Julian Assange, the Espionage Act and Dangerous Press Freedom Implications

“Publishing is not a crime,” wrote five news organizations in a letter urging the U.S. government to drop its charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Assange is the first publisher in history to be charged with the World War I-era Espionage Act, igniting pushback from journalists around the world who say this could threaten press freedoms and endanger First Amendment protections.

Ninth Circuit Affirms Anti-Abortion Activists Illegally Infiltrated Planned Parenthood Activities, First Amendment Protections Don’t Apply

An anti-abortion group of self-proclaimed citizen journalists, Center for Medical Progress, secretly videotaped Planned Parenthood after creating false identities and a fake company to infiltrate restricted areas. The group released the project "Human Capital" in 2015, which includes various documentary-like videos accusing Planned Parenthood clinics in California of selling aborted fetal tissue. The activists argued that its project was protected by the First Amendment, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed that no journalist is above the law.

Arizona Federal District Judge Restricts Interference of Poll-Watching Group

An Arizona federal district judge narrowed a poll-watching group’s ability to monitor ballot drop boxes by issuing restrictions on taking photos and videos of early voters and prohibiting the open carry of firearms and wearing tactical gear within 250 feet of a drop box. The temporary restraining order, issued Nov. 1 by U.S. District Judge Michael Liburdi bars affiliates and members of the poll-watching group Clean Elections USA from taking photos and videos of people within 75 feet of a drop box; following, yelling or speaking to people dropping off ballots unless they’re engaged first; and standing within 75 feet of a drop box.

Arizona Federal District Judge Denies Injunction Against Arizona Poll Watching Group, DOJ Disagrees

On Oct. 28, U.S. District Judge Michael Liburdi denied a request to block a poll-watching group from surveilling drop boxes citing First Amendment concerns. Three days later, the Department of Justice signaled its disapproval of the judge’s ruling in a statement of interest, stating that "The First Amendment does not protect individuals’ right to assemble to engage in voter intimidation or coercion.”
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