The United States Supreme Court discarded on Monday a Florida newspaper's plea for access to Dale Earnhardt's autopsy photographs. Earnhardt, one of the most legendary NASCAR racers, died in a freak crash during the 2001 Daytona 500.
The court refused to hear the appeal by The Independent Florida Alligator the student paper of the University of Florida. The publishers of the paper had disputed the constitutionality of a state law restricting access to autopsy photographs.
After Earnhardt's death on the last lap of the Daytona 500 on February 18, 2001, Volusia County medical examiners performed and autopsy, which included reportedly gruesome photos that were supposed to be released the public.
Earnhardt's widow, Teresa petitioned to stop release of the photos, claiming it would violate her right to privacy. Earnhardt was granted an injunction, barring the 33 photos from public consumption. A Florida court later upheld that the photos offered no relevant information not contained in the written autopsy report.
The newspaper maintained in its appeal to the Supreme Court that the ruling violated the First Amendment.
The Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal filed by The Independent Alligator, putting the issue to rest.