Tuesday, Sep 2, 2014
Quincy, IL News - QuincyJournal.com
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Judge throws out journalist's lawsuit over denial of Statehouse press box use

4 months ago by Bryan Nichols

Scott Reeder of the Illinois News Network says he'll appeal

From Associated Press:

A journalist in residence at the conservative Illinois Policy Institute has appealed a federal court's guarded dismissal of his lawsuit that claimed state legislative leaders wrongly denied him a media credential for the General Assembly.

U.S. District Judge Colin Bruce on Thursday dismissed Scott Reeder's lawsuit against House Speaker Michael Madigan, Senate President John Cullerton and their press secretaries, siding with the defendants' insistence they were protected against such lawsuits by "absolute legislative immunity." Such immunity precludes judicial review of rulemaking and decisions by anyone in a legislative capacity.

But Bruce wrote he "remains very interested in the motivation behind (the) defendants' actions regarding Reeder's access to the press facilities of the Illinois House and Senate," adding he'll closely watch the Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' interpretation.

"Should (that court) disagree with this court's determination that absolute legislative immunity applies to this situation and remand the case, this court would welcome the opportunity to explore the motives behind (the) defendants' decisions and the opportunity to seek answers to the questions discussed in the introduction to this opinion," Bruce wrote.

Cullerton spokeswoman Rikeesha Phelon and Madigan spokesman Steve Brown declined to comment Sunday, citing Reeder's unresolved appeal.

Reeder, 49, writes columns for the Illinois News Network, which is affiliated with the policy institute. He sued in February, claiming he unfairly was denied access to the Illinois House and Senate's press boxes after a legislative lawyer said he worked for a lobbying group, not an independent news organization.

Reeder insisted the prohibition against lobbying hasn't been uniformly applied, and that the institute is a "nonpartisan public-policy research and education organization."

The defendants countered in court filings that federal case law made clear their internal procedural rules involving press credentials "are fully protected against judicial interference by the doctrine of legislative immunity."

From Illinois News Network:

“Mike Madigan and John Cullerton claim they have the authority to violate individuals’ rights with impunity when they make decisions on whether to grant press credentials,” said INN attorney Jacob Huebert of the Liberty Justice Center. “They do not. The First Amendment requires that the government provide journalists like Scott Reeder equal access to press facilities, and we will continue the fight for his right to freedom of the press.”

Note: QuincyJournal.com publishes Reeder's work on a regular basis.


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