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The US Supreme Court might have wound up siding with Pritzker after all

Monday, Dec 13, 2021 - Posted by Rich Miller

* June of 2020

In what supporters are hailing as a victory for press freedom, Amy Jacobson has won her battle to attend Governor J.B. Pritzker’s media briefings as a journalist.

Jacobson, who co-hosts mornings on Salem Media news/talk WIND 560-AM with Dan Proft, sued Pritzker and his press secretary, Jordan Abudayyeh, earlier this month for barring Jacobson from daily press conferences.

Pritzker said Jacobson had forfeited her status as a reporter by “taking an extreme position” when she spoke at a Reopen Illinois rally May 16 protesting the governor’s stay-at-home order during the pandemic.

Backed by Liberty Justice Center, a Chicago-based conservative public-interest litigation center, Jacobson and Salem claimed Pritzker’s ban violated Jacobson’s First Amendment rights to freedom of the press and free speech as well as her rights to equal protection and due process.

On Monday Pritzker and Abudayyeh rescinded the ban and invited Jacobson “to participate in the Governor’s press access on the same basis as other journalists.”

* April of 2021

A federal appeals court ruled Friday that Democratic Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers can exclude members of a conservative think tank from attending press briefings and keep them off his email list sent to other reporters, upholding a ruling from a lower court.

The MacIver Institute for Public Policy filed the lawsuit in 2019 alleging that Evers violated its staffers’ constitutional rights to free speech, freedom of the press and equal access.

But U.S. District Judge James Peterson in March 2020 rejected their arguments, saying MacIver can still report on what Evers does without being invited to his press briefings or being on his email distribution list. The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday upheld that decision. […]

“We cannot fathom the chaos that might ensue if every gubernatorial press event had to be open to any ‘qualified’ journalist with only the most narrowly drawn restrictions on who might be excluded,” the court said.

* Today

The Supreme Court has rejected an appeal from a conservative think tank over \Gov. Tony Evers’ decision to exclude the group’s writers from press briefings.

The justices acted without comment Monday, leaving in place lower court rulings that said the decision is legal. […]

MacIver had argued that Evers was excluding its staffers and violating their free speech rights because they are conservatives. Evers said they were excluded because they are not principally a news gathering operation and they are not neutral. […]

Former governors, including Walker, also limited the number of reporters and news outlets that could attend budget briefings and other events.

       

8 Comments
  1. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Dec 13, 21 @ 3:19 pm:

    But… but… Amy is a culture hero.


  2. - Fav Human - Monday, Dec 13, 21 @ 3:58 pm:

    and they are not neutral

    If that is the criteria, I wonder who can attend when a Republican is governor :) )))


  3. - Unconventionalwisdom - Monday, Dec 13, 21 @ 5:42 pm:

    Now the precedent has been set, then ‘liberals’ can ban ‘conservatives and ‘conservatives’ can ban ‘liberals’.

    This does not really set right with me but so it goes.


  4. - filmmaker prof - Monday, Dec 13, 21 @ 7:45 pm:

    This is a terrible precedent. It allows an elected official to define who is and who is not, press. Total violation of Freedom of the Press. A future court will have to overturn it.


  5. - 47th Ward - Monday, Dec 13, 21 @ 7:57 pm:

    ===This is a terrible precedent===

    First of all, this isn’t a precedent at all. The Court took no action. I don’t know how and why Evers justified excluding these people, but I don’t think it is necessarily a problematic thing.

    I understand the question becomes who gets to decide which applicants are worthy of a seat at a press briefing. That will prove to be a mess going forward as inevitably there will be those that attempt to push the envelope.

    But the Court didn’t think whatever Evers did was unreasonable. On Wisconsin.

    If I consider my social media sites as my publishing arm, am I a journalist owed access protected by the First Amendment to limited spots reserved for the reputable press?


  6. - Original Anon - Tuesday, Dec 14, 21 @ 7:58 am:

    There’s a significant difference between Evers and Pritzker. Evers claimed the group was not a news gathering organization, while Pritzker openly said the exclusion was based on Jacobson’s opinions. The former is defensible, the latter is not.


  7. - Numbers matter - Tuesday, Dec 14, 21 @ 8:08 am:

    What is a ‘new gathering organization?” Is a blog a news gathering organization? Bad precedent here. And bottom line is if you can’t handle an intellectual lightweight like Amy J. you need to get into another profession.


  8. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Dec 14, 21 @ 8:33 am:

    ===was based on Jacobson’s opinions===

    No, it was that she was an activist, not a reporter.


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