The American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona (ACLU) and a group of 10 news organizations filed a lawsuit Tuesday challenging an Arizona law that makes it a crime for the public to record law enforcement within eight feet without an officer’s permission. The law was signed by Republican Governor Doug Ducey in July.
The suit challenges the law as a violation of the US Constitution’s First Amendment in an attempt to stop it from coming into effect. It also argues that it would negatively affect how many news reporters share stories relating to law enforcement.
ACLU argued that the law “would directly suppress free speech rights, while also limiting public accountability and effective protest of government action” while additionally stating that “the constitutional right to record police engaged in official duties is one of the public’s most effective accountability tools against police wrongdoing.”
The act of filming law enforcement officials to expose police misconduct has become increasingly prevalent over the past few years. The most notable example is the filming of the arrest and murder of George Floyd after he was pinned down by a police officer for nine minutes.
Republican Representative John Kavanagh, who introduced the bill, has argued that law enforcement needs to be able to do their job without interference or distraction.
Among the 10 news and media organization that have joined the lawsuit are NBC Universal Media, Fox Television Stations, and Arizona Broadcasters Association.