Maricopa County is being held accountable for at least one thing it did wrong during the 2022 election cycle.
On Wednesday, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors voted to settle a lawsuit brought by Gateway Pundit reporter Jordan Conradson and TGP Communications, the Pundit’s parent company, for $175,000.
The move came after the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided in December with Conradson in a preliminary ruling after Maricopa County officials had denied him a press pass during the 2022 midterm election.
The judges determined the reason Conradson was denied the pass when he applied in September is that officials did not like his conservative viewpoint and reporting that was critical of the county.
The 9th Circuit noted in its ruling granting Conradson press access through a preliminary injunction against the county, “A restriction on speech is unconstitutional if it is ‘an effort to suppress expression merely because public officials oppose the speaker’s view,'” citing U.S. Supreme Court precedent.
The judges argued that though the county said it was using neutral criteria when it denied Conradson a pass, “evidence put before the district court—including that presented by the County itself—strongly suggests that a predominant reason for the County denying Plaintiffs a press pass was Conradson’s political views.”
“That type of viewpoint-based discrimination is exactly what the First Amendment protects against,” the 9th Circuit said.
“You seem to be trying to defend a position that in my opinion is just constitutionally indefensible under the First Amendment,” Judge Ryan D. Nelson, a former President Donald Trump appointee, told the county’s attorney.
Judge Holly A. Thomas, a President Joe Biden appointee, also appeared to doubt Maricopa’s so-called neutral criteria used to determine which reporters gain access to briefings.
“It can’t be right that you get to dictate who they talk to, how they go about gathering the news. That can’t be right,” Thomas said.
The Independent’s Terri Jo Neff argued the judges’ aggressive line of questioning during the hearing clearly impacted Maricopa’s decision to pay out the $175,000.
“The settlement shuts down the appeal and now avoids the release of an official ruling that was likely to be more scathing than the comments put forth by the judges in January,” Neff wrote.
So justice finally prevailed in Maricopa County, at least with regard to this First Amendment case.
We can only hope there are other favorable rulings to follow in the botched November general election.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.