Court (For Now) Says NY Times Can Publish Project Veritas Documents
from the prior-restraint? dept
We’ve talked about the hypocrite grifters who run Project Veritas, who, even when they have legitimate concerns about attacks on their own free speech, ran to court to try to silence the NY Times. Bizarrely, a NY judge granted Project Veritas’ demand for prior restraint against the NY Times falsely claiming that attorney-client material could not be published.
The NY Times appealed that ruling and now a court has… not overturned the original ruling, but for now said that the NY Times can publish the documents, saying that it will not enforce the original ruling until an appeal can be heard. This is… better than nothing, but fully overturning the original ridiculous ruling would have been much better. Because it was clearly prior restraint. But, at least for now, the prior restraint will not be enforced.
Still, the response from Project Veritas deserves separate comment, because it’s just naively stupid:
In a phone interview on Thursday, Mr. O?Keefe said: ?Defamation is not a First Amendment-protected right; publishing the other litigants? attorney-client privileged documents is not a protected First Amendment right.?
While it’s accurate that defamation is not protected by the 1st Amendment, he’s wrong that publishing attorney-client communications is — in most cases — very much protected. He’s fuzzing the lines here, by basically arguing that because Project Veritas is, separately, suing the NY Times, that bans the NY Times from publishing any attorney-client privileged material it obtains via standard reporting tactics.
But that fuzzing suggests something that just isn’t true: that there’s some exception to the 1st Amendment from publishing attorney-client materials. That’s wrong. The attorney-client privilege is with respect to having to disclose certain documents to another party in litigation. If you can successfully show that the documents are privileged, they don’t need to be disclosed to the other party. That’s the extent of the privilege. It has no bearing whatsoever on whether or not someone else obtaining those materials through other means has a right to publish them. Of course they do and the 1st Amendment protects that.
And, I should just note, that considering Project Veritas’ main method of operating is trying to obtain private documents, or record secret conversations, it is bizarre beyond belief that Project Veritas is literally claiming that private material has some sort of 1st Amendment protection. Because that seems incredibly likely to come back and bite Project Veritas at a later time. Of course, considering they’re hypocritical grifters with no fundamental principles beyond “attack people with views we don’t like,” I guess it’s not surprising that their viewpoint on free speech and the 1st Amendment shifts depending on who it’s protecting.