RTDNA urges Court to hear police photography case

January 5, 2017 04:00

RTDNA, along with the National Press Photographers Association and other media organizations, has filed a "friend of the court" brief, calling on the U.S. Supreme Court to review a case in which a photographer was arrested for recording police officers.

Antonio Buehler was arrested in Austin, Texas, when he recorded police conducting a drunk driving stop. He was acquitted of the charges, and filed a civil suit against the Austin Police Department.

The trial court agreed that Buehler's First Amendment rights were violated, but a federal court dismissed the suit and the Fifth Circuit Court of appeals upheld the dismissal.

RTDNA is asking the Court to hear the case because of its national implications, and to clearly establish that photographing police is a right protected by the First Amendment.

"We all deserve to live in a society in which the power of government is not used in retaliation for exercising our constitutional rights," the brief states. It goes on to say, "... the recording of police performing their official duties in a public place has brought much needed accountability to police departments. But while many police departments across the country have embraced the use of First Amendment activity to promote sound policing methods, others, unfortunately, have resorted to illegal methods in a vain attempt to abridge the very constitutional protections they swore an oath to uphold. As a consequence, there has been an epidemic of harassment, interference, and arrests of journalists and citizens for doing nothing more than exercising their free speech and press rights."

You can read the full brief here.