In a historical, breakthrough case being reported on a national level, Project Veritas was granted a partial win for their April 2017 complaint arguing that it had the First Amendment right to record government officials and police in the state of Massachusetts.
In two cases simultaneously, Chief U.S. District Judge Patti B. Saris ruled that a blanket ban on secret audio recording is unconstitutional when the person being recorded is a government official or a police officer performing their duties in public.
This case involved the recording of government officials by the Project Veritas Action Fund, which produces edited, undercover recordings of journalists and political operatives. The other involved the recording of police by two activists represented by the American Civil Liberties Union.
Judge Saris acknowledged that government officials have privacy interests, but that those interests are “diminished” and “must be balanced by the First Amendment interest in news-gathering and information dissemination.”
She also cited a 2011 First Circuit decision, Glik v. Cunniffe, which noted that the First Amendment provides a “right to film government officials or matters of public interest in public space” without limiting that right to nonsecret recordings.
Project Veritas is represented by Stephen R. Klein and Benjamin Barr of Statecraft PLLC and Dan Kelly of McCarter & English LLP.