PHOENIX (CN) – A federal judge has turned down the media’s request for cameras to be allowed at Thursday’s hearings on Arizona’s controversial immigration law, which the Department of Justice and civil rights groups seeks to block from going into effect on July 29.
U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton wrote that although the Ninth Circuit Judicial Council “has approved an experiment for the use of cameras in district courts, the District of Arizona has not yet taken any steps to participate in that experiment.”
Bolton said the council’s program “does not give this court authority to grant the First Amendment Coalition’s request.”
In its motion for camera access, the First Amendment Coalition of Arizona claimed that allowing “camera coverage and broadcast of the entire hearing will allow the public greater understanding of the issues raised by the legislation and will enhance public debate on those issues.”
The judge noted that the courtroom hearings are open to members of the media and the public, and that transcripts of the hearings will be available.
The state law allows officers to search vehicles without warrant if an officer has a “reasonable suspicion” that occupants do not have immigration papers.
The groups comprising the First Amendment Coalition of Arizona are the Arizona Newspapers Association, the Arizona Broadcasters Association, the Arizona-New Mexico Cable Communications Association, the Society of Professional Journalists and the Arizona Press Club.