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  5. Does the First Amendment provide me with any unique rights as a journalist?

Does the First Amendment provide me with any unique rights as a journalist?

No. The constitutional freedom of the press promises journalists equal, not privileged, treatment. That is to say, those rights of journalists or news organizations held by the U.S. Supreme Court to be guaranteed by the First Amendment are, at least so far, simply parallels of those guaranteed to everyone as a matter of free speech. These include freedom from prior restraint (Near v. Minnesota, 283 U.S. 697 (1931); New York Times v. United States, 403 U.S. 713 (1971); Nebraska Press Association v. Stuart, 427 U.S. 539 (1976)); freedom from compelled speech (Miami Herald Publishing Co. v. Tornillo, 418 U.S. 241 (1974)); and freedom from arbitrary or content-sensitive regulation (Grosjean v. American Press Co., 297 U.S. 233 (1936), City of Cincinnati v. Discovery Network, 507 U.S. 410 (1993)).  The right to attend and observe all phases of criminal court proceedings was developed in a series of cases culminating in Press-Enterprise v. Superior Court, 478 U.S. 1 (1986). While this right was established in litigation brought by press organizations, it is one consistently expressed as one of the public as well as the press.  In fact, cases decided under the First Amendment have consistently ruled against press arguments for special treatment, holding for example that journalists have no more right than other citizens:

    • to interview persons subject to a valid “gag” or protective order from the court (Sheppard v. Maxwell, 384 U.S. 333 (1966)); or

    • to visit prisons, jails, or inmates if the institution can show  a   valid   penological   objective   for   imposing   the  restriction (Saxbe v. Washington Post, 417 U.S. 843 (1974) and Houchins v. KQED, 438 U.S. 1 (1978)); or

    • to refuse to reveal to a grand jury information gained as a witness to a crime (Branzburg v. Hayes, 408 U.S. 665 (1972)); or

    • to be exempt from otherwise properly warranted searches by law enforcement agencies (Zurcher v. Stanford Daily, 436 U.S. 547 (1978)); or

    • to accompany law enforcement officers on searches of private premises subject to the Fourth Amendment (Wilson v. Layne, 526 U.S. 603 (1999)).

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