(AP) The (Baltimore) Sun argued in a court filing that Gov. Robert Ehrlich showed hostility to the First Amendment when he barred all state employees from talking to two Sun writers.
“The governor has boldly punished two journalists and their newspaper based solely upon the governor’s subjective displeasure with what they had to say,” Sun lawyers argued to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va. “Such conduct not only is hostile to the First Amendment, but it also renders constitutional safeguards completely illusory.”
The Sun’s David Nitkin, now state political editor, and columnist Michael Olesker were banned six months ago. The Sun says the ban came after Nitkin, who was then statehouse bureau chief, disclosed a state proposal to sell 836 acres of forest to a politically connected construction company owner.
Ehrlich has compiled a list of 23 specific complaints about alleged factual inaccuracies and biases. His spokeswoman said the governor’s office had no comment on the appeal.
The brief filed Friday supports an appeal the newspaper filed two months ago. The federal judge who dismissed the lawsuit said the newspaper wrongly asserted a greater right to access to government officials than private citizens have.