Leigh v. Salazar

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: First Amendment
  • Date Filed: 02-14-2012
  • Case #: 11-16088
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge M. Smith for the Court; Circuit Judge Noonan; Circuit Judge J. Wallace partially concurring and partially dissenting
  • Full Text Opinion

The Press-Enterprise II qualified right of access balancing test applies to media access to a government run horse roundup because the test balances the media’s ability to monitor all government activities not just criminal proceedings.

Leigh, a photojournalist, attended a horse roundup, a method used by the government to control the over population of wild horses. During the round up, Leigh was denied viewing access, by the Bureau of Land Management to certain areas because of the Bureau’s concern for public safety. Leigh contends these restrictions violated her First Amendment right to observe government activities. The district court denied Leigh’s motion, concluding that her relief sought was moot as the roundup ended in October 2010 and her claim would otherwise be unlikely to succeed on the merits because the viewing restrictions did not violate the First Amendment. She appealed. The Ninth Circuit found that her claim was not moot because the relief sought included an injunction seeking unrestricted access to future horse roundups. Further, the Court held that the Press-Enterprise II qualified right of access balancing test should be applied as the test is not limited to media access of criminal proceedings, but includes any government activity. REVERSED AND REMANDED.

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