April 12, 2019

Citizen Scientists, Free Speech, and Property Rights: An Attempt to Curtail Citizen Monitoring Runs Afoul of the First Amendment

George Wyeth and Jecoliah Williams

Private citizens play an important role in monitoring and reporting on environmental conditions. However, these activities can also be threatening to economic interests that are implicated by private data-gathering, and can implicate competing legal interests such as the right of private landowners to exclude others from their property. In Western Watersheds Project v. Michael, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 186525 (D. Wyo., Oct. 29, 2018), an attempt by the State of Wyoming to protect the livestock industry from citizen environmental monitoring by penalizing monitoring-related acts of trespass was found to violate the First Amendment.

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