By Associated Press
PORTLAND, Ore. — The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on
Thursday temporarily lifted a lower court’s preliminary injunction on
federal law enforcement officers’ use of force, threats and dispersal
orders against journalists and legal observers working at Portland
The injunction was put in place by U.S. District Court
Judge Michael H. Simon while the federal government appeals the
The appeals court said Simon’s injunction was “without
adequate legal basis.” It concluded that the government showed the order
“will cause irreparable harm to law enforcement efforts and personnel.”
The ruling for now basically puts journalists and legal
observers on the same level as demonstrators during orders to disperse
and the use of force.
The matter was heard by 9th Circuit Judges Eric Miller,
Daniel Bress and M. Margaret McKeown. Miller and Bress, both appointed
to the bench by President Donald Trump, lifted the injunction.
McKeown, appointed to the appeals court by President Bill
Clinton, dissented, saying the government “failed to meet its burden to
demonstrate either an emergency or irreparable harm” to support lifting
The American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon issued a
statement saying it disagrees with the 9th Circuit decision, describing
it as not the final word.
“The freedom of the press protects a democracy from
devolving into tyranny," the ACLU said. "Under the First Amendment,
press and legal observers must be allowed to document what’s happening
at protests without being assaulted, shot, detained, or arrested. The
government cannot be held to account if there is no one left to document
The measure to halt federal officers from using force,
threats and dispersal orders had been sought by journalists and legal
observers represented by the ACLU of Oregon.
Attorneys submitted statements from journalists,
photojournalists and legal observers who have been shot by federal
officers with impact munitions outside the Mark O. Hatfield United
States Courthouse during the federal response to the demonstrations
against police violence and systemic racism.
U.S. Department of Justice attorneys argued that it was too
difficult for federal officers to distinguish peaceful demonstrators
from violent ones. They said federal officers must make split-second
decisions and, wearing masks, helmets and other face-coverings, they
can’t stop to determine who is a member of the press or a legal observer
— all while commercial fireworks are being thrown at them and lasers
shined in their eyes and everyone before them has their cellphone out
filming their actions.