Saturday, July 31, 2010

Obscure legal case involving CA juicer could affect media, blogger disclosure of sealed info; First Amenment grounds?

The Metro section of the July 31, 2010 Washington Post leads off with a curious story by Keith L. Alexander that may have a surprising national First Amendment bearing. The title is “Law journal can publish court file information; D.C. judge lifts order that attorneys, media outlets said violated First Amendment,” link here.

The fact pattern is obscure. A California pomegranate juice supplier was being investigated by a federal agency that wanted to remain secret.

There was a controversy over whether First Amendment claims could trump a court order sealing files (issued at a judge’s discretion)?

Conceivably the underlying constitutional questions could deserve appellate or Supreme Court review.

The details remind one a bit of the convolutions of a John Grisham novel.

Where the issue could matter is future situations involving “ordinary” bloggers or even tweets or social networking posts disclosing sealed information. Could the government prevent bloggers from disclosing links to classified materials such as those from WikiLeaks?

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