It’s unquestionable that the United States prides itself on the freedoms which establish its foundations, but it is also undeniable that our very own judicial system is just as guilty of violating these freedoms.
On June 2nd, Reason magazine was issued a subpoena by a U.S. district court, demanding “any and all information” on six of the magazines’ readers. When the organization didn’t comply, the government authorized a gag order, prohibiting Reason from discussing or acknowledging the order and the subpoena.
“Given the seriousness of the potential legal sanctions, I was exceedingly anxious that a Reason staff member would slip up and end up on the wrong side of the law,” said Reason president, David Nott, adding that “After all, as anyone who has ever eavesdropped on a Reason staff meeting can attest, Reason’s journalists are really good at talking and writing. We are not so good at having nothing to say.”
The subpoena was issued due to a piece written about Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht and his “cruel” life sentence.
Once six commenters published their reactions to the Reason.com blog, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York exerted any and all judicial leverage to quiet the rage.
“Because we shared the subpoena with our external commenters before the gag order was imposed, the legal blog Popehat was able to report the story,” said Nott.
The news of infringement on the First Amendment was then covered by The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, NPR, and The Drudge Report.
Reason reported, “We know that it is increasingly common for the federal government to demand user information from publications and websites while also stifling their speech rights with gag orders and letters requesting ‘voluntary confidentiality.’ Exactly how common is anyone’s guess; we are currently investigating just how widespread the practice may be.”