Except for folks who make their living arguing before federal judges, reading court opinions isn't likely among the regular practices of Morning Examiner readers.

But a three-judge panel for the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued a ruling last week that should be read closely by everybody who cares about preserving independent reporting on government.

The decision affirms that individual bloggers are subject to the same standards as members of the mainstream media in reporting on matters of public concern.

It's a First Amendment thing

Here's the key passage in the opinion written by Judge Andrew D. Hurwitz:

"The protections of the First Amendment do not turn on whether the defendant was a trained journalist, formally affiliated with traditional news entities, engaged in conflict-of-interest disclosure, went beyond just assembling others’ writings, or tried to get both sides of a story.

"As the Supreme Court has accurately warned, a First Amendment distinction between the institutional press and other speakers is unworkable."

In other words, an independent blogger not affiliated with The New York Times or CBS News or any other mainstream media organization has the same legal rights and obligations as the trained professionals working for corporate entities.

Victory for Volokh

It should be noted that Eugene Volokh, the brain behind The Volokh Conspiracy blog, was a counsel for the defendant in the case, blogger Crystal Cox.

The opinion in Obsidian Finance Group v Cox can be read here.

On today's washingtonexaminer.com

Editorial: Should Americans believe anything President Obama says?

Byron York: White House imposes secrecy on first lady's celebrity-laden birthday party.

Columnist/Gregory Kane: Martin Luther King Jr. deserves respect.

Columnist/James Jay Carafano: North Korea is Asia's wild card.

OpEds/Melanie Sturm: We're losing the war on poverty because our schools turn boys into eunuchs.

OpEds/Jed Babbin: A contrary view of Bob Gates' "Duty," as he saw it.

OpEds/Luke Wachob: Citizens United upheld freedom of speech rights for everybody, not just the political elite.

PennAve/Brian Hughes: Obama says marijuana "not very different" from cigarettes.

In other news

The New York Times: Majority of New York voters say they would re-elect Cuomo.

The Washington Post: Battle to shape Hillary Clinton's legacy heats up.

ABC News: Jailed American missionary appears before reporters in North Korea.

CNN: New report says six retailers hit in Target hacking.

New York Daily News: Rep. Michael Grimm may have used "donor swapping" to skirt campaign finance rules.

The Los Angeles Times: U.N. invitation to Iran threatens Syria peace talks.

Righty Playbook

The Weekly Standard: If you like your football, you can keep it.

National Review Online: A legal strike at the heart of Obamacare.

Hot Air: Is a lot of scientific research just a lot of ... crap?

Bonus must-read

Powerline Blog: The prophetic voice of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Lefty Playbook

Talking Points Memo: Hoboken mayor stands by Sandy claims.

The Nation: What about big data abuse by politicians and corporations?

The Washington Monthly: The price for letting them off easy.

Bonus must-read

Mother Jones: The copyright problem with the "I Have A Dream" speech.