Below the Fold

Former CIA Director John Brennan departs from a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing evaluating the Intelligence Community Assessment on "Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections" on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., May 16, 2018.      REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

Trump Revokes Former CIA Director’s Security Clearance

August 21, 2018: Trump Hints At Criticism As Reason For Revoking Brennan’s Clearance In A Tweet President Trump implied that the reasoning behind why he revoked John Brennan’s security clearance is because of criticism, noting in a tweet that Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper “is being nice” to him to keep his clearance. Even James Clapper has admonished John[Read More…]

August 23, 2018 Below the Fold, Censorship, Speech, Threats
Jul 8, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Detail view of a city of Pittsburgh police officer's badge covered in solidarity with Dallas police before the game between the Chicago Cubs and the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports  / Reuters 
Picture Supplied by Action Images  
(TAGS: Sport Baseball MLB) *** Local Caption *** 2016-07-08T234839Z_1372567816_NOCID_RTRMADP_3_MLB-CHICAGO-CUBS-AT-PITTSBURGH-PIRATES.JPG

Threatening Lyrics In Music Video Not Protected Speech, Pa. High Court Rules

August 21, 2018: The Violent Threats Were Directed At Police Officers Who Had Arrested The Rapper  An online music video filled with violent threats directed towards two cops was a “true threat” and not protected speech under the First Amendment, the Pennsylvania state Supreme Court ruled. The high court turned down an appeal by the video’s creator who made “highly personalized”[Read More…]

August 22, 2018 Artistic Speech, Below the Fold
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Omarosa Manigault (R) attend a church service, in Detroit, Michigan, U.S., September 3 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri/File Photo

Are White House NDAs Legal? Experts Weigh In.

  Former Trump aide and “The Apprentice” star Omarosa Manigault Newman’s public dispute with President Trump following her book release publicity tour raises questions about the legality of White House employees signing non-disclosure agreements and challenges the extent of government transparency in this administration. President Trump’s campaign organization filed for arbitration, claiming that Marigault-Newman breached an NDA that she signed when[Read More…]

Newly printed  Detroit News newspapers run thru the printing presses at the newspapers printing plant in Sterling Heights, Michigan December 16, 2008. The Newspapers Partnership announced a plan to reduce home-delivery of the papers to three days a week and a push for their on-line editions.   REUTERS/Rebecca Cook   (UNITED STATES)

Are Newsprint Tariffs Repressing The Free Press?

The U.S. International Trade Commission is considering whether to permanently institute a 30 percent tariff on newsprint from Canada, the largest source for US newspapers. In light of recent layoffs at the New York Daily News and many other newsrooms tapering their staff and product, how will this looming tariff threaten the operation and publication of newspapers of all sizes across the country?

August 6, 2018 Below the Fold, News Gathering, Press
Lata Nott, Executive Director of the Newseum Institute’s First Amendment Center

Lata Nott: Does It Really Matter That Americans Don’t Know Exactly What The First Amendment Says?

The Newseum Institute’s First Amendment expert, Lata Nott, originally published this op-ed on the Newseum blog and in local newspapers across the country, and has given First Amendment Watch permission to reprint.         The majority of Americans are supportive of the rights guaranteed by the First Amendment, but are also unaware of exactly what those rights are,[Read More…]

July 18, 2018 Below the Fold
Josephine Meckseper Flag. Photo by Guillaume Ziccarelli. Courtesy of Creative Time.

Flag Art Installation At University of Kansas Did Not Sit Well With All Stripes, Including Governor

July 12, 2018: University of Kansas Removes Art Installation Of Altered U.S. Flag, Amid Criticism The University of Kansas removed an altered U.S. flag that was flying on campus as part of an art exhibit amid criticism from politicians, including the state’s governor. The flag, called “Untitled (Flag 2)” was part of the nationwide public art project “Pledges of Allegiance.” This flag was[Read More…]

Los Angeles Times Building (source: Wikipedia)

Judge Lifts Order On The Los Angeles Times To Alter News Story

The First Amendment has always been seen as providing, at a very minimum, freedom from censorship by the government or by a private party acting through an injunction issued by a judge. The Los Angeles Times will rely on this argument as it fights a court order that required it to take down part of a published piece on Saturday.

July 16, 2018 Below the Fold, Press, Prior Restraints
The Alarming Rise in Verbal and Physical Threats to the Press

The Alarming Rise in Verbal and Physical Threats to the Press

Many presidents have had contentious relationships with the press. President John Adams’ 1798 Sedition Act made publishing anything critical of the government illegal, President Theodore Roosevelt tried to sue the press for unfavorable coverage and other leaders have tried to control the flow of information. However, the animosity towards the press fostered by President Donald Trump many believe is unprecedented.

June 13, 2018 Below the Fold, Leaks, Threats
Jeff Sessions

Crackdown on Leakers Ramps Up With NYT Journalist Targeted in Leaks Investigation

Journalists often publish information taken from leaked classified documents. Does the First Amendment protect them from prosecution for doing so? The Supreme Court has not considered that exact question, but Bartnicki v. Vopper suggests that journalists would indeed be protected as long as they were innocent recipients of the information—that is, they did not participate in or encourage the illegal activity of leaking classified information. Under the Espionage Act of 1917, the government would have to prove that the journalists published with the intent to hurt the United States, a requirement that would likely be difficult to satisfy. The leakers, of course, do risk prosecution, and journalists can be ensnared in an investigation to discover the names of the confidential sources who provided the information to them. 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.

June 13, 2018 Below the Fold, Leaks, News Gathering
Some Critics Still Blocked By @realDonaldTrump; Justice Department Appeals Ruling

Some Critics Still Blocked By @realDonaldTrump; Justice Department Appeals Ruling

President Trump blocked some of his critics on his Twitter handle, @realDonaldTrump, prompting a lawsuit arguing that such action violated their First Amendment rights. The lawsuit raised questions about the use of social media sites by public officials. Clearly, a personal website of a public figure is not subject to First Amendment restrictions, and so the site operator can block users. But a site run by the government, or run by a public official for his public business, would likely be categorized as a limited public forum protected by the First Amendment. Officials would violate the First Amendment if they discriminated against posters because of their viewpoint. But is @realDonaldTrump a personal site or an official government site? That’s a key question. He started the account in 2009, when he was a private citizen, but now uses it to share policy statements and his views on public issues. On May 23, 2018, U.S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald ruled that Trump may not legally block users on Twitter because doing so violates a right to free speech; @realDonaldTrump unblocked the plaintiffs but not others who are blocked and the Justice Department is appealing the ruling. Meanwhile, other cases are percolating through the courts as well, with one to be heard by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit involving a citizen who was blocked by a public official in Virginia from her Facebook account.

June 5, 2018 Access, Below the Fold, News Gathering