe SNAFU”! Still the all-time WeFakeIt “News”!!

    and in the case of an emergency it is best to get MORE stuff right away (while it still exists)…and save your stored supplies for later. IMHO

  31. 2011 August 28 11:44 am
    judyt2009 permalink

    JBoz… I understand how you feel about getting as far away from Chicago as possible. I worry about getting out of DC. Even though it was very scary being so close to the earthquake, by Wednesday it was painfully obvious that there was absolutely no plan for evacuating DC in circumstances of an emergency.

    They shut down at least part of the metro, Amtrak was not moving trains until all tunnels and bridges were inspected, and
    CXS implemented the 15 mph or less rules for the trains.

    All federal employees being released at one time created an immediate rush hour instead of one that begins around 3:00 and lasts until 7+. I heard the commute was about half as bad as the snowstorm last year.

  32. 2011 August 28 11:59 am
    JustMary permalink

    Judy- do you keep a backpack with you? Extra clothes, walking shoes, and some food/water? You should.

  33. 2011 August 28 12:11 pm
    judyt2009 permalink

    I usually have my gym shoes and socks with me. I have a water bottle but I don’t have any energy bars. I only have to get the 30 miles to my car.

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