The Malheur Enterprise, a local newspaper, requested documents last October as part of its ongoing investigation into whether a state legislator was using his official position to help his private business. On February 5th, the county's district attorney ordered the government agency to disclose the unredacted documents.
In a 2-1 decision, the Ninth Circuit wrote that the lower court’s restraining order was too broad because it failed to specify who qualified as a journalist or legal observer. In previous hearings, the federal government had argued that differentiating between journalists and protesters was especially difficult given that some protesters wear press insignia to avoid the police’s crowd control tactics.
The judge extended a preliminary injunction prohibiting federal agents from "arresting, threatening to arrest, or using physical force" against journalists or legal observers. An attorney working with the ACLU on the case called the court's decision "a crucial victory for civil liberties and freedom of the press."
The lawsuit claims that the filming of demonstrators violates a state law that prohibits collecting information about the political, religious, or social views of an individual or group who are not suspected of criminal activity. The practice could also discourage protesters from attending demonstrations to avoid state surveillance.
“We are today asking the federal court to stop the federal police from secretly stopping and forcibly grabbing Oregonians off our streets,” Oregon Attorney General Ellen F. Rosemblum said in a statement announcing the lawsuit.
Represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom, students claim their school's policies limit spontaneous expression, and leave them vulnerable to viewpoint discrimination.