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Flynt v. Rumsfeld
United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
355 F.3d 697 (2004)
Following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, the United States military began combat operations in Afghanistan. The Department of Defense (DOD) (defendant) issued a directive concerning media access to troops, which included an enclosure covering DOD principles related to the news media. The directive stated that open and independent reporting must be the primary method of military coverage and established broad media access, including a provision that journalists, whenever possible, must be permitted to ride on military vehicles. The directive included only a few restrictions, such as a limitation on media access in special-operations situations. Larry Flynt (plaintiff), who published Hustler magazine under his company, L.F.P, Inc., wrote to Victoria Clarke, the assistant secretary of defense for public affairs. Flynt requested permission for Hustler reporters to travel with combat troops and receive access to military operations in Afghanistan and elsewhere. Clarke responded that she could not grant immediate access to ground troops because only a small number of servicemen, who were involved in special operations, were currently on the ground, but she provided contact information so that Hustler could receive access to other aspects of military operations that other media entities had received. No other media representatives embedded in the military at that time. Flynt filed a lawsuit against the DOD as well as Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld (defendant), claiming that the directive and its enforcement by Clarke violated the right of the media to travel with and be fully accommodated by, also known as embedding in, the military. Flynt argued that the directive was unconstitutional on its face and as applied to Hustler. The district court dismissed Flynt’s claim, and Flynt appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Sentelle, J.)
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