OWAA joins Supreme Court case in support of First Amendment rights

MISSOULA, Mont. – In a statement of support for the protection of First Amendment rights and the livelihoods of its members, the Outdoor Writers Association of America joined a broad assemblage of media organizations in urging the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a federal statute that criminalizes the possession, creation or sale of a variety of depictions involving animals.
The amicus brief, which was filed in the U.S. vs. Stevens case on July 24 by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, addresses hunting and fishing videos and other depictions central to the activities of OWAA members and other outdoor journalists. It also discusses how the statute used to prosecute the defendant, Robert Stevens, likewise could be used to prosecute producers of outdoors videos and hunting and fishing shows.
Media outlets “often … cover commonplace activities involving animals such as hunting and fishing,” the brief said, observing that the law in question “compromises the news media’s ability to perform any of these functions without fear of prosecution.”
“It is far better for all U.S. citizens to have a poorly written statute declared unconstitutional than to force people such as reporters and OWAA members to accept a prosecutor’s discretion in enforcing the letter of this particular law,” said OWAA President John L. Beath. “OWAA will continue its longstanding tradition of monitoring and taking action on issues that might adversely affect the First Amendment or other rights of both OWAA members and the outdoor media at large.”
Read the Supreme Court brief: http://www.rcfp.org/news/documents/20090724-amicusbriefinusvstevens.pdf.
The oldest and largest association of professional outdoor communicators in the United States, the OWAA was organized in 1927 by members of the Izaak Walton League of America and includes professional communicators dedicated to sharing the outdoor experience. OWAA’s professionals include writers, photographers, radio and TV show hosts, book authors, videographers, lecturers and artists. Visit www.owaa.org.
For more information contact:
Kevin Rhoades, krhoades@owaa.org

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