On July 5, the Alliance joined a letter by the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA) asking Arizona Governor Douglas Ducey to veto HB 2319—a recently passed Bill that makes it illegal to film a law enforcement officer within eight feet of the officer without permission. The letter explains that the bill likely “violates not only the free speech and press clauses of the First Amendment” and also “runs counter to the ‘clearly established right’ to photograph and record police officers performing their official duties in a public place” which is the controlling precedent in the Ninth Circuit that includes Arizona. In February, the Alliance joined another NPPA letter asking the Arizona legislature to oppose HB 2319 and highlighted the serious constitutional concerns with a law restricting the right to record law enforcement. Unfortunately, the Arizona legislature passed the Bill, and on July 6, Governor Ducey signed the Bill into law. The Alliance is monitoring the situation in Arizona and is actively looking for ways to support journalists’ First Amendment right to record law enforcement. Read more.
Update: On July 21, 2023, a federal judge in Arizona ruled that the law to limit how close people can get to record law enforcement is unconstitutional. U.S. District Court Judge John J. Tuchi said in his ruling that the law violated the First Amendment and “there is a clearly established right to record law enforcement officers engaged in the exercise of their official duties in public places.” This ruling permanently blocks enforcement of the law that Judge Tuchi had suspended last year.
Members of the News/Media Alliance staff have contributed to this post.