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Federal Judge Proposes Letting ACLU Determine Who is a Journalist

Obama appointed judge was a partner in the law firm of Perkins Coie

By Katy Grimes, August 12, 2020 6:05 pm

Justitia, Lady Justice. (Photo: Wikipedia)

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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10 thoughts on “Federal Judge Proposes Letting ACLU Determine Who is a Journalist

  1. No doubt all the rioters and looters will be wearing the vests. Soros will be handing them out by the truck load. Fox News will be the only ones without a vest.

    1. Agree with you, CW. As we’ve already seen from many of the photos and videos of the rioting, writing “press” on the backside of your black jacket in white crayon or white gel pen or white spray paint does not magically make you a journalist. And a blue vest handed out by the local ACLU branch — not a benign organization by any stretch of the imagination, as Katy Grimes pointed out — doesn’t magically make you one either. The ACLU is 99% up to no good these days.
      But are real journalists seen as off-limits anyway from the zombies who instigate the hurly-burly of the chaos and violence? It sure doesn’t seem like it anymore — many have been attacked — and of course this judge has just made matters worse for them, hasn’t he.

  2. Have I hopped back in time to Orwell’s 1984?
    Sure the ACLU will be very fair in their credentialing process.????snicker
    All of a sudden the journalistic standards mean nothing unless it is minded by an organization like the ACLU? If this happens as CW has referenced here, we will have one sided news, which one could argue we already have in the mainstream, they all spout the same tag lines night after night!
    Here is one for you, JUDGE: DO NO HARM!

    Why even bother with a journalism degree?

  3. Perhaps the ACLU could secure Michael Moore‘s assistance in determining who is and is not a legitimate journalist deserving of judicial protection? Or perhaps the ACLU could get help from the Chinese Communist Party. The CCP is making real progress vetting “true” journalists in Hong Kong these days.

  4. This idea is unAmerican and unconstitutional:
    Section 9 of the Constitution reads: “No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States…” Section 10 reads: “No State shall…grant any Title of Nobility.” Thus, both federal and state governments are prevented from conferring a Title of Nobility upon any of its citizens.

    This judge is terrible.

  5. Journalists should have NO SPECIAL RIGHTS. They should have exactly the same rights (and responsibilities) as anyone else. The reason is simple: “Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press…” means it is unconstitutional for the government to involve itself in speech or written advocacy, except in a few cases (incitement of violence, fraud, et al.). If journalists are granted some sort of privilege, the government must determine who is a journalist–and your political opponents may be the ones running the government when you want to make your statement. Are you sure you want your most passionate opponents to decide whether you have those rights?

  6. 1. If this ever happens, you will have riots by cerified reporters. And nobody to “report” on it.

    2. Elect Biden and a Democratic Senate, and you will come to think Judge Simon was actually OK, compared to what you will get in judicial appointments.

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