Matthew Cate

Matthew Cate

Associate He / Him / His
Washington, DC

Matthew Cate represents journalists, news organizations, and other media clients. His practice is informed by his experience as a newspaper reporter and as an advocate for the First Amendment and government transparency. Matt previously practiced as a commercial litigator at a well-regarded law firm in San Francisco, where he represented companies and individuals alike in a range of subject areas–including contract, products liability, antitrust, securities, and real estate–while maintaining an active pro bono practice as a member of the attorney referral services of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Student Press Law Center.

Before his legal career, Matt was a reporter for the Chattanooga Times Free Press and Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, primarily covering government and politics at the local, state, and national levels.


Representative Matters

  • Defended multiple media organizations against defamation claims asserted by a right-wing provocateur in Florida state court. The court dismissed all claims and granted an award of substantial attorneys’ fees under Florida’s anti-SLAPP statute.
  • On behalf of a newsroom client, successfully unsealed a trove of financial records in a federal lawsuit involving Paula White, a televangelist and adviser to former President Trump. White had filed under seal several years’ worth of information about her personal wealth and that of her controversial ministry in effort to avoid punitive damages sought in a malicious prosecution case brought against her by a long-time critic of the pastor’s high-flying, luxurious lifestyle. The federal court in Orlando unsealed all of White’s records, ruling that she had put them directly at issue and had failed to establish that any particularized harm would arise from disclosure of the records.
  • Defended freelance journalist against libel and related claims arising from investigative report about dubious claims made by a CBD oil company and its founder’s history of fraudulent activity. The federal court in San Jose, Calif., dismissed all claims and awarded substantial attorneys’ fees under California’s anti-SLAPP statute.
  • Working pro bono, secured swift dismissal of defamation claims filed against former student journalists sued in Santa Clara County (Calif.) Superior Court.

Professional Highlights

Judicial Clerkships and Internships

Hon. Nannette Jolivette Brown, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, August 2013-October 2013

Hon. Carlos T. Bea, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, Spring 2013

Hon. Charles R. Breyer, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, Spring 2012

Hon. Jeremy Fogel, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, Summer 2011

Recognition & Accomplishments

The Best Lawyers in America "Ones to Watch," – Commercial Litigation (Washington, D.C.), 2021-2024

Board Memberships & Community Service

Student Press Law Center, Board Member, 2020-present

San Francisco Sunshine Ordinance Task Force, 2018-2019

First Amendment Coalition


Co-author, "Inadvertent Disclosure of FOIA-Exempt Material Cannot Justify Prior Restraint," MLRC MediaLawLetter, September 2023

Co-author, “Survey of California Libel Law,” Media Libel Law 50-State Survey, Media Law Resource Center, 2021-22

Co-author, “Florida Court SLAPPs Anti-Muslim Activist Laura Loomer’s Lawsuit,” MLRC MediaLawLetter, May 2021



University of California, Hastings College of Law (J.D., magna cum laude, 2013)
Member, Hastings Law Journal, 2011-2013

University of Tennessee (B.S., magna cum laude, 2003)



District of Columbia

U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit 

U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California

U.S. District Court for the Central District of California

U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit