McCaleb v. Long - Liberty Justice Center

McCaleb v. Long

A free press is fundamental to our democracy. When government officials choose to block members of the press from witnessing events where decisions that affect the citizens are made, they undermine government transparency and the public trust. That is exactly what happened in Tennessee when state officials decided to close the Tennessee Judicial Conference to reporters and the public.

Tennessee Judicial Conference members are not simply meeting to participate in learning and networking sessions. The Tennessee Judicial Conference was created by the state’s General Assembly to require state judges to meet annually and deliberate on state court policy. The issues discussed and actions taken during the conference directly affect the lives of everyday Tennesseans and how they are governed in the courtroom.

A policy issued by Director of Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts Michelle Long in February 2022 not only blocks the press and public from observing the conference in violation of the First Amendment, but it also imposes a gag order on members and administrative court office staff preventing disclosure of dates, physical location, virtual access link, speaker documents, or other materials. Meanwhile, the Conference’s federal equivalent, the Judicial Conference of the United States, has allowed public access to committee meetings on proposed rules of practice, procedure, and evidence for nearly 34 years.

In the interest of transparent and open government, Dan McCaleb, executive editor of The Center Square, a newswire service and news website, is suing to reverse the blanket closure policy and allow in-person and virtual access to future meetings. Under Dan’s leadership, The Center Square reports on state- and local-level government and economic issues across the country, including in Tennessee. If the Tennessee Judicial Conference were open to the press, his reporters would cover the proceedings and their impact on Tennesseans.


The lawsuit, McCaleb v. Long, was filed June 13, 2022, in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee.


Complaint 06/13/2022

Exhibit 1 — Closure Policy 06/13/2022

Press Release 06/13/2022

Motion for Temporary Restraining Order 06/13/2022

Proposed Temporary Restraining Order 06/13/2022

Declaration of Dan McCaleb 06/13/2022

Memo in Supporting Motion for TRO and Preliminary Injunction 06/13/2022

Order for TRO Hearing on June 14, 2022 06/13/2022

Order Denying Temporary Restraining Order 06/15/2022

First Amended Complaint 06/30/2022

Motion for Preliminary Injunction 06/30/2022

Declaration of Dan McCaleb 06/30/2022

Memo Supporting Motion for Preliminary Injunction 06/30/2022

Opposition to Motion for Preliminary Injunction 07/14/2022

Exhibits - Rachel Harmon Declaration 07/14/2022

Motion to Dismiss First Amended Complaint 07/14/2022

Memo Supporting Motion to Dismiss First Amended Complaint 07/14/2022

Reply to Defendant's Response 07/21/2022

Exhibit - Supplemental Declaration of Dan McCaleb 07/21/2022

Exhibit - Advisory Commission Meeting 07/21/2022

Exhibit - Advisory Commission Members 07/21/2022

Opposition to Motion to Dismiss First Amended Complaint 07/28/2022

Exhibit - 2022-2023 Fiscal Year Budget – State of Tennessee 07/28/2022

Defendant's Reply Brief in Support of Motion to Dismiss 08/04/2022

Plaintiff's Notice of Supplemental Authority 11/14/2022

In Re: Amendments to Tenn. Rules of Appellate Procedure and Civil Procedure 11/14/2022

Exhibit - In Re: Advisory Commission on the Rules of Practice and Procedure 12/20/2022

Exhibit - In Re: Proposed Amendment to Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure 12/20/2022

Exhibit - In Re: Proposed Amendment to Tennessee Rules of Criminal Procedure 12/20/2022

Plaintiff's Second Notice of Supplemental Authority 12/20/2022

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