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Do we have the right to tape government servants in public?

It seems like a straight forward question that you would think deserves a straight forward answer. But as with anything dealing with the law nothing is usually simple about it. This question came up in an oral argument whether there is a First Amendment right to record law enforcement agents in the line of doing their duty at the United States Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit earlier this month. An attorney, a Mr. Simon Glik, filed a civil action against 3 of Boston law enforcement officers. What was the reason for this action you may ask? Well, it was because they arrested him because he was capturing another arrest on his cell phone. The police officers then charged him with breaking the law of the Massachusetts Wiretap Act. Needless to say Prosecutors later abandoned these charges. Now an attorney for Boston argued to justices that the First Amendment is not unrestricted. He went on to argue that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has the power to govern the time, the place and manner of a recording, if there is even such a First Amendment right in the first place. But that is the catch, if there is such a right in the first place. How can this be you may ask? Well, the Founding Fathers didn't quite have the foresight to see video equipment being invented in the 18th Century but what they did have the foresight to see was the ability to sculpt our Constitution to be a working document to change. So no, there is no clear entrenched First Amendment right to tape public servants in a public place, but then again there are many things the Founding Fathers could not have envisioned. Mr. Glik's attorney argued to the justices if we the people do not have a right to record events in public the ramification could be disastrous. The rights of citizens and the media to document and tape public events go hand in hand. And any court that finds differently will be opening up a can of worms.

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