INDIANA – Attorney General Todd Rokita has filed a motion to dismiss a lawsuit challenging the logistical setup of a press conference held last fall at his Statehouse office.
“My accessibility to the media, as well as my record of transparency, are well-known to anyone who has followed my career,” Attorney General Rokita said. “Journalists have never complained – because they have no reason to complain – about not having access to or information from my office. If anything, their complaint has been that my office provides too much information.
“Interruptions such as this complaint will not sidetrack me or my office from our work of fighting for commonsense Hoosier values while safeguarding constitutional liberties.”
Attorney General Rokita and his office have answered thousands of press questions and participated in more than 150 media interviews since taking office nearly 14 months ago. During that same period, he sent out more than 130 press releases and was mentioned or quoted in more than 14,000 published news stories. He communicated via Twitter more than 600 times and via Facebook more than 570 times. This resulted in tens of thousands of responses from Hoosiers.
At an Oct. 14 press conference, the office provided universal real-time access to everyone via digital livestream in addition to an in-person opportunity. Like the in-person audience, viewers of the Facebook livestream could post questions during the event, whether they claimed to be journalists or not.
The ACLU sued the Attorney General, claiming that the livestream option “did not allow for questions or the informal interactions that frequently occur with officials prior to or after formal press conferences.” The lawsuit claims First Amendment rights were violated.
The Attorney General’s brief, filed Wednesday in federal district court, notes that a long line of judicial precedent makes abundantly clear that the First Amendment does not protect a right to hear a government official in-person rather than through a live video feed or to engage in “informal interaction” with a public official, as the plaintiff incorrectly claims.
“In fact,” the Attorney General’s brief reads, “no federal court has ever ordered a public official to take and answer questions from a particular journalist or news commentator, or held that the First Amendment is implicated by a public official not taking questions from a particular journalist.”
Attorney General Rokita continues to make himself and his office easily accessible to media and all Hoosiers interested in asking serious questions or sharing thoughts.
“The ACLU is trying to make a federal case over a bruised ego,” Attorney General Rokita said. “It should not waste the court’s time or taxpayers’ resources. We remain focused on doing the important work the good people of Indiana have elected us to do.”
Court filings are attached.