1st Amendment News

California cell phone kill switch law raises free speech issues

To fight street crime, California recently enacted a law requiring kill switches for cell phones, but many in the field are concerned about implications of the law. Some are worried that law enforcement or service providers could trigger a smartphone’s kill device at the expense of civil liberties.  (San Francisco Examiner, August 27, 2014, by […]

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Free speech takes hit in federal court decision upholding restrictions on Christian speech at Arab festival

The 6th Circuit U.S. court of appeals ruled that a demonstration by “Bible Believers” at the Arab International Festival was not protected under the First Amendment since in the Court’s opinion the Christian speakers intended to incite violence and once violence ensued, it could only be stemmed by limiting speech. Eugene Volokh in The Volokh […]

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ACLU sues to shed light on Homeland Security’s fast-track deportations of women and children

The American Civil Liberties Union claims that Homeland Security is stonewalling their request for statistics about the border patrol’s practice of deporting people without due process. The ACLU filed a request in February on the numbers throw out of the country under an expedited “removal policy.” The ACLU also claimed that Homeland Security blocks reporters […]

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Watchdog agency sues for reports of sexual misconduct by TSA screeners

Judicial Watch is suing Homeland Security for reports of sexual misconduct by TSA screeners. The initial Freedom of Information Act request filed in March was prompted by a complaint by a Colorado woman that a TSA worker frisking her was sexually assaulting her. (The Blaze, April 21, 2014, by Pete Kaperowicz) Despite Judicial Watch’s agreement […]

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New York federal appeals court allows Occupy class action to proceed

The 2nd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that Occupy Wall Street protesters arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge in 2011 can pursuit their lawsuit against the police. A New York police department lawyer objected to the ruling and pointed to the opinion of the dissenting judge that police have to make quick decisions in the […]

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Free speech: Hare Krishnas lose long court fight over right to solicit donations in LAX

The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled against the Hare Krishnas asserting that the group did not have First Amendment protection for soliciting donations at the Los Angeles International Airport. The Court cited airport congestion as a key concern in rejecting the group’s lawsuit.  (Metropolitan News-Enterprise, August 21, 2014, by Kenneth Ofgang) Writing for […]

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Protecting journalists gains urgency after Foley execution

With mainstream newspapers cutting their international reporting, smaller media outlets are filling the void, raising questions about their ability to protect free lance journalists now proliferating in dangerous war zones. Too many reporters have inadequate protection and training given challenges in the field. (The Guardian, August 21, 2014, by Martin Chulov) Journalist James Foley beheaded […]

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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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