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Federal judge rules that public has no right to view entire execution process

[JURIST] A federal judge in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas [official website] has ruled that journalists and the public do not have the right to view every part of the execution process under the First Amendment. Judge Susan Webber Wright ruled Monday that, unlike court proceedings, public access to executions is not needed to ensure that the process is fair. Wright also noted that according to the US Supreme Court, journalists do not have an unfettered right to enter prisons, where the majority of executions now take place.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas [advocacy website] filed a lawsuit [complaint, PDF] in July on behalf of a chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists [advocacy website] and others, claiming that the Constitution protects the right of the public [press release] to view governmental proceedings and that "preventing witnesses to an execution from viewing the entire execution process violates the First Amendment." AP has more.

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