Full court press: The Supreme Court has upheld the right of news organizations to publish articles critical of the justices.
The justices voted 5-4 on Monday in a 5-2 vote to strike down a federal law that allows the news media to publish stories critical of judges.
This is the latest setback for the press, which has been struggling to hold the justices to account in the wake of an investigation into their role in a $10 billion deal with a Chinese company that won approval to take over a large chunk of the United States’ electric grid.
As the justices took their votes, a thunderous applause erupted from the packed courtroom.
“The press has a right to inform the people,” Justice Anthony Kennedy said, adding that the press should have a free and open dialogue with the public.
He also called on the court to overturn a California law that makes it a crime for a news organization to publish “anonymous, defamatory, defamed, defiled, or otherwise disparaging information about a person or organization” unless it was obtained from a news source.
The court has struck down the law in previous rulings.
Earlier in the day, Justice Clarence Thomas said he supported the right for news organizations and reporters to publish their opinions.
But he warned that the court must also respect the First Amendment right to criticize the government.
Justice Elena Kagan, the court’s most liberal justice, sided with the media, saying that the public should have the ability to make informed judgments about what the court decides.
Kagan also said the court should not allow the government to impose an “obscene” penalty on news organizations that publish stories about its officials, even though the penalty is often far worse than what the government could impose.
A few hours after the vote, Justice Sonia Sotomayor said she was disappointed by the ruling.
“I think this is a good thing for the First and Second Amendments and I think the press has the right to speak out,” Sotomaid.
“But the court has to be careful.
We’re all human, and this is one of those times where the public can have an opinion.”
The court also ruled against the federal government in a case involving a Florida news outlet that challenged the state’s law restricting access to the state computer network.
In a 6-2 decision, the justices upheld a lower court decision that said a state law that restricts the ability of internet service providers to offer high-speed internet to their subscribers violated the First, Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments.
The court has long held that the First amendment does not protect freedom of the press.
Sotomayors majority opinion also said that the government may not impose penalties against a news outlet for publishing a story about its official, even if it is not a defamator or defamators.
Last year, the government imposed an obscene penalty against a Florida man for publishing his opinion that a man was too big for the prison cell he was kept in.
That case was one of a series of cases in which journalists and the press sued the government in hopes of overturning restrictions on their freedom of expression.