An Update, On The Portland “Free Press Corps” Case, From The Time Of Tangerine — Summer Of ’20…

We very closely covered the deplorable use of federal goon squads, by Barr and Tangerine, to quell lawful dissent after George Floyd’s murder. Specifically, last summer, we covered the goon squads deployed in Portland that arrested, harassed and even fired rubber bullets at clearly marked members of the press (lawfully present to document the protests) — in shocking violations of now over 100 years of well settled First Amendment jurisprudence. [To see all the backgrounders I’ve written on it, search “Portland” or “Good Trouble” in the upper left box, in the toolbar. There are more than 20.]

Of course, at both the trial and appellate court levels, the press won. An injunction was issued, and affirmed. Then, as Tangerine was leaving office, the federal government sought an “indicative opinion” from the trial court that the case ought to be dismissed as moot (and the injunction dissolved), since the protests “had ended”. Poppycock.

Overnight, the ACLU and many others filed their answer to that nonsense. It will prevail. The need for this injunction, against beating members of the press for doing their jobs, last summer — may have been an all time low, in the actions of a craven thrall of officers, caught up in the night-sweats, of a tin-pot dictator (the likes of which were last seen at the Chicago Democratic Convention protests, almost 50 years ago):

. . .This case seeks to protect the First Amendment right of journalists and legal observers to document the government’s use of force to break up protests. This Court protected that right in a 61-page Injunction that was based on over a month of intense hearings and voluminous evidence. The Ninth Circuit upheld that injunction in a 70-page published opinion, which found that the federal agents are unlikely to prevail on their argument that they are free to disperse or arrest journalists and legal observers who pose no legitimate threat to law enforcement.

The federal agents now seek an advisory opinion that the Court would dissolve its Injunction if the Ninth Circuit remands the case for that purpose. But their argument is at war with itself. They claim that the Court’s injunction is “moot,” but at the same time assert that abiding by its terms is somehow causing them irreparable injury. Neither is true. Nor are the federal agents any more correct on the law than they were when this Court issued its Injunction or when the Ninth Circuit upheld it. Under these circumstances, the Court need not, and should not, undertake the “extraordinary” task of preparing an advisory opinion. . . .

In their motion, the federal agents admit that they have not changed their policy and want to be free to return to using force on journalists and legal observers simply for trying to do their jobs. The thrust of their position is that because there are now fewer opportunities to violate the constitutional rights of journalists and legal observers, and because a change in administration occurred, the Court should simply trust the government to use its power more judiciously.

But that is not how constitutional protections or the doctrine of mootness operate. Nor is this argument grounded in fact. Despite the new administration’s public posture in favor of freedom of the press and the right to assembly, it has privately supported the misguided policies of former President Trump — from defending the government’s attacks on protesters at Lafayette Square to seeking to preserve its ability to monopolize the marketplace of ideas by violently dispelling journalists and legal observers here. . . .

Onward — smiling, as the new day has indeed dawned (and if you have the means, please donate to your local ACLU). . . .

Tangerine endorsed a candidate (the widow of a Texas GOP legislator who died of COVID, after refusing a vaccine) who just lost a runoff election to a more normal GOP candidate — one backed by the Bushes. naturally. I don’t care, except for to note that Trump blames the people in his camp who recommended her, over the historical GOP’s party line. And to note his influence may very well be. . . fading — even over his supposedly rabid base (it seems more than half of GOP registered voters just stayed home on Tuesday, there). Good news, that.


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