Alabama Blogger Jailed; First Amendment Violation Alleged


In a case that has troubled First Amendment advocates, an Alabama journalist who blogged about an alleged affair between a former governor’s son and a lobbyist has been arrested and jailed for contempt, reports Judge Claud Neilson has taken the extraordinary steps of sealing the file in the case and ordering that the blogger, Roger Shuler, remove his posts from the Internet.

Shuler, 56, was arrested Oct. 23 at his home in Birmingham. In July, he reported on his Legal Schnauzer blog that Robert Riley Jr., the son of former Alabama Gov. Bob Riley, had had an affair with a lobbyist that resulted in an aborted pregnancy. The two denied having an affair and sued him. The ACLU of Alabama and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press say Neilson’s rulings raise fundamental constitutional questions about prior restraint and press freedom. “No one should be held in contempt of court and jailed for not taking something off of an Internet site,” said Gregg Leslie, legal defense director of the Reporters Committee.

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