News/Media Alliance Joins Brief in Support of U.S. News & World Report Seeking Injunction Against Intrusive Government Subpoenas

On March 20, 2024, the Alliance joined an amicus brief in U.S. News & World Report v. David Chiu, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in support of U.S. News’s motion for a preliminary injunction against the Office of the Attorney of the City and County of San Francisco, David Chiu (“City Attorney”). In this case, the City Attorney issued subpoenas against U.S. News, requiring the publisher to disclose details about its methodology for ranking hospitals, out of a stated concern for perceived “bias”. U.S. News filed suit against the City Attorney seeking a preliminary injunction of the subpoenas intruding into the editorial decision-making process of the hospital rankings. The City Attorney subsequently filed a motion to dismiss and an anti-SLAPP motion. The brief, authored by RCFP, argues that the subpoenas target core editorial decision-making protected by the First Amendment as non-commercial speech, and that a news organization’s methodology for rankings is not an appropriate topic of investigation under a state’s consumer protection laws. The brief also argues that to allow a government official to use the California anti-SLAPP statute to prevent a news outlet from challenging subpoenas as violative of its First Amendment rights would turn the purpose of the law on its head. In addition to the Alliance, the brief was joined by the First Amendment Coalition and the Media Law Resource Center.


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