U.S. District Judge Mark Kearney of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania has ruled that citizens don't have a First Amendment right to film police officers "absent a challenge to their conduct," The Legal Intelligencer's Gina Passarella reports. The issue is one of first impression and involves citizens whose cellphones were confiscated after they were filming or photographing police activity. One woman was a legal observer at a protest.
The judge said it has not been clear that documenting police activity--without challenging the activity of law enforcement officers--is expressive conduct.
Mary Catherine Roper of the ACLU of Pennsylvania told TLI that a police officer can't know what the intended use of an image truly is, whether it is to criticize the police or not.
However, the judge allowed the plaintiffs' Fourth Amendment claims to proceed.