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Detroit Free Press v. Ashcroft

303 F.3d 681, 2002 WL 31317398 (2002)

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Detroit Free Press v. Ashcroft

United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

303 F.3d 681, 2002 WL 31317398 (2002)

Facts

Deportation proceedings, which are adversarial in nature and may lead to consequences including the expulsion of noncitizens from the United States, have historically been open to the public. Following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, Chief Immigration Judge Michael Creppy, under the authority of United States Attorney General John Ashcroft (defendant), issued a directive (the Creppy directive) that categorized certain immigration cases as special-interest cases. The Creppy directive required that deportation proceedings and records in special-interest cases be closed and inaccessible to the press and the public. Immigration Judge Elizabeth Hacker conducted a bond hearing in a special-interest deportation case, to which the press and others in the public sought and were denied attendance. Three newspapers, including the Detroit Free Press (the newspapers) (plaintiffs), filed requests for an injunction against enforcement of the Creppy directive in federal district court, arguing that the blanket closure of special-interest cases was unconstitutional. The newspapers argued that whether a right of access existed should be decided under the standard for judicial proceedings. The government argued that deportation hearings were administrative and so the more deferential standard for determining the right of access to administrative proceedings should apply. The government further argued that closure of deportation hearings was necessary to serve the compelling government interest in protecting the investigation of terrorism. The district court granted the injunction, finding that blanket closure of special-interest case proceedings was unconstitutional, and that the government did not provide sufficient evidence to justify total closure of special-interest deportation hearings. The government appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Keith, J.)

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