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Denver, Colorado (PRWEB) September 09, 2014

Attorney for the IRP6, Gwendolyn Solomon, is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to consider reviewing the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals decision in the IRP6 case. U.S. Supreme Court records show that a petition for writ of certiorari was filed with the U.S. Supreme Court on August 23, 2014 and placed on the docket on August 27, 2014. (U.S. Supreme Court, Docket No. 14-229, 8/27/14, RE: David A. Banks, Kendrick Barnes, Demetrius Harper, Clinton A. Stewart, Gary L. Walker, David A. Zirpolo vs. United States).

The IRP6 case concerns a Colorado-based company (IRP Solutions Corporation) that developed the Case Investigative Life Cycle (CILC) criminal investigations software for federal, state, and local law enforcement. The IRP6 (Kendrick Barnes, Gary L Walker, Demetrius K. Harper, Clinton A Stewart, David A Zirpolo and David A Banks) were convicted in 2011 after being accused of mail and wire fraud. (D. Ct. No. 1:09-CR-00266-CMA).

Court documents show that the IRP6 case was previously submitted to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals based on Fifth Amendment Prohibition of Compulsory Testimony, Sixth Amendment Right to Present a Defense and Speedy Trial Act Violation. That appeal was denied in August 2014. (IRP 6 Case – Appellate Case: 11-1492, Document: 01019289332, 8/4/14). Records also show that A Just Cause previously filed a lawsuit against Court Reporter Darlene Martinez for a missing transcript related to the Fifth Amendment violation argument. Court records show that the IRP6 made repeated requests for the transcript from court proceedings of October 11, 2011, arguing that a sidebar discussion was missing. (D. Ct. No. 1:09-CR-00266-CMA).

We put together a solid argument for appeal, but I am troubled at what I have observed throughout these proceedings at how there can be evidence of innocence, yet men sit in jail, says Attorney Gwendolyn Solomon, Appellant Attorney for the IRP6. The next obvious step was the U.S. Supreme Court, adds Solomon.

Regardless of decisions by lower courts, filing the petition for writ of certiorari with the United States Supreme Court on behalf of the IRP6 is a great opportunity, says Solomon. I was truly amazed when I got the letter showing that it had been filed and that it passed the first step of getting on the docket, exclaims Solomon. It is my ultimate goal that this case is reviewed by the Justices and the IRP6 can get back to their families, Solomon concludes. (U.S. Supreme Court, Docket No. 14-229, 8/27/14, RE: David A. Banks, Kendrick Barnes, Demetrius Harper, Clinton A. Stewart, Gary L. Walker, David A. Zirpolo vs. United States)

While working on this case there are so many things that I have observed and argued in lower court filings to include judicial abuse of authority and power. Im now petitioning the highest court to review arguments showing how the lower court was not impartial, but exhibited judicial bias in favor of the government, argues Solomon. Court filings show that appellants have argued that exculpatory evidence was disallowed, not only documents but expert witnesses to allow the defendants to properly defend their case. Court transcripts show that the Judge didnt assist in enforcement of subpoenas, but reprimanded the defendants for being unable to get service on their witnesses, added Solomon (D. Ct. No. 1:09-CR-00266-CMA) . As for the Fifth Amendment violation argument, I have serious questions on what the court records show regarding how a court reporter can withhold court records of legal proceedings and the court not enforce a persons fundamental right to those court records. This is the type of action that warrants a review by the Supreme Court because of the potential conflict it poses with federal law, asserts Solomon.

A Just Cause is very pleased at the ongoing interest that Attorney Solomon has shown in the IRP6 case, says Sam Thurman, A Just Cause. Ms. Solomon has been working this case pro bono for over two years, and you have to respect that type of dedication. She was on board already when Mark Geragos joined the team and continued to do most of the research and legwork afterwards. The defendants and AJC have since parted ways with Mr. Geragos, adds Thurman. That situation is one in which we have recently filed a complaint on behalf of AJC and the families with the California Bar Association under Rule 3-500 Communication and 3-110 – Failing to Act Competently (California Bar Association Complaint Ref #14-25162). The complaint shows that the families paid Mr. Geragos over $100,000 in retainer fees, but they do not feel that the case was adequately represented, adds Thurman. The fact that Solomon has continued to progress with this case in light of the recent complaint that we had to file is a testament to her willingness to see this case through to the end, says Thurman.

At first I was very excited to work with Mark Geragos, says Solomon. He is a veteran with over 30 years experience and I graduated from law school only 7 years ago. It was my desire to advance my skills and knowledge of the legal system, adds Solomon. I became concerned as certain events occurred that ultimately led to Mr. Geragos dismissal and subsequent complaint. I acknowledge that there was a riff between he and I at one point but that doesnt concern me as much as how he treated the IRP6 and their families. I support the families and A Just Cause in their complaint against Mr. Geragos, which cites that he didnt exercise professional courtesy in this relationship. I was lead counsel, but as the complaint states, he didnt communicate well with the client or me. On several occasions he refused to follow my suggestions and wouldnt return calls or timely emails. Lack of communication and disrespect for me as a professional attorney are key to the California Bar complaint, and I believe that the dismissal of the IRP6 civil case for the transcript can be attributed to Geragos that lack of communication and failing to act competently; as the complaint cites, Solomon asserts (California Bar Association Complaint Ref #14-25162). You dont yell at your clients during a conference call and hang up on them; I was shocked, explains Solomon.

Referring to the filing of the complaint with the California Bar Association, David Banks comments, Mr. Geragos comment to us that You can chase your constitutional rights, but you are going to spend your time in jail was uncalled for and showed lack of professional consideration for us as his clients. In our opinion the complaint with the California Bar is the right thing to do and we are glad that Attorney Solomon didnt let his actions deter her from filing the petition with the Supreme Court, added Banks.

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Attorney Gwendolyn Solomon Petitions United States Supreme Court to Review Tenth Circuits Decision in Case of the IRP6

TIME Opinion foreign affairs The Islands Stuck in the Middle of Scotlands Vote for Independence Houses of the Neolithic settlement of Skara Brae, on June 1, 2014 in Bay of Skaill, Scotland. The Skara Brae settlement was discovered in 1850 and is one of the most important prehistoric sites on the Orkney, showing how people lived approximately 5,000 years ago. Jeremy Sutton-HibbertGetty Images For Orkney, a “yes” vote may not lead to sovereignty

Ten years ago a farmer was digging in his backyard in Ness of Brodgara village on one of the islands that makes up the Scottish archipelago of Orkneywhen he came across some strange stones. They seemed to be man-made. By 2008 archaeologists had started to excavate the site on a small stretch of green land between the waters of the North Atlantic. Soon they realized they had found the most well-preserved stone houses of the Stone Agewhat are now being called the First Stonehenge.

Who governed Orkney then? We dont know. Who governs Orkney now? We still dont know. But some clarity could come this month with a referendum that will impact the lives of the 23,000 people who inhabit these 70 islands. On September 18, the voters of Scotlandall residents older than 16 yearswill decide whether to become an independent country or remain within the United Kingdom.

The question is a complicated one, and it is being debated in not only Scotland but also around the world. The question is even more complicated in the case of Orkney, where sovereignty has been an open question since the beginning of European society here more than 5,000 years ago.

Orkney lies in the sea north of the Scottish mainland, between Scotland and Norway. This strategic position has given the Orkney people both opportunities and challenges. Over the ages, the archipelago has been occupied by Nordic Vikings, Norwegian kings, and Scottish monarchs. In 1707, it was attached to the United Kingdom along with Scotland.

During the two world wars, the British military used Orkney as their main naval basethe remains of sunken warships can still be seen today along the coastlines of Orkney. More recently, the regions enormous natural resourceincluding fish, gas, oil, and new opportunities to generate electricity from wind and tidal flowshave given rise to a great deal of interest in Orkney.

The fertile land and mild climate offered (and still offer) a perfect setting for people to settle, meet, and develop, explains the historian David Murdoch, who makes his living by showing the archipelago to foreigners from Scotland and beyond. When I arrived on the tiny airfield to report on Orkney for the Swiss Broadcasting Company, the first landmark outside the airport in Kirkwall, the main city of Orkney, was a large sign with three big lettersY-E-S.

A yes vote in the September referendum would mean independence for Scotland, but its not clear if that would mean more independence for Orkney. Sovereignty has a difficult history here. When Scotlandafter a successful popular vote back in 1997achieved more autonomy within the United Kingdom, Orkneys regional powers were reduced. And Orkneys regional powers werent much to begin with, the UK being one of Europes most centralized polities.

Orkney is hoping for a reversaland more sovereignty. The question is whether an independent Scotland will produce that result.

We need to be taken much more seriously, stresses the islands Prime Minister Steven Heddle as he welcomes me at the Orkney Islands Councils headquarters in Kirkwall. The Council governs all of Orkney. While we contribute a lot to the wealth of Scotland and the UK, we have very little possibility to decide our own local affairs, says Heddle, who would like to see the development of a strong democracy across Orkney, including what he calls the features of true direct democracy.

Excerpt from:
The Islands Stuck in the Middle of Scotlands Vote for Independence

TIME Opinion Media Hacked Celebrity Pics Should Not Be an Excuse To Throttle Our Free and Open Internet Actress Jennifer Lawrence attends the Christian Dior show as part of Paris Fashion Week – Haute Couture Fall/Winter 2014-2015. Rindoff/Dufour2014 Rindoff/Dufour For better or worse, the Internet is the greatest free-speech forum ever imagined

In the wake of the nude-picture-hacking scandal involving images of Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton, and dozens of other mostly (but not exclusively) female celebrities, calls to shut down or legally punish the sites at which they were postedsuch as Reddit and 4chanare flying fast and furious. So are calls to increase the scope and penalties for involuntary porn and revenge porn, in which intimate photos and videos are shared without the consent of all involved parties.

Such reactions are as understandable as they are ultimately misguided. Theres something deeply disturbing about peoples most intimate information being hacked and distributed across the globe. But most remedies threaten not bad behavior as much as the very openness of expression the Internet makes possible.

Its already a criminal act to hack into private online accounts, so its not exactly clear how new laws will change bad actors behavior. Under the best of circumstances, its notoriously difficult to prove exactly who uploaded what where, and the types of people who are likely commit such acts tend to have an overriding disregard not just for common decency but legal sanctions. Indeed, the hacker believed to be responsible for the posting of the celebrity nudes is reportedly both on the run from the FBI and still threatening to release yet more photos. Similarly, attempts to shut down the so-called Darknet, on which illegal drugs and other illicit goods and services are traded, have proven ineffective. Last year, federal agents arrested the alleged mastermind of the biggest such site, Silk Road, only to see Darknet activity increase by nearly 60% or more since then.

Under current federal law, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and websites enjoy broad legal immunity from the actions of people who use online services. Thats as it should be and the main reason the Internet evolved into the greatest free-speech forum ever imagined. Yet recent laws designed to criminalize revenge porn effectively nullify such protections.

Earlier this year, for instance, Virginia passed a law that makes it illegal for any personwith the intent to coerce, harass, or intimidate to disseminate or sell images of someone in a state of undress where such person knows or has reason to know that he is not licensed or authorized to disseminate. Violations are Class 1 misdemeanors and carry monetary fines and up to a year in prison. The first case brought under the new law was filed in July and the defendant is currently out on bond. Members of Congress such as Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) are pushing federal versions of such laws, which would strip ISPs and websites of their immunity.

The problem with such legislation is that it doesnt just criminalize the posting of images whose meanings and intentions are rarely as clear-cut as prosecutors want to believe. It also has the potential to massively chill free speech by gulling ISPs and websites into either pulling down totally legal material when faced with any sort of complaint, but also proactively policing free expression. Individuals, too, will also feel the chill as they wonder exactly what sort of material may land them in court.

As Lee Rowland of the ACLU told one of my colleagues at Reason TV earlier this year, Criminal law is such a blunt instrument that we have real doubts that its possible to draft these laws in a way that wont end up criminalizing pure speech.

Its only been little more than a year that revelations from Edward Snowden detailed just how much of all of our on- and off-line communications are being monitored by any number of government agencies and programs. While the Internet has exponentially increased the possibilities of human rudeness, crudeness and rotten behavior, it has also similarly exploded our ability to communicate openly and to speak truth to powereven as that power is trying harder than ever to keep track of every random thought we have.

The celebrities affected by this latest online scandal will survive with their careers intact. They have every right to be aggrieved and to pursue legal claims that exist against hacking and invasion of privacy. But all of us deserve a free and open Internet, too. Anything we do to tamp down the free flow of information on the Internet will ultimately come at a price that is steeper than advertised.

Original post:
Hacked Celebrity Pics Should Not Be an Excuse To Throttle Our Free and Open Internet

I have requested that our communications office allow posting to our Internet discussion forums of material that is racist, sexist, homophobic, and otherwise, in my opinion, morally wrong — not merely offensive, but morally wrong. I have three reasons.

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First Amendment – The Huffington Post


(CNN) — Free speech has consequences — especially when business interests are involved.

That’s a lesson most recently learned by real estate professionals David and Jason Benham, who lost the HGTV show they were scheduled to host after a recording of David Benham’s anti-homosexuality views emerged.

Should the Benham brothers have lost their HGTV show?

After the site Right Wing Watch published a post about the pair and posted a recording of Benham talking to a talk show host about “homosexuality and its agenda that is attacking the nation,” HGTV dropped their planned show, called “Flip It Forward.”

“HGTV has decided not to move forward with the Benham Brothers’ series,” the network tweeted after the post went public.

The Benhams aren’t the first ones to lose work over their words. Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling was banned for life from the team’s day-to-day operations and facilities — and fined $2.5 million — for racist comments that were recorded and posted online. Paula Deen became an ex-Food Network host after she admitted to using a racial slur. “Duck Dynasty’s” Phil Robertson was suspended after his controversial comments on homosexuals were published, though the A&E show has stayed on the air.

Opinion: What happened to Sterling was morally wrong

Regardless of the platform, the personal, political and corporate have ways of getting entangled with one another these days — particularly when corporations try to maintain very public reputations of welcoming diversity and inclusiveness, says crisis management consultant Eric Dezenhall.

“I defy you to go to a corporate meeting and not hear words incanted over and over again: ‘diversity,’ ‘inclusiveness,’ ‘transparency,’ ‘corporate social responsibility,’ ‘sustainability,’ et cetera,” he says. “If you step out of the narrow margins on some of these issues, there’s going to be a problem.”

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Underneath all the speech controversies, it's just business

May 092014


(CNN) — Free speech has consequences — especially when business interests are involved.

That’s a lesson most recently learned by real estate professionals David and Jason Benham, who lost the HGTV show they were scheduled to host after a recording of David Benham’s anti-homosexuality views emerged.

Should the Benham brothers have lost their HGTV show?

After the site Right Wing Watch published a post about the pair and posted a recording of Benham talking to a talk show host about “homosexuality and its agenda that is attacking the nation,” HGTV dropped their planned show, called “Flip It Forward.”

“HGTV has decided not to move forward with the Benham Brothers’ series,” the network tweeted after the post went public.

The Benhams aren’t the first ones to lose work over their words. Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling was banned for life from the team’s day-to-day operations and facilities — and fined $2.5 million — for racist comments that were recorded and posted online. Paula Deen became an ex-Food Network host after she admitted to using a racial slur. “Duck Dynasty’s” Phil Robertson was suspended after his controversial comments on homosexuals were published, though the A&E show has stayed on the air.

Opinion: What happened to Sterling was morally wrong

Regardless of the platform, the personal, political and corporate have ways of getting entangled with one another these days — particularly when corporations try to maintain very public reputations of welcoming diversity and inclusiveness, says crisis management consultant Eric Dezenhall.

“I defy you to go to a corporate meeting and not hear words incanted over and over again: ‘diversity,’ ‘inclusiveness,’ ‘transparency,’ ‘corporate social responsibility,’ ‘sustainability,’ et cetera,” he says. “If you step out of the narrow margins on some of these issues, there’s going to be a problem.”

Original post:
Free speech has consequences

On Monday, April 28, the Court will hear oral arguments in Lane v. Franks on the First Amendment protections for a public employee who testifies in court. There are two respondents the previous and current presidents of the college in question and they disagree with each other on the First Amendment question. The Solicitor General will participate in the oral argument.


Central to the resolution of Lane v. Franks is the reach of Garcetti v. Ceballos, the Courts latest pronouncement on the First Amendment rights of public employees. Since Pickering v. Board of Education in 1968, the First Amendment has protected public employees from adverse employment actions when they are speaking as a citizen on a matter of public concern. In Garcetti, the closely divided Court held that, when public employees make statements pursuant to their official duties, such speech is not protected by the First Amendment. The employee in Garcetti was a deputy district attorney in Los Angeles who investigated a law enforcement officers affidavit in support of a search warrant and concluded it was false. The prosecutor wrote a memo recommending the case be dismissed; his supervisors not only vehemently disagreed but also allegedly retaliated against him. In an opinion by Justice Kennedy, the Court reasoned that when an employee is simply performing his or her job duties, there is no relevant analogue to speech by citizens who are not government employees.

In the eight years since Garcetti, courts have varied in their application of the doctrine. For some courts, Garcetti has seemed a broad mandate insulating public employer actions from First Amendment challenge by any employee. Other courts, however, have limited and distinguished Garcetti. The Court has denied certiorari in several closely watched cases, such as Jackler v. Byrne and Bowie v. Maddox, which both involved police officers and reached differing conclusions, arguably producing a circuit split.

The Eleventh Circuits opinion in Lane v. Franks is decidedly in the expansive mandate camp. Indeed, the opinion is a per curiam one, decided without oral argument and intended as non-precedential. In affirming the district judges grant of summary judgment to the public employer, the Eleventh Circuit described Garcetti as further restricting public employees protected speech. Relying on its own circuit precedent, including pre-Garcetti cases, the court of appeals ruled that an employee enjoys no First Amendment protection when the speech was made pursuant to his official duties, including if his speech owes its existence to the employees professional responsibilities and is a product that the employer itself has commissioned or created. This broad category included subpoenaed testimony. However, the Eleventh Circuit recognized, albeit in a footnote, that both the Seventh Circuit and Third Circuit had decided this issue differently, citing Morales v. Jones and Reilly v. City of Atlantic City.

Even as related by the Eleventh Circuit, however, the circumstances giving rise to Lane v. Franks paint a troubling picture of retaliation for a public employees failure to cooperate with political corruption and his resulting testimony. In 2006, soon after Edward Lane became the director of a program for at-risk youth at Central Alabama Community College (CACC), he looked at the programs finances. He discovered that an Alabama state representative, Suzanne Schmitz, was listed on the payroll. He also discovered she had never performed any work for the program. Edward Lane raised his concerns about Schmitz, but he was warned by the CACC president (a predecessor to respondent Steve Franks) and CACCs lawyer that terminating Schmitzs employment could have negative repercussions for both Lane and CACC. Nevertheless, Lane did terminate Suzanne Schmitz after she refused to report to work. Schmitz told another program employee that she planned to get [Lane] back for terminating her and that, if he requested money from the state legislature, she would tell him youre fired. The FBI began investigating Suzanne Schmitz and contacted Edward Lane for information. Lane testified before a federal grand jury and pursuant to a subpoena he testified at Schmitzs two federal criminal trials for mail fraud and fraud involving a program receiving federal funds. Schmitz was ultimately convicted, although a divided Eleventh Circuit panel reversed her convictions on some of the counts.

Lane was terminated after his testimony at the first criminal trial. In January 2009, Franks who had become president of CACC terminated the twenty-nine employees of the at-risk youth program, but soon rescinded the termination of all the employees except Lane and one other. Whether Franks terminated Lane due to Lanes testimony against Schmitz remains unresolved; an essential issue in the Supreme Court is whether it needs to be.

Arguments and analysis

The primary question before the Court is whether the Eleventh Circuit was correct in holding that Lanes testimony was categorically unprotected by the First Amendment, although there is also a secondary issue of whether Franks is entitled to qualified immunity from an award for damages.

There is little support for a straightforward affirmance of the Eleventh Circuit opinion on the First Amendment issue. Lane is not the only one to argue that the Eleventh Circuits categorical exclusion of First Amendment protection for subpoenaed testimony is incorrect: the Solicitor General, representing the United States as an amicus, agrees with him. More unusually, the Alabama attorney general Alabama representing respondent Susan Burrow, the current acting president of CACC also agrees that the Eleventh Circuit was incorrect to conclude that Lanes testimony was categorically unprotected by the First Amendment. Additionally, almost all of the amicus briefs agree with this position, including one from the National Association of Police Organizations, which is perhaps not surprising given that so many of the similar cases involve persons employed in law enforcement.

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Argument preview: First Amendment protections for public employees subpoenaed testimony

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Red tomatoes: Freedom from slavery includes fair food

Piers Morgan Alex Jones was right Bundy Ranch Second Amendment
Did you notice something very strange about the Bundy ranch confrontation this weekend? Piers Morgan who always gives his opinion on important matters was no…

By: DailyWorldwideNews

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Piers Morgan Alex Jones was right Bundy Ranch Second Amendment – Video

The recent stir about Brendan Eichs departure as Mozilla chief executive and the reported backlash related to free speech issues are baffling to me [Mozilla CEO resignation raises free-speech issues, Business / Technology, April 5].

Yes, corporations are considered people under the law and hence are entitled to First Amendment rights. Eich, as the living, breathing personification of Mozilla, is entitled to support any cause he deems fit.

Consumers and advocates of gay equality similarly have the right to confront Eich with the discriminating nature of his opinion. And if that in turn causes stockholders or the board of a publicly traded company to deem him a liability to the company, nobody should be surprised nor dismayed if he is urged to step down.

The right to express an opinion does not protect one from the consequences of expressing an opinion.

Jos van Schagen, Seattle

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Mozilla: The right to free speech doesnt protect you from consequences

Topics: alexandria bay, editors picks, noosa, nudist beach, sunshine coast

AN OUTSPOKEN nudist suggests the “sleazy elements” that visit nude beaches would be eradicated if clothes-optional beaches became legal in Queensland.

Rocky Ind, a full-time nudist who organised the recent Alexandria Bay Beach Carnival, said legalising nude beaches – like Noosa’s Alexandria Bay – would give genuine nudists the authority to evict the creeps.

“Everywhere they’ve put legalised nude beaches, it becomes self-policing, it gets rid of the sleazy element,” Mr Ind said.

“Anywhere that becomes nude, well then they’ve got something to say to those who are not doing the right thing.”

Mr Ind’s expert input follows two recent incidents on Sunshine Coast beaches.

In the first, a lone female jogger was approached on Noosa’s A-Bay beach by a male nudist who shoved a camera into her hands and asked her to take his photo. In the second incident, a nude man approached three teen beachgoers last week at Coolum’s Second Bay.

“My opinion of these people, and the opinion of the vast majority of the nudists in Australia, is that these people are not genuine nudists,” Mr Ind said.

“People in the nude should be avoiding those people, not out there on display, in your face, as it were.

“The incidents of this sort of behaviour is just about zero in legalised nude beaches; you don’t get that sort of interaction.”

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Nudist beach would weed out perverts, says advocate

What kind of bizarro world do we live in where a near majority of Justices of the United States Supreme Court criticizes a First Amendment ruling for being overly concerned with the individuals right to engage in political speech? Where these same jurists instead elevate the publics interest in preserving a democratic order in which collective speech matters? Are these four reactionary horsemen who wont countenance anti-war protestors, marches against oppressive laws, and other anti-establishment speech-acts? Or perhaps theyre censorious troglodytes inveighing against flag-burning, nude dancing, and other emotion-riling forms of expression?

It turns out no, that this statist-majoritarian cant is the highest explication of so-called liberal dissent. Weve always been at war with Eurasia (at least until those in charge decree that our eternal enemy is Eastasia), etc.

Rubbish. Just as the government cant limit the number of hours that Oprah broadcasts or issues that The New York Times publishes lest they unduly influence our political system it cant restrict the money that someone wants to spend on campaign donations lest he skew the marketplace of ideas. Heck, Ive been part of enough SCOTUSblog symposia that Im sure glad theres no federal limit on how much analysis someone can provide on a website thats read by all the key opinion-making eyeballs!

Despite the alarming five-to-four split among the Justices, McCutcheon is an easy case if you apply well-settled law (let alone the political-speech-protective first principles upon which this nation was founded): (1) Preventing quid pro quo corruption (or the appearance thereof) is the only valid basis for regulating the finance of political campaigns; (2) restrictions on the total amount an individual may donate to candidates and party committees dont serve that bribery-prevention interest and thus violate the First Amendment; (3) thats it; case closed.

The only surprise here is that the ruling wasnt a unanimous rejection of the governments incredible claim that, somehow, someone who maxes out to nine congressional candidates corrupts the system by giving more than $1,800 to any others. (Or maybe its those nine candidates who are corrupted by the jealous knowledge that theyre no longer unique snowflakes, that their benefactor has Benjamins for literally anyone who agrees with his political positions?I could never fully grasp the logic.)

In any event, Chief Justice Roberts provided the nut of this oh-so-easy-to-crack-case when he called the contribution limits a tax wrote for the majority (which is indeed a majority because Justice Thomas concurred on broader grounds): Money in politics may at times seem repugnant to some, but so too does much of what the First Amendment vigorously protects. If the First Amendment protects flag burning, funeral protests, and Nazi paradesdespite the profound offense such spectacles causeit surely protects political campaign speech despite popular opposition.

With Justice Thomas, however, I would go beyond that simple point and overrule Buckley v. Valeo altogether because [c]ontributions and expenditures are simply two sides of the same First Amendment coin and the Courts efforts to distinguish the two have produced mere word games rather than any cognizable principle of constitutional law (quoting Chief Justice Burgers partial dissent in Buckley). Justice Thomas would abandon Buckleys framework and replace it with a strict scrutiny test for limits on both contributions and expenditures. Quite so.

Buckley transmogrified the speech-restrictive post-Watergate Federal Election Campaign Act into something no Congress wouldve passed, also inventing legal standards such that one type of political speech has greater First Amendment protection than another.

Nearly twenty years later, the Supreme Court in McConnell v. FEC again rewrote a congressional attempt to reform the rules by which people run for office the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, also colloquially known as McCain-Feingold shying away from striking down Buckley and producing a convoluted mish-mash. (The Chief Justice delivered the opinion of the Court with respect to miscellaneous BCRA Title III and IV provisions. . . . Justice Breyer delivered the Courts opinion with respect to BCRA Title V504 . . . . Stevens and OConnor, JJ., delivered the opinion of the Court with respect to BCRA Titles I and II, in which Souter, Ginsburg, and Breyer, JJ., joined. . . . [and on and on and on, such that this part of the syllabus explaining who agrees with what jot and tittle is longer than the average Oliver Wendell Holmes opinion].)

Enough! The drip-drip of campaign-finance rulings over the last decade has shown that existing campaign-finance law is as unworkable as it is unconstitutional, serving nobodys interest but the election lawyers who regularly get to bill hours explaining to their clients exactly what type of speech will now get them thrown in jail and how to structure their next political move so as not to provoke Justice Breyer into attaching yet another appendix onto his next dissent.

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Symposium: The First Amendments protection of political speech extends to both donations and spending

Replica bullets and a dud shotgun shell got a man convicted of weapons charges in the nation’s capital, in a case gun rights activists say shows how overzealous authorities are trampling the Second Amendment.

On Friday, just two days after his conviction of attempted possession of unlawful ammunition, Mark Witaschek went to a Washington, D.C., police station to register in the city’s Gun Offenders Registry. The act was part of a sentence meted out after Witaschek lost his two-year legal battle that began when police searched his home and found an inert shotgun shell, a spent shell casing and a box of muzzle-loader bullets.

Im completely outraged by it, Witaschek, who moved to Virginia after he was arrested following the 2012 search, told the Washington Times. This is just a continuation of the nightmare. Just to sit there. I could not believe it.

Witaschek was also handed a $50 fine, punishments he fought as a matter of principle.

“This case is yet another example of D.C. run amok over citizens Constitutional rights,” the National Association for Gun Rights said in a statement. “Its no wonder anyone with the option and half a brain is fleeing D.C. for areas where self-defense is a virtue, and not criminalized.”

The search was in response to a complaint from his estranged ex-wife. The evidence presented against Witaschek included a 12-gauge shell that failed to fire while Witaschek was hunting years ago, a spent .270 Winchester shell casing, and a box of .45 caliber Knight muzzleloader bullets with plastic sabots. The muzzleloader bullets were for use in only antique or replica firearms.

Witaschek is an avid hunter, but says he never kept his guns in Washington D.C., because he know of the city’s strict gun laws.

Witascheks attorney, Howard X. McEachern, vowed to appeal the verdict.

Clearly the judge thought that this was overkill the sentence reflects how he felt about the prosecution of this case, he said when asked for his opinion of the verdict.

The judge never ruled on the shotgun shell itself, which was what the prosecutions case was built around.

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Man gets weapons conviction for replica bullets in DC

Mar 202014

Every year I hear a new chorus of folks claiming that SEO is dead or that SEO has changed so fundamentally that it’s completely different now than it once was. I usually find these statements short sighted.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

SEO (still) isn’t dead and won’t be until the day that search engines can no longer drive significant traffic to websites (which won’t be for a long, long time, if ever).

Furthermore, with just a few exceptions, the only thing that has changed about SEO in my opinion is that search engines are getting better at enforcing their own rules. Thus, folks who have been historically using short cuts or tactics that might be considered less than best practices have been forced to adapt. And sad to say, there are a lot of those folks.

Search engine optimization remains an important part of the digital marketing landscape, and the path to long term success is relatively the same as it has always been.

The basic fundamentals of SEO are still important and if done correctly, will still yield favorable results. Here are some SEO basics that have remained relatively unchanged (note this list isn’t intended to be comprehensive):

This list wouldn’t be complete without everyone’s favorite topic: link building (I know people would argue with me that link building has changed dramatically, but please read the rest of the article first).

None of these things has changed that significantly enough over the last few years that they would make me say SEO is a completely new exercise compared to what it used to be.

Sure, there is less data to look at (thanks, Google) and there are changes in how the engines deal with some of the technical issues like canonical tags, rel=alternate syntax, and schema mark up to name a few, but it’s really no different than how we used to have to check to see if folks were using hyphens instead of underscores, 301 redirects instead of 302 redirects (I still recommend this by the way), and worrying about JavaScript not being indexed (which it still isn’t in some cases).

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So… You Think SEO Has Changed?

The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that a law banning ‘encouraging’ or ‘advising’ suicide violates the free-speech rights. The court reversed the conviction of a former nurse accused of encouraging two people whom he met online to kill themselves.

The Minnesota Supreme Court on Wednesday reversed the convictions of a former nurse accused of encouraging two people whom he met online to kill themselves.

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The court ruled that the language in the state’s assisted-suicide law that pertains to “encouraging” suicide is unconstitutional. It violates the right to free speech. However, the court upheld the part of the law that bans “assisting” suicide.

“We conclude that the State may prosecute Melchert-Dinkel for assisting another in committing suicide, but not for encouraging or advising another to commit suicide. Because the district court did not make a specific finding on whether Melchert-Dinkel assisted the victims suicides, we remand for further proceedings consistent with his opinion,” wrote Justice G. Barry Anderson in the majority opinion.

His 360-day jail sentence had been on hold pending the outcome of the appeal.

Melchert-Dinkel, 51, was convicted on two counts of aiding suicide in the deaths of two people: Mark Drybrough, 32, of Coventry, England, who hanged himself in 2005; and Nadia Kajouji, 18, of Brampton, Ontario, who jumped into a frozen river in 2008.

His attorney argued that he was exercising his right to free speech, and that the law which states that anyone who “intentionally advises, encourages, or assists another in taking the other’s own life” is guilty of a crime was too broad.

In addition to his free speech claim, Melchert-Dinkel argued that he had no influence on either person’s actions. But prosecutors say his speech wasn’t protected and that he played an integral role in the deaths, including giving step-by-step instructions.

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'Encouraging' suicide allowed by US constitution, says Minnesota Supreme Court

The following is an excerpt from a forthcoming ebook titled When Money Speaks: The McCutcheon Decision, Campaign Finance Laws & The First Amendment (Top Five Books) by Ronald Collins and David Skover. It is the first in the SCOTUS Books-in-Brief series. The ebook will be available shortly after the Supreme Court issues its ruling in McCutcheon v. FEC.

In 2013 the American Civil Liberties Union did not file an amicus brief in McCutcheon v. FEC, the First Amendment campaign finance case now awaiting a decision in the Supreme Court. But the group had not always been silent on the issue. Quite the contrary; it had once been quite vocal in its First Amendment opposition to many campaign finance laws.

For decades the ACLU had been at the forefront of this controversial issue, filing merits and amicus briefs in support of First Amendment claims in such landmark campaign finance cases as Buckley v. Valeo (1976) (Joel Gora, counsel of record) and Citizens United v. FEC (2010) (Steven R. Shapiro, counsel of record), among many other Supreme Court cases. That changed, however, after Citizens United came down. At that pinpoint in time, the past ceased to be prologue.

The Nixon years

The ACLU story in this fight goes back forty-plus years to a time when Richard Nixons Justice Department used the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 (FECA) to silence and punish its critics. At first, the ACLUs role was that of providing free legal counsel to those critics for example, there was the district court case titled United States v. National Committee for Impeachment, 469 F.2d 1135 (2d. Cir. 1972). Soon enough, the group took a bolder stand it decided to be a named plaintiff in a case contesting certain provisions of FECA. That case: American Civil Liberties Union, Inc. v. Jennings, 366 F. Supp. 1041 (D.D.C. 1973), vacated sub nom., Staats v. ACLU, 422 U.S. 1030 (1975). (Aside: Floyd Abrams filed an amicus brief in that case on behalf of the New York Times.) Those two cases marked the beginning of a long legal journey for the ACLU, one in which it was an ardent defender of First Amendment rights. It all began with opposition to the Nixon Administration.

Three old-time dissenters came to the ACLU offices in New York with an incredible story, recalled Professor Gora in a 1997 article. In September of 1972 the group had run a two-page advertisement in the New York Times advocating the impeachment of President Richard Nixon for the bombing of Cambodia and praising those few hardy and clearly identified members of Congress who had sponsored an Impeachment Resolution. The advertisement was turgid, wordy, legalistic, and not very slick, but it embodied the essence of what the First Amendment stands for: the right of citizens to express their opinion about the conduct of their government, free from fear of sanctions or reprisals from that government, noted Gora. Nonetheless, before the ink on the advertisement was barely dry, the federal government had hauled the group into federal court.

All of this occurred despite the fact that such speech would otherwise seem to be protected by the Courts landmark First Amendment rulings in New York Times, Inc. v. Sullivan (1964) and Brandenburg v. Ohio (1969), both of which offered considerable protection for those who criticized government officials. Those rulings notwithstanding, Richard Nixons Justice Department tapped FECA to wage war on the Administrations liberal critics.

Using campaign finance laws to silence liberals

The government, Gora added, claimed that the expenditure of funds on the advertisement was for the purpose of influencing the outcome of the elections, thus rendering these individuals a political committee. The government threatened them with injunctions against further speech unless they complied with the law, filed reports with the government, and disclosed their contributors and supporters. All of this was for simply sponsoring an advertisement publicly criticizing the president of the United States on a crucial issue of the day.

In order to test the use of FECA to censor political speech, in September 1972 the ACLU submitted to the New York Times a proposed political ad expressing its stern disapproval of the Nixon Administrations opposition to court-ordered busing. Fearful of criminal prosecution under FECA, the Times declined to run the ad, whereupon the ACLU went to the federal district court in the District of Columbia seeking declaratory and injunctive relief. The court granted the motion for a preliminary injunction, which allowed the Times to publish the ad. That case was American Civil Liberties Union, Inc. v. Jennings.

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Book excerpt: Before McCutcheon The ACLU position in the early years

Liberty Teamtage by Friendly (My Part)
This was an edit I did for Part 1 of the Liberty Teamtage. In my opinion this is one of the best edits I've ever made. Drop a Like if you enjoyed, and commen…

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Liberty Teamtage by Friendly (My Part) – Video

Michael Jordan Illuminati 23 Sirius P3
A Truthiracy Film Production – Educational Research Truthiracy House of Wisdom All material is the opinion of Christopher Lord of Truthiracy Films (for legal…

By: Felice Laforgia

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Michael Jordan Illuminati 23 Sirius P3 – Video

This Wednesday I stumbled upon an article in Richmonds Style Weekly magazine covering the Feb. 8 convention of the Libertarian Party of Virginia. According to the articles author Tom Nash, this convention was the biggest and most important for Virginia Libertarians for quite some while. Given the recent relative success of the partys gubernatorial candidate Robert Sarvis (who made his mark by running a seemingly honest, intellectual campaign and winning 6.5 percent of the vote), Nash contends that the party hopes to maintain this momentum by having as many Libertarians as possible on the upcoming ballots.

Apparently, the tactic to achieve this involves inviting everyone on the partys email list to run for office, even if they have no chance of winning. One person who received this invitation was a high school student from the Maggie L. Walker Governors School for Government and International Studies. The student told Nash that he would consider running for office after finishing college.

Anyone who knows me also knows that my politics tend to fall so far left that they occasionally slip off the scale into an alternate universe where the gender binary has been all but eradicated, socialism reigns and everyone is free to sip tea and play with their cats in a borderless world of total equality.

Needless to say, libertarianism is not always consistent with these ideals. I do, however, hold a soft spot in my heart for the well-intentioned rationality of the party, so Nashs article made me wonder how many capable, up-and-coming young people might be drawn into politics by what is essentially a power vacuum in the Libertarian party.

One member of the University of Richmonds chapter of Young Americans for Liberty, Kelly Farley, WC17, said she planned on pursuing business as a career, but could easily see herself in politics: Libertarians are the party of the individual, liberty and, in my opinion, self-responsibility. I would be honored and proud to represent the libertarian opinion some day.

Another UR student, Martha Ashe, WC15, said that although she identified with the Libertarian party philosophically, she chooses to vote Republican because she is fiscally conservative and the party has more traction. She said, While I dont think I would ever run for politics, if I did, it would be hard for me to run as a Libertarian because I dont think the party has as much traction at this time. Ashe added, however, that she is confident we are trending toward a greater support of libertarianism: I do believe that most young people in my generation are Libertarian, whether they realize it or not, and that as my generation matures, the libertarian party will start to gain popularity.

While the upper levels of the two dominant parties in this country can seem like private clubs that require 80 percent networking and 20 percent underhanded dealing to gain entry, it might be that all it takes in Virginias Libertarian party right now is to show up.

Since the platform tends to attract a mixture of young people who are intelligent, ambitious or radical (and occasionally all three), I can happily picture a future where the party is dominated not by gun- and flag-toting old men, but by recent college graduates with clear plans for a more free country. Whether or not I support the whole ideology, I would rather have a relevant faction of young, educated people than not.

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Recruiting the next generation of political leaders

Published February 16, 2014

A Nevada grammar school violated students right to free speech in mandating they wear a school uniform with its motto, Tomorrows Leaders, emblazoned on it, a federal court has ruled.

The Los Angeles Times reports the U.S. 9th Circuit Court unanimously ruled on Friday in favor of one parents legal objection to Roy Gomm Elementary Schools uniform policy. The school is located in Reno.

The “policy compels speech because it mandates the written motto, ‘Tomorrow’s Leaders,’ on the uniform shirts,” Judge Jacqueline H. Nguyen reportedly said in her decision, in which she was joined by the other two judges on the three-judge panel that ultimately rendered the opinion.

The Reno school reportedly enacted the uniform policy in 2011, but exempted students who donned the uniforms of national youth organizations, like the Boy Scouts of America, or Girl Scouts of the USA.

The court also found this exemption problematic, in writing, “The exemption explicitly favors the uniforms of the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts over all other uniforms . . . and favors the uniforms of ‘nationally recognized’ youth organizations over those of locally or regionally recognized youth organizations.”

The Times reports that in the ruling, the judges cited legal precedent, and specifically a 1977 U.S. Supreme Court opinion that ruled a New Hampshire law unconstitutional that mandated state motorists use license plates with the state motto, Live Free or Die.

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California schools uniform regulation violates free speech, court rules

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