First Amendment Legal Fight Averted: Judge Lifts Order Barring Reporter From Publishing Info

from the well-that-was-quick dept

Last week, we wrote about a judge who issued a temporary restraining order on the National Law Journal, which was about to publish a story claiming that the FTC was investigating POM, makers of pomegranate juice. Apparently, the judge had already ordered the documents of such an investigation be sealed, but a court clerk had been slow in getting around to it, and the reporter found the info while it was still public. Given that the info was public at the time, the NLJ felt it had every right to publish it, and pointed out that the First Amendment seemed to agree. That's when the judge made her infamous statement: "Look -- if I'm throwing 80 years of First Amendment jurisprudence on its head, so be it," though (as it later came out), she also stated: "But none of that First Amendment jurisprudence, to my knowledge, is dealing with this issue. The question is, what authority do you have for the proposition that the First Amendment trumps court orders sealing files?"

Either way, the legal fight over this issue is now dead. Late last week, in part with the acceptance of POM, the judge dropped the restraining order and allowed the NLJ to publish the simple fact that the FTC was investigating. Of course, it's still not clear why that information should have been sealed anyway. But, of course, now a hell of a lot more people are aware that the FTC investigated POM.
Hide this

Thank you for reading this Techdirt post. With so many things competing for everyone’s attention these days, we really appreciate you giving us your time. We work hard every day to put quality content out there for our community.

Techdirt is one of the few remaining truly independent media outlets. We do not have a giant corporation behind us, and we rely heavily on our community to support us, in an age when advertisers are increasingly uninterested in sponsoring small, independent sites — especially a site like ours that is unwilling to pull punches in its reporting and analysis.

While other websites have resorted to paywalls, registration requirements, and increasingly annoying/intrusive advertising, we have always kept Techdirt open and available to anyone. But in order to continue doing so, we need your support. We offer a variety of ways for our readers to support us, from direct donations to special subscriptions and cool merchandise — and every little bit helps. Thank you.

–The Techdirt Team

Filed Under: first amendment, free speech, national law journal, reporting


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Aug 2010 @ 5:46pm

    Peer pressure is hard.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Aug 2010 @ 7:01pm

    peer to peer pressure is ....

    even harder if you go against the grain
    im sure a few calls were masde

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Matt Schafer, 2 Aug 2010 @ 7:05pm

    Finally Came to Her Senses

    It's no wonder that shortly after the brief was filed, Judge Bartnoff withdrew her order. Perhaps she realized that the United States’ Supreme Court has never upheld an order which resulted in prior restraint.

    http://bit.ly/aSdrFB

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Aug 2010 @ 8:13pm

    Re:

    Uhm.... Your attempts at decipherable ASCII art are about as successful as Obama's war on terror in Afghanistan.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Aug 2010 @ 8:24pm

    Re:

    "People always like celebrities"

    What's a celebrity? You mean like Britney Spears? Who's she?

    "but I think those in uniform deserve more respect."

    Absolutely. and it's very disrespectful for Obama to fire military personnel for giving their honest opinion. They are fighting for democracy and free speech only to be punished by our government for freely expressing their opinion? How does that make sense?

    but seriously, what does your post have to do with the OP?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Jay (profile), 2 Aug 2010 @ 10:01pm

    Think about if the judge had done the order thru a text message. They could have had this sealed in 2 hours.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Make this the First Word or Last Word. No thanks. (get credits or sign in to see balance)    
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Close

Add A Reply

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Make this the First Word or Last Word. No thanks. (get credits or sign in to see balance)    
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Insider Shop - Show Your Support!

Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Recent Stories

This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it
Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.