Saturday, 28 March 2009
Doogan broke a federal law by outing Mudflats
I have combined two comments by an incredibly knowlegeable lawyer so as to look at Mike Doogan's actions from a legal viewpoint. The comments appeared on Shannyn Moore's site and they are worth reading as a post. As a matter of fact, the comments on Shannyn's blog are wonderful and include Doogan's idiotic responses to e-mails from one of his constituents.
Now, the law:
"In matters concerning public interest and/or public figures, there is a first amendment privilege to comment, criticize, satirize, you name it. Further, even if what is printed is false, it is constitutionally protected unless published with actual malice and disregard of falsity. Simply put, the First Amendment protects the right to speak and strictly limits anything that inhibits that right. That’s because someone in Doogan’s position can’t decide what is “true” and what is “false.”
So even if Mudflats were not entirely accurate (and I have never seen anything which was not substantiated), she had the right to speak and to do so anonymously. The fact that Doogan disagrees that she should be able to do so without identifying herself shows only one thing: he is utterly ignorant about the constitution. His opinion that people should identify themselves is meaningless–he can think whatever the heck he wants but the Constitution trumps his personal opinion.
The man Doogan was acting on behalf of the state. He made a determination that someone should exercise her constitutional rights only in the manner he deemed appropriate, not in the manner in which she had the First Amendment right to comment. He also made someone who had taken pains to keep her identity private a public figure.
This is a violation of federal law and of the state common law right to privacy. The fact that he did it on state time and in his capacity is what is called “state action” for a section 1983 civil rights claim.
The point is that, acting in his capacity as an employee for the state of Alaska, he violated someone’s constitutional right to speak and to do anonymously. This is a big lawsuit and filing it will do a whole lot more than anything else to stop it ever happening again–and will get Mudflats the compensation she deserves."
Mike Doogan is in deep trouble...
Link to Shannyn Moore