Prior restraint

An official government restriction of speech prior to publication; prior restraints are presumptively unconstitutional, meaning they carry a heavy burden to sustain and are rarely upheld. In its 1931 landmark opinion, Nebraska Press Association v. Stuart, the U.S. Supreme Court described prior restraints on speech and publication as "the most serious and the least tolerable infringement on First Amendment rights."

South Carolina Supreme Court lifts prior restraint in James Brown estate case

Tom Isler | Prior Restraints | News | March 10, 2015
March 10, 2015

The Supreme Court of South Carolina has dissolved a prior restraint against a small-town newspaper reporter covering the ongoing legal battle for the estate of singer James Brown.

The reporter, Sue Summer, had received an anonymous package containing the diary of Tommie Rae Hynie Brown, who was recently recognized by a South Carolina court as the widow of James Brown. The diary, which was filed under seal with the court, contained passages that seemed to imply that Ms. Brown was not, in fact, married to Mr. Brown.

N.Y. appellate court strikes down prior restraint on Lifetime docudrama

Jamie Schuman | Prior Restraints | News | April 18, 2014
April 18, 2014

A New York appellate court struck down on Thursday a trial judge’s order forbidding Lifetime Entertainment Services from airing a drama based on a 2004 murder case. Lifetime had already aired the program last year after the court stayed the restraint pending resolution of the appeal.

Christopher Porco, convicted of murdering his father and attempting to murder his mother while they slept in their home, filed a pro se law suit from a New York prison to stop Lifetime from airing “Romeo Killer: The Christopher Porco Story." Porco, who is serving 46 years to life, had claimed that the movie was an unauthorized and fictional account and that use of his name violated civil rights law, the Times Union, in Albany, reported.

Blogger Roger Shuler released after five months in jail

Michael Rooney | Prior Restraints | News | April 2, 2014
April 2, 2014

Alabama blogger Roger Shuler was released from a Shelby County, Ala. jail on March 26, more than five months after he was imprisoned on contempt charges for refusing to comply with a court order to take down allegedly defamatory articles.

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press argued in an October letter that the order was an unconstitutional prior restraint. Shuler had written a series of posts on his blog, Legal Schnauzer, claiming that Robert Riley, Jr., son of former Alabama governor Bob Riley and potential candidate for a soon-to-be-vacant U.S. House of Representatives seat, had an affair with and impregnated lobbyist Liberty Duke.

Alabama blogger still in jail after violating take-down order in libel suit

Jamie Schuman | Prior Restraints | News | November 6, 2013
November 6, 2013

Two weeks after his arrest, the Alabama blogger found to have violated a judge’s order not to publish certain stories remains in jail and without an opportunity to challenge the contempt order.

Alabama blogger jailed after violating prior restraint over articles that alleged high-profile affair

Jamie Schuman | Prior Restraints | News | October 25, 2013
October 25, 2013

Alabama blogger Roger Shuler was arrested Wednesday after allegedly violating a judge’s order that he not publish stories about a supposed affair involving the son of a former state governor, according to a news report and his wife Carol Shuler.

Police charged the blogger with contempt of court and resisting arrest, Carol Shuler said in an interview Friday. Roger Shuler has run “Legal Schnauzer,” a blog focused on exposing political corruption, since 2007. He is being held on a $1,000 bond on the resisting arrest charge, but bond was not set for the two contempt charges, his wife said. She also alleged that he was physically roughed up by police during his arrest.

Virginia court vacates prior restraint on witness names in murder case

Jamie Schuman | Prior Restraints | News | October 10, 2013
October 10, 2013

The Newport News Circuit Court in Virginia on Tuesday vacated a lower court’s order that forbid the media to publish the names of certain witnesses who had testified in open court in a high-profile double murder trial.

Emergency protective order denied in Fla. prior restraint case

Latara Appleby | Prior Restraints | News | September 11, 2013
September 11, 2013

A Duval County, Fla., judge on Wednesday denied a motion for an emergency protective order that sought to ban news organizations from publishing details of James Patrick Tadros’ arrest.

Florida news organizations to fight prior restraint at Monday court hearing

Latara Appleby | Prior Restraints | News | September 6, 2013
September 6, 2013

Florida news organizations are planning to attend a hearing on Monday to fight a judge's order not to publish the arrest report of a man accused of attempting to murder a 9-year-old girl at a Best Buy restroom.

Louisiana criminalizes publishing gun permit information

Jeff Zalesin | Content Regulation | News | June 24, 2013
June 24, 2013

Publishing the name or address of a concealed gun permit holder or applicant is set to become a crime in Louisiana, under a pair of new laws recently signed by Gov. Bobby Jindal.

The laws provide that anyone who publicly identifies a gun permit holder or disseminates information contained in a permit application could face up to six months in jail and a $10,000 fine. The laws also impose penalties on state and local government employees who release gun-permit information without a court order.

Tenn. ag-gag law might be unconstitutional, according to state atty. general

Rob Tricchinelli | Newsgathering | News | May 10, 2013
May 10, 2013

An animal cruelty bill passed in Tennessee is “constitutionally suspect” because its provisions on giving footage to law enforcement might be a prior restraint and unconstitutionally burden newsgathering, the state’s top lawyer said Thursday.

HB 1191, known as the “ag-gag” bill, requires any footage of animal cruelty to be surrendered to law enforcement within 48 hours of recording. Supporters of the bill, which was lobbied for by animal agriculture groups, say this surrender provision protects animals.