1st Amendment News

Federal appeals court makes distinction between speech and conduct in Stolen Valor Act case

The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a ruling against a former Marine, Elven Joe Swisher,  who claimed to have earned a Silver Star in secret military action in Korea in 1955. He was granted disability but was later found to have lied  and was convicted for stealing government benefits and wearing an unearned […]

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Social media roundup: Storyful checks authenticity of news on social media

A news agency begun in 2009 is filling a greatly needed service in identifying and authenticating news content and distributing it to their clients, digital journalists. The agency, Storyful, has been effective in providing reliable news in news fronts such as the Islamic State incursions in Iraq. Murdock’s News Corp. bought Storyful in 2013. (NPR, […]

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FOIA: Fifty groups asking for new legislation on transparency

A wide array of public interest groups are asking President Barack Obama to support a law to improve the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The coalition sent a letter to Obama reminding him of his commitment to transparency and urging him to act to make changes that would carry into the future. (The Hill, October […]

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ACLU, EFF target Tennesse school district rules on tech and social media

The American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Freedom Foundation have asked a Tennessee school district to change its policies governing computers and smartphones and use of social media on and off campus. The policies require students engaged in student activities and those who wish to use school computers to sign off on the policies […]

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Initiative launched to shore up press freedom after repeated violations during Ferguson protests

With a report in hand of 52 charges of violations of freedom of press during the Ferguson protests,  an association of writers is asking for the federal government to investigate. PEN America Center is asking the Justice Department to create new guidelines for local police departments in treating the press during public demonstrations. (The New […]

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New Pennsylvania law passed to silence convicts

To response to graduation speeches by controversial convict Mumia Abu-Jamal, now serving a life sentence in Pennsylvania for murdering a Philadelphia policeman, the state legislature passed a law allowing victims of a crime to sue a convict for conduct causing “mental anguish.” The law attempts to evade the First Amendment by targeting conduct rather than […]

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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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