[JURIST] The Supreme Court today declined to hear Troy Publishing v. Norton (docket 04-979), letting stand a ruling that appears to limit Constitutional protection of the press. Without comment, the Court denied the appeal of a 2004 ruling [PDF] by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court holding that neither the state nor the Federal Constitution protected the so-called "neutral reportage privilege," a First Amendment-based doctrine that allowed journalists to safely report defamatory comments uttered by public figures so long as the comments were described in a neutral fashion. The Pennsylvania court ruled in favor of two Parkesburg, PA., officials who sued over a 1995 article in the West Chester Daily Local News. As a result, journalists publishing in Pennsylvania will need to scrutinize public statements more closely for truth or face potential liability. AP has more.
Other cases declined today include Wasden v. Planned Parenthood of Idaho (04-703), a state appeal challenging a Ninth Circuit decision nullifying Idaho's parental consent law for minors seeking abortions; Arkansas v. Jolly (04-806), in which the state sought clarification of the constitutional doctrine to be applied to an excessive delay between a guilty verdict and the imposition of sentence; and Virginia Department of State Police v. Washington Post, et al. (04-999), testing the scope of the right of news organizations and the public to access to sealed court documents. SCOTUSblog has more.