Federal appeals court: Rep. Steve Chabot’s camera ban may have violated the Constitution


It is more important than ever to allow cameras into town hall meetings, as opposed to what Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH) tried to do when he confiscated them. (However, after all the criticism, Chabot has now reversed himself and will allow cameras in the future.)

Without citizens being able to document some of the gaffes, abuse, and idiotic policy positions that some Congress members and candidates put out there, they would be able to blithely continue their unprofessional, sometimes illegal ways.

Let's face it, citizen journalists often do better work than the so-called "news" media.

But back to Chabot. Four days after that little town hall tussle I linked to in the first sentence, this happened (via Think Progress):

[T]he U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit handed down an opinion saying citizens have a right to film police engaged in their official duties. The court’s reasoning, however, has very clear implications for Chabot’s camera ban:

[A]s the Court has noted, “[f]reedom of expression has particular significance with respect to government because ‘[i]t is here that the state has a special incentive to repress opposition and often wields a more effective power of suppression.’” [...]

The First Amendment right to gather news is, as the Court has often noted, not one that inures solely to the benefit of the news media; rather, the public’s right of access to information is coextensive with that of the press. [...] The proliferation of electronic devices with video-recording capability means that many of our images of current events come from bystanders with a ready cell phone or digital camera rather than a traditional film crew, and news stories are now just as likely to be broken by a blogger at her computer as a reporter at a major newspaper. Such developments make clear why the news-gathering protections of the First Amendment cannot turn on professional credentials or status.

Think Progress has more.

For a party that claims to be so enamored with the U.S. Constitution, they sure practice a lot of censorship.

Note to Chabot et al: If you don't like embarrassing clips to go viral on YouTube, stop making embarrassing statements.