ACLU Says It’s Not Involved in Malibu Mayor’s Paparazzi Plan
• Local Office Looks at Reporter’s Case
BY ANNE SOBLE
BY ANNE SOBLE
The American Civil Liberties Union, the national advocacy organization whose mission is to preserve the protections and guarantees of the Bill of Rights, including the First Amendment rights of freedom of speech and freedom of the press, has indicated that it is not involved in Mayor Pamela Conley Ulich’s efforts to consider ways to curb paparazzi activities in Malibu.
Spokespersons for the national and Southern California affiliate offices of the ACLU indicated to the Malibu Surfside News on Tuesday that no participation is under consideration, despite Conley Ulich’s on again-off again reference to it taking part. The mayor’s latest comment affirming ACLU participation was at this week’s city council meeting.
The ACLU, which has taken on what it calls the “Imperial Presidency” of the Bush Administration for assaults on constitutionally protected rights in areas as diverse as privacy and torture, is adamant about preventing efforts to distinguish paparazzi from traditional media because of their dilution of First Amendment rights.
Tessie Borden, a communications specialist with the ACLU of Southern California affiliate office, quotes staff attorney Peter Bibring that “efforts to separate paparazzi from other journalists would make any legislation less defensible [in court].”
Borden indicated that she is in contact with Hans Laetz, the freelance journalist who is challenging the City of Malibu over Conley Ulich’s project to draft an anti-paparazzi ordinance. He contends it is in violation of the Brown Act, the state open meetings law, and a potential threat to First Amendment rights of all journalists.
Borden says that before the ACLU decides whether it will become a party to a legal action, such as one that Laetz says he is now considering filing, the matter goes through an intake process that is ultimately contingent on a determination by the group’s legal committee.