Q&A: Is letter to the editor a restraining order violation?

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From the New Palestine Press:

Q: A local superintendent has a restraining order against a parent because of threats made against him. I have been informed of the order from the superintendent of schools and by the parent.

The parent has written a letter to the editor making comments about the superintendent and wants us to print it. If I assist the parent in addressing the superintendent through the paper am I breaking the law? 

A: I don’t think the newspaper will violate a restraining order if you run a letter to the editor.

The same might not hold for the letter writer who is under the court order, but I’d have to read the restraining order to say whether publishing the letter would get that person into trouble.

A judge would run into some serious prior restraint issues under the First Amendment if he or she attempted to prohibit the publication of letters to the editor.

Contact Steve Key, HSPA executive director and general counsel, with media law questions at skey@hspa.com or (317) 624-4427.

 

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