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Important recent First Amendment stories: Supreme Court justice warns of use of First Amendment to cement conservative agenda

The following were noteworthy First Amendment stories from the last week and a half when the editor was on vacation.

Justice Elena Kagan said that conservatives were “weaponizing the First Amendment” in the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling against labor unions in its practice of requiring workers opposed to the union to pay collective bargaining fees. The New York Times found that the Roberts court was far more likely to rule for conservative speech than for liberal speech, check the recent decisions on campaign spending, storekeeper’s discrimination against gays, and regulation of tobacco, pharmaceuticals and guns. As the powerful take over the First Amendment there has been an attack on government efforts to regulate commercial interests in the public interest since regulation involves speech. (The New York Times, June 30, 2018, by Adam Liptak)

For a dissenting view, click here.

Facebook and Twitter honoring pledge to make political ads transparent

Facebook and Twitter are shedding light on the ads it runs on its platforms. Facebook is including a button on every one of its pages, “Info and Ads,” that will show every ad running and a link to the website the advertiser wants the public to visit. Twitter has established the Advertising Transparency Center allowing access to all ads, how long the ads are running and distinguishing features for political ads making them easier to spot. (NBC News, June 28, 2018, by Alyssa Newcomb)

For other stories on the issue, click here and here.

Federal judge rules for Trump administration in bid for CIA records on aid to Syrian rebels

A federal district judge was not convinced that President Donald Trump’s tweet countering a Washington Post story on a CIA program to stop aiding Syrian rebels in effect declassified the program. The judge shut down the New York Times’ lawsuit to obtain CIA records noting that Trump’s statements were too ambiguous to affect the case and that public discussion of a program did not in itself to cause declassification. (Politico, July 2, 2018, by Josh Gerstein)

For recent FAC coverage of a similar freedom of information issue, click here.

Yelp dodges order to remove defamation

A divided California Supreme Court ruled that Yelp was not compelled to remove 1-star reviews given that it was not the “publisher or speaker” of the content. A lawyer had sued to remove a negative review that hurt her firm’s Yelp score. (Courthouse News Service, July 2, 2018, by Nathan Solis)

For another story on the issue, click here.

Justice Kennedy influential in rulings on First Amendment

Retiring U.S. Supreme Court Judge Anthony Kennedy made his mark in First Amendment  law writing the majority decision in Citizens United and siding with the court when it struck down content-based restrictions on political speech. But he also wrote the majority decision on Garcetti v. Ceballos that hurt protections for whistleblowers working in government jobs. (The First Amendment Encyclopedia, July 1, 2018, by David L. Hudson, Jr.)

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