Court: Feds can’t target reporters at Portland protests

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — In a split opinion, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has restored a court injunction that bans federal law enforcement from using force, threats or dispersal orders against journalists and legal observers who are working at protests in Portland.

The 2-1 ruling issued Friday restores an injunction issued by U.S. District Court Judge Michael H. Simon.

That injunction was put on hold when the Trump administration challenged Simon’s order. The ruling by the 9th Circuit restores the ban while it considers the U.S. government’s appeal.

The federal agencies “assert a very important public interest, but the record fully supports the district court’s conclusion that the Federal Defendants’ interest does not require dispersing plaintiffs,” according to the majority opinion. “They have not threatened federal property, and the journalists, in particular, provide a vitally important service to the public.”

The Justice Department did not immediately comment on the ruling.

The ACLU of Oregon, which filed the initial class-action lawsuit on behalf of journalists and legal observers, applauded the news.

“This is a crucial victory for civil liberties and the freedom of the press, which are critical to the functioning of our democracy. The court’s opinion affirms that the government cannot use violence to control the narrative about what is happening at these historic protests,” said attorney Matthew Borden.

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