News & Opinion

Journalist arrests during Missouri shooting protests raise questions about state of free press in America

Runa A. Sandvik of the Freedom of the Press Foundation reports that as of Wednesday, August 20, there has been 16 arrests of journalists in Ferguson, Missouri with law enforcement agencies clearly in violation of the First Amendment rights of reporters covering the protests. A national coalition of 48 media outlets sent a protest letter […]

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Federal appeals court upholds First Amendment right to report on prison reform

The 2nd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals rejected the Erie County, N.Y. contention that they could withhold from the public reports measuring their progress in complying with a federal government mandate for prison reforms.  (The Buffalo News, August 18, 2014, by Phil Fairbanks) A 2011 settlement with the Justice Department dismissed the case as Erie […]

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Body cameras on police could improve law enforcement

Potentially it’s a gain that police in many locales are equipped with body cameras, but there are no assurances that the public will benefit given police claims that the recordings are not part of the public record. San Diego police have denied newspapers’ requests for recordings under the California Public Records Act. One study shows […]

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ACLU defends right to protest amid Ferguson turmoil

The American Civil Liberties Union took Missouri agencies to court in protest of their stipulation that anyone standing for more than five seconds on sidewalks in Ferguson would be subject to arrest. The ACLU is suing St. Louis County and the Highway Patrol claiming that the arrest of law-abiding individuals for simply standing still for […]

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Transparency: Los Angeles police err in reporting violent crimes

The Los Angeles Times found that the Los Angeles Police Department regularly misclassified violent crimes as less serious offenses during a one year term ending September of 2013. Downgrading the seriousness of the crimes pumps up the department’s performance. The police are under pressure to reduce crime. (Los Angeles Times, August 9, 2014, by Ben […]

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Federal judge tells Philadelphia to stop censoring airport ad

A federal district judge ruled that Philadelphia had failed to justify their rejection of a ad to run at the airport by the National Association of Colored People (NAACP) on the disparity between spending on education and prisons. The airport ran the ad briefly then adopted a policy against political or noncommercial ads. The judge […]

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Federal judge maintains clamp on secret court transcripts on spying

A federal district judge ruled that the government did not have to release more records of its spying program including rulings by the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and the names of cooperating telecom companies. Edward Snowden revealed the existence of the court and details of the spying on domestic phone calls that may be […]

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Reporters arrested while covering protests in Missouri

Police arrested two reporters, later released, from the Huffington Post and The Washington Post after a confrontation in McDonalds during the protest over the shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed young black man in Ferguson, Kansas. The reporters were recharging cell phones and accessing WiFi and prompted the arrests by video recording the police during […]

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Right of publicity prevails over First Amendment defense in athletes’ lawsuit against NCAA

Federal district judge Claudia Wilken of Oakland, California ruled that college student-athletes are entitled to fair compensation for their efforts that generate revenue for their schools. She issued an injunction preventing the NCAA “from enforcing any rules or bylaws that would prohibit its member schools and conferences from offering their FBS football or Division I […]

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California senator fights CIA for transparency on torture of terrorist suspects

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-CA, has been waging a five-year-old battle with the CIA and Obama administration to discover details of torture of terrorists after 9-11 in violation of U.S. law and international treaties. And since gaining access to millions of pages on the topic from the CIA and Defense Department, she wants to make the […]

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