ACLU Says Hawaii Newspaper's First Amendment Rights Were Not Violated by Order to Continue Operating

Affiliate: ACLU of Hawaii
November 12, 1999 12:00 am

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HONOLULU — The American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii said today that the First Amendment rights of the owners of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin newspaper have not been violated by a recent court injunction halting it from shutting down.

The ACLU announced its position after its Board of Directors debated the issue at a meeting this week.

Owners of the Star-Bulletin and Gannett Pacific Corporation have appealed a federal court’s ruling halting the closure of the Star-Bulletin, contending, among other things, that the Court’s injunction violates the First Amendment.

“The ACLU, which has a vital interest in protecting the First Amendment rights of all Americans, does not oppose the federal court’s decision compelling the continued operation of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin,” said Executive Director Vanessa Y. Chong. “We do not agree with Gannett’s allegations that its First Amendment rights have been violated by such an injunction.”

The central issue of whether two businesses that operate newspapers are permitted to combine for economic purposes under the applicable anti-trust law is not within the ACLU’s area of expertise and direct concern, Chong said.

However, the ACLU of Hawaii disagrees with the Bulletin’s assertion that their right to make such an economic combination is grounded in the First Amendment’s twin rights to speak as well as to stay silent, she said.

Chong said the ACLU agreed with the court’s reasoning that its order “would merely enjoin the defendants to continue doing that which they already do…namely publishing a newspaper with whatever editorial and reportorial content they deem appropriate.”

The ACLU affiliate plans no legal role of its own at this time, Chong said.

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