by Katie Grimes, Senior Media Fellow

Freedom of the press protects the right to obtain and publish information or opinions without government censorship or fear of punishment, whether or not government finds the material offensive, or disagrees with it.

Free speech enables people to obtain information from a diversity of sources, make decisions, and communicate those decisions to the government. Recently I wrote about having my press credential renewal denied by the Capitol Correspondents Association of California, appointed as an arm of the California Legislature’s Joint Rules Committee, which has the final say in press credentialing Capitol media.

What began as a witch-hunt several years ago by the totalitarian bullies who make up the righteous Capitol media cartel, who assumed the role as arbiters of fairness and free speech, turned into a valuable schooling in First Amendment rights.

Following a Legislative Open Records Act request submitted by the Pacific Legal Foundation, my attorney Paul Beard, with ALSTON & BIRD LLP, filed an administrative appeal, which we just won. I picked up my Capitol Press Credential a few days ago.

The ensuing process exposed the air of supremacy and inability for self-reflection among California’s liberal media and mainstream journalists, who view themselves as unimpeachable and above reproach.

“A diverse and critical press corps is a linchpin of a free society,” Mr. Beard said. “We are pleased that Ms. Grimes has been given the access to the halls of our state government that she deserves—and is entitled to under our Constitution.” The Capitol Correspondents Association of California said it based its decision to deny my press credential renewal on CCAC bylaws which “prohibit the credentialing of any applicant employed by or receiving any compensation, directly or indirectly, from any lobbyist or lobbying association, any state office holder or candidate for state office.” Because I publish many of my articles at The Flash Report, a news aggregation website, and listed publisher Jon Fleischman as my editor/producer, the CCAC denied my credential because Mr. Flesichman also has a consulting business. “We let Ms. Grimes know of our concerns after receiving her application,” the CCAC posted on its website. “Ultimately, the board felt those payments

[to Fleischman] violated the above provision of CCAC bylaws, which are part of the Joint Rules of the Legislature.”

As attorney Paul Beard explained in the appeal, “The only grounds for refusing to credential Ms. Grimes are her political views as expressed in the articles she writes about developments at the Capitol. The denial violates Ms. Grimes’ press rights on the basis of the content of what she writes. As a consequence, the Association’s decision cannot withstand First Amendment scrutiny.”