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California Open Gov Roundup

California open government roundup: Note passing at Morgan Hills school board meeting raises questions

While considering whether to move sixth grade classes to middle school, the Morgan Hill schools superintendent passed a note to a board member prompting her on a point of parliamentary procedure. Members of the public objected at the time and later charged that note-passing violated the Brown Act, California’s open meeting law. (Morgan Hill Times, […]

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Right of publicity prevails over First Amendment argument in dispute over use of athletes’ images

A video game company and former college athletes settled a lawsuit over the use of the athletes’ images and likenesses in video games.  Electronic Arts had claimed unsuccessfully that the use of the images was protected under the First Amendment. (Courthouse News Service, August 19, 2015, by Maria Dinzeo) The lawsuit pitted the right of […]

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Commerical free speech: Federal court scuttles disclosure rule for conflict minerals

In line with a number of recent court decisions upholding free speech rights of corporations, the District Columbia federal appeals court ruled that the SEC could not make public companies reveal that their  products contained “conflict minerals.” The ruling overturned a provision in the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law. Human rights group argued for […]

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Offensive restrictions on free speech still common on U.S. campuses

A report by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) reveals that U.S. colleges are illegally restricting students’ First Amendment rights. Its annual speech code survey of 437 schools found that 55 percent retain codes that silence students. The good news is that the total was 58.6 percent in 2014. (Personal Liberty, August 14, […]

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U.S. Supreme Court may hear case on disclosure of cell phone shutdown plan

The Electronic Privacy Information Center is appealing  to the U.S. Supreme Court on its Freedom of Information Act request rejected in federal appeals court. The center wants access to plans of the Department of Homeland Security to shut down cell phone service during emergencies. In 2011 cell phone service was shut down in San Francisco […]

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Federal court stifles South Carolina ban of political robocalls

The 4th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that South Carolina’s ban on  political automated phone calls violated the First Amendment. A Republican consultant was arrested for calls he set up to sample opinion. The 4th Circuit said the anti-robocal law was unconstitutional since it only designated political and commercial speech. (Courthouse News Service, August […]

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Journalists chafing under Obama administration hostility

Media organizations petitioned President Barack Obama to prevent federal agencies from withholding information from the public. The groups voiced their dissatisfaction with a list of grievances including agencies’ practice of vetting interview questions in advance and monitoring interviews.  (Poynter Institute, August 12, 2015, by James Warren) And this week Reporters Without Borders wrote a letter […]

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Detroit Free Press victory in mug shot case put on hold

A three-member panel of the U.S. 6th Circuit of Appeals ruled that the Detroit Free Press could publish mug shots of criminal defendants charged in federal court. But the panel called for an en banc hearing on the matter, citing the need to examine the rights of defendants to prevent release of their mug shots […]

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Federal judge throws out New Hampshire law banning ballot box selfies

A federal district judge dealt a blow to New Hampshire’s ballot selfie law on the grounds that it restricted political speech. The judge dismissed the state’s claims that the law was needed to fight vote buying and voter coercion. (The Washington Post, August 13, 2015, by Amber Phillips) Legal director for the American Civil Liberties […]

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California bars grand juries from hearing police lethal force cases behind closed doors

With Governor Jerry Brown’s signature, California passed two laws relating to police use of force. SB227 prohibits grand juries from conducting secret hearings to determine whether  a law enforcement officer should be charged with a crime following use of force against a person detained or arrested. SB411 reaffirms the right of citizens to take videos […]

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