Legal Q&A: Recording public officials (Feb. 2018)

Q: Can you record public officials on public property?

Taylor Smith
By SCPA Attorney Taylor Smith

A: Yes. The rights under the First Amendment are not absolute but assuming the act of recording does not substantially interfere with the public official’s performance of his or her duties and/or does not violate what a court would later consider to be reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions on the freedom of speech in that location, a citizen’s recording of the activities of the public official are constitutionally protected.

Taylor M. Smith IV is a media lawyer who represents the S.C. Press Association and its newspapers. As one of our FOI/Legal Hotline attorneys, he is available to answer your open government, legal and libel questions. Call (803) 750-9561.

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