A New York state judge Friday upheld a ruling banning The New York Times from publishing documents related to Project Veritas. Judge Charles Wood of the Westchester County Supreme Court ordered the New York Times to turn in physical copies of documents in question and delete digital versions of the documents.
Project Veritas is a conservative activist group that seeks to uncover wrongdoing by mainstream media and liberal groups. Project Veritas sued the New York Times for libel because of an article that drew from Project Veritas’ legal memos and purported to demonstrate how Project Veritas worked with its lawyers to “gauge how far its deceptive reporting practices can go before running afoul of federal laws.”
Wood upheld the temporary order he entered last month. In upholding the temporary order against the New York Times, Wood explained that Project Veritas’ right to keep the legal memos private outweighs concerns of freedom of the press, as the legal memos were not a matter of public concern. In the opinion, Wood wrote, “Steadfast fidelity to, and vigilance in protecting First Amendment freedoms cannot be permitted to abrogate the fundamental protections of attorney-client privilege or the basic right to privacy.”
The New York Times argues that the restriction violates First Amendment protections. A.G. Sulzberger, publisher of the New York Times, stated:
In addition to imposing this unconstitutional prior restraint, the judge has gone even further (and) ordered that we return this material, a ruling with no apparent precedent and one that could present obvious risks to exposing sources should it be allowed to stand.
Sulzberger has also made it clear that the New York Times will appeal the decision.