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Arkansas Times v. Waldrip

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  1. Content Restrictions

The Reporters Committee and 15 media organizations filed an amicus brief in Arkansas Times v. Waldrip, a case before the 8th Circuit.  The Arkansas Times brought suit to challenge a state law that requires any state contractor, including a newspaper running state-purchased advertising, to sign a certification that it will not boycott Israel or take “other actions” in support of a boycott, or forego state contracts. The amicus brief does not opine on the nature of the boycott or its constitutional status, but argues that the law interferes with editorial independence by requiring a newspaper to either sign the certification to retain state business and risk being perceived as taking a position against the boycott or in favor of Israeli policies, or refuse and risk being perceived as pro-boycott or anti-Israel.  The amicus brief also argues that reasonable news outlets might self-censor for fear of inadvertently violating the law and that it is well-established that the withdrawal of advertising in response to the exercise of editorial discretion is actionable First Amendment retaliation. Finally, the amicus brief argues that even facially neutral economic regulation, like anti-boycott laws, can harm the press if they are used in an attempt to generate favorable coverage or stifle negative reporting.


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