Monday, August 1, 2022

Free speech is no joke / Major issue / InfoWoes

Free speech is no joke. Newsweek editorial asserts that the voices of artists like Dave Chappelle who are willing to wade into sensitive issues should not be drowned out by censorship.
Newly introduced RAP Act legislation seeks to prevent an artist’s “creative or artistic expression” from being used as evidence in legal claims.
Twitter warns of a surge by governments looking to censor social media platforms and journalists around the globe.

Alito off the top. Supreme Court justice, delivering a broad keynote address in Rome, slams critics and says a personal challenge is to “convince people that religious liberty is worth defending.”
CNN’s Fareed Zakaria calls Alito’s speech “disgusting” and “scandalous.”
■ Free Speech Center Director Ken Paulson wonders if Donald Trump’s own words crossed the line between free speech and criminal conduct.
■ A top national security official testifies that the DOJ is walking a fine line between protected speech and violent threats concerning U.S. justices.

Major issue. A new climate science degree at Iowa State University has one regent urging administrators to keep freedom of speech in mind when teaching the “very politically charged topic.”

Virginia Commonwealth University’s decision to ban first-semester students from Greek life draws ire of FIRE, the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression.
Alumni groups are rallying to keep “diversity of thought” alive and well on college campuses.
■ One Tennessee teacher is using the high court’s recent school-prayer ruling to challenge his suspension over expletive-laced social media posts.
Asphalt jumble. In upstate New York, a Republican committee wants to deliver a painted message on a city street similar to “Black Lives Matter,” only this time “God” is in the driver’s seat.
■ The city of Portland, Ore., agrees to pay journalists $55,000 for injuries incurred at a 2020 Black Lives Matter protest.
Groovin’ with Felix Cavaliere. Free Speech in Music Award winner sits down for MTSU students to talk on camera about the legendary Rascals and his life beyond the hits.
Let us all add the First Amendment to the country’s back-to-school list, says UT-Knoxville media law professor Stuart Brotman.
As newspapers continue to weaken and dry up, so too does their access to legal help.
Trailblazing Native American journalist remembered for spending more than four decades “doing his job and protecting Native people.
InfoWoes. Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones muddles Sandy Hook defamation case with announcement that his main company, Free Speech Systems, has filed for bankruptcy.
Texas Monthly’s Dan Solomon believes the Alex Jones defamation case could have huge free-speech implications, but because of the defendant, it won’t.
CIA whistleblower fears that news outlets are ignoring the dangers of the Espionage Act to press freedom in general and to Julian Assange in particular.

Monday, July 18, 2022

At close range / SLAPP happy / Two thumbs up?

At close range. First Amendment advocates are angered by an “unworkable” new Arizona law that limits the recording of police officers from fewer than eight feet away.
The Free Speech Center’s Ken Paulson writes that the distance limitations for shooting video are “unneeded and inflammatory.”
The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals upholds the public right in six states to record police as they do their jobs.
After her arrest at an abortion-rights protest, a 13-year-old girl says she will not be deterred from exercising her First Amendment rights.
Objective truth vs. subjective beliefNew York Times columnist Pamela Paul writes that the current Christian-branded Supreme Court is choosing faith over fact in its decisions. 
■ The Indiana ACLU declares that the lines of separation between church and state have become “hopelessly blurred” by the Supreme Court.
■ Rep. Rashida Tlaib, who calls the World War I-era Espionage Act an abuse of the legal system, is fighting an uphill battle to reform it.

‘Common sense doesn’t go viral.’ Free Speech Center director Ken Paulson has a “trillion” reasons why a 10-year-old Florida boy should not be prosecuted over perceived school threats.
College professor calls school’s disciplinary action over his Native American land acknowledgment statement a violation of free speech.
Jury awards $5.1 million to Southwest Airlines flight attendant who was fired after expressing a pro-life stance online.
Health-care workers, fearing harm, cannot use pseudonyms in COVID-19 vaccine-mandate lawsuit.

SLAPP happy. A Des Moines Register editor pushes state to protect public’s right to free expression amid a slew of meritless defamation suits aimed at silencing critics.
Free-speech groups fight back against obscenity claims over books deemed “inappropriate” for young readers.
“I’m not breaking any laws,” says Virginia woman whose right to free speech is being questioned after displaying profane signs in her yard.
Heinz patrons play catch-up. Angry Steelers fans look to petition drive to help restore old name of Pittsburgh’s football field after Acrisure Stadium choice upsets the faithful.
Reproductive Freedom for All, a state constitutional amendment proposal on abortion rights, may go before Michigan voters after successful petition drive.      
Only one Supreme Court justice has ever been impeached, but more than 1.2 million people have signed a petition hoping Clarence Thomas will be the second.
Two thumbs up? Journalist, film critic, and podcaster Christian Toto remembers a time when Hollywood celebrated free speech with award-winning productions set inside the Beltway. 
Did the suspension of a retired three-star general over his snarky tweet to first lady Jill Biden unveil a U.S. Army free-speech double standard
Arizona prison ban of explicit content is upheld by appellate court panel.

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Death by paper cuts / Voice of America? / Doubting Thomas

Death by paper cuts. As daily newspapers dwindle by two per week, and news “deserts” grow, a Northwestern professor reports that nothing less than “our own democracy” is at stake as 70 million Americans live in a county with little or no local news.
■ High court denies AB5 petition, squelching rights of freelance journalists hired as independent contractors for news outlets.
■ Chancellor denies access to state Children’s Services case file for reporter investigating teen's starvation death.

‘Blowing a hole in the wall between church and state.’ A New Yorker commentary reveals how in a single week the conservative justices of the Supreme Court asserted their recently consolidated power in dealing with guns, religion, abortion, and climate change.
The Christian Right is as emboldened as ever, but NPR numbers show it is not winning over public opinion.
Human rights activists’ commentary in The Hill explains why right now represents the best and worst of times for religious freedom.

Private prayer or pep rally? With the ruling on a high school football coach’s religious-freedom case, Free Speech Center Director Ken Paulson says the Supreme Court failed to feed the public’s hunger “for clarity and consistency” on church and state separation issues.
■ Coach Joseph Kennedy has his 50-yard-line prayers answered in the SCOTUS ruling.
■ Broward County megachurch loses court battle with Southern Poverty Law Center to have its “hate-group” designation removed.

Doubting Thomas. A million Americans, citing conflicts of interest over his conservative activist wife, have signed a petition demanding that U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas be impeached.
■ Justice Thomas, declare legal experts for The Guardian, has laid out the formula for destroying a free press.
■ The marshal for the Supreme Court asks Virginia and Maryland officials to prohibit picketing outside homes of justices who live there.
■ Las Vegas Sun editorial warns that the First Amendment is in the crosshairs of conservative Christian extremists.

Voice of America? With more than 100 million followers on Twitter, the New York Post urges Elon Musk to post five tweets ASAP for the sake of the nation.
Politico’s Rebecca Kern writes that efforts by “blue and red” state lawmakers to police speech on social media platforms are running into First Amendment obstacles.
High-profile trials of celebrities, with or without axes to grind, have amplified this country’s war over free speech.

More lessons in free speech. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis pushes legislation to prevent state colleges from becoming “hotbeds of stale ideologies.”
California governor says Floridians should fight DeSantis or flee to the Golden State.
State appeals court says school board in Nashville violated free-speech rights of terminated director in non-disparagement clause.


Monday, June 20, 2022

Steele and brass / Skirting the issue / Illegal procedure

Steele and brass. Seeking to establish its own “right to free speech,” ESPN management has filed a motion to dismiss sports anchor Sage Steele’s freedom-of-speech lawsuit against the network, which “sidelined” her with pay after potentially insensitive on-air comments.
Read more on Steele’s original lawsuit here
Sports Illustrated took heat on Twitter after promoting its story on high school football coach Joe Kennedy and his fight to pray on the field by saying a Supreme Court win would be “an erosion” of the separation between church and state.
CBS News tackles the history of the coach’s religious freedom case. 

‘We will never stop.’ Driven by a leaked Supreme Court opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade, pro-choice protesters staged another residential demonstration, this time outside Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s home.
The Federalist’s John M. Reeves writes that individuals who picket outside Supreme Court justices’ residences should be charged with breaking the law, since attempting to intimidate judges is not allowed under the law.
First Amendment author and professor Lynn Greenky in Ms. ponders this: “If sidewalk counseling regarding options to continue a pregnancy is protected political speech, so too should be counseling options regarding the choice to legally terminate a pregnancy.” 

Like it, love it, want more of it. Despite the criticism and obstacles they face, most journalists would not trade their jobs for anything else, according to a new Pew Research Center poll.
Poynter’s Erin McGroarty examines the societal shift that has moved journalists covering real-time protests from observers to targets and the ramifications for press freedom.

‘We should allow people to say what they want.’ The Guardian says Elon Musk made that comment during a conference call with employees of Twitter—a company he’s pursuing but doesn’t yet own —a session that morphed into a freedom-of-speech address.
HuffPost’s Ryan Grenoble questions how Musk can profess to be a “free speech absolutist” but allow the termination of employees who penned a letter criticizing him for what the company called “overreaching activism.”
Opinion: Andrew Napolitano, author and former New Jersey judge, says Twitter is free to suppress or allow any speech or speaker on its site, “unless it is doing the government’s bidding.” 
With a $4 million bounty on his head and a mantra that “free speech should be seen as the air we breathe: self-evident,” author Salman Rushdie turns 75.

Skirting the issue. After a long legal battle between a charter school and its students, a North Carolina judge ruled that gender-specific uniform requirements are unconstitutional
The University of Houston has settled a lawsuit with a First Amendment rights group that protested a school policy “designed to chill student speech.” 
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ “anti-WOKE” bill faces a new legal challenge as a union representing college faculty members pushes back
North Carolina law enforcement agencies have agreed to a $336,000 settlement stemming from a 2020 peaceful rally where marchers were pepper-sprayed and arrested

Closed doors. A Tennessee federal judge denied an editor’s lawsuit complaining that an annual conference of state judges should be open to the public, ruling that the gathering would not produce any policy decisions
■ An Arizona Supreme Court vice chief justice, ruling against a Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press challenge to have juror names publicly available, says that “providing them … might even imperil jury integrity.”
The Detroit News reports that two Republican gubernatorial hopefuls disqualified from Michigan’s August primary ballot plan to sue the companies that circulated petitions after thousands of signatures were ruled invalid
■ A self-proclaimed “rabbi rouser” is suing the state of Florida over abortion restrictions, claiming they violate religious freedoms of Jewish law.

‘Dark day for press freedom.’ As Wikileaks founder Julian Assange faces the prospect of extradition to the U.S. for espionage charges, Wikileaks defends him as a journalist “being punished for doing his job.”
■ The legal battles to come will pit national security against fundamental press-freedom rights

Remembering raised eyebrows. UT-Knoxville media professor Stuart N. Brotman revisits his role during late comedian George George Carlin’s censorship battle with the FCC in 1973.
 HBO shines a light on Carlin’s career with a four-hour biography streaming now.

Illegal procedure. Coming to the defense of Washington Commanders defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio, who told reporters the storming of the U.S. Capitol was a “dust-up,” law professor Jonathan Turley says the NFL should not “be in the business of fining employees because they take the wrong side of a public controversy.” 
Commanders head coach Ron Rivera tells Sports Illustrated he’s read the First Amendment “over and over” and has a copy in his desk.   

Monday, June 6, 2022

Just one vote / Beware ‘pink slime’ / Move over, ACLU

Just one vote. Texas Republicans nearly won Supreme Court approval for their repeal of social media companies’ First Amendment rights.
CNET notes the ruling nevertheless “could spell trouble for companies like Facebook, Google and Twitter.”
A Washington Post editorial: “The dissenters did all the talking, and it was not encouraging.”

Stonewalled? San Antonio Express-News executive editor Nora Lopez tells CNN’s Reliable Sources that “it’s become increasingly difficult for us to trust what authorities are telling us” in the aftermath of the Uvalde, Texas, school shooting.
A phalanx of bikers working with cops blocked coverage of Uvalde funerals.

A ‘close one.’ That’s how a federal judge describes his decision to reject a former high school student’s First Amendment complaint that he was blocked from commencement after making an online racial slur.
High school students and their teachers overwhelmingly say people should be allowed to express unpopular opinions in public, according to a new Knight Foundation survey.

Beware ‘pink slime.’ Post media columnist Margaret Sullivan sounds an alarm about phony news sites like the one that falsely accused a suburban Chicago-area school district of planning to grade students differently based on their race.
One of the real news organizations serving that suburb is using that report as a fundraising hook.

Let it ride. Belmont University law professor David L. Hudson Jr. assesses a federal court ruling that a Virginia transit agency violated the First Amendment in banning political bus ads.
Georgetown University’s investigation of a newly hired administrator who posted critical tweets about President Biden’s promise to nominate a Black woman for the Supreme Court has cleared him of any wrongdoing.
Asserting that Sarah Palin failed to present “even a speck” of evidence, a federal judge has rejected her bid for a new libel trial against The New York Times.

Move over, ACLU. In a move that could signal competition for leadership of the free-speech movement, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education has renamed itself Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression …
 … and it’s pledging a $10 million ad campaign, including billboards in 15 cities.
First Amendment advocates are condemning a Georgia district attorney’s use of hip-hop artists’ rap lyrics in criminal cases against them.

‘What I’m asking … is to create artwork that is consistent with my beliefs.’ A Colorado web designer’s hoping the Supreme Court will affirm her First Amendment right not to build sites for same-sex weddings.
Nebraska’s joining a multi-state coalition supporting her case.

‘The First Amendment is stronger than Johnny Depp.’ Media lawyer Dan Novack, writing in The Atlantic, says “it would be a mistake to draw any sweeping conclusions” from Johnny Depp’s successful defamation claim against Amber Heard.
Free Speech Center Director Ken Paulson says that if Depp and Heard sued one another to bolster their reputations, they ironically failed.
An ex-prosecutor: “This isn’t really a free speech issue, this is really a credibility issue.”
An Indiana appeals court found one divorce’s non-disparagement clause on the wrong side of the First Amendment.

Until we meet again. This marks the end of my run as proprietor of this newsletter, which I was privileged to help launch in January 2020. Taking the reins next issue under the watch of two terrific editors, Brian Buchanan and Ken Paulson: The talented Vincent Troia, whose substantial contributions have made this issue and the last better. I’ll be cheering them and the Free Speech Center on, and I hope you will, too.
Meanwhile, if you’re into news for and about Chicago, you’ll still find me daily at Chicago Public Square.

Monday, May 23, 2022

‘Stop it’ / Dissed / They’ll drink to that

‘Stop it.’ TechDirt columnist Mike Masnick says that blaming social media for mass shootings is ridiculous.
Vice News’ Greg Walters on the investigation of Discord and 4chan in connection with the Buffalo supermarket massacre: “Nothing will happen.”
A New Jersey appeals court has ruled that the First Amendment doesn’t protect a woman fired by a health-care company after criticizing the Black Lives Matter movement on Facebook.

Court house hunting? A Washington Post editorial concedes that the right to assemble and speak freely is essential to democracy, but it calls on demonstrators to leave Supreme Court justices alone at home.
Veteran D.C. journalist Bill Sternberg: Are the protests legal? “Probably not.”
Cornell University Law School professor Michael C. Dorf: Even if they are legal, they risk distracting attention from the real issue.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has signed a bill forbidding picketing and protesting outside private residences …
 … which, Post columnist Aaron Blake says, surprisingly puts Republican DeSantis on the side of many Democrats.

‘A fundamental violation of the First Amendment.’ A press-freedom lawyer sees trouble in the Texas law reinstated last week by a federal appeals court, forbidding social media networks from policing users’ submissions.
An industry group warns that the law is so broad as to keep platforms from removing the most extreme posts.
Even the libertarian Reason condemns the law as “blatantly unconstitutional” and likely to “wreak havoc on the internet as we know it.”
In defense of the law, Texas cites Justice Clarence Thomas, who last year compared digital platforms to “common carriers” like phone companies.

‘Pandemic or not, this court cannot look the other way.’ Louisiana’s Supreme Court has ruled that Pastor Tony Spell could not be convicted for violating executive orders limiting in-person gatherings, concluding that such restrictions infringed on his First Amendment religious-liberty rights.
Spell to his congregation after the ruling came down: “Devil, you just got dethroned.”

Chief distinction. A U.S. Circuit Court has tossed out claims of First Amendment retaliation against Jellico, Tenn., police chiefs after their dismissal by the town mayor—saying that, as public employees, they weren’t protected.
Read the opinion here.
A federal appeals court governing Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico, Utah and parts of Yellowstone National Park in Idaho and Montana is considering whether recording police is a First Amendment right there.

Dissed. The Department of Homeland Security’s plans for a “Disinformation Governance Board” is on life-support after the woman President Biden picked to run it complains she fell victim to … disinformation.
U.S. Marine Corps University law professor Jill Goldenziel: “Disinformation is necessary. Governing it might be illegal.”
The Atlantic’s Charlie Warzel declares the DCB another “Cursed News Story.”

‘The Supreme Court just made it much easier to bribe a member of Congress.’ Vox’s Ian Millhiser says a legal victory for Sen. Ted Cruz is a boon to wealthy candidates.
Post deputy editorial page editor Ruth Marcus: “The court’s decision enables blatant political corruption in the supposed service of the First Amendment.”
American-British law firm Hogan Lovells: The ruling casts a shadow over future campaign finance restrictions.

News of note. New York State lawmakers have taken a step toward making theirs the first state in the nation to limit rap lyrics’ use as evidence in criminal trials.
Culture journalist Evette Dionne: “It’s nearly impossible to prove that a rapper’s content can be directly linked to real-world crime, but that hasn’t stopped prosecutors from attempting to use the strategy to bury them.”

‘We can’t keep f*** you out of books or movies … but we should be able to keep it off license plates.’ Governing Magazine executive editor Alan Ehrenhalt ponders the First Amendment issues surrounding vanity license plates.
Salt Lake Tribune columnist Robert Gehrke: Utah ordinances on political signs violate citizens’ free-speech rights.

They’ll drink to that. Maryland’s Flying Dog Brewery has won a First Amendment federal court fight for the right to label their beer in North Carolina with a silhouette of a naked man.
A Wilson Times (N.C.) editorial celebrates the failure of “a tired excuse for government censorship: The ban … is only meant to protect the children.”

Vince Troia contributed mightily to this edition.

Monday, May 9, 2022

‘A huge win’ / Pay to tweet? / She’ll be back

‘A huge win.’ A plaintiff in an ACLU lawsuit against facial recognition firm Clearview AI hails a proposed settlement under which the company agrees to limit the use of its massive collection of images …
 … technology that those concerned about stalkers, ex-partners or predatory companies challenged under Illinois’ pioneering biometric privacy law.
The company had hired free-speech champion Floyd Abrams to argue that the First Amendment protected its right to make publicly available information searchable.

Devil’s in the details. Now that the Supreme Court has ruled Boston violated a Christian group’s First Amendment rights by refusing to let its flag fly over Boston’s City Hall Plaza, the Satanic Temple religious freedom advocacy group wants its standard hoisted there this summer …
 … for “Satanic Appreciation Week.”
The group honors Satan not as an evil figure but as one who questioned authority.
A Wayne State University professor explains: “The key question … was whether raising a flag on City Hall’s third flagpole was an act of government speech or private expression.”
Former Acting U.S. Attorney General Stuart Gerson sees the ruling this way: “When government does not speak, it may not discriminate on the basis of religion as to access to a public facility.”
Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby: “How many more times must Boston be spanked by all nine members of the nation’s highest court before it learns to treat the First Amendment with respect?”

‘Police are concerned that if they do something about protesters outside of a clinic, they’re going to get sued for violating their First Amendment rights.’ If the Supreme Court indeed overturns Roe v. Wade, a Drexel University law professor tells Mother Jones the legal line between harassment and free speech will get blurrier.
Jewish organizations contend that an abortion ban would threaten their First Amendment freedoms.

R.I.P., ‘free speech zones.’ A new Georgia law outlaws them on college campuses …
Iowa public universities’ new requirement that students, faculty and staff undergo First Amendment training is off to a slow start.
A Wall Street Journal editorial celebrates an Ohio mother’s free-speech victory in a lawsuit filed after a school board president told her to “zip it.”

Pay to tweet? Aspiring Twitter owner Elon Musk is mulling the prospect of imposing “a slight cost” on commercial and government agencies to use the service.
CNET: Pitching itself to advertisers, Twitter “made little more than a veiled allusion to … Musk.”
A federal court has tossed Donald Trump’s lawsuit complaining that Twitter was acting as a government agent when it kicked him off …
 … but the judge left the door open for him to file an amended complaint.
George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley suggests five steps to save free speech on Twitter.

She’ll be back. Georgia’s top election official has ruled that Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene can stay on the Republican primary ballot …
 … overruling challengers’ contention that she should be kicked off because she engaged in insurrection …
 … but similar fights continue in other states.
Truckers who drove to Washington to protest COVID-19 vaccine requirements are suing the city on First Amendment grounds.
Maine is retreating from its “anything goes” approach to license-plate wording.

‘The Orwellian name’ didn’t help. ABC News says the Biden administration is playing defense over its proposal to establish a “Disinformation Governance Board” …
Another Journal editorial: Pull the plug on the DGB …
Turley again, sarcastically: Biden’s choice to head the agency is “practically perfect in every way.”

Monday, April 25, 2022

‘A full-blown assault’ / Twitter chitter / ‘Tell the meat inspector’

A full-blown assault on the First Amendment.’ Free Speech Center Director Ken Paulson says Florida’s new law punishing Disney for opposing the state’s “Don’t Say Gay” law is far worse than the “feud,” “rift” or “battle” some news organizations have characterized it as.
 Mike Masnick at Techdirt: “Florida’s Republican politicians are … bending over backwards to give Disney all the evidence they need to … get these legislative changes declared unconstitutional” …
  … but the unique nature of Disney’s self-government at its Orlando complex complicates things.
 Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Will Bunch: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ signature on the bill “makes a mockery of right-wing wailing about ‘free speech.’
 The Atlantic’s David French: “DeSantis Aims at Disney, Hits the First Amendment.”

Ball’s in court’s court. The U.S. Supreme Court today heard an ex-football coach’s case against a public high school that put him on paid leave after he led prayers with students at the 50-yard line …
The coach has lost repeatedly in lower courts …
 … but Politico says the justices seemed sympathetic to him.
Loyola Law School professor Jessica Levinson predicts the court’s conservative wing will “make a mockery of the separation of church and state.”
Hear today’s arguments here.
Last week, justices upheld an Austin ordinance blocking the digitization of billboards—rejecting an argument that the rule violated the First Amendment.
Read that ruling here.
The court also refused to revive a Kansas ban on secret filming at slaughterhouses.

Twitter chitter. Earth’s wealthiest man, Elon Musk, was reportedly close to acquiring Twitter …
 … a deal that conservative Republicans, such as U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, see as “good for the First Amendment” …
 … although Quartz’s Scott Nover suggests that “Musk’s interest in taking over Twitter has more to do with exerting control over his favorite playground than it does with promoting free speech.”
Cato Institute senior fellow Cathy Young discounts “panic” over Musk’s potential purchase: “Part of Twitter’s outsize importance is that it’s the playpen of choice for media and for political activists.”
Exemplifying the sort of policy Musk has deprecated, Twitter’s banning ads that contradict the scientific consensus on climate change.

‘We often don’t know what principles govern those decisions.’ Barack Obama, who says he’s “pretty close to a First Amendment absolutist,” nevertheless says Congress should hold social media platforms to a higher standard for what is or isn’t allowed on their platforms and how it appears—offering an analogy to meatpackers: “They don’t have to reveal to the world what that technique is. They do have to tell the meat inspector.”

‘I was asking people to come for a peaceful march, which is what everyone is entitled to do under the First Amendment.’ Testifying in a hearing to determine if she should be tossed off the ballot for her actions during the January 2021 insurrection, U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene asserted, “My words never ever mean anything for violence.”
The Washington Post’s Aaron Blake: “It seems unlikely that anything established in the testimony would clear the legal bar of proving Greene incited the insurrection. … But we finally have something to review, from a congressional leader of the ‘Stop the Steal’ movement.”
George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley sees the effort to remove Greene and other inflammatory candidates from the ballot as “part of a new movement to defend democracy by denying it.”

 … and instead will pay the professor $400,000 in damages and attorney’s fees.
Oklahoma’s governor has signed a bill creating a “Free Speech Committee” to oversee and recommend improvements in public universities’ free-speech policies and training programs, and to review campus First Amendment complaints.
The National Coalition Against Censorship is calling on Palm Beach, Fla., public school libraries to put a couple of books featuring transgender characters back on the shelves.

Monday, April 11, 2022

‘It’s wrong’ / Badgered / ‘She’s a snowflake and a sociopath’

‘It’s wrong for politicians to promise to punish companies for their speech.’ TechDirt’s Mike Masnick condemns government officials pressuring Disney and others over stances on issues like Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law.
Popular Information flags “political blackmail” by Republicans threatening to oppose extension of Disney’s copyright on Mickey Mouse.

Musk’s about-face. Tesla CEO Elon Musk, the world’s richest person, has reversed plans to join the board of Twitter …
  … fueling speculation he might lead a hostile takeover attempt …
  … and raising questions about his mandatory background check.
 But he remains the company’s largest shareholder, a development that prompted New York’s Scott Galloway (in an April 8 post) to fear that “Twitter could digress into the cesspool of far-right, Daily Caller–like people talking about the First Amendment and spreading hate speech.”
 Twitter’s CEO: “There will be distractions ahead.”

Badgered. Plans for a controversial survey asking University of Wisconsin students questions about their freedom of speech are off—for now.
The survey’s been delayed until at least fall …
Read the survey questions here.
Tallahassee Democrat columnist Bill Cotterell: “If taxpayers are going to spend billions on higher education, what’s wrong with asking its consumers … to frankly discuss what they’re learning?

‘The Legislature veers uncomfortably close to trying to invalidate ideas.’ But Free Speech Center Director Ken Paulson is reassured that a bill passed by Tennessee lawmakers nevertheless “reaffirms the inviolability of academic freedom and free speech.”
Georgia lawmakers have advanced legislation that would ban “free speech zones” on public campuses—ostensibly clearing all campus locations for First Amendment-protected activity …
 … although some Democrats warn the bill could make it tougher for students to convene counterprotests.
University of Houston students are going to court over an anti-discrimination policy that they say infringes on their right to express their views on issues including gender because those views will be treated as forms of discrimination or harassment.
Satire from The Onion: Students Explain How College Has Censored Them.”

‘Truth is an absolute defense in libel cases, but the statements in question were patently untrue.’ Ex-USA Today editorial page editor Bill Sternberg ponders the prospect that Fox News’ post-2020 election coverage “will … cost the media empire (and its insurers) millions, if not billions, of dollars in legal judgments.”
After a judge ruled his actions in the insurrection of Jan. 6, 2021, were unprotected by the First Amendment, a leader of the Proud Boys movement pleaded guilty to conspiracy to obstruct Congress and to the assault of police officers.
Over the objections of the University of Virginia’s student newspaper, ex-Vice President Mike Pence was set to appear on campus Tuesday night, delivering a speech titled “How to Save America from the Woke Left.”

‘She’s a snowflake and a sociopath … a snociopath.” After U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene claimed to have reported Jimmy Kimmel to police for making a joke about her, he joked about her some more.
UCLA law prof Eugene Volokh: “Kimmel’s line is … not a true threat.”
The Atlantic’s David French: “The American right has lost the plot on free speech.”
Steven Chung at Above the Law: “People should be free to express an unpopular opinion without having to worry about being ‘moderated’ or cancelled. Because once in a while, the popular ideas are stupid.”

‘Pig,’ ‘punk ass,’ ‘bitch.’ Volokh again: Calling a police officer those things in a Facebook comment is not obscene, according to a federal district court in Colorado.
A win for the American Civil Liberties Union: “You have the right to record law enforcement officers—including at the border.”
The ACLU’s pressing two of Iowa’s Quad Cities, Davenport and Bettendorf, to repeal ordinances restricting how people panhandle.

‘Are Columbus statues a free speech issue?’ Chicago Sun-Times columnist Neil Steinberg on the continuing battle over whether the city’s controversial—and, for now, removed—monuments should be restored: “Columbus supporters pretend they have a right to demand that the city keep the statues and therefore speak a certain way. But they don’t.”
A city committee on monuments recommends the Columbus statues be mothballed permanently.