Arizona Law Banning Recording of Police Declared Unconstitutional 

(Photo by Jewel SAMAD / AFP) (Photo by JEWEL SAMAD/AFP via Getty Images)

By Citlalli Florez

PHOENIX, AZ – An Arizona law, which banned the filming of police, was blocked after a federal judge granted a preliminary injunction to the Arizona Broadcasters Association and other media organizations, civil rights advocates and Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes, according to the Arizona Mirror.

The law would have made it illegal to film a police officer within eight feet of where police activity was occurring. If a person did not stop recording when asked they could face a misdemeanor charge with up to 30 days in jail.

House Bill 2319 was passed last year, but was blocked by a federal judge since September 2022 and never went into effect. Through the recent settlement between plaintiffs in the recent case, the law was declared unconstitutional for the violation of First Amendment rights. The settlement was filed earlier this month, said the Mirror.

Arizona AG Mayes had written during the settlement “there is a clearly established right to record law enforcement officers engaged in the exercise of their official duties,” the Arizona Mirror reported.

The settlement was approved Friday by U. S. District Judge John J. Tuchi. The filed document stated the law would violate the First Amendment, noting “the statute imposes a content-based restriction that is subject to strict scrutiny as it sit ‘singles out specific subject matter’… [and] the statute does not survive strict scrutiny because it is not narrowly tailored or necessary to prevent interference with police officers.”

News reports said the Arizona law was also considered by the court to be a violation of the First Amendment through the Fourteenth Amendment because it is “not a reasonable ‘time place and manner’ restriction [and]…. the statute cannot withstand intermediate scrutiny because the law prohibits a substantial amount of first amendment protected activity and is unnecessary to prevent interference with police officers.”

It was earlier reported that if the settlement were to be approved, the Attorney General’s Office would reimburse plaintiffs $69,000 for attorney fees with $23,000 going to the ACLU of Arizona and the rest would be distributed among the media organizations.

About The Author

Citlalli Florez is a 4th year undergraduate at the University of California, Berkeley. She is currently majoring in Legal Studies, Chicana/o Studies, and Art Practice. She intends to attend law school in the future with the purpose of gaining skills to further serve her community.

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