1st Amendment News

Government critics rankled by free speech zone established for Nevada ranch protest

Citizens turning out in support of a rancher’s refusal to pay 20-year’s worth of grazing fees to the federal government were incensed to find that they were restricted to a free speech zone. They and free speech advocates consider the zones “an inappropriate infringement of free speech.” (Las Vegas Review-Journal, April 17, 2014, by Sean […]

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Free speech: Federal appeals court rules against conflict-mineral Internet disclosure

The Washington, D.C. U.S. Circuit ruled that the government could not force firms to reveal on their websites if they were using “conflict minerals” from the Congo. Militias in the Democratic Republic of the Congo have financed rape and plunder by selling gold, tantalum, tin and tungsten. The ruling upheld the regulations requiring reporting on […]

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Federal Judge rules in FAC case: US can keep secret a legal memo on drone strikes targeting US citizen

In a national security case brought by the First Amendment Coalition, a federal judge has ruled that the Obama administration does not have to disclose a Justice Department legal memo explaining the legal rationale for drone strikes and, in particular, drone strikes abroad against suspected terrorists who are also US citizens. FAC’s suit, based on […]

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Judges afford First Amendment protection to flashing lights warning of speed traps

A federal judge in Oregon was the most recent judge to rule that flashing your lights on a freeway to warn other motorists of a speed trap was protected speech under the First Amendment. The traffic court judge held that the sheriff’s deputy had acted improperly in arresting the driver for “expressive conduct” protected under […]

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NSA surveillance campaign under fire for lack of transparency

A media coalition is bolstering efforts to challenge the National Security Agency’s National Security Letters program, particularly the non-disclosure provision that they claim constitutes prior restraint of journalists reporting about the program. The FBI routinely issues the letters to phone companies and Internet service providers with non-disclosure orders gagging them from discussing the letters. (Reporters […]

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California news photographer challenges CHP for unlawful arrest

A Willits News photographer filed suit in state court to contest his arrest for newsgathering activities in a Highway bypass construction zone near the town of Willits, California. Stephen E. Eberhard was preparing to take photos of protesters chained to construction equipment and carrying signs protesting the construction, but after he announced his intent to […]

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Drone use for reporting in limbo as FAA struggles to set rules

A March decision by a federal judge that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) does not have the legal authority to ban drones from the sky is spurring growth in the drone industry. The government will surely develop new rules for the unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) but not easily. Brendan Schulman a lawyer representing a drone […]

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Freedom of information: Law school First Amendment clinic rattles cage of federal non-prosecution agreements

University of Virginia law students at the school’s First Amendment Clinic are suing the federal government to tear at secrecy surrounding non-prosecution agreements. The students filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for over 30 settlement deals still in shrouds. One of the deals was a settlement with the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston […]

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New Mexico photographers lose right to refuse service to gay couple

The U.S. Supreme Court left in place a lower court ruling against a New Mexico wedding photo company that refused to take photos at a same-sex commitment ceremony. The decision not to accept the case set no precedent. (Politico, April 7, 2014, by Josh Gerstein) The photo company’s Christian owner claimed that taking away their […]

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Mozilla CEO resignation provokes free speech debate

After only days on the job, the Mozilla CEO resigned over an employee revolt centering on his contributions to the 2008 campaign to pass Proposition 8, California’s ballot initiative to ban same-sex marriages. Pressure for him to resign escalated as many believed his ability to lead the company was seriously damaged by his Prop 8 […]

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