News & Opinion

Federal appeals court overturns conviction of man who sent ‘hateful’ poem to professor

The 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that a poem full of hate and threats was protected speech and threw out the conviction of Aaron Michael Heineman who had sent the poem to a University of Utah professor. Heineman’s lawyer argued that a lower court failed to find that he intended the professor to […]

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Reporters Committee hires litigation director in free press struggle

The  Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press is launching an aggressive campaign in defense of journalists, for the first time hiring a legal director to bring lawsuits across the U.S. The RCFP is expected to focus on the right of journalists “to monitor government activities.” The move is seen as helping to fill a […]

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9th Circuit decision in high school free speech case causes dismay

The 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals rejected a bid for an en banc hearing of case brought by Live Oak High School students of Morgan Hill  in North California after the administration kept them from wearing U.S. flag T-shirts on Cinco de Mayo day in 2010. A three-judge panel of the court ruled in […]

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Brown Act roundup: San Diego city council in hot water over restrictions on public comment

A San Diego nonprofit filed a lawsuit claiming that the City of San Diego was violating the Brown Act, California’s open meeting law, by failing to add or allow non-agenda public comment on Monday agendas thus eliminating public comment. The nonprofit claims that the Brown Act requires public comment for each meeting. (San Diego Reader, […]

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New California law would mandate checks on police use of drones

A law before California Governor Jerry Brown would require law enforcement agencies to obtain a warrant before dispatching drones for surveillance. The law allows use of drones without warrant in emergencies including fires, hostage crises, chase and search and rescue. There are concerns that drones could be used to monitor protests as suggested by the […]

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Fedral government abuses state secrets privilege

A federal district judge ordered the Justice Department to provide “in camera” review of documents on the no-fly list that the government claims are protected by the state secrets privilege. “…the Court has a particularly strong and heightened institutional responsibility in these circumstances to review and assess the propriety of such executive branch activity since […]

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Free speech issue central in California sheriff election

A deputy sheriff’s association sued in federal court claiming that the sheriff was illegally campaigning in uniform while violating the deputies’ First Amendment rights to speak out in the sheriff election. A county policy prohibits employees from identifying themselves as connected to the sheriff’s office to “endorse, support, oppose or contradict any political campaign or […]

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Yahoo cites victory in transparency over federal government surveillance

Yahoo yielded to a government threat of a $250,000 a day fine in releasing customer information to federal intelligence agencies. This new revelation shows how ruthless the federal government was in pursuing their secret surveillance program noted a spokesperson for the Electronic Privacy Information Center. (Reuters, September 12, 2014, by Edwin Chan and Alexei Oreskovic) […]

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Free Speech: Second law forbidding lies in political campaigns ruled unconstitutional

A federal district judge struck down an Ohio law criminalizing lies in political campaigns. “The answer to false statements in politics is not to force silence (by forbidding lies) but to encourage truthful speech in response, and to let the voters, not the Government, decide what the political truth is,” wrote Judge Timothy Black. The […]

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Last ditch efforts made to save net neutrality

A number of companies and civic action groups supported Internet Slowdown Day on September 10 to demonstrate what the Internet would be like without net neutrality. The public comment period for the Federal Communication Commission’s new rules for Internet Service Providers ends on September 15. The rules establish fast and slow lanes for large and […]

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