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A federal appeals court has ruled that it is perfectly clear under the U.S. Constitution that journalists cannot be jailed for asking officials questions.
Article by Bob Unruh from our news partners at WND News Center.
And that, the 2-1 majority in the case brought by Priscilla Villarreal said, is what happened to her.
The decision revived the woman’s lawsuit against Laredo, Webb County and others.
“If the First Amendment means anything, it surely means that a citizen journalist has the right to ask a public official a question, without fear of being imprisoned. yet that is exactly what happened here: Priscilla Villarreal was put in jail for asking a police officer a question,” the opinion said.
The background is that she is a “citizen journalist” and reports on events in Laredo on social media. Frequently, she’s irritated local police with her coverage and comments, so there was little love in the establishment for her work.
Then one incident developed in which she published the names of people involved in a car accident – before the victims’ identities had formally been released by authorities.
That violated a state law that later was found unconstitutional, but at the time she was jailed for her offense.
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“If that is not an obvious violation of the Constitution, it’s hard to imagine what would be. And as the Supreme Court has repeatedly held, public officials are not entitled to qualified immunity for obvious violations of the Constitution,” said the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
She had sued after her arrest, but a lower court had thrown it out. It’s now been reinstated.
The court commented on her blunt reporting: “Her reporting frequently includes colorful – and often unfiltered – commentary,” the judges noted.
A report at Courthouse News explained Villarreal “has reported on everything from local crime to public corruption by officials in the border city of Laredo under the name La Gordiloca.”
The complications with her work surfaced when she was reporting on a suicide, and a car crash. She got into trouble because state law “makes it a Class 3 felony to seek and receive information from an official that has not yet been made available to the public.”
She had obtained the names, then asked a police officer to confirm them. He did.
That was the law later found unconstitutional and dropped.
The effect of the appeals court decision is that her claims of wrongful arrest and retaliation now have been resurrected.
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The ruling came from U.S. Circuit Judge James Ho, a Donald Trump appointee.
U.S. Circuit Judge James Graves, a Barack Obama appointee, joined Ho in the majority.
Will America-First News Outlets Make it to 2023?
Things are looking grim for conservative and populist news sites.
There’s something happening behind the scenes at several popular conservative news outlets. 2021 was bad, but 2022 is proving to be disastrous for news sites that aren’t “playing ball” with the corporate media narrative. It’s being said that advertisers are cracking down, forcing some of the biggest ad networks like Google and Yahoo to pull their inventory from conservative outlets. This has had two major effects. First, it has cooled most conservative outlets from discussing “taboo” topics like Pandemic Panic Theater, voter fraud, or The Great Reset. Second, it has isolated those ad networks that aren’t playing ball.
Certain topics are anathema for most ad networks. Speaking out against vaccines or vaccine mandates is a certain path to being demonetized. Highlighting voter fraud in the 2020 and future elections is another instant advertising death penalty. Throw in truthful stories about climate change hysteria, Critical Race Theory, and the border crisis and it’s easy to understand how difficult it is for America-First news outlets to spread the facts, share conservative opinions, and still pay the bills.
Without naming names, I have been told of several news outlets who have been forced to either consolidate with larger organizations or who have backed down on covering certain topics out of fear of being “canceled” by the ad networks. I get it. This is a business for many of us and it’s not very profitable. Those of us who do this for a living are often barely squeaking by, so loss of additional revenue can often mean being forced to make cuts. That means not being able to cover the topics properly. Its a Catch-22: Tell the truth and lose the money necessary to keep telling the truth, or avoid the truth and make enough money to survive. Those who have chosen survival simply aren’t able to spread the truth properly.
We will never avoid the truth. The Lord will provide if it is His will. Our job is simply to share the facts, spread the Gospel, and educate as many Americans as possible while exposing the forces of evil.
To those who have the means, we ask that you please donate. We have options available now, but there is no telling when those options will cancel us. We just launched a new GiveSendGo page. We also have our GivingFuel page. There have been many who have been canceled by PayPal, but for now it’s still an option. Your generosity is what keeps these sites running and allows us to get the truth to the masses. We’ve had great success in growing but we know we can do more with your assistance.
Thank you, and God Bless!
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