Prison Legal News v. Kane

February 17, 2015

Media plaintiffs, prisoners' rights groups, and prisoners sued the State of Pennsylvania Attorney General in the Middle District of Pennsylvania over the constitutionality of the Revictimization Relief Act, a law that put restraints on the conduct and speech of convicted prisoners that caused "mental anguish" in the minds of their victims and those close to the victims. Plaintiffs sued for a preliminary injunction, arguing that the law was unconstitutional. The Reporters Committee and three other amici filed an amicus brief supporting the plaintiffs. The brief argued that the Act's restriction on speech is an unconstitutionally vague prior restraint on a limitless range of speech, including matters of public interest. Furthermore, the Act interferes with the First Amendment right to receive information from "willing speakers." Finally, the Act would prevent many valuable contributions to discourse and culture, such as media accounts of convicts and the justice system, as well as speech that contends wrongful conviction or cautions others against leading a life of crime. On April 28, 2015, Judge Conner of the Middle District of Pennsylvania granted the motion for preliminary injunction and found the Act unconstitutional.