Or so he assumes . . .

Village attorney Ray Pollen says Shorewood employees can provide special favors to 'the press' and give them Village property for free in the 'public interest'

SHOREWOOD, WI. (AUGUST 1, 2004) --
The Supreme Court has long held that the Constitution provides no greater access, rights or privileges to "the press" than those guaranteed to all Americans. But Ray Pollen seems to differ.

For example, in Branzburg v. Hayes, Justice Byron R. White wrote for the majority: "It is clear that the First Amendment does not invalidate every incidental burdening of the press that may result from the enforcement of civil or criminal statutes of general applicability. Under prior cases, otherwise valid laws serving substantial public interests may be enforced against the press as against others, despite the possible burden that may be imposed. The Court has emphasized that 'the publisher of a newspaper has no special immunity from the application of general laws. He has no special privilege to invade the rights and liberties of others.' "

Furthermore, White wrote, "It has generally been held that the First Amendment does not guarantee the press a constitutional right of special access to information not available to the public generally." Citation

In fact, the Constitution prohibits the government from treating "the press" differently than anyone because the government cannot license or recognize or refuse to recognize anyone as "the press."

But Village Attorney Ray Pollen says village employees can give away Shorewood property and services to "the press" if doing so is in the "public interest."

When we asked, Pollen said he cannot show a single record or document defining who is "the press," which employee is allowed to provide which service or give away what property to "the press."

So now, we ask, what is the definition of "public interest" village employees rely on to decide whether to give or deny free photocopies to person they decide is "the press?"




Zemel v. Rusk, 381 U.S. 1, 16-17 (1965); New York Times Co. v. United States, 403 U.S. 713, 728-730 (1971), (STEWART, J., concurring); Tribune Review Publishing Co. v. Thomas, 254 F.2d 883, 885 (CA3 1958); In the Matter of United Press Assns. v. Valente, 308 N. Y. 71, 77, 123 N. E. 2d 777, 778 (1954).