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FLYNT v. WEINBERGER

June 21, 1984

Larry FLYNT, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
Caspar W. WEINBERGER, et al., Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: GASCH

 GASCH, District Judge.

 In this case plaintiffs are challenging the decision to prohibit press coverage of the initial stages of the United States' military intervention in Grenada. Defendants have moved the Court to dismiss this challenge as moot. For the reasons discussed below, this motion is granted.

 On October 25, 1983 the United States began a military intervention on the island nation of Grenada. The purpose of this military action according to the Reagan administration was "to protect U.S. and foreign citizens in Grenada and to assist in stabilizing the situation in [that] country." It is undisputed that representatives of the press were prohibited from accompanying the invasion forces in the initial landings on the island and that members of the press who attempted to make their own way to the island were prevented from reporting news of the invasion. In short, in its initial stages, a total news blackout of the military action was imposed and the only information available to the public about the events occurring on Grenada was issued by official United States government sources.

 Beginning on October 27, 1983, the press ban was lifted and a limited number of press representatives were transported by military aircraft to Grenada. *fn1" When Grenada's civilian airport reopened on November 7, 1983, all restrictions on travel to the island were eliminated and, consequently, members of the press had unlimited access to it. This remains the situation today.

 The United States' military intervention on Grenada is now over. At the present time only a small detachment of 300 United States military personnel remain on the island. This United States military presence, consists of military police, logistics, engineering, medical and other support personnel. More importantly, the press now has unlimited freedom to report about events in Grenada, including those involving the United States' military presence there.

 Plaintiffs' complaint in this action seeks only declaratory and injunctive relief. *fn2" They seek an injunction prohibiting defendants from "preventing or otherwise hindering Plaintiffs from sending reporters to the sovereign nation of Grenada to gather news . . ." and they seek a declaration that "the course of conduct engaged in by Defendants, . . . in preventing Plaintiffs, or otherwise hindering Plaintiffs', efforts to send reporters to the sovereign nation of Grenada for the purpose of gathering news is in violation of the Constitution [sic] laws, and treaties of the United States. . . ."

 On its face, plaintiffs' claim for injunctive relief appears to be moot. There is no relief the Court can give plaintiffs that they do not already enjoy. At least since November 7, 1983, plaintiffs have had unlimited access to Grenada and there is no evidence that defendants have engaged in any acts since that time designed to "[prevent] or otherwise [hinder] Plaintiffs from sending reporters to . . . Grenada." Nor is there any real possibility that defendants will engage in such acts in the future because the military action that precipitated the temporary press ban on Grenada is long since over.

 The Supreme Court has stated that

 Murphy v. Hunt, 455 U.S. 478, 481, 102 S. Ct. 1181, 1182-1183, 71 L. Ed. 2d 353 (1982), quoting United States Parole Commission v. Geraghty, 445 U.S. 388, 390, 100 S. Ct. 1202, 1205, 63 L. Ed. 2d 479 (1980). Limited exceptions to this general rule have been recognized where (i) the controversy is one that is "capable of repetition, yet evading review," Weinstein v. Bradford, 423 U.S. 147, 148, 96 S. Ct. 347, 348, 46 L. Ed. 2d 350 (1975), or (ii) the defendant has voluntarily ceased the challenged activity, United States v. W.T. Grant Co., 345 U.S. 629, 632, 73 S. Ct. 894, 897, 97 L. Ed. 1303 (1953).

 This case falls outside the first exception. The "capable of repetition, yet evading review doctrine" is limited to the situation where:

 
(1) the challenged action was in its duration too short to be fully litigated prior to its cessation or expiration, and
 
(2) there [is] a reasonable expectation that the same complaining party would be subjected ...

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