Judicial Advocacy

The way that courts interpret various laws and the Constitution directly impacts photojournalists. A friend-of-the-court brief (called an amicus brief) is a brief filed by an entity like the NPPA, who is not a party to a lawsuit or criminal trial, but who will be affected by the outcome. Amicus briefs are usually filed at the appellate level.

The NPPA actively participates in amicus briefs in cases that impact photographers and journalists. Below is a non-exclusive list of some amicus briefs that NPPA has been involved in.


  • Leigh v. Salazar (arguing in favor of access for photojournalists seeking to document a wild horse round-up). See related article.
  • ACLU v. Alvarez (arguing against an eavesdropping in Illinois that has led to arrests for videotaping police activity even when there is no reasonable expectation of privacy). See related article.
  • McBurney v. Hurlbert (arguing that a citizenship requirement in Virginia’s FOI laws is unconstitutional)


  • WIAA v. Gannett (arguing that a high school athletic association does not have a right to sell exclusive web broadcasting rights and restrain the length of news footage of a game) See related blog post. See related news article. See related legal article on the dispute over access in high school and college sports.
  • Milner v. Dept. of Navy (arguing against a broad interpretation of an exception to the Freedom of Information Act)
  • Snyder v. Phelps (arguing, without supporting defendant, that a law against offensive protesting would undermine the First Amendment
  • United States District Court for the Norther District of California – The NPPA submited a comment supporting the approval of the revision of Civil Local Rule 77-3 as an exception to the current prohibition against the taking of photographs, public broadcasting or televising, or recording in connection with any judicial proceeding in the courtroom or its environs. See: NPPA – NDCA Comment 02-28-10


  • U.S. v. Stevens (arguing that a law prohibiting documentation of animal cruelty would affect journalists and violate the First Amendment).


  • Greenberg v. National Geographic (asking the U.S. Supreme Court to revisit a landmark copyright decision that allowed magazines and newspaper publishers to create and sell electronic archives of their previously published works without infringing on copyright). See related article.