Case Number: 1:23-cv-1805
Court: U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana
Clients: Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, The E.W. Scripps Company, Indiana Broadcasters Association, Indiana Professional Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, Indianapolis Star, Nexstar Media Inc., TEGNA Inc.
Complaint Filed: Oct. 6, 2023
Background: In April 2023, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb signed into law HB 1186, which makes it a crime to stand within 25 feet of a law enforcement officer after being told to stop.
The law, which went into effect in July, is broad in scope and does not require that dispersal orders be tailored in any way to accommodate the First Amendment right to document law enforcement activity. It also authorizes officers to issue a dispersal order even if an individual’s presence does not obstruct the officer in the performance of their duties or pose any other safety risk.
On behalf of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, The E.W. Scripps Company, Indiana Broadcasters Association, Indiana Professional Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, Indianapolis Star, Nexstar Media Inc., and TEGNA Inc., RCFP attorneys sued Indiana’s attorney general, the Marion County prosecutor, and the Marion County sheriff, alleging that the new law violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments. The lawsuit asks the court to hold that Indiana’s law is unconstitutional and to block the state from enforcing it.
Quote: “This law is clearly unconstitutional and puts journalists covering law enforcement in an impossible position: stop reporting or risk being arrested and criminally charged,” said Katie Townsend, deputy executive director and legal director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. “By criminalizing newsgathering, the law prevents journalists from doing their job effectively and deprives the public of important information.”