By Natalia Ruvalcaba
NEW YORK, NY – The New York Times’ right, in relation to Project Veritas, to report and produce knowledge received big support this past Monday as the American Civil Liberties Union, the New York Civil Liberties Union, and the National Coalition Against Censorship worked collaboratively to present a supportive amicus brief.
The ACLU reports that the New York Times was told to cease further publications on any information found within the contents of a legal document drawn up by Project Veritas’ attorney. This came after the NY Times was instructed to hand over such documents by a New York judge.
In order to reverse the ruling, the NY Times decided to turn to a state appeals court, according to the ACLU.
As claimed by the ACLU, the NYCLU, and the NCAC, the court’s order violates the First Amendment rights of the NY Times. The ruling of the court is undeniably restrictive, as explained by the ACLU, the NYCLU, and NCAC, prohibiting constitutional freedom of the press and individuals’ right to obtain that knowledge.
Brian Hauss, senior staff attorney at the ACLU Speech, Privacy and Technology Project asserted in support of The New York Times, “Courts shouldn’t be in the business of telling newspapers what to print and the public what to read. The appeals court must dissolve this blatantly unconstitutional prior restraint on The New York Times.”
According to the ACLU, the NYCLU, and the NCAC, the court allowed its bias to dictate what amounts to a public concern, and thus infringe on their reporting. The three organizations note that leaks, like that of Project Veritas, are needed because they result in pivotal public revelations that would not be uncovered otherwise.
The ACLU notes that the lower courts had justified the ruling, as they believed that public concern was not relevant and the privacy interests of Project Veritas were valid. However, the ACLU claims the New York state’s ruling presents a greater threat to our constitutional rights, beyond that of just the NY Times.
Donna Lieberman, executive director for the NYCLU stated, “The public’s right to information and ideas is fundamental to a healthy democracy and a free society. Decades of case law have established that the First Amendment does not allow prior restraint on speech. The New York Times should not be barred from doing its job, reporting this story, and informing the people.”
From the NCAC, executive director Chris Finan expressed, “No one can be permitted to control what the American people are allowed to know and think. Our courts must uphold the public’s right to be informed, to receive information and to engage in debate.”
The ACLU, the NYCLU, and the NCAC have requested the court reverse the order made by the lower court—in order to block the infringement of the NY Times’ free exercise of the press.
As of this Monday, Project Veritas v. New York Times remains unsettled in the New York Supreme Appellate Division, Second Department.