Below the Fold

U.S. President Donald Trump awaits the arrival of Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani at the White House in Washington, U.S., July 9, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Ballard Spahr: Second Circuit Affirms That President Trump’s Blocking of Opponents on His Twitter Account Violates First Amendment

Reprinted with Permission from Ballard Spahr July 10, 2019 The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit yesterday became the third federal circuit court to hold that the interactive space of a government official’s social media account is subject to First Amendment strictures. In Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia Univ., et al. v. Donald J. Trump, et al., No.[Read More…]

July 11, 2019 Below the Fold, Press, Social Media
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Faces Two Federal Lawsuits for Blocking Twitter Users

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Faces Two Federal Lawsuits for Blocking Twitter Users

August 8, 2019 On July 10, 2019, New York assemblyman Dov Hikind and Republican congressional candidate Joseph Saladino filed separate lawsuits against Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for blocking them on Twitter.  The lawsuits were filed soon after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled that President Trump’s Twitter account, @realDonaldTrump, was a public forum, and as such, blocking[Read More…]

Stickers bearing the Facebook logo are pictured at Facebook Inc's F8 developers conference in San Jose, California, U.S., April 30, 2019. REUTERS/Stephen Lam/File Photo

Laura Loomer Sues Facebook for Defamation, Requesting More Than $3 Billion in Punitive Damages 

July 10, 2019 Laura Loomer, an Internet personality known for her anti-Muslim rhetoric, is suing Facebook for defamation after the company banned her and other “dangerous individuals” from the platform in May 2019. Loomer was one of six users to be removed from Facebook for violating the company’s policies on hate speech. Other big names banned from the site include[Read More…]

U.S. President Donald Trump boards Air Force One to return to Washington from Morristown Municipal Airport in Morristown, New Jersey, U.S. July 7, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Federal Appeals Court Affirms Lower Court Ruling That Trump Can’t Block Critics on Twitter

A federal appeals court ruled that President Trump’s Twitter account is a public forum, and his practice of blocking critics violates the First Amendment. The decision arose from a July 2017 suit filed in U. S District Court for the Southern District of New York by seven Twitter users who had been blocked after they made critical remarks about Trump and/or his policies. The critics, represented by Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, sued Trump and Daniel Scavino, the White House’s Director of Social Media, for violating their First Amendment rights.

July 9, 2019 Below the Fold, Social Media, Speech
An Americans for Prosperity banner is seen during an event in Manchester, New Hampshire, July 22, 2015. REUTERS/Dominick Reuter

Advocacy Group Sues New Jersey Officials Over New Law They Allege Violates The First Amendment

June 25, 2019 The New Jersey Attorney General and three state election enforcement officials are being sued by Americans for Prosperity (AFP), over allegations that a new state law imposing disclosure requirements on advocacy groups violates the First Amendment. Last month, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed into law a revised version of the New Jersey Campaign Contributions and Expenditure[Read More…]

July 9, 2019 Below the Fold
Americans are Becoming More Aware of Their First Amendment Rights

Americans are Becoming More Aware of Their First Amendment Rights

Americans are becoming increasingly aware of their rights under the First Amendment, according to the 2019 State of the First Amendment survey released by the Freedom Forum Institute. The survey found that 71 percent of respondents were able to name at least one First Amendment right, compared to just 51 percent of respondents in the 2018 survey.

Freedom of speech (64 percent) was the most commonly recalled right guaranteed by the First Amendment. Next was freedom of religion (29 percent), freedom of the press (22 percent) and right of assembly (12 percent). At just four percent, the right to petition was the least likely of the five freedoms to be recalled.

July 1, 2019 Below the Fold, Uncategorized
Colorado state flag

Colorado State Appeals Court Dismisses Libel Suit Against Environmental Activist

June 27, 2019 A Colorado state appeals court dismissed a libel suit brought by a Texas oil and gas exploration firm against a Colorado environmental activist, saying the lawsuit was intended to suppress the activist’s right to free speech. In 2017, SG Interests sued Peter Kolbenschlag for writing in the comments section of an article published on the Greenwood Springs[Read More…]

July 1, 2019 Below the Fold, Speech
LAPD Sgt. Roger Nunez wears the new body cameras to be used by the Los Angeles Police Department. August 31, 2015. REUTERS/Al Seib/Pool

South Carolina Supreme Court Overturns Order That Barred Disclosure of Police Body-Camera Footage

  June 27, 2019: Breaking News Update South Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Donald Beatty vacated the order that would have prohibited lawyers from sharing police body-camera footage. The judge objected to the administrative order because it affects “the operation of the courts” and was issued without prior approval. June 26, 2019 Circuit court judges in Greenville County, South Carolina[Read More…]

June 27, 2019 Below the Fold
Los Angeles Times Building (source: Wikipedia)

Judge Issues Protective Order for LA Times Reporters in Ongoing Lawsuit Against LA County

June 24, 2019 A Los Angeles Superior Court judge ruled that journalists at the Los Angeles Times do not have to disclose the identities of their sources or turn over unpublished material they gathered during the course of their reporting. Under California’s Shield Law, journalists are protected from being forced to reveal confidential sources or to turn over unpublished information[Read More…]

June 26, 2019 Below the Fold, Press
Erik Brunetti, Los Angeles artist and streetwear designer of the clothing brand FUCT, stands for a portrait in Los Angeles, California, U.S., April 7, 2019. REUTERS/Patrick T. Fallon

Supreme Court Ruling Allows Registration of “Immoral” or “Scandalous” Words

In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court struck down a ban on registering words or symbols that are “immoral” or “scandalous.” The case was brought by designer Eric Brunetti who created a clothing line in 1990 that prominently displayed the “FUCT” logo. Brunetti had been trying to obtain approval for a trademark since 2011, but the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has consistently denied his application. The agency contends that “FUCT” violates federal law that prohibits words that are “shocking” or “offensive” on trademarked material.

June 24, 2019 Below the Fold, Supreme Court