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U.S. Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch does not have an extensive history of cases involving free speech, free press, and freedom of information issues, but the opinions he authored or joined during his more than 10 years on the Tenth Circuit that do touch upon those issues reflect the application of well-established First Amendment principles in a consistent way, according to an report on his news-media related decisions released today by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.
His decisions in libel and invasion of privacy cases show a willingness to uphold protections for speech rights against tort claims even in controversial cases, such as when a television station publicized the names of undercover police officers in a story involving accusations of sexual assault, or when another television station showed a photo of the perpetrator in a sexual assault video. Gorsuch also wrote an opinion applying the “substantial truth” doctrine, which holds that libel claims cannot rest on minor inaccuracies, in a case brought by a federal prisoner identified as a member of the Aryan Brotherhood. And in an area of increasing concern to journalists, Gorsuch joined a panel opinion holding that a broad warrant to search the computers and papers of a journalist accused of criminal libel for any evidence of any crime violated the Fourth Amendment.
The report is available on the Reporters Committee's web site at www.rcfp.org/gorsuch-report