Paul Watler and Eric Wong Represent Texas Association of Broadcasters in Challenging State’s Drone Law

October 7, 2021 | Client Results

Jackson Walker partner Paul Watler and associate Eric Wong filed a friend of the court brief by the Texas Association of Broadcasters in support of a news photographer’s lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the state’s law restricting the use of drones for newsgathering purposes.

The lawsuit was filed in November 2020 by the photojournalist, the National Press Photographers Association, and the Texas Press Association. The news media plaintiffs contend that photojournalists have been unable to gather news because of limitations on use of unmanned aircraft enacted in Chapter 423 of the Texas Government Code.

In the brief, TAB stated that Chapter 423 “broadly prohibits the use of drones by journalists in public airspace, yet arbitrarily exempts other members of the public from those proscriptions.” Therefore, TAB argues that the statute serves as a speaker-based regulation that discriminates against the press and violates the U.S. Constitution by harming the free flow of newsworthy information to the public.

TAB is a state-wide trade association representing the interests of more than 1,200 free, over-the-air radio and television stations throughout Texas. Jackson Walker has served as outside general counsel for TAB for more than two decades.

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, the National Association of Broadcasters, the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas, and more than 40 other national and state industry organizations and advocates joined TAB in filing the amicus brief in the Western District of Texas – Austin Division. For more information, see “TAB Files Brief in Court Challenge to State Drone Law.”

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