Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch’s case history suggests he could be a strong defender of the First Amendment, though he hasn’t ruled on a large number of such cases, according to a media advocacy group.
“His decisions in libel and invasion of privacy cases show a willingness to uphold protections for speech rights against tort claims, even in controversial cases,” Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press (RCFP) said in a report made public Thursday.
President Donald Trump nominated Gorsuch Tuesday to fill the vacancy created when Justice Antonin Scalia died in February 2016. Trump promised during the campaign to nominate somebody who shared Scalia’s belief that the Constitution should be decided based on its text and intent of the Founders.
Gorsuch has been a member of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit since 2006.
In one case, a professor filed a criminal libel complaint after a parody publication modified a photo to make him look like a member of Kiss. The police searched the publication founder’s home and took his computer and other written materials. (RELATED: Gorsuch Spent Prep School Years Trolling Left-Wing Jesuits)
Gorsuch joined an appeals court panel in ruling that the search warrant was too broad and that a criminal defamation case violated the First Amendment. (RELATED: Meet The Democrats Who Supported Gorsuch In 2006)
“In an area of increasing concern to journalists, Gorsuch joined a panel opinion holding that a broad warrant to search the computers and papers of a journalist accused of criminal libel for any evidence of any crime violated the Fourth Amendment,” the report said.
The Supreme Court nominee also ruled that a local television station “did not invade the privacy of undercover officers by broadcasting their names and undercover status in association with their alleged involvement in a sexual assault,” the RCFP report said.
“The court found that criminalizing the publication of officers’ identities would conflict with the First Amendment and New Mexico law,” the report continued.
Gorsuch also upheld the dismissal of a defamation lawsuit in favor of A&E Television Networks. A&E erroneously outed an inmate as a member of the Aryan Brotherhood prison gang.
Gorsuch ruled that the inmate communicated with other members and conspired to transport drugs on their behalf, even though he was not “formally a member of the Brotherhood,” the report said, citing the case.
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