17 January 2013

"A federal appeals court ruled Wednesday that preventing reporters and photographers from entering active polling places is constitutional, saying that a Pennsylvania law to that effect does not violate the First Amendment rights of the press."

 More evidence that we need United Nations monitors in U.S. polling places.  Oh, but don't worry, the court is aware that anyone with a mobile phone made after 2004 could be a "photographer":

One interesting footnote in the decision: The court mused on whether there was any distinction anymore between members of the press and the general public with the growth of technology.
“This brings us to the next concern, raised at oral argument: Who is a member of the press? Even if we were inclined to find a special First Amendment right for the press in this case (which we explicitly refuse to do), the class of persons to whom such a right is applicable is almost boundless,” Greenaway wrote in a footnote.
“More recently, membership in the Fourth Estate has been democratized. Access to blogs, smartphones, and an extensive network of social media sites (not the least of which are Twitter and Facebook) have transformed all of us into potential members of the media. While in almost any other situation this would be a boon to a free and democratic society, in the context of the voting process, the confusion and chaos that would result from a potentially limitless number of reporters in a polling place would work the opposite effect, potentially creating confusion, frustration, and delay. This is to say nothing of our earlier holding that the rights of access for the press and public are co-extensive. In this situation, anyone could record in the polling place if the First Amendment protected the right of access thereto," the judge added.
 Because it is clear that the last thing American voters could tolerate is "confusion, frustration, and delay"...

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