U.S. District Judge Michael Simon is proposing to allow the American Civil Liberties Union to vet and provide journalists’ credentials in the form of an ACLU-blue vest to reporters, in order to avoid assault or arrest by federal agents.
This is the same judge who issued a temporary restraining order July 24th in Portland, Oregon against the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Marshals Service, which had been sent to Portland to guard federal buildings. In the lawsuit filed by the ACLU alleging law enforcement was specifically targeting and attacking journalists at the protests, the judge said federal officers should identify legal observers by the green hats, worn by observers from the National Lawyers Guild or blue vests, worn by observers from the ACLU. Journalists should be identified by either a press pass or clothing that identifies them as press, OPB.org reported.
Now U.S. District Judge Simon, in the same case brought by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of reporters and ACLU members who were observing and reporting on the demonstrations, which have occurred nightly for six weeks, wants to allow the ACLU to determine who is a journalist.
“We could redefine ‘journalist’ to someone who is authorized by the ACLU,” Simon said, Courthouse News Service reported. “The ACLU could maintain a list of who they are giving vests to and give them appropriate guidance and instructions. That way we might be able to solve the problem of somebody just putting ‘press’ on their helmet or their shirt.”
While the Courthouse News Service’s story seems limited in scope to Portland at this time, it should be an important issue for journalists across the nation, and particularly in cities run by Democrat Mayors where ongoing riots and protests have led to extensive property damage, as well as injuries.
The ACLU is not a neutral or bipartisan organization. It is political and often operates as an extremist, political arm of the Democrat Party.
It would set a very dangerous precedent to have the government anoint the ACLU as the decider of who is a journalist and who isn’t.
Who is Judge Michael Simon?
Prior to being nominated by President Barack Obama as U.S. District Court Judge, Simon was a partner in the law firm of Perkins Coie LLP, and a Trial Attorney at the U.S. Department of Justice, Antitrust Division, in Washington, D.C.
Perkins Coie is the law firm at the center of the Democrat National Committee’s faux Russia conspiracy: The bank records produced by Fusion GPS revealed that the Clinton campaign, the DNC and Perkins Coie paid for Fusion GPS’ anti-Trump research. The Clinton campaign hired Fusion GPS through Marc Elias of the Perkins Coie law firm and was briefed about Christopher Steele’s findings throughout the race.
He is married to Democratic U. S. Representative Suzanne Bonamici.
Good Idea or Bad Idea?
“This may or may not be a good idea,” Judge Simon said. “Maybe we try it just for two weeks, then at the hearing preliminary injunction, you all can tell me whether there are problems with it and whether they are solvable or unsolvable.”
That probably wouldn’t fly under the First Amendment, according to Matthew Borden, attorney for the journalists and legal observers.
“The ACLU shouldn’t be — I don’t think anybody should be trying to say who’s a journalist and certainly not my client,” Borden said. “I don’t think they have the resources to do that or the confidence.”
And, as Courthouse News reported, “it’s unclear what sort of protection the ACLU’s blue vests actually provide.”
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