McGuire’s Legislation, Which Advances Some of America’s Strongest Press Freedom Protections, Becomes State Law | New
Senator Mike McGuire’s legislation, which highlights some of the country’s toughest press freedom protections, was enacted by Governor Newsom.
SB 98 was one of the most critical First Amendment protections bills moving forward in any state legislature. The provisions of the new law will extend crucial protections to members of the press when they enter and report First Amendment protected events.
Freedom of the press is fundamental to our nation. It strengthens our democracy by ensuring transparency, monitoring government and informing our day-to-day decisions. But that freedom is under attack here in the United States.
“There’s no question California now has some of the toughest protections for journalists compared to any other state in the United States. We have seen an upsurge in blatant acts of violence and obstruction against members of the press across the country and right here in the Golden State, ”McGuire said. “This law will provide essential protections for the press when it attends and reports on First Amendment events such as protests, marches, rallies and protests. California is leading the way in ensuring that press freedom and the First Amendment are protected and respected. I am grateful to Governor Newsom for his signing and to the hundreds of reporters and guild members who rallied across the state with the California News Publishers Association and the California Broadcasters Association, to make SB 98 a success.
In 2020, more than 600 reported acts of assault against journalists took place. Rubber bullets, tear gas and even detention cannot become the new normal for a vital pillar of our nation’s democracy. California must lead the way in protecting and defending press rights and the First Amendment.
Currently, California law allows journalists and other members of the press to enter natural disaster emergency areas behind closed law enforcement lines – such as areas affected by fires, floods and earthquakes – to gather information to pass on to the public. They can also go out during curfews in the event of natural disasters. Until now, these critical protections, however, have not expressly extended to First Amendment events such as protests and marches.
SB 98 prohibits law enforcement officials from obstructing, detaining, assaulting or otherwise preventing the press from fulfilling its constitutional mandate by reporting these events.
In addition, the bill provides that journalists can challenge their detention or lack of access by working with the direction of the police on the spot. This provides a necessary safety net for journalists who do not have access or who are detained intentionally or by mistake.
Recent police action demonstrates that these statutory protections are essential to ensuring that our democratic system has access to newsworthy information to inform discussion of the critical issues facing California and the nation.