Mar 20, 2019

Does South Carolina’s FOIA end at the border?

Common Pleas Judge Robert E. Hood’s ruling that the House Republican Caucus is not subject to South Carolina’s Freedom of Information Act is a disturbing result. The caucus uses government resources without charge, and much of the state legislature’s policies are formulated in the caucus meetings. It is especially troubling because of the corruption that has been found in the legislature in recent years, since such impropriety can flourish in secrecy.
But beyond the issue of public and media access to the caucus, Judge Hood also made another, more disquieting ruling: that while South Carolina’s Freedom of Information law allows anyone to request access to state and local government records, only “citizens” of the state can sue to enforce the statute when access to records is denied.  And “citizens,” he ruled, means only people who live in South Carolina, not corporations that do business here.

Feb 24, 2019

I'm quoted in the Greenville News

... "It's a difficult issue, especially for small municipalities, because they cost a lot of money," said Eric Robinson, an assistant professor for media law at the University of South Carolina. "But essentially that's the price we pay for free speech."

Feb 20, 2019

Is New York Times v. Sullivan in danger?

The basis of modern American media law is the 1964 ruling in New York Times v. Sullivan, in which a unanimous U.S. Supreme Court recognized that the First Amendment required that limitations be placed on defamation law. But the Sullivan decision has been the subject of criticism in some circles ever since it was decided, the latest being a concurring opinion by Justice Clarence Thomas.

Jan 16, 2019

The government doesn’t dictate media here

My January column for the South Carolina Press Association:

Dec 19, 2018

Eric Robinson joins Fenno Law Firm as Of Counsel

Eric Robinson, an assistant professor who teaches media law at the School of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of South Carolina, has joined Fenno Law as Of Counsel.

Dec 17, 2018

Can public officials shut out journalists? It depends...

My latest column for the South Carolina Press Association:
It already seems like a long time ago, but it’s only been a month since the Trump administration’s long-simmering clash with CNN reached a new level, with the cancelation of reporter Jim Acosta’s “hard pass” that gave him access to the White House. The pass was restored temporarily on the orders of a federal judge when CNN sued over the action, and then permanently when the White House press office deescalated the confrontation.
But it’s important to not let this incident go without examining the legal issues involved, since there’s the possibility that it may happen again, either at the White House or in county offices and city halls: perhaps even in the ones you cover, with reporters—perhaps you—being stopped from doing your job.