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Mapping First Amendment Conflicts

Mapping First Amendment Conflicts

From hamlets to big cities, from social media to the White House, First Amendment conflicts arise nearly every day in the United States. They can involve libel suits against a big media organization, an attempt by state legislators to restrict demonstrations, public officials blocking Twitter followers they don’t like, and much more. The endless challenges to freedom of expression raise[Read More…]

May 23, 2018 Round-Up, Top Stories
EPA Bars Reporters from Several Outlets From Attending National Summit

EPA Bars Reporters from Several Outlets From Attending National Summit

May 23, 2018: Environmental Protection Agency bars select reporters from entering an event where Scott Pruitt, the agency’s chief, was speaking Reporters from CNN, The Associated Press, and E&E News were barred by the EPA from entering a national summit “of national priority,” while other reporters were allowed inside for Scott Pruitt’s opening remarks after having been invited by the agency the[Read More…]

May 23, 2018 Access, Press, Top Stories
Michigan State University’s Settlement with Gymnasts Could Set First Amendment Precedent

Michigan State University’s Settlement with Gymnasts Could Set First Amendment Precedent

The Michigan State University settlement with Larry Nassar’s victims came with a condition. The survivors may not advocate for two reform bills currently being debated and voted on in Michigan state legislature that are seeking to remove government immunity in cases involving childhood sexual abuse.

May 18, 2018 Assembly, Top Stories
Should Advertisers Shun Fox’s Laura Ingraham For Her Polarizing Comments or Was She Exercising Her Free Speech?

Should Advertisers Shun Fox’s Laura Ingraham For Her Polarizing Comments or Was She Exercising Her Free Speech?

May 16, 2018: Advertisers Continue to Shun Ingraham’s Show Though Fox says advertisers are returning and ratings are high, The Hollywood Reporter reports that “during the first week of May, The Ingraham Angle averaged 12 ads per night, down from the 35 aired in the three days preceding the boycott, according to data provided by Kantar Media.” April 7, 2018: Liberal[Read More…]

May 17, 2018 Speech, Top Stories
Trump Calls Leakers “Traitors and Cowards” In Aggressive Push Against “Fake News Media”

Trump Calls Leakers “Traitors and Cowards” In Aggressive Push Against “Fake News Media”

Trump continued making a connection between fake news and negative press coverage while simultaneously attacking leakers in his own Administration calling them “traitors” and “cowards.” Although CNN’s Brian Stelter points out Trump’s Justice Department “has prosecuted a few cases involving alleged leakers, not nearly as many as some media watchdogs feared, or as many as some Trump allies hoped,” calling out leakers as traitors chills a free press. FAW’s spotlight on leakers points out that “aggressive prosecution of leakers began under President Obama – with the most famous case, Edward Snowden, still in hiding in Russia – and continues under President Trump. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is rumored to even be considering a lie detector test to ferret out leakers.”

May 17, 2018 Leaks, Press, Threats, Top Stories
Columnist and The Dallas Morning News Argue in Libel Case that First Amendment Protects Contested Opinion Piece– and Win

Columnist and The Dallas Morning News Argue in Libel Case that First Amendment Protects Contested Opinion Piece– and Win

Parents of Paul Tatum, a teenager who committed suicide, sued now retired columnist Steve Blow at The Dallas Morning News for libel in regards to a piece he wrote in 2010 about their son’s death. The court however decided the column was protected by the First Amendment as it was an opinion piece and therefore protected speech. “The publication of Blow’s column may have run afoul of certain journalistic, ethical, and other standards. But the standards governing the law of defamation are not among them,” wrote Justice Jeff Brown, a former Texas Supreme Court chief justice who handled the case in the Supreme Court.

May 17, 2018 Libel, News Gathering, Press, Top Stories
Superior Court Judge Netti C. Vogel (screenshot from Providence Journal video 2012)

Judge Says The Providence Journal Was Not Under “Gag Order”

After Jorge DePina was found guilty of murdering his 10 year old daughter, Rhode Island Superior Court Judge Netti Vogel stated, according to the court transcript, “No one, no spectator, no one in the spectator section of the courtroom, is permitted to contact my jurors.” She issued two orders, one barring all contact with jurors who convicted the man and[Read More…]

Gene Policinski, Chief Operating Officer, Newseum Institute and First Amendment Center of Newseum Institute

Gene Policinski Commentary: President’s Press Credential Threat Will Be ‘Trumped’ By The First Amendment

The Newseum Institute’s First Amendment expert, Gene Policinski, originally published this commentary on May 11, 2018, on the Newseum blog, and has given First Amendment Watch permission to reprint.           Donald Trump can fantasize all he wants about taking away White House press credentials from news outlets that he doesn’t like. It’s unpleasant for the journalists[Read More…]

President Trump Takes Fake News Accusations To New Level Tweeting Negative Coverage Equals Fake News

President Trump Takes Fake News Accusations To New Level Tweeting Negative Coverage Equals Fake News

Presidents make use of all forms of communication to get their message out to voters. No other President has so effectively used Twitter as President Trump who has called it his “own form of media” used to counter “fake news.” In his latest deluge, President Trump equates negative news coverage with “fake news” and threatens to revoke press credentials (again). The central role of the First Amendment is to protect the people in their writings about government affairs and government officials—and especially when it is negative, as that is when the government is most likely to try to punish writers. As James Madison wrote in his Virginia Report of 1800, freedom of the press protects the “right of freely examining public characters and measures, and of free communication among the people thereon, which has ever been justly deemed the only effectual guardian of every other right.” 

May 14, 2018 Access, Fake News, Press, Threats, Top Stories
First Amendment Scholar Ron Collins, “We Have No Tolerance For Tolerance.”

First Amendment Scholar Ron Collins, “We Have No Tolerance For Tolerance.”

In a new essay in Concurring Opinions, Abandoned? The Liberal Flight from the First Amendment, First Amendment scholar, Ron Collins, writes that the cultural wars have wiped away once steadfast liberal ideas of tolerance. “Toleration (that enemy of the self-righteous) has always been at the heart of the First Amendment. But ideology makes its demands and when it does liberty is left wounded. Sensitive to such concerns, the reflections that follow (by an open-minded person with progressive tendencies) are about the liberal abandonment of the First Amendment, or much of it.” As First Amendment Watch kicks off a series of online essay debates on the topic, we want to hear from you. What do you think? Is there really no tolerance for tolerance anymore?

May 9, 2018 Speech, Top Stories