Amicus Briefs, Letters and Statements

NEFAC files and signs onto amicus briefs, letters and statements addressing important First Amendment issues. This is a listing of those documents, as well as others that may be of interest to you. While our main focus is on freedom of information concerns, we will consider supporting any amicus brief that addresses the First Amendment. If you would like to have NEFAC sign onto your brief, or to have us file one on behalf of your cause, please email our executive director for more information. Briefs, letters and statements from previous years can be viewed here:

2019 | 201820172016201520142013 | 2012 | 2011

To New England Governors: News Organizations Provide Essential Services (March 24, 2020)

We are writing to ensure that news organizations will be categorized as “essential” if and when you deem it necessary to close nonessential businesses to help contain the coronavirus. In print, on the air and online, journalists play a crucial, constitutionally protected role in providing information to communities during a time of crisis. Misinformation about the coronavirus is pervasive, and journalists are well equipped to dispel rumors through relevant and accurate reporting. News organizations and all workers supporting them are a lifeline for citizens whose health and safety relies on timely information.

Statement Re: Transparency During Coronavirus Pandemic (March 20, 2020)

Government bodies should not opportunistically take advantage of the public’s inability to attend large gatherings to make critical decisions affecting the public’s interest if those decisions can reasonably be postponed. Just as citizens are being asked to defer nonessential travel and errands, so should government agencies defer noncritical policy-making decisions until full and meaningful public involvement can be guaranteed.

To U.S. Senate Re: Press Access During Impeachment Trial (Jan. 16, 2020)

Absent an articulable security rationale, Senate leaders, the Senate Sergeant at Arms, and the United States Capitol Police have an obligation to preserve and promote the public’s right to know. Reporters must have the ability to respond quickly to rapid developments and need reasonable access to lawmakers who wish to speak to the press. The reported restrictions on the use of electronic devices and on the ability of reporters to question lawmakers as they move about the Capitol, as well as the additional security screening, will hinder reporting without an obvious benefit for Senate security.

To N.H. House Judiciary Committee Re: Bill 1157 (Jan. 15, 2020)

NEFAC strongly opposes House Bill 1157. The legislation is unwise, undemocratic and unconstitutional. The bill is a violation of the right to freedom of the press guaranteed by the New Hampshire and United States constitutions. It fails to consider the strict protections afforded by the First Amendment and undermines the editorial judgment of news publishers throughout the state. The bill is such an outlier that there appears to be no similar legislation proposed anywhere in the country during the last two years.

Karem v. Trump (D.C. Cir. 2020)

The government seeks to renew a settled question for this Court of fundamental importance to the rights of the press and public under the First and Fifth Amendments: Whether a White House press secretary may suspend the press credentials of a journalist based on vague, ad hoc standards never previously articulated, thereby depriving that journalist of access to White House facilities and impairing his ability to report on the President of the United States.