1st Amendment News

Free speech fight focuses on parody of trademark

A Virginia federal court recently ruled that a trademark would prevent a parody of the NAACP in naming the group “National Association for the Abortion of Colored People.” The Radiance Foundation was objecting to the liberal stances of the group that excluded any significant pro-life activities, but was told by the court that its parody […]

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California town council shuts down meeting over messge on hat

The Santa Ana City Council sparked a free speech debate over a hat with anti-police lyrics. After a man refused to take off the hat which read “—- the police,” the mayor cancelled a city council meeting. A local law professor cited a U.S. Supreme Court case, Cohen v. California, in arguing that the man […]

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Obama favors net neutrality, against fast lanes

President Barack Obama again expressed his opposition to preferential treatment for certain websites who could pay providers for faster lanes. He wants the Federal Communications Commission to treat broadband as  a public utility. (GigaOm, October 10, 2014, by Jeff John Roberts) Obama was careful to say that the FCC was an independent agency not subject […]

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Virginia volunteer fire fighters lose free speech case in federal court

Two Virginia volunteer firefighters lost in federal court when a jury ruled that their department did not violate their free speech rights in suspending one and firing the other. The two firefighters accused the department of acting to quell their criticism of decisions on equipment and funding. The jury could not find that criticism was […]

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Transparency: Twitter takes federal government to court over surveillance data

Twitter is challenging the federal government in court over federal efforts to curb their ability to release the details of requests for surveillance. The company has been trying to negotiate a more liberal policy on the issue but failing that is suing the government on First Amendment grounds. (Wired, October 7, 2014, by Kim Zetter) […]

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Brown Act roundup: Reporter who inspired open meeting act dies

The intrepid political reporter whose work led to the passage of California’s open meeting law has died. He was 92. In his first year with the San Francisco Chronicle, Walter Harris found himself thrown out of meetings of local agencies that should have been open to the public and media. He wrote a 10-part series, […]

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Georgia: Challenge can proceed on ban on videotaping city council meeting

A federal district judge is allowing a suit to proceed pitting a online news photographer against the town officials of Cumming, Georgia over her right to videotape a city council meeting. The photographer, Nydia Tisdale, claims her rights were violated when the police seized her camera and used force to remove her from the meeting. […]

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First Amendment: Federal judge rules Ferguson five second rule unconstitutional

A federal judge ruled that police in Ferguson, Missouri could not employ the “5 second rule,” limiting the time protesters could remain in one place or be arrested. “The practice of requiring peaceful demonstrators and others to walk, rather than stand still, violates the constitution,” U.S. District Court Judge Catherine Perry wrote. (The Washington Post, […]

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California public records fight continues with excessive charges ruling and a quest for legislature nepotism report

In a victory for open government, a superior court judge ruled that the Redlands Unified School District had violation the California Public Records Act in charging too much to view records. The district charges 25 cents a page to copy records. A parent of a special ed student complained that the charge for documents she […]

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Indiana: Federal judge stymies restrictions on canvassing

Restrictions on door-to-door canvassing violate the First Amendment ruled a federal judge in throwing out a Yorktown, Indiana law. The judge said the law was not confined to serve safety and privacy interests while still providing for other means of expression. (American Civil Liberties Union, October 2, 2014, press release) The ruling came at the […]

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