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Kenneth F. Bunting, a native Houstonian who was an advocate for press freedom in a career that included a stint as the top editor and associate publisher at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, has died.

The National Freedom of Information Coalition announced his death. Bunting, who was 65, died from a heart attack on Sunday in Columbia, Mo., it said.

Bunting, who was born in Houston in 1948, was executive director of the coalition, located at the University of Missouri in Columbia, Mo., from 2010 until earlier this year.

“Even after he left, he continued to support NFOIC, helping to connect people looking for FOI help and reminding us of pending deadlines and First Amendment news stories of note,” the coalition said in a statement. “He was a strong voice for FOI and government transparency and a great advocate for state coalition groups trying to fight off encroachments on their open government laws.”

Bunting came to the newspaper from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, where he had been state capital bureau chief, city editor and assistant managing editor.

In his long journalism career, Bunting also worked at the Los Angeles Times, Sacramento Bee, Cincinnati Post, San Antonio Express-News and Corpus Christi Caller-Times.

Bunting was named the P-I’s managing editor in October 1993. He was associate publisher of the P-I until it ceased print publication and went online only in March 2009. In his years at the newspaper, he was also managing editor and executive editor.

During his tenure, the P-I won several national awards, including two Pulitzer Prizes.

David McCumber, a former managing editor at the Seattle P-I, wrote: “Ken was a great friend and colleague, a sweet man, a great dad and a powerful defender of press freedoms, a huge advocate for open government.”

Bunting was a graduate of Texas Christian University, which honored him in 2010 as the first inductee into its Schieffer School Hall of Excellence.

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Longtime newsman Bunting was advocate for press freedom

ConLaw Class 25 – The First Amendment — Speech I
Barron v. Baltimore, New York Times v. Sullivan, Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire.

By: Josh Blackman

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ConLaw Class 25 – The First Amendment — Speech I – Video

First Amendment doctrines are often useful in resolving Second Amendment legal issues.

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Volokh Conspiracy: The First Amendment Guide to the Second Amendment

The Supreme Court will consider Tuesday whether an anti-abortion group can challenge an Ohio law that could have restricted it from publicly accusing a political candidate of voting for taxpayer-funded abortions in Obamacare.

The justices arent likely to decide whether the law chills free speechalthough Susan B. Anthony List and even the Ohio attorney general say that it does. Theyre instead being asked to decide whether SBA List has standing to challenge the law since the group was never prosecuted under it.

Still, the case has stirred up heated questions about whether the Ohio law and others like it violate First Amendment rights. Its also reignited the issue of whether the Affordable Care Act contains taxpayer funding for abortion.

(PHOTOS: 2014 March for Life)

The controversy first arose in 2010, when Democrat Steve Driehaus was running for reelection to Congress. In an effort to unseat him, SBA List prepared billboard ads saying Shame on Steve Driehaus! Driehaus voted for taxpayer-funded abortion.

The message was in reference to the ACA, which abortion opponents say lacks adequate safeguards to ensure that insurance companies keep taxpayer dollars separate from other funding used to cover abortions.

Although the billboards didnt go up, Driehaus filed a complaint with the Ohio Election Commission, and a three-member panel found probable cause that their planned message could be false. The state statute makes it a crime to knowingly publish false statements about a political candidate.

Driehaus lost his re-election bid, and the complaint was dismissed. But SBA List filed a lawsuit against the commission and the Ohio secretary of state to overturn the law. The group has lost in both federal district court and the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, with each concluding that it has no standing to sue because the billboards never actually appeared and the group was never prosecuted under the law.

(CARTOONS: Matt Wuerker on Obamacare)

SBA List contends that requiring groups and individuals to defend the truth of a political comment before the state election commission has an unconstitutionally chilling effect on the right to free speech.

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Abortion at heart of Ohio speech case

FILE: May 7, 2013: Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis at a City Council meeting in Peoria, Ill.AP

A police raid to learn who was behind a Twitter account that mocked an Illinois mayor has so far resulted in one arrest, but officials said Monday the investigation continues, as free speech advocates express concern.

The account — @Peoriamayor — was created about nine weeks ago and had about 50 parody tweets, mostly about Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis supposedly using illegal drugs and associating with prostitutes, before Twitter suspended it in mid-March.

The account, which had only about 50 followers, was marked as a parody roughly a week before being suspended. But Peoria police took matters a step further on April 15 by executing a search warrant at the home of a suspect, whom they believed was unlawfully trying to impersonate a public official.

The Star Journal of Peoria reports the warrant and raid were ordered by Ardis, who is now facing a public backlash, largely on social media and in editorial pages where he is being accused of trying to step on First Amendment rights.

A resident of the home told the newspaper that police seized computers and smart phones in the raid, in an apparent attempt to learn who was behind the Twitter account.

The crime is a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum $2,500 fine and one year in jail.

Three people at the home during the raid were taken to a police station for questioning. Two other occupants were visited at their workplace, then taken in for questioning.

A Peoria Police Department spokesman confirmed to that one resident was charged in connection with possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. However, the investigation is ongoing, which prevents officials from discussing whether police will make additional arrests, he said.

I find it very troubling, said Angela Campbell, a professor at Georgetown University Law School. It chills peoples First Amendment rights to criticize officials whether its through parody or just calling somebody a jerk.

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Mayor ordering raid on Twitter troublemaker riles free speech defenders

California Waste Plant Minions Suppress First Amendment Infowars Special Report
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California Waste Plant Minions Suppress First Amendment Infowars Special Report – Video

Citing a Celeb in an Ad? The First Amendment May Not Protect You.
Citing a Celeb in an Ad? The First Amendment May Not Protect You.

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Citing a Celeb in an Ad? The First Amendment May Not Protect You. – Video

ALEX JONES Is this the Death of The 1st Amendment
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The Pitkin County Republicans recently held a civics-writing contest for Aspen High School. The following essay earned first place and was written by Elizabeth de Wetter, who received $250 for her piece.

Freedom of speech The first and greatest amendment

Though all of the amendments in the Bill of Rights play an important role in our society, I value the First Amendment most highly. Not only does the freedom of speech protect our right to say what we want, but it also allows us to read, write, broadcast, and sing what we want.

While the other amendments also protect important rights, and will aid me at some point, they do not significantly affect my life. Since I have never been accused of a crime, sent to jail, or summoned to court, the Fourth and Eighth Amendments do not really apply to me at this point in my life. As I live with my parents, and our country is not currently involved in a war on U.S. soil, I do not feel the need to worry about housing troops, so the Third Amendment does not concern me. Finally, since I am under the age limit to own a gun, the Second Amendment is equally irrelevant. Even though all of the amendments are important, Because of the importance of the freedoms protected by the First Amendment, I believe it plays the most significant role in my life as an American.

Freedom of speech provides one of the most crucial forms of self-expression and can replace violence. We can easily see the effects of oppression in countries where violence occurs on a daily basis, and it makes sense. People want change, and without freedom to say or write what they want, violence sometimes seems like the only option. By protecting freedom of speech, our government allows everyone in the United States the opportunity to express their opinions in peaceful ways rather than resorting to violence.

Freedom of speech allows each of us to express opinions, persuade others, and ultimately change the world. As a female, I feel lucky to live in a county where I can show my face, go to school, get an education, and express my opinions on problems with which I disagree. I cannot imagine how frustrated I would feel if I could not change the reality of my life using words. When Malala Yousafzai spoke out, she was nearly killed by the Taliban, and this kind of oppression is the tragic reality of many women. Unlike oppressed women around the world, in the U.S., our words can create change without backlashing in the form of violence.

Simple, every-day tasks such as answering questions in school or coming to a solution in politics would be very difficult without protection from the First Amendment. Problems usually have more than a single right answer, yet if we were not allowed to express our opinions, one answer might be the only result to conflict. Sometimes the most meaningful solutions come from disagreements between people, and when they can finally see eye-to-eye, better answers to the problem are found. Without the First Amendment, our country may not have passed the other amendments. Laws are made of words and when only certain words are allowed, only some voices can be heard, and a limited number of people can speak, the solutions that result are just as restricted.

Unlike some rights to speech, the first amendment allows us to express ourselves during both good and bad times. In extreme wartime conditions, governments sometimes prohibit their citizens from showing any self-expression in the form music, dancing, singing, laughing, or even smiling, and yet we can do all of theses things and talk about them afterward without punishment. Though our opinions are not always positive and many times, when we express ourselves, we talk about something negative that needs to be changed, our words can change reality, and to me, the greatest freedom is to be myself and be able to make a change for others and myself through words instead of violence.

While all of the amendments to the Bill of Rights play an important role in our county, the First Amendment provides me with one of the most meaningful freedoms as a female student and citizen of the United States. Freedom of speech allows me to create change in non-violent ways, and express myself without worrying about the consequences of self-expression. For the freedom to express my views, make a difference, and have the same rights as everyone else in this country, I am immensely grateful.

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Students essay on First Amendment wins top prize

First Amendment Foundation Wants First Veto

By: flanewscapitol

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First Amendment Foundation Wants First Veto – Video

B. Scott arrives to the 25th Annual GLAAD in Los Angeles in April 2014.

FORTUNE — In August 2013, transgender television personality B. Scott filed a suit against Black Entertainment Television and its parent company Viacom Inc., claiming that the network had discriminated against him based on his gender identity and sexual orientation.

The lawsuit stemmed from Scott’s appearance as a style correspondent at the 2013 BET awards preshow. After his first segment of the night, in which he appeared with heavy makeup and heels, the network told him to tone down his look and change into masculine clothing that was “different from the androgynous style he’s used to … and comfortable with,” according to the complaint.

A Los Angeles Superior Court judge decided the case Wednesday, and it came down to theFirst Amendment; not Scott’s freedom to speech and expression, but Viacom’s (VIA).The court found that BET’s decision as to how Scott would appear on camera was part of the network’s creative process of developing and broadcasting the show, which is protected by the First Amendment.

MORE:Americans have fallen in love with real estate once again

The case is by no means the first in which a media company has used the First Amendment as a defenseagainst lawsuits alleging discrimination. The order on Thursday cites several other instances.

There was the racial discrimination case against ABC for its failure to feature non-white contestants on The Bachelorand The Bachelorette. A federal district court in Tennessee dismissed the matter after finding that “casting decisions are a necessary component of any entertainment show’s creative content.” The court said that “the plaintiffs seek to drive an artificial wedge between casting decisions and the end product, which itself is indisputably protected as speech by the First Amendment.”

And there was the lawsuit filed against Warner Bros. by a former writers’ assistant for the television show Friendswho asserted that the use of sexually coarse and vulgar language and conduct by the show’s writers constituted sexual harassment. The Supreme Court of California in that case held that “the First Amendment protects creativity.”

The case thatheld greatestprecedent is a matter in which a group of gay, lesbian, and bisexual Irish Americans sought to participate in Boston’s St. Patrick’s Day parade. The U.S. Supreme Court, which ultimately heard the case, ruled that it would be a violation of the First Amendment for Massachusetts to require private citizens “who organize a parade to include among the marchers a group imparting a message the organizers do not wish to convey.”

The defendants in these cases arguedthat they didn’t care what their employees or participants are in reality — gay, straight, male, female — but rather how they appear. “They say, ‘We are entitled to create a program that looks the way we want it to look,’” says Eugene Volokh, a professor at UCLA School of Law. And the courts have agreed with them.

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To kill bias suits, companies lean on the First Amendment

First Amendment Fight – What Legal Options Does Bundy Family Have? – Judge Andrew Napolitano – F F
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First Amendment Fight – What Legal Options Does Bundy Family Have? – Judge Andrew Napolitano – F&F – Video

The First Amendment is the most important amendment to protect, but it's not being championed like the Second Amendment has been. Without the First Amendment…

By: Terry Anderson

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Floyd Abrams: “On the Front Lines with the First Amendment”
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Floyd Abrams: "On the Front Lines with the First Amendment" – Video

Apr 172014

First Amendment Selfie News
How well do you know the First Amendment and what it really means?

By: Kaitlin Chappell

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First Amendment Selfie News – Video

Jemal Countess/Getty Images

Jason Patric

On Thursday, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge will hear a novel First Amendment battle over the extent to which an in vitro father can mention his child’s name.

STORY:CNN Gets First Amendment Victory in Video Captioning Dispute

At the center of the dispute is actor Jason Patric, who has been locked in a custody battle with his ex-girlfriend Danielle Schreiber over their four-year-old son Gus, who was born through artificial insemination. Thanks to California law, which grants the mother full custody unless there is a written agreement establishing parental rights before conception, a judge has denied The Lost Boys star access to his son.

As the custody issue goes to an appellate court next month, Patric has launched an organization called Stand Up for Gus to raise awareness of parental alienation. At a fundraising event last autumn, Matt Damon, Kiefer Sutherland and Jon Hamm were among the celebrities on hand. Patric has also built awareness for the project with interviews on shows like 20/20 and The View. The actor has also established Twitter and Facebook pages that mention and picture Gus.

According to Patty Glaser, one of the Glaser Weil attorneys representing Schreiber, this amounts to a “public relations tirade” from a father who she says didn’t want his name on the birth certificate so as to avoid attention from the paparazzi.

STORY:’Freeway’ Ricky Ross vs. Rick Ross: First Amendment Protects Hip-Hop Persona

Schreiber is now demanding a restraining order. “We are asking him not to use the childs name and likeness for commercial purposes without moms permission,” Glaser tells The Hollywood Reporter.

In the past, celebrities like Liam Neeson and Sandra Bullock have been the ones leaning on likeness rights laws to stop the unauthorized use of their fame. Other celebrities have asserted privacy laws to keep the media from intruding upon their space. In this case, it’s the other way around, as the celebrity is the one raising a First Amendment defense.

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Jason Patric's Sperm Spawns First Amendment Battle

FREMONT — In a move that has caught the attention of First Amendment advocates, the City Council has tightened restrictions on political protests at some public events, banning “disruptive conduct” and speech that “disturbs and antagonizes” people.

The new law gives Fremont police more authority to cite or remove those who disturb others at the 100 or more annual public events for which the city issues permits, such as Festival of the Arts or the Niles Antique Faire. Violators could be charged with a misdemeanor or issued a citation with a fine, similar to a parking ticket, police said.

City leaders say they will protect First Amendment rights at special events by setting up free-speech zones, sectioned-off areas where advocates can make their points without interfering with the event.

“It protects free speech rights of the participants but also allows the city to control those activities, within reason,” Assistant City Attorney Debra Margolis said.

Although Fremont leaders say they will balance free speech rights with the people’s right to hold public events, an American Civil Liberties Union representative said part of the ordinance could be unconstitutional.

“The problem with laws like this one are they’re written vaguely enough that they sometimes can be used to discriminate against people because of who they are or what they’re saying,” said Michael Risher, an ACLU attorney.

However, a First Amendment law professor said Fremont has the right to manage its special events by reasonably regulating the public’s behavior.

“The ordinance seems to be an acceptable way of doing that,” said UCLA professor Eugene Volokh.

As the city avoids inhibiting the content of free speech, he said, it still can regulate the manner in which public speech is performed. Volokh said he believes the ordinance’s wording is clear and does not invite misinterpretation by police. “In theory, it’s possible,” he said. “In practice, I don’t think it is going to be much of a problem.”

Reports of verbally abusive revelers and political activists disrupting a few festivals last year led to the new policy, said police spokeswoman Geneva Bosques. “Last summer, the complaints we heard were definitely stronger and more compelling than in the past,” she said.

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Fremont tightens 'disruptive' speech restrictions

HAMPTON, Va. The Virginia Community College System has agreed to alter its free speech policy as a means to settle a lawsuit with a Christian student who was barred from preaching the Gospel on campus last fall.

As previously reported, last fall, student Christian Parks publicly preached the Gospel on four different occasions in a courtyard on the Thomas Nelson Community College (TNCC) campus.However, the third time Parks preached the Gospel in the campus courtyard, he was confronted by three uniformed police officers from the TNCC Police Department. The officers ordered Parks to stop preaching. Though Parks thought the officers actions were unconstitutional, he complied with their order.

A few days later, Parks began preaching in the same courtyard for the fourth time. Once again, campus police officers silenced him.

Following the second encounter with the campus police, Parks asked TNCC administrators why he was not allowed to preach on the schools campus. He was told that, in order to open-air preach on campus, he would first have to join a registered student organization and then receive permission from TNCC officials four days in advance of any preaching.If Parks did not comply with the regulations, he could be subject to disciplinary actions, including suspension or dismissal.

Therefore, Parks contacted the Christian legal organization Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) for assistance, which filed a lawsuit against the university. Attorneysargued that the schools silencing of Parks preaching is a violation of his First Amendment constitutional rights.

It is repugnant to Mr. Parks that he, as an individual citizen and student at a public community college, must notify the government in order to speak on campus when he feels convicted by his religious faith to speak and preach on campus, the suit contended.

The ACLU of Virginia also criticized the schools speech-limiting policies, writing in aletterto the Virginia Community College System (VCCS) that the schools policies deserve substantial revision.

If accurate, the complaint against VCCS describes a clear violation of the constitutionally protected free speech rights of a community college student, it stated. [W]e urge you to take immediate steps to ensure that a revised demonstration policy that takes into account the free speech rights of students, faculty, staff, and the general public is considered and adopted by the Board without delay.

This week, the Daily Press reported that the system agreed to work out a settlement with Park, which primarily includes altering its free speech policy. The current policy has been suspended while the settlement is reached.

Both parties desire to suspend the current policy in order to allow [Parks] and all other students to speak freely on campus, court documents stated, [C]ounsel for the parties believe that they may be able to reach an amicable settlement in this case.

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Community College to Reach Settlement with Student Barred from Preaching Gospel on Campus

The Hugh M. Hefner Foundation is pleased to announce the winners of the 2014 Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Awards. Christie Hefner established the Awards in 1979, in conjunction with Playboy magazines 25th anniversary, to honor individuals who have made significant contributions in the vital effort to protect and enhance First Amendment rights for all Americans.

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Winners Announced for 2014 Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Awards

FREMONT — In a move that has caught the attention of First Amendment advocates, the City Council on Tuesday tightened restrictions on public demonstrations, as well as other “disruptive conduct” and free speech that “disturbs and antagonizes” people attending special city events on public property.

The ordinance bans anyone preventing others “from viewing, hearing or meaningfully participating in the event,” and cases where “people conduct free speech in a way that … makes special event participants … unable to access or enjoy the event,” a city staff report states.

It also prohibits unauthorized soliciting or sales at events, or the use of bicycles, skates, skateboards or amplified sound equipment, unless approved by terms of a city-issued permit.

“A lot of our special events are festivals with children walking around, and having a skateboard or bike could cause accidents,” Fremont Deputy City Attorney Bronwen Lacey said before the meeting. “It’s about safety and ensuring that people attending the events can participate without disruption.”

The city also would create a Free Speech Zone at such events to allow demonstrations or other political activity without interfering with the event.

“It protects free speech rights of the participants, but also allows the city to control those activities, within reason,” Assistant City Attorney Debra Margolis said.

However, a San Francisco-based American Civil Liberties Union lawyer said that a person’s right to general political activity is protected by law at public events.

“You don’t have to let someone be part of your parade, but you have to allow them to express themselves at it, even if you have a special permit for it,” said Michael Risher, an ACLU senior staff attorney. “The government must allow free speech as long as it’s not disruptive.”

The question is how exactly is “disruptive conduct” being defined.

“It may be permissible to restrict a demonstration of 20 people to a particular area,” Risher said. “But forcing someone who is getting signatures for a petition into a free speech zone would be illegal and unconstitutional, unless the zone is very large, because it restricts their ability to engage in political activity.”

Fremont tightens ordinance restricting 'disruptive' speech at special events

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