Facebook likes Constitute Free Speech Says Courts
Subscribe to GlanzMedia for your daily News,we watch the Media for you. 24/7 News online.
Follow this link:
Facebook likes Constitute Free Speech Says Courts – Video
Facebook likes Constitute Free Speech Says Courts
Subscribe to GlanzMedia for your daily News,we watch the Media for you. 24/7 News online.
Follow this link:
Facebook likes Constitute Free Speech Says Courts – Video
In a case that brings free speech protections literally to the very steps of the US Supreme Court, a federal judge in Washington has struck down as unconstitutional a statute that allowed police to arrest anyone attempting to deliver a message of protest on the wide marble plaza outside the high courts elegant front entrance.
US District Judge Beryl Howell declared the 60-year-old law in violation of free speech protections and thus void as applied to the courts plaza.
The absolute prohibition on expressive activity in the statute is unreasonable, substantially overbroad, and irreconcilable with the First Amendment, Judge Howell wrote in a 68-page opinion released Tuesday.
RECOMMENDED: How much do you know about the US Constitution? A quiz.
The decision puts in doubt a long tradition at the high court of police forcing demonstrators to confine their picketing, chanting, and sign waving to the relatively narrow public sidewalk in front of the court.
The police have consistently enforced the ban against protests on the plaza. During all of the courts highest profile and most controversial cases involving abortion, civil rights, affirmative action, the Affordable Care Act, and others throngs of supporters and opponents routinely jammed the sidewalk on First Street NE in front of the court.
As the crowd swelled, the sea of earnest humanity would spill onto Maryland Avenue to the north and down the sidewalk toward the Library of Congress. But through it all, the protests have never surged forward past the line of police officers to occupy the white-marble plaza with its fountains, benches, and flag pole.
Want your top political issues explained? Get customized DC Decoder updates.
Now, that may change.
The decision comes in the case of a Maryland man, Harold Hodge, who was arrested in January 2011 for standing silently on the marble plaza while wearing a 3-by-2-foot sign around his neck.
The First Amendment broadly protects political speech and the use of resources (printing presses, the internet, money) to facilitate that speech. Yet when someone wants to engage in the most obvious kind of political speech supporting election campaigns the government is allowed to restrict this important constitutional right. In a new case coming to the Supreme Court, Shaun McCutcheon, a wealthy political donor, and the Republican National Committee contend that the limits on political donations are unconstitutionally low and not supported by a sufficient governmental interest.
Currently, an individual may contribute up to $2,500 per election to federal candidates, up to $30,800 per year to a national party committee, and up to $5,000 per year to any non-party political committee. The Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, as amended most recently by McCain-Feingold in 2002, also imposes an overall limit on the aggregate amount one may contribute in a two-year period. For 2011-2012, an individual could contribute up to $46,200 to all federal candidates combined, and $70,800 to political action committees and political party committeesa total of $117,000.
Of course, this isnt the first time that the Supreme Court has dealt with contribution limits. In the seminal 1976 case ofBuckley v. Valeo, the Court held that while contribution limits implicate fundamental First Amendment rights, such limits are justified if theyre closely tied to an important governmental interest, such as preventingquid pro quocorruption or the appearance thereof.
But the Court also decided that restrictions on campaignspendingput a heavier burden on political expression, one which the government couldnt justify. One of the plaintiffs arguments here is that the biennial contribution limits are simultaneously a limit on expendituresa position which Cato elaborated in a newamicusbrief.
We argue thatBuckleys distinction between contributions and expenditures, with limits on the former but not the latter being constitutional, is problematic. Not only does it allow infringements on the freedom of speech, but it has led to an unbalanced and unworkable campaign finance system.
Various justices over the years, some even inBuckleyitself, have questioned the Courts logic on this point. Justice Thomas in particular has assailed the distinction, pointing out that both contributions and expenditures implicate First Amendment values because they both support political debate. Moreover, candidates must spend an inordinate amount of time fundraising instead of legislating because they face an unlimited demand for campaign funds but a tapered supply. At the same time, money has been pushed away from politically accountable parties and candidates and towards unelected advocacy groups, leading to a warping of and decrease in political competition.
The special three-judge district court that first heard this case was legally bound to the framework the Supreme Court laid out inBuckleyand restated that contribution limits are constitutional as such, dismissing the lawsuit. Still, Judge Janice Rogers Brown wrote that the constitutional line between political speech and political contributions grows increasingly difficult to discern.
In a truly free society, people should be able to give whatever they want to whomever they choose, including candidates for public office. We urge the Supreme Court to strike down the biennial contribution limits and give those who contribute money to candidates and parties as much freedom as those who spend money independently to promote campaigns and causes.
The Supreme Court will hear argument inMcCutcheon v. FEC this fall.
Newswise A group of some of the countrys top scholars in First Amendment law recently gathered at Washington University in St. Louis to discuss pressing challenges being faced by the first of our Bill of Rights. Three issues rose to the top of the list for Washington Universitys first amendment experts: free expression in a digital age; impaired political debate; and weakened rights of groups.
John Inazu, Greg Magarian and Neil Richards, professors of law at Washington University in St. Louis, comment:
John Inazu Breakdown of the rights of expressive groups
One of the most important recent issues is the Supreme Courts unwillingness to recognize the distinctive rights of the First Amendment and the ways in which those rights complement and reinforce one another, he says.
In a troubling trend, the Court increasingly collapses the rights enumerated in the First Amendment into a framework that emphasizes the moment of expression to the detriment of the background contexts from which expression emerges.
For example, the Courts doctrine of expressive association focuses on whether groups further some other First Amendment purpose like speech or political or religious activity. Butmany associations exist for other than expressive purposes: dinner groups, bowling leagues, sororities, intramural spots teams, chess clubs. These groups may not appear to be explicitly expressive, but they create a space where relationships foster, ideas form, and thoughts emerge.
Gregory Magarian Impaired political debate
First Amendment law plays a large role in enabling robust public political discussion, he says.
In particular, expressive freedom can help to generate dynamic political change. Current First Amendment doctrine, however, has many features that flatten political debate and impair dynamic change.
The Supreme Courts campaign finance and government speech doctrines, for example, constrain participation in political discussions while narrowing the range of ideas that those discussions take into account. Meanwhile, the Court ignores important threats to political dissent, such as law enforcement crackdowns on political activists and suppression of speech by nominally private authorities. In an age when our political discourse has grown both more acrimonious and less informative, we sorely need for the Court to reconsider its priorities and revise some essential doctrines.
Read the rest here:
Three Challenges for the First Amendment
Now, you might think it is right to muzzle such people because, in reality, they just dont like gays and are hiding their disapproval behind a spurious religiosity. In some cases that may be true, but it is not the issue here: this is about free speech. Just as gays are entitled to extol their own sexual identity, so people who take another view, on whatever grounds, should be allowed to say so, shouldnt they?
That is clearly a controversial statement. Yet people who have lived as heterosexuals and repressed their homosexuality are praised when they come out. Is the alternative, however unlikely, not possible? And even if it isnt, why cant you say that it might be? None the less, the CIT poster was banned by Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, which is why the matter is going before the courts this week. Dr Mike Davidson, a director of the trust, who describes himself as ex-homosexual, says he has been denied the freedom to express his views on the legitimacy of therapy for those dealing with unwanted feelings of same-sex attraction. He certainly has a case: if Stonewall can have their say, then why cant his organisation?
This is by no means an isolated affair. Official disapproval, even the criminalisation, of opinions that a few decades ago were mainstream attitudes poses a significant threat to free speech in this country. After all, who is to decide what is the correct view to hold? In this case it was Mr Johnson, who called the CIT poster clearly offensive. He added: London is one of the most tolerant cities in the world and intolerant of intolerance. However, this tolerance does not, it would appear, extend to free speech. Once you start to shut people up for expressing opinions that are not officially approved then you are on a very slippery slope. Transport for London might have taken the view that the Christian poster was offensive, but the same could be said of the Stonewall campaign.
A few years ago, there was another busbased spat, this one between atheists and believers over whether God exists. Both sides were allowed their say, though the humanist poster, Theres probably no God, left open the possibility that there might be, just in case. Imagine if someone Boris had taken the decision that only the atheist poster could run, on the grounds that the scientific evidence of a deity could not be produced. There would have been justifiable outrage.
There is an argument that the CIT poster served to reinforce prejudice against homosexuals by implying they can be cured. But, as Dr Davidson said on the Today programme on Monday, people who say they no longer want to live as gays are being accused of internalised homophobia when they are merely choosing their own sexual identity. Isnt that what the gay rights movement was all about?
We are in danger of replacing one brand of narrow-mindedness with another. Increasingly, the courts are being dragged into disputes between people who hold different opinions in what is really an attempt to close down debate on particular subjects. This is the very antithesis of free speech and unless there is an attempt to stir up hatred and violence, the fact that some people may dislike or object to what others say should not be a matter for the law, or for official censorship.
Philip Johnston is the author of ‘Feel Free to Say It, to be published by Civitas next month
Read the original post:
Free speech means we should all have a say
Patriot Pastors Defy IRS.mov
Over 1500 churches have challenged the constitutionality of the Johnson (LBJ) Amendment that has been used since 1954 to intimidate free speech from the pulpit. Organized by Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), the protests have grown from 33 churches in 2008, to 500 in 2011 and 1500 in 2012. The Foundation for Freedom From Religion has sued the IRS to enforce the Johnson Amendment (which they have so far not done). ADF says go ahead, throw us into the Brier patch. They welcome a review of the unconstitutional Johnson Amendment by the courts and/or repeal by the Congress.From:InfoWarsNewsHDViews:0 8ratingsTime:05:22More inNews Politics
Patriot Pastors Defy IRS.mov – Video
First time accepted submitter stanlrev writes “When is software, or content generated by software, ‘speech’ for First Amendment purposes? That is the question that Andrew Tutt seeks to answer in an article published today in the Stanford Law Review Online. He argues that the two approaches commentators and the Supreme Court have proposed are both incorrect. Software or software-generated content is not always speech simply because it conveys information. Nor is software only speech when it resembles traditional art forms. Instead, the courts should turn to the original purposes of the First Amendment to develop a new approach that answers this question more effectively.”
Continue reading here:
The First Amendment and Software Speech
First Amendment Center Legal Correspondent
Monday, October 1, 2012
The Supreme Courts fall session begins today without any direct First Amendment cases on the argument docket, signaling a possible respite from free-speech and religion cases for the near-to-middle future.
Recent terms of the Court have featured numerous free-speech cases involving controversial expression, campaign expenditures and the rights of public employees, as well as occasional forays into both the establishment and free- exercise religion clauses. But not so far this term.
It would be hard to say the absence of First Amendment cases is intentional on the part of the Court since, as justices often say, its docket is at the mercy of the petitions that come in the door, and whether those specific cases merit review. And the Courts argument calendar for this term is far from full, so new First Amendment cases could still be added.
But still, some First Amendment scholars say the hiatus may reflect the justices general sense that the Courts doctrines on both speech and religion clauses are fairly stable and settled, without major divisions that require repair.
The Court has not ruled on a press-freedom case in more than a decade, for example. Media organizations are generally content to leave it that way, with pro-press precedents such as New York Times v. Sullivan firmly in place. And even the fight over campaign finance, which has been the subject of numerous Supreme Court First Amendment battles in recent years, may have run its course for now. In a Montana case decided in June, the Court passed up a chance to revisit its controversial Citizens United ruling loosening restrictions on campaign expenditures by corporations.
Maybe they have free-speech fatigue, said Notre Dame Law School professor Richard Garnett. Seriously, though: I am not aware of any speech or religion cases that have granted, or even of any potentially hot-ticket speech or religion petitions that are pending. Garnett said that may be because, as I see it, at least in the Religion Clauses context, we have actually reached a point of relative doctrinal stability and completeness, for better or worse.
University of Virginia School of Law professor Leslie Kendrick offered another possible explanation. An argument could be made that the Courts First Amendment docket has been artificially inflated lately, and it may be returning to normal this term, she said.
Go here to read the rest:
First Amendment gets short shrift at high court
An anonymous reader writes “On 6 January 2010, Paul Chambers typed a flippant tweet that would turn his life upside-down for the next two and a half years. As the courts repeatedly showed a lack of common sense and an ignorance of technology, for a long time it looked as though the right to free speech in the UK was under very real threat. Now that it's over, we can step back and take a detailed …
Read the original post:
Twitter Jokes: Free Speech On Trial
Under the cloak of free speech, rich Americans especially on the Right are buying whats left of U.S. democracy anddoing much of it in secret, insisting their sponsorship ofTV attack ads be hidden. Some of their handmaidens even boast about their impending victories, note Bill Moyers and Michael Winship.
By Bill Moyers and Michael Winship
In all the hullabaloo over the U.S. Supreme Courts decision on health care, another of its rulings quickly fell off the public radar. Before deciding the fate of the Affordable Care Act, the Court announced it would not reconsider Citizens United, the odious 5-4 decision two years ago that opened our elections to unlimited contributions.
Within minutes of that announcement, right-wing partisans were crowing about the advantage they now own, an advantage not due to ideas or personalities but to the sheer force of money. They were remarkably candid and specific. Heres what Fred Barnes wrote in The Weekly Standard about the Senate race in Missouri:
For three weeks in May, Republican super-PACs took turns attacking Democratic senator Claire McCaskill in TV ads. Republicans hadnt held their primary its not until August 7 but McCaskill wound up trailing all three of the GOP candidates in polls. Now McCaskill, unnerved, is struggling to recover. Thats what super-PACs can do. When they emerged in 2010 and worked in tandem, they were a critical force in the Republican landslide in the congressional elections. This year theyre playing an even bigger role. The size and reach of their efforts dwarf what they did two years ago.
Attaboy, Fred, for telling it like it is, for exposing the hoax that the Courts original decision was about free speech. No, its about carpet bombing elections with all the tonnage your rich paymasters want to buy.
Try not to laugh when you hear one of its decisions perpetrators, the noted lawyer Floyd Abrams, say, as he did not too long ago: I dont think we should want as a matter of policy, to make decisions which are essentially, people cant do all the speaking that they can in a political campaign. I dont think we can ration speech.
Speech already is rationed. On your playing field, Messieurs Barnes and Abrams, those who have no money have no speech. And just who do you think is doing this speaking? Poor people havent lost their voice they cant afford a voice. Everyday working people suffer from universal laryngitis, brought on by the absence of money. As for children children who have a big stake in our elections but no vote, forget it for them to be heard they would need piggy banks the size of Walmart heirs. Or the Koch brothers for uncles.
And if its free speech the Deep Pockets are practicing and touting, why are you ashamed of it? If free speech is a right, why all the secrecy? Why hide from voters where the money is coming from? Why not openly say you are downright proud to be exercising their First Amendment rights and writing checks is your patriotic duty?
Instead, conservatives across the country are fighting legal battles to keep their sugar daddies secret. Why? According to their guardian angel in Congress the highly leveraged Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell the right wing opposes disclosure laws because the super-rich just might be bullied and harassed by the rest of us who want to know whos buying our elections.
Buying What’s Left of Democracy
Algorithmically generated editorial judgment is still judgment.
Is Google using its power as the number-one search engine to promote its own products such as Google Places and Google Maps? That was the question at hand last fall when Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt testified in Congress. “I see you magically coming up third every time,” Senator Mike Lee of Utah said. “I don’t know whether you call this a separate algorithm or whether you’ve reverse engineered one algorithm, but either way you’ve cooked it, so that you’re always third.”
Schmidt responded, “Senator, may I simply say that I can assure you we’ve not cooked anything.”
Schmidt’s sounded definite but it didn’t really answer anything — what precisely would qualify as cooking the results? Google could claim not to “cook” anything, but it’s indisputable that it writes the algorithms that underlie its search tool, and that those algorithms include choices — judgment — that whittle the Internet’s billions of pages down to a ranked list of 10.
That process — that judgment — is now at the heart of an argument in defense of Google against the accusations of anti-competitive behavior. Coming from Eugene Volokh, the UCLA law professor and prominent blogger, is a paper that makes the case the Google’s search results are an editorially curated product, not different from a curated list of likes like the Drudge Report, multiplied ad infinitum. And, as the Drudge Report would be protected by the First Amendment, so should Google search results. With this argument, Google (who funded Volokh’s paper) takes the argument against the company and turns it on its head: You think we are not being “neutral” in our search results? Damn right we are not being neutral. And it’s for exactly that reason that you can’t do anything about it.
The idea of a “neutral” or “unbiased” search was always a bit specious. If Google can provide the same information — or better information — from within its own tool shed, why should it not? Certainly some information is objectively better than others. If you doubt this, try this search engine which does not return results from the top one million websites. You’ll find that the results are pretty terrible — junk from paid content sites, reprints of Wikipedia articles, not-very-funny Tumblrs and so on. The results remind you just how much muck is out there, and just how good Google is at finding the needles in the Internet’s hay stack time and time again.
But at the high quality end of the Internet’s curve — how do you sort and rank the very best information? What if the information returned by two sites — Google Places and Yelp, for example — is nearly identical? Those decisions are judgment calls, coded into Google’s algorithm by humans. Not neutral, not the unbiased calculations of a machine, no matter how it works in a given instance. Volokh’s paper rests on this idea (he uses the word judgment 34 times) that in exercising judgment, Google’s engineers are essentially acting as editors, curators, or, even, parade organizers — all of whom the First Amendment protects in their decisions to include or exclude content, even when they themselves are not the creators of that content.
There’s a lot of support for Volokh’s argument including two lower court decisions (2003 and 2007), and, as First Amendment and technology law expert Marvin Ammori argues, other courts — and even the Court — would likely agree. The result would be greater protection for Google and its preference for its own products — something we may not like. But the First Amendment has never been interested in curating society to our liking — quite the opposite in fact. The results of a strong First Amendment are often distasteful in varying degrees, with hateful speech at the extreme end. But the converse is much worse — would we really want the government to have a say in the content of Google’s returns? Could you imagine what it would like to do with something like this?
The law is always under revision as new technologies emerge and challenge the old categories we had created. Is Google like a publication — such as the New York Times — or a utility like the gas company that merely conveys information “neutrally”? Which set of laws should we apply? These comparisons never work perfectly, and refining their raggedy edges is the work of the courts and the participants in their adversarial process. In the case of Google, its search results do seem more like the handiwork of a newspaper editor or a parade organizer than an electrical utility. But the impact of its choices — judgment, if you will — are so much greater, so much more central to our civic life that it can be scary to give it such free reign. But that free reign is at the core of our grand experiment with free speech and a free press, an experiment you just have to hold your breath and hope for, because the alternative is much, much worse.
More From The Atlantic
Monday, March 19, 2012
Thurgood Marshall is best known for being the first African-American to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court and as one of the attorneys who argued the education-desegregation case Brown v. Board of Education (1954). But Justice Marshall also had a keen appreciation for the First Amendment and freedom of speech.
Marshall had a gift for explaining the importance of the First Amendment in different contexts. Here are five of his more memorable free-speech passages from opinions dealing with obscenity, picketing, prisoner speech, public-employee speech and commercial speech.
Constitutional heritage Marshall wrote the Courts opinion in Stanley v. Georgia (1969) holding that the private possession of obscene material could not be made a crime. The police had gone to Robert Stanleys home to execute a search warrant to uncover whether he was involved in illegal bookmaking activity. Instead, they found rolls of film of alleged obscene material.
Marshall questioned whether law enforcement had adhered to constitutional standards under the First and Fourth Amendments. On the First Amendment point, he wrote with passion:
If the First Amendment means anything, it means that a State has no business telling a man, sitting alone in his own house, what books he may read or what films he may watch. Our whole constitutional heritage rebels at the thought of giving government the power to control mens minds.
M.I.S.C. quote A seminal principle of modern First Amendment law is the content-discrimination principle that government officials should be loath to restrict speech on the basis of its content or viewpoint. Marshall expressed this principle well in Police Department of City of Chicago v. Mosley (1972), involving a man charged with violating a law prohibiting picketing near schools unless the picketing was for a labor cause. The man, Earl Mosley, had picketed because he said the school had practiced racial discrimination.
I tell my First Amendment law students that a way to remember to remember the content-discrimination principle is to remember the M.I.S.C. quote from this case message, ideas, subject, content:
But, above all else, the First Amendment means that government has no power to restrict expression because of its message, its ideas, its subject matter, or its content.
Human spirit Unlike most members of the high court, Justice Marshall showed special solicitude for the rights of prison inmates during his tenure on the bench. In Procunier v. Martinez (1974), involving censorship of prisoner mail, Marshall wrote a concurring opinion that spoke to the need of the human spirit for free expression:
The rest is here:
Justice Marshall: eloquent First Amendment defender
Attorneys convention Understanding gap is widespread about role of courts, he says.
Cuts in judiciary funding in New York have meant courts close at 4:30 p.m.
If a jury is just about to complete a verdict, but its not ready by closing time, theyll have to return the next day. In the San Francisco area, 29 of 63 courts were closed in the fall and 40 percent of the staff were laid off.
“Its axiomatic but true that justice delayed, is justice denied,” said Bill Robinson, American Bar Association president and keynote speaker for Utah State Bars 2012 Spring Convention, which convenes Saturday in St. George.
Robinson said his upcoming speech to local attorneys attending the conference, “No Courts, No Justice, No Freedom,” is a theme the ABA is focusing on throughout the year because of the funding cuts state courts are facing across the country.
Utah courts have not gone untouched. Rod Snow, Utah States Bar president, said courts are 20 percent down from staffing levels a decade ago. On the upside, no courts have been closed and they remain open for regular hours.
To address funding locally, members of Utah Bar Association meet annually with the governor and emphasize the business-friendly orientation the state enjoys.
“If you slow down the courts down, you slow business down,” said Snow. “If businesses cannot resolve their disputes or it takes longer because of lack of funding, you have millions maybe even hundreds of millions of dollars tied up in court.”
That money belongs on somebodys financial statement, so it can be used to hire employees or make capital investments, Snow added.
In contrast to Utahs situation, Robinson said, last year 42 of the 50 states cut court funding. He said there is no state in the country that funds its judiciary branch on an annual basis with more than 4 percent of its operating budget.
View original post here:
Funding cuts to courts endanger freedom, ABA President says
Lyle DennistonThis is another in a continuing series of posts in which Lyle Denniston provides responses based on the Constitution and its history to public statements about the meaning of the Constitution and what duties it imposes or rights it protects. Todays topic: The expanding scope of the Second Amendment.
This is a monumentally important decision. The federal district court has carefully spelled out the obvious, that the Second Amendment does not stop at ones doorstep, but protects us wherever we have a right to be.
-Alan M. Gottleib, executive vice president of the Second Amendment Foundation, in a public statement, March 5, commenting on a federal judges new ruling that the right to have a gun extends beyond ones home.
Mr. Gottleib is certainly right that the ruling on March 2 by U.S. District Judge Benson Everett Legg of Balitmore was of major importance, although that decision did not decide something that was already obvious, and it did not extend as far as the Second Amendment Foundation had hoped in bringing the case (Woollard v. Sheridan). Judge Legg said he had no choice but to reach a broad rulingone that other courts, and, indeed, the U.S. Supreme Court itself, have not yet been ready to reach.
Of all the next-level questions that were stirred up by the Supreme Courts rulings in 2008 and 2010first recognizing a personal right to have a gun under the Second Amendment, and then extending that to gun control laws all across the Nationthe most significant was whether that right was available only within ones home, or whether it reached at least some places in public.
The Court emphatically recognized the right as a part of the right of self-defense, but the right initially was found to exist only within a persons private home, and the Court declined to say whether it might ultimately go further. The Court did say that states could limit access to guns in sensitive public places and to persons prone to violence.
Since those first rulings by the Justices, gun rights advocatesincluding the Second Amendment Foundation, a Bellevue, Wash., advocacy organizationhave been suing in case after case, seeking to expand the right. So far, that effort has had only limited success. Three times within recent months, in fact, the Supreme Court has declined to hear cases seeking to extend the right beyond the home. In fact, one of the cases it bypassed involved the same Maryland state law that Judge Legg has now partially struck down. The fact that the Justices do not hear a particular issue, of course, does not bar lower court judges from facing it, when they feel they must, as Judge Legg did.
Marylands gun licensing law is frankly designed to reduce the number of guns circulating in society, so that law bars carrying a gun in a public place without a permit, and it puts fairly tight limits on who can get a permit. One of those limits requires a permit applicant to prove they have a good and substantial reason to have a gun, such as a fear of danger.
That restriction, Judge Legg concluded, goes too far. A law that burdens a constitutional right, by simply making it harder to exercise that right, he decided, is not closely enough related to public safety concerns to justify it. He thus invalidated that particular restriction. He did so using a more tolerant standard of constitutionality. The Second Amendment Foundation had wanted to have the ruling establish that any limit on gun possession outside the home had to satisfy the most rigorous constitutional test. The judge declined.
But the nullification of that one restriction in the law was not what was most significant about the ruling, and it was not unique: other courts have applied the same constitutional standard to gun laws.
Read the rest here:
Constitution Check: Is the right to have a gun gaining new protection?
When a cheerleader in West Virginia created a Web page suggesting a fellow student had herpes and invited 100 classmates to comment, a federal appeals court ruled she had far exceeded her First Amendment rights.
She deserved to be suspended for 10 days and stripped of her duties as the school's reigning “Queen of Charm,” it ruled.
However, when a Pennsylvania teen created a bogus Internet profile of his principal, listing the administrator's interests as transgender, alcoholic beverages and steroids, a different federal appeals court sided with the student. The school district, it ruled, had trampled on the senior's constitutional rights when it suspended him and barred him from graduation ceremonies.
The two cases highlight the difficulty school officials face in the digital age when they try to determine whether to mete out punishment to students, such as the two Santaluces High School students who posted a racist video on YouTube this week.
Unfortunately, the U.S. Supreme Court hasn't been willing to step into the confounding fray, said Francisco Negron, general counsel for the National School Boards Association.
The standard used to be what happened inside the “schoolhouse gate” and what kind of disruption it caused. However, the advent of the Internet has blurred traditional lines, he said.
With Facebook and YouTube and Twitter, not to mention the ability to send out doctored photos of the class nerd via cellphone, communication that occurs far outside the schoolhouse gate now has the potential to wreak havoc in schools, Negron said.
In an August newsletter to Palm Beach County school administrators, district attorney Bruce Harris described the dilemma posed by the conflicting opinions. Pointing out that the courts upheld the West Virginia girl's punishment because her off-campus Internet posts disrupted the school while the Pennsylvania boy's didn't, he suggested that school administrators tread carefully.
“Due to the split among the courts, it is recommended that a school not discipline a student for off-campus speech which does not occur at a school-related activity, unless the school determines that the speech caused a substantial disruption to the school or the school could reasonably forecast substantial disruption,” he said. “If the school learns of this speech, however, it could and should take other action such as notifying the parents.”
First Amendment attorneys, civil libertarians and human rights activists said school officials should heed that advice as they mull whether to punish the Santaluces students, who taped themselves on a home computer as they made fun of black students and then posted their ramblings on the Internet.
Lia Gaines, head of the Palm Beach County branch of the NAACP, said she doesn't want school officials to punish the girls. What is needed, she said, is education.
“Without the training, I don't think they would understand the significance of the punishment,” she said.
Howard Simon, executive director of the ACLU of Florida, said the school has no authority to punish the girls. Besides, he said, it isn't necessary to teach them a lesson.
“The international humiliation the two teens will suffer for their childish behavior should be punishment enough,” he said. “Hopefully, the school district will be smart enough not to fall into the trap of making them First Amendment martyrs.”
Here is the original post:
Racist video gives school a digital dilemma
We concentrate in the areas of civil rights, employment rights and benefits, workplace harassment, police misconduct, First Amendment and appellate practice. We are admitted to practice in the courts of the State of New York, …
Lately there has been a lot of talk about not letting “them” have access to our courts through the writ of habeas corpus.
Read this article:
Andrea Lyon: Liberty Requires More Habeas in This Corpus
Sign up below for the Prometheism / Designer Children Discussion Forum