The First Amendment Coalition joined an amicus brief urging the Supreme Court to uphold the Ninth Circuit’s decision in U.S. v. Hansen, which struck down a federal law that prohibits anyone from saying or writing anything that can be construed as encouraging or inducing a person to “come to, enter, or reside in the United States” unlawfully. The brief highlights the chilling effect of the statute on freedom of the press, noting that the government has already targeted journalists who cover migration and listing numerous examples of reporting or commentary that might trigger an overzealous prosecution under the statute. The brief also explains that the State Department and courts outside the United States have condemned similar assaults on freedom of the press.
As the brief says, “Immigration is one of the most contentious and controversial issues of our time,” and people who write about such issues should not have to fear prosecution for offending the government.
Professor Penny Venetis, Director of the International Human Rights Clinic at Rutgers Law School, and her students, wrote the brief on behalf of the First Amendment Coalition, Freedom of the Press Foundation, National Association of Hispanic Journalists, National Press Photographers Association and News Leaders Association.