Lawsuit: Journalists Fear First Amendment Infringed by NDAA

By:  Joe Wolverton, II
04/02/2012
       
Lawsuit: Journalists Fear First Amendment Infringed by NDAA

The journalists and activists challenging the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) in federal court may have moved the case against the due-process-denying law a little closer toward a final hearing on the merits of their complaint.

The journalists and activists challenging the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) in federal court may have moved the case against the due-process-denying law a little closer toward a final hearing on the merits of their complaint.

The purpose of Thursday's hearing held in a Manhattan federal courtroom was to decide if those who have joined in the lawsuit questioning the constitutionality of the NDAA  have legal standing to initiate a proceeding against the federal government.

In order to clear the “standing” hurdle, plaintiffs must provide evidence sufficient to demonstrate a “reasonable fear” of being denied their First Amendment rights and of being detained by the government of the United States for the exercise thereof.

If the plaintiffs can satisfy this first threshold legal requirement, then the suit may proceed.

The suit, filed by Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Chris Hedges, counts several other prominent writers and commentators as co-plaintiffs — Noam Chomsky, Daniel Ellsberg, and Icelandic politician Birgitta Jonsdottir. Renowned author and journalist Naomi Wolf has joined the legal battle as well, indicating in an article published in the Guardian that she has filed an affidavit in support of Hedges and the suit against the NDAA.

The principal allegation made by the plaintiffs against the NDAA is that the vagueness of critical terms in the NDAA could be interpreted by the federal government in a way that authorizes it to label journalists and political activists who interview or support outspoken critics of the Obama administration’s policies as “covered persons,” meaning that they have given “substantial support” to terrorists or other “associated groups.”

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