Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Supreme Court Rejects Death Row Inmate's Claimed Right to Press Access

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The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected death row inmate David Hammer's appeal of a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit that held a federal prison policy precluding press interviews with death row inmates did not violate the convicts' First Amendment rights (Hammer v. Ashcroft, Case No. 06-1750).

Backed by amicus briefs from 23 news organizations, Hammer, who is incarcerated in Terra Haute, Ind., sought to overturn the 7th Circuit Court's conclusion that the press lacked special access to prisoners beyond those granted the general public. The regulatory ban on in-person interviews with inmates facing the death penalty was enacted after the 2000 airing of the 60 Minutes interview with Timothy McVeigh, who was executed for his role in the bombing of the Murrah federal building in Oklahoma City.

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