Soderberg v. Carrion, No. 20-1094 (4th Cir. 2021)Annotate this Case
Plaintiffs alleged a First Amendment challenge to section 1-201 of the Criminal Procedure Article of the Maryland Code, insofar as that statute prohibits and punishes the broadcasting of the official court recordings of state criminal proceedings. In January 2020, the district court dismissed the entire action pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, concluding that the Broadcast Ban constitutes a content-neutral regulation of the time, place, and manner of speech that survives intermediate scrutiny.
The Fourth Circuit vacated the district court's dismissal of the First Amendment claim, concluding that the Broadcast Ban is properly assessed as a penal sanction for publishing information released to the public in official court records and is therefore subject to strict scrutiny under the Supreme Court's decisions in Cox Broadcasting Corp. v. Cohn, 420 U.S. 469 (1975), and Smith v. Daily Mail Publishing Co., 443 U.S. 97 (1979). The court explained that, at bottom, the district court was wrong to apply intermediate scrutiny, rather than strict scrutiny, to the Broadcast Ban. Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings.