(AP) A federal judge ruled today that Maryland Gov. Robert Ehrlich can freeze out two reporters from The (Baltimore) Sun by barring all state employees from talking to the journalists.
U.S. District Judge William Quarles dismissed the newspaper’s lawsuit, saying the paper wrongly asserted a greater right to access to government officials than private citizens have.
“The right to publish news is expansive. However, the right does not carry with it the unrestrained right to gather information,” the judge ruled.
Sun editor Tim Franklin called the ruling “scary” and said the newspaper would seek an expedited hearing from the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals.
“Essentially, what the court is saying is that it’s OK for a politician to create an enemies list,” Franklin said. “It’s not only unconstitutional, it’s undemocratic.”
Ehrlich, at an event in suburban Washington, had no comment.
Ehrlich last fall barred state employees from talking to The Sun’s State House bureau chief David Nitkin and columnist Michael Olesker. The governor said the two journalists were not objectively covering his administration.
The Sun sued in December, saying the order violated the journalists’ First Amendment rights. The state asked that the case be thrown out.