District Judge Arnold issued a short-term temporary restraining order at the request of Laramie County Community College yesterday because someone allegedly purloined a report which contained private student information and gave it to the Cheyenne Eagle. Here’s the story. Such an order is valid for a maximum period of ten days, or until the newspaper has time to file a motion to dissolve it. Such an order temporarily maintains the status quo. It is not appealable because it will expire quickly.
The press has every opportunity to file objections to the order with the Court, which is probably happening as I write this, and the press will either get a prompt hearing or the order will expire.
Instead, the press is trying its case in the press. The Casper Star-Tribune has a front page story interviewing journalists who uniformly deplore this temporary order, complaining as if the First Amendment had been repealed. Then the Casper Star-Tribune repeats the entire attack on its editorial page. No one seems to be trying to report on the legal procedures at work here; this is a temporary emergency order.
If there is no protected private information in the report, that will quickly be revealed and the report, whatever it is, can be reported. If someone is at risk of having private information revealed, and /or if disclosure of the information would violate some law, maybe it should not be reported. If someone stole my health records and took them to the newspaper, should that be reported?
This report is not comparable to the Pentagon Papers, but even if it is, this will all be fully briefed and reviewed by the District Court very soon.