First Amendment News

Congress considers protections for U.S. citizens against foreign libel suits

Legislation is being introduced in Congress to bolster the First Amendment partially in response to British court decision in 2003 that held that a U.S. writer libeled a Saudi billionaire in a book about the funding of terrorism. -DB The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press Feb. 17, 2009 By Samantha Fredrickson The so-called “libel tourism” bill that was introduced in the Senate last year is back on the table. The Free Speech Protection

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Opinion: Campus open forums threatened by violent demonstrations

When an Israeli counsel general attempted to give a lecture at San Jose State University on Feb. 5, he was shouted down. But instead of removing those disrupting the speech, campus police ultimately escorted the counsel general from the premises. A professor argues for implementing procedures to safeguard the free speech rights of controversial speakers. -DB San Jose Mercury News Editorial Feb. 19, 2009 By David Meir-Levi Few rights are dearer to the American people

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Federal appellate court narrows defense grounds for libel

A Massachusetts federal judge ruled that truth can be libelous in some private-figure cases when the statements published are malicious. The decision is thought to be especially disastrous for bloggers. -DB The Reporters Committee on Freedom of the Press February 19, 2009 By Samantha Fredrickson, Truth is no longer a defense in some private-figure libel cases in Massachusetts where the “ill will” of the speaker is established — at least according to a federal appellate

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Sweetwater Authority board charged with violating open meeting law

A San Diego water board has been charged with circumventing the Brown Act. In attempting to suspend a fellow board member, Mitch Beauchamp, the other members each sent a letter to the mayor. Since the letters were not discussed in an open meeting, Beauchamp’s lawyer is claiming either the board members illegally convened a secret meeting or conducted serial meetings. -DB San Diego Union-Tribune Feb. 14, 2009 By Tanya Sierra NATIONAL CITY — Sweetwater Authority

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Council member challenges Brown Act interpretation

A new San Jacinto City Council member is contesting a council policy forbidding members to attend meetings of city committees to which they have not been appointed. The Brown Act states that a quorum of the council cannot meet without public notice. -DB The Valley Chronicle Feb. 13, 2009 By Charles Hand Steve Di Memmo is going outside the city in a quest for legal agreement with his position that he can attend meetings of

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