1st Amendment News

Campus free expression takes hit in Supreme Court decision

The U.S. Supreme Court sided with a school administration of a Morgan Hill, California high school  in leaving in place a ruling that they acted correctly in asking students to remove shirts with images of American flags during Cinco de Mayo. The administration was concerned that given a history of tension and fighting between whites […]

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Transparency: Rare victory in obtaining license plate scans from Oakland police

Ars Technica used a public record request to obtain the entire data base of 4.6 million reads of license plates between 2010 and 2014 made by the Oakland Police Department. An Ars Technica analysis showed that the police could use the data to make a number of valid conclusions about the private lives of the […]

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AP suggests making murder of journalists a war crime

AP CEO Gary Pruitt has proposed that international law be changed to make killing journalists or taking them hostage a war crime. He said wearing “PRESS” on vests no longer protects journalists but instead makes them targets. Over a 1,000 journalist have died since 1992. Pruitt said terrorist groups don’t want the media around since […]

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Regulation of commercial drone use in flux

The Federal Aviation Administration is allowing commercial drone flight without airspace clearance. The leeway is only granted to the 50 plus companies already granted exemption from the rule banning commercial drones. (ComputerWorld, March 24, 2015, by Martyn Williams, IDG News Service) Amazon is protesting government regulation contending that approval given to them to test deliveries […]

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Insurance companies not forced to defend malicious defamation claims

The Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that an insurance company is not compelled to defend an orthodonic business whose employee posted libelous statements about a competitor online. The court held that the applicable insurance policy precluded coverage for acts done with intent to injure. (Law360, March 19, 2015, by Jeff Sistrunk) “…S&B [Sletten […]

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Freedom of information: Federal judge orders release of records of spying on Nor Cal Muslims

A federal judge rejected the FBI’s contention that they could withhold information about their surveillance program targeting the Northern California Muslim community. The judge ruled they could not use a “law enforcement exemption” to retain information in a Freedom of Information Act request. (ACLU of Northern California, March 23, 2015, by Julia Harumi Mass and […]

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Law professor: Corporations using First Amendment to evade regulation

Harvard law professor John Coates argues that granting corporations free speech rights has resulted in a “form of corruption.”  “… the use of litigation by managers to entrench reregulation in their personal interests at the expense of shareholders, consumers, and employees. In aggregate, they degrade the rule of law, rendering it less predictable, general and […]

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Free speech: Supreme Court ponders whether states control vanity plate messages

The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments on the issue of when it was allowable for state governments to block certain types of messages on license plates. One view holds that license plates qualify as government speech thus subject to control, another that they constitute a public forum that would necessarily preclude government censorship. The specific […]

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ICE under fire for dubious contention that documents on drone use are not newsworthy

Muckrock’s Freedom of Information Act request for documents pertaining to Operation Safeguard, a pilot project using drones to monitor the U.S.-Mexico border in 2003, has stumped ICE (the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement), to the point that they dismissed the request on the grounds that it “failed to adequately prove that any specific information […]

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Federal judge orders release of photos showing abuse of detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan

The Obama administration must release photos showing abuse of prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan according to a federal court ruling. The administration has long tried to bury the disturbing images fearful that publication would result in terrorist attacks. The judge gave the government two months to decide on an appeal. (Associated Press, March 21, 2015, […]

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