‘Why can’t SCOTUSblog get a [press] credential?’

A very interesting story by Jonathan Peters in the Columbia Journalism Review. Here are the first few paragraphs:

Around the country, credentialing organizations struggle every year to make decisions as journalists and news outlets apply for law-enforcement passes to cross police lines, day passes to attend a specific event, and hard passes to access a government agency on a regular basis. The groups issuing these credentials debate whether bloggers are journalists and wonder how to maintain the press pass’s integrity at a time when news production is widely dispersed.

It’s a difficult business, and now the organizations doing it are indebted to the US Senate Daily Press Gallery — which has made a major contribution to the body of knowledge on how not to make credentialing decisions.

On April 7, the gallery’s Standing Committee of Correspondents decided to reject the application for a press credential for Amy Howe, editor of the website SCOTUSblog, which over the last few years has emerged as an essential news source about the Supreme Court. At the same time, the committee decided not to renew the credential previously granted to SCOTUSblog reporter Lyle Denniston when it expires in May. The site plans to appeal and ask the gallery to reconsider those decisions at its May meeting, publisher Tom Goldstein told CJR. If that effort fails, he said, he plans to appeal to the Senate Rules Committee and possibly to initiate litigation.

Disclaimer: I have filed (through the UCLA First Amendment Amicus Brief Clinic) an amicus brief in a Texas case related to what constitutes “media,” and SCOTUSblog is one of my clients on that brief.

Eugene Volokh teaches free speech law, religious freedom law, church-state relations law, a First Amendment Amicus Brief Clinic, and tort law, at UCLA School of Law, where he has also often taught copyright law, criminal law, and a seminar on firearms regulation policy.
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Eugene Volokh · May 1, 2014