Update: On Sept. 8, 2020, the plaintiffs settled their First Amendment lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The agreement states that the federal government “shall not prevent, impede, or otherwise interfere with the First Amendment rights of members of the public to make and retain photographs, video recordings, or other recordings of matters or events from a publicly accessible area [as defined in the agreement] at any land port of entry in the United States.”
Plaintiffs Ray Askins and Christian Ramirez sued the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to challenge policies of Customs and Border Protection that ban photography at United States ports of entry without advanced permission from CBP. The Reporters Committee filed an amicus brief in support of Plaintiffs, arguing that policies that restrict the news media’s ability to photograph or record activity at the U.S. border impinge upon the press’s constitutionally protected rights to gather news and report on matters of public concern. We argued that photography and recording are essential elements of reporting on matters of public concern, including those that arise at the border; that strong public policy rationales underlie a First Amendment right to photograph public officials such as CBP officials; and that national security concerns do not provide a compelling interest that justifies the CBP photography policies.