Ninth Circuit Extends First Amendment Protection To Bloggers

9th-circuit-sealThe Ninth Circuit ruled Friday that bloggers are protected by the first amendment of the bill of rights. The case arose after a court-appointed trustee sued a blogger for defamation. A jury sided with the lawyer but the Ninth Circuit overturned the verdict on appeal. Eugene Volkh, himself a prolific blogger, represented the blogger and quotes the court:

The protections of the First Amendment do not turn on whether the defendant was a trained journalist, formally affiliated with traditional news entities, engaged in conflict-of-interest disclosure, went beyond just assembling others’ writings, or tried to get both sides of a story. As the Supreme Court has accurately warned, a First Amendment distinction between the institutional press and other speakers is unworkable: “With the advent of the Internet and the decline of print and broadcast media … the line between the media and others who wish to comment on political and social issues becomes far more blurred.” Citizens United, 558 U.S. at 352. In defamation cases, the public-figure status of a plaintiff and the public importance of the statement at issue — not the identity of the speaker — provide the First Amendment touchstones.

If you’re interested in who else was involved, Volkh gives credit to a number of parties who participated in the case.

The new media is here to stay. Even the SCOTUS recognizes that the old print and broadcast media are in “decline.” The shift from old to new will continue to create new difficulties, e.g., how institutions deal with criticism.

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6 comments

  1. That’s all well and good, but I’d like to see a little flip side of the coin, some bad bloggers being punished for irresponsibility and/or dishonesty. 1st amendment is not just a right, it’s also a responsibility.

    • Punished by whoever would punish slander or libel from a traditional newspaper. I don’t think you have anything to worry about; if a FV entity sues you, you have plenty of documentation to back your statements up.

  2. That’s a relief. My light at the end of the tunnel which would undoubtedly mean more free time for onlining was just starting to reveal itself. Just what I needed, more reason to keep up this wildly addictive habit I’ve tacked in to my person.

    Support group, anyone?

    Thanks, Dr. Clark. Peace.

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