The Supreme Court violated the First Amendment this morning
The Supreme Court violated the First Amendment this morning
By Morgan Eads | News Editor
A lack of freedom in student media could turn potential journalists from the profession, according to Tuesdays speaker at the First Amendment Celebration.
Frank LoMonte, the executive director of the Student Press Law Center, touched on First Amendment violations toward student journalists in the event sponsored by the Scripps Howard First Amendment Center.
If we lose journalists, we are going to lose something really important, LoMonte said.
He outlined cases where students freedoms of speech and press were violated and urged students and educators to encourage free speech and conflicting ideas in schools.
One main point of conversation was the landmark Supreme Court case Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier, which ruled that student newspapers were subjected to a lower level of First Amendment protection.
LoMonte said the decision furthered the idea that passionate discussion in school was a distraction rather than something that should be encouraged.
Hazelwood is a cancer to good education, LoMonte said.
He proceeded to show slides with different high school journalists and students who had been affected by the Hazelwood ruling.
Defining deprivation of liberty
Over the next couple of days, the Supreme Court will be making a decision about what liberty means, and how to decide whether some is being deprived of liberty to trigger the benefit of the…
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Defining deprivation of liberty – Video
High Court takes on free speech, corruption in campaigns
The Supreme Court has previously upheld limits on contributions made by individuals to political campaigns. Judy Woodruff talks to Marcia Coyle of The National Law Journal about a new round…
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High Court takes on free speech, corruption in campaigns – Video
Tough free speech cases seem to have become a hallmark of the Roberts Court. This Term may be no exception, as the Justices consider whether a Massachusetts law creating a buffer zone to keep protesters away from abortion clinic entrance sidewalks is constitutional.
Recall that the Roberts Court has already wrestled with a federal ban on animal crush videos, a state law restricting sale of violent video games, issues related to protests at the funerals of deceased military service members, and a federal prohibition on false claims about military honors. In each of these controversial cases, the Court protected the free speech interests from regulation.
Now add to the list the case of McCullen v. Coakley, which pits a states interest in protecting women who want access to abortion clinics against the interests of anti-abortion protesters who want to be able to counsel and hand literature to women approaching clinics.
The case should be of interest to law students who are studying free speech and free expression, as well as to those studying constitutional law, reproductive rights, and gender jurisprudence.
The Court will not actually rule on the right to abortion in the case. State laws restricting access to abortion are proliferating, and a Supreme Court test reconsidering the scope of that right looms in the Courts future. Instead, the Massachusetts case involves a tension between the desire of anti-abortion protesters to speak with women who are approaching reproductive health clinics and the desire of the patients to be left alone.
It is important to understand the regulatory landscape to follow the issues in the case. Since 1994, federal law has protected access to abortion clinics against threats, intimidation, or violent interference with women seeking reproductive services. But a sizeable handful of states and cities choose to provide additional protection that goes beyond what federal law provides to help facilitate access to clinics.
Massachusetts is one such state. From 2000 to 2007, Massachusetts had a law that prohibited anti-abortion protesters from approaching with six feet of anyone walking or driving in a radius of eighteen feet from the entrance of an abortion clinic. Massachusetts said the law was justified by the need to cope with violence, intimidation, and harassment at abortion clinics. But abortion protesters challenged the law, asserting that it interfered with their right to free speech and expression protected by the First Amendment. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit upheld the law.
The 2000 law was patterned after a Colorado law that the Supreme Court upheld that same year in the case of Hill v. Colorado. By a vote of six to three, the Justices ruled that the Colorado law did not discriminate on the basis of viewpoint, was narrowly drawn, left open other means of expression, and was neither too vague nor overbroad, thus passing the basic tests required by the First Amendment. Of the nine Justices who took part in the Colorado case in 2000, only five remain on the Court: Justices Ginsberg and Breyer, who voted to uphold the law, and dissenters Justices Scalia, Kennedy, and Thomas.
Massachusetts amended its law in 2007 to create a thirty-five-foot buffer zone, which means that no one may protest or approach potential patients within that area surrounding either the front door of a clinic or the driveway into the clinic parking lot. Anti-abortion activists are free to protest outside the thirty-five-foot zone or to wait until after regular clinic hours. The state said the amendment was necessary because there was still harassment going on outside clinics. The state said the six-foot floating buffer in the old law was hard to enforce, and public safety required a larger, fixed no-protest zone.
The law was challenged by anti-abortion protesters who maintain that they want to peacefully hand out literature and talk to women who are approaching abortion clinics. They hope to make the women understand that there are alternatives to abortion and that they can help them understand their options. The thirty-five-foot buffer zone pushes them into the street or outer edge of the sidewalk or beyond entry driveways, they complained.
Free speech the topic of Faculty Council discussion
BY GRETA MEYLE | OCTOBER 09, 2013 5:00 AM
University of Iowa faculty representatives want to discern the difference between free speech and provocative behavior among their peers.
At the Faculty Council meeting Tuesday, after mixed court verdicts regarding university staff members rights, Faculty Council members held a detailed discussion on to what extent a faculty member has the right to criticize the institution he or she works for.
In the 2006 case Garcetti v. Ceballos, the court found public employees dont necessarily have the right to criticize the institution they work for. Contrarily, a recent 2011 case involving a faculty member and the University of North Carolina-at Wilmington, the court decided that faculty members of a public university should be remised from the Garcetti ruling.
Even more recently, the Aug. 21 case of Demers v. Austin, the U.S. 9th Court of Appeals ruled in favor of faculty that the First Amendment protects faculty if the issue is related to scholarship and teaching. These rulings, and groups that encourage faculty free speech, such as the American Association of University Professors, have given rise to many universities considering modifying their policies.
Faculty Council President Erika Lawrence said that the goal was to start the conversation early to protect against future implications.
I mean, this is a huge issue for the faculty of a public university, Lawrence said. Some courts are protecting faculty free speech more than others this could really affect us down the line.
Lawrence said it really comes down to whether a faculty member is expressing disagreement or being hostile or disruptive, especially under representation of the UI.
Law Professor Christina Bohannan approached the issue from a Supreme Court standpoint.
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Free speech the topic of Faculty Council discussion
After last year’s blockbuster cases involving gay marriage and the Voting Rights Act, the Supreme Court gathers on Monday to start work on the new term’s cases, which cover campaign finance, abortion, affirmative action, and more. Despite the government shutdown, the court will forge forward on opening oral arguments for these cases.
Case:McCullen v. Coakley
Dates: No date set yet.
Basic Facts: A Massachusetts law creates a 35-foot buffer zone around abortion clinics, within which political protests from non-clinic workers are not allowed.
Major issues at stake: The case is a mix of first amendment free speech rights and abortion questions. InHill v. Colorado (2000), the court by a 6-3 vote upheld a similar Colorado law because it was “content neutral,” i.e. it did not explicitly favor pro-choice or pro-life protestors. Now, the challengers argue that allowing clinic workers to speak within this buffer zone, but restricting all others, means that only the clinic’s point of view will be heard, thereby restricting the opponents’ free speech.
Case: McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission
Dates: Arguments begin tomorrow, Oct. 8.
Basic Facts: Supported by the Republican National Convention, Shaun McCutcheon is challenging the constitutionality of the aggregate limits on political contributions, which currently makes $48,600 to candidates and $74,600 to parties the maximum possible donation in any two-year election cycle.
Major issues at stake: McCutcheon would like the limitations thrown out because he argues the limits violate free speech, as the court has long found political spendingto be equivalent to speech. On the other hand, the intention of donation limits are to democratize political support, so that rich individuals cannot have too much influence on an election. The 1976 case Buckley v. Valeo upheld the constitutionality of those limits, but that precedent will now be put to the test.Slate’s Richard Hasencompares McCutcheon v. FEC to Citizen’s United in its implications for opening political contributions to the wealthy few, andwrites that this one “will be bigor huge.” The Hill’sStephen Spaulding suggestively asks,”Will the Supreme Court make it easier to bribe politicians during the midterm elections?”
Case: Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action
Freedom of the Press: A Liberty for All, or a Privilege for Some? (Hon. David B. Sentelle)
Full event: http://www.cato.org/events/12th-annual-constitution-day Cato's 12th Annual Constitution Day Conference “The Supreme Court: Past and Prologue, A L…
College at Brockport students got a history lesson Thursday that was breaking news for their parents and grandparents.
Students heard straight from a woman whose voice was also heard in a landmark United States Supreme Court decision about the First Amendment.
Advocate Mary Beth Tinker asked students to keep the First Amendment alive through new-age social media.
Tinker was one of the students suspended in 1964 from her school in Des Moines, Iowa for wearing black armbands to honor and remember those who lost their lives in the Vietnam War.
That case made it to the U.S. Supreme Court, ending in a landmark decision that protects students and teachers rights to freedom of speech.
“I’d just like to encourage all young people to stand up and speak up and make a difference, and that goes for adults too,” said Tinker. “We should all be involved in using our first amendment rights to be involved in our communities, and our schools, and make a difference and make things better in the world.”
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First Amendment Advocate Speaks to Brockport Students
By Maxim Lott
Shown, at right, is a screen shot of the Senate web entry on the 2nd Amendment. The controversial passage is highlighted.Reuters/Senate.gov
Does the Second Amendment guarantee an individual right to own guns?
The Supreme Court has ruled that it does. But you might be confused if you visit the official Senate web page on the Constitution, which says only: “Whether this provision protects the individual’s right to own firearms or whether it deals only with the collective right of the people to arm and maintain a militia has long been debated.”
That particular wording was posted on the Senate website in 2009, based on archived web pages at The Internet Archive. However, that’s one year after the Supreme Court ruled: “The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense.”
Given the court ruling, critics say the Senate site’s administrators are just wrong.
“After five-and-a-half years of litigation, the Supreme Court unequivocally resolved the long-standing debate over the meaning of the Second Amendment,” Bob Levy, one of the lawyers who won the 2008 Supreme Court case, told FoxNews.com.
“No one on either side of the gun debate — with the possible exception of those persons who devised the U.S. Senate’s official website explaining the Constitution — doubts that the Supreme Court has affirmed the individual rights view of the Second Amendment,” he added.
The issue follows on the heels of a similar Second Amendment controversy, in which a Texas history textbook was found to claim that the Second Amendment means “the people have the right to keep and bear arms in a state militia.”
Posted at: 09/26/2013 6:44 AM
A nationally-known First Amendment rights advocate will visit The College at Brockport Thursday morning.
Mary Beth Tinker was a principal figure in a 1965 case about students’ rights to free speech. She and other students were suspended after publicly denouncing the Vietnam War and the Supreme Court ruled in their favor.
Tinker and a First Amendment lawyer are lecturing at Brockports Union Ballroom. It starts at 8 a.m.
Have a story you want our news team to investigate? Call us at 585-232-1010, click here to send us an e-mail or leave us a Facebook post or tweet.
RICHMOND, Va. — Clicking “Like” on Facebook is constitutionally protected free speech and can be considered the 21st century-equivalent of a campaign yard sign, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday.
The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond reversed a lower court ruling that said merely “liking” a Facebook page was insufficient speech to merit constitutional protection.
Exactly what a “like” means — if anything — played a part in a Virginia case involving six people who say Hampton Sheriff B.J. Roberts fired them for supporting an opponent in his 2009 re-election bid, which he won. The workers sued, saying their First Amendment rights were violated.
Roberts said some of the workers were let go because he wanted to replace them with sworn deputies while others were fired because of poor performance or his belief that their actions “hindered the harmony and efficiency of the office.” One of those workers, Daniel Ray Carter, had “liked” the Facebook page of Roberts’ opponent, Jim Adams.
U.S. District Judge Raymond Jackson in Norfolk had ruled in April 2012 that while public employees are allowed to speak as citizens on matters of public concern, clicking the “like” button does not amount to expressive speech. In other words, it’s not the same as actually writing out a message and posting it on the site.
Jackson acknowledged that other courts have ruled that Facebook posts are constitutionally protected speech, but he said in those cases there were “actual statements.” Simply clicking a button is much different and doesn’t warrant First Amendment protection, he wrote. In his ruling, Jackson acknowledged the need to weigh whether the employee’s speech was a substantial factor in being fired. But the judge wrote that the point is moot if “liking” something isn’t constitutionally protected speech.
The three-judge appeals court panel disagreed, ruling that “liking a political candidate’s campaign page communicates the user’s approval of the candidate and supports the campaign by associating the user with it. In this way, it is the Internet equivalent of displaying a political sign in one’s front yard, which the Supreme Court has held is substantive speech.” The case was sent back to the lower court.
Facebook and the American Civil Liberties Union, which filed friend of court briefs in the case, applauded Wednesday’s ruling.
“This ruling rightly recognizes that the First Amendment protects free speech regardless of the venue, whether a sentiment is expressed in the physical world or online,” Ben Wizner, director of the ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project, said in a written statement. “The Constitution doesn’t distinguish between ‘liking’ a candidate on Facebook and supporting him in a town meeting or public rally.”
An attorney representing Roberts, the sheriff, did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment, nor did an attorney representing the employees.
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Facebook 'like' is free speech, court rules
Summary: A U.S. court has shown support for the idea that social media ‘likes’ and preferences should have the same level of protection as legally protected speech.
Showing preferences on Facebook by ‘liking’ pages and figures should not land you in court, a U.S. judge has ruled, reviving discussions of how much the Constitution protects what we do and say online.
The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled in favor of Daniel Carter, former deputy sheriff in Hampton, Virginia. Carter claimed that he was sacked after ‘liking’ a Facebook page dedicated to a candidate running for city sheriff. The candidate, Jim Adams, was in direct competition with the former employee’s boss in 2009.
Six former employees of Hampton Sheriff B.J. Roberts claimed they were fired in violation of their First Amendment rights for showing support to the rival candidate online and brought the original complaint against the public official.
According to Reuters, the appeals court has ruled that Facebook users who click the ‘Like’ button to show support for a political candidate is no legally different than displaying political signs in a front lawn, and such marked preferences are protected by law.
The chief judge, William Traxler, wrote for the three-judge panel:
“Liking a political candidate’s campaign page communicates the user’s approval of the candidate and supports the campaign by associating the user with it. It is the Internet equivalent of displaying a political sign in one’s front yard, which the Supreme Court has held is substantive speech.”
In 2012, U.S. federal District Judge Raymond Jackson in Virginia called the ‘liking’ of a Facebook page “insufficient speech to merit constitutional protection,” and threw out the original case. While Jackson admitted courts had granted First Amendment protection to written posts and comments on Facebook, as they were “actual statements,” there is a distinction between ‘likes’ and written commentary.
Traxler, however, does not believe such separation exists.
“On the most basic level, clicking on the Like button literally causes to be published the statement that the user likes something, which is itself a substantive statement,” Traxler wrote.
Ada The language of the Second Amendment is simple: A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
Those 27 words are more complicated than they appear and have sparked a national debate over what the amendment means.
Dr. Paul Collins, associate professor of political science at the University of North Texas, spoke about the Second Amendment and its future during a lecture Tuesday at East Central University. He gave students a quick overview of the amendment, summarized key U.S. Supreme Court cases on the subject and predicted how the amendment would fare in the future.
Collins said the first clause of the amendment leads people to believe that it does not protect peoples right to carry firearms unless they serve in a branch of the U.S. military. But he said people who zero in on the second clause conclude that the amendment protects an individual right to carry guns.
For those that put a lot of faith in the preface, it seems to suggest theres no individual right to keep and bear arms, he said. For those that focus on the operative clause and sort of set aside the preface, set aside that justification clause, that gets you to the individual-right interpretation.
ECU hosted the lecture to celebrate Constitution Day, which commemorates the signing of the U.S. Constitution. The colleges Rothbaum Lecture series is funded by an endowment established by the late Julian Rothbaum.
The U.S. Supreme Court first tackled Second Amendment issues in 1939, when the court upheld a federal law banning shipments of sawed-off shotguns in interstate commerce. The court declined to strike down the law on Second Amendment grounds without evidence that sawed-off shotguns were linked to preserving a well-regulated militia.
Collins said the courts holding in U.S. v. Miller was the law of the land until 2008, when the justices heard arguments in District of Columbia v. Heller. That case centered on whether the District of Columbia could legally ban handguns.
The Heller decision struck down the districts ban on handguns and upheld an individual right to use firearms for legal purposes, such as self-defense in the home. But the court also said that certain regulations such as barring felons from owning guns are legitimate.
Newswise Anti-abortion groups are well-known for demonstrating and sidewalk counseling at womens reproductive health facilities, but a Massachusetts statute criminalizes even peaceful expression on public sidewalks near these clinics.
An upcoming U.S. Supreme Court case will determine the constitutionality of Massachusetts selective exclusion law, which applies only to streets and sidewalks near reproductive health-care facilities. The Massachusetts statute provides that [n]o person shall knowingly enter or remain on a public way or sidewalk adjacent to a reproductive health-care facility within [specified distances around those facilities].
If Massachusetts can close off the sidewalks surrounding reproductive health centers to peaceful expressive activity, then the government can prohibit expression in a wide range of circumstances, said John Inazu, JD, First Amendment expert and associate professor of law at Washington University in St. Louis.
Inazu advances his argument in an amicus brief filed on behalf of a broad coalition of religious groups, including the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, International Society for Krishna Consciousness, Christian Legal Society, National Association of Evangelicals, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, Christian Medical Association, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, Institutional Religious Freedom Alliance, Lutheran ChurchMissouri Synod, and United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Inazu co-authored the brief with Michael W. McConnell, the Richard and Frances Mallery Professor of Law at Stanford Law School.
In their brief, Inazu and McConnell emphasize the sheer magnitude of these restrictions, noting that this statute criminalizes almost any use of the sidewalk near a reproductive health-care facility, including conversations between two willing participants or even a person singing or praying quietly to herself.
The brief argues that the Massachusetts law and a 2000 Supreme Court opinion upholding a similar Colorado law represent a breach of the public forum doctrine rooted in the First Amendment right to assembly.
A state might seek to undermine union strikes by closing off public sidewalks surrounding factories to peaceful expressive activity. Or the state might seek to stifle criticism of a controversial legislative policy by excluding peaceful expressive activity from the public sidewalks near the state capitol [T]hese regulations fundamentally undermine the public forum, the brief states.
Inazu and McConnell emphasize that the state has the right to regulate the public forum if expression becomes violent because the Assembly Clause protects only peaceable assembly, but they argue the state does not have the right to ban public expression in order to avoid unpopular speech or expression.
Quoting from an earlier Supreme Court opinion, they conclude by noting we apply the limitations of the Constitution with no fear that freedom to be intellectually and spiritually diverse, or even contrary, will disintegrate the social organization.
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First Amendment Expert Supports Rights to Speech, Assembly in Supreme Court Brief
Liking a political candidate’s Facebook Page is the Internet equivalent of displaying a political sign in your front yard, a federal appeals court ruled.
A Facebook “Like” is the equivalent of free speech protected by the First Amendment, a federal court of appeals ruled Wednesday.
The likable ruling was included in a decision published by the Fourth US Circuit Court of Appeals in Bland v. Roberts.
In the case, which is still ongoing, Bobby Bland and five of his co-workers in the Sheriff’s Department in Hampton, Va., are suing their former employer, Sheriff B.J. Roberts, for wrongful termination. Part of the suit hinged around the question of whether liking a campaign’s Facebook Page is protected speech. One of the plaintiffs, Daniel Carter, said that he was fired for liking the Page of a candidate running against Roberts in the 2009 election.
A district court originally ruled last year that liking a Facebook Page is “insufficient speech to merit constitutional protection,” but the appeals court overturned that part of the decision.
“In sum, liking a political candidate’s campaign page communicates the user’s approval of the candidate and supports the campaign by associating the user with it. In this way, it is the Internet equivalent of displaying a political sign in one’s front yard, which the Supreme Court has held is substantive speech,” the court determined in its decision published Wednesday.
The American Civil Liberties Union filed an amicus brief in the appeal supporting the plaintiffs.
“This ruling rightly recognizes that the First Amendment protects free speech regardless of the venue, whether a sentiment is expressed in the physical world or online. The Constitution doesn’t distinguish between ‘liking’ a candidate on Facebook and supporting him in a town meeting or public rally,” Ben Wizner, director of the ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project, said in a statement to CNET.
[via The Wall Street Journal]
Updated at 10:57 a.m. PT with statement from ACLU’s Ben Wizner.
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Court grants First Amendment protection to Facebook 'Like'
A federal appeals court ruled Wednesday that liking something on Facebook is a form of protected free speech in a closely watched Virginia case that tested the limits of the First Amendment in the digital age.
The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond rejected a lower courts opinion that clicking the ubiquitous thumbs up icon was not actual speech, an opinion that would have had wide-ranging implications for millions of Facebook users and other new forms of expression on the web if it had stood.
[Liking] is the Internet equivalent of displaying a political sign in ones front yard, which the Supreme Court has held is substantive speech, the three judge panel wrote in their 81-page opinion.
The ruling grew out of a lawsuit brought by Hampton sheriffs deputies, one of whom claimed he was fired for liking the campaign page of his bosss opponent. Daniel Ray Carter, Jr. said the dismissal violated his First Amendment rights in the 2011 suit.
But U.S. District Court Judge Raymond A. Jackson issued a summary judgement against Carter in January 2012, saying liking didnt rise to the level of protected speech. Jackson said Carter needed to have made actual statements to make such a claim.
Facebook and the ACLU filed friend of the court briefs in the case, saying Jacksons ruling would erode free speech rights. In the brief, Facebook said its users register more than 3 billion likes and comments every day.
Facebook users can like a range of content that appears on the social media site from articles to photos to organizations. If a user clicks the thumbs up icon, the content appears on his or her Facebook feed.
The court properly recognized that in an era when so much of our communication takes place through social media liking a political Facebook page is an important means of political expression that deserves First Amendment expression, said Rebecca Glenberg, the ACLU legal director for Virginia.
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Facebook ‘liking’ is protected free speech, federal court says
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