Below the Fold

Are Media Blackouts the New Norm?

Are Media Blackouts the New Norm?

Gag orders or standard practice of administrations in transition?

Is Wikileaks a News Organization Protected by the First Amendment?

Is Wikileaks a News Organization Protected by the First Amendment?

Wikileaks role in the 2016 U.S. Presidential elections continues to be investigated even as leakers face increasing recriminations under the Trump administration. What is next for Julian Assange and the tempest he unleashed? It depends on whether you think Assange is running a media organization or not. If he is, then the question is whether Wikileaks should be protected by freedom of the press? 

April 20, 2018 Below the Fold, Leaks, Threats
Gene Policinski, Chief Operating Officer, Newseum Institute and First Amendment Center of Newseum Institute

Gene Policinski Commentary: Sinclair, Next Time Just Put Your Name To The Message

The Newseum Institute’s First Amendment expert, Gene Policinski, originally published this commentary on April 5, 2018, on the Newseum blog, and has given First Amendment Watch permission to reprint.   _________________________________________________________________________________ Sinclair Broadcasting’s recent promotional message on the state of today’s news — delivered to its TV audiences nationwide — is as protected by the First Amendment as it was an[Read More…]

April 7, 2018 Below the Fold, Fake News, Threats
Are Student Walkouts Protected By the First Amendment?

Are Student Walkouts Protected By the First Amendment?

After the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, students around the country quickly began to protest gun violence. One way gaining much attention: student walkouts. School administrators have responded both positively and negatively to these demonstrations. Now various advocacy groups are calling for  a national walkout for 17 minutes at 10 a.m. March 14 in solidarity with the victims of the Florida tragedy. Are these protests protected by the First Amendment?

March 29, 2018 Assembly, Below the Fold, Speech
Catherine Ross on Student Walkouts: “What is at stake in teaching young people how to live liberty—particularly how to exercise their expressive rights—is nothing less than the future of our democracy.”

Catherine Ross on Student Walkouts: “What is at stake in teaching young people how to live liberty—particularly how to exercise their expressive rights—is nothing less than the future of our democracy.”

Our guest writer and constitutional law scholar, Catherine Ross, speaks out about the student protests rocking the nation from the March 14 walkouts to the March for our Our Lives movement and looking ahead to the next planned protests on April 20th. Her book, Lessons in Censorship: How Schools and Courts Subvert Students’ First Amendment Rights, excerpted on FAW looks at important free speech issues relevant to today’s movement.

March 29, 2018 Assembly, Below the Fold, Speech
President Trump’s Plans for Libel Laws

President Trump’s Plans for Libel Laws

President Trump and his team want to ‘open up’ libel laws. The goal: to make it easier to sue media organizations for unfavorable coverage. But there is little that the President can actually do to change the libel laws. There is no federal law on libel. State laws control libel, and all such laws are subject to stringent First Amendment protections for the press and other speakers that the Supreme Court has imposed through cases such as the landmark New York Times v. Sullivan decision in 1964. However, threats to loosen the libel laws is noteworthy as part of a larger effort to criticize the press and attack its credibility.

March 21, 2018 Below the Fold, Libel
The Limits of Transparency and FOIA Under Trump

The Limits of Transparency and FOIA Under Trump

Transparency is often an attractive buzzword for new administrations, but following through on open access has proven difficult. President Obama’s record on transparency and the federal  Freedom of Information Act was less than stellar. In the opening months of his term, President Trump has shown a similar wariness in allowing private citizens to access public records. Activists are challenging this resistance on the streets and in the courts. As we ready for Sunshine Week 2018, we look at the the successes and setbacks of FOIA.

March 14, 2018 Below the Fold, FOIA, News Gathering
Gene Policinski, Chief Operating Officer, Newseum Institute and First Amendment Center of Newseum Institute

Gene Policinski Commentary: The White House is Wrong. A Free Press Is ‘The People’

The Newseum Institute’s First Amendment expert, Gene Policinski, originally published this commentary on March 8, 2018, in the Austin American-Statesman, and then Newseum blog, and has given First Amendment Watch permission to reprint.   _________________________________________________________________________________ An angry U.S. president feels hounded by the news media and is infuriated and discouraged with the intense and personal criticism of his domestic and international policies. I[Read More…]

March 12, 2018 Access, Below the Fold, Press
United States Supreme Court Building

Knight First Amendment Institute: From the Heckler’s Veto to the Provocateur’s Privilege

Reprinted with Permission From Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University Emerging Threats series invites leading thinkers to identify and grapple with newly arising or intensifying structural threats to the system of free expression. “It is now widely believed,” Frederick Schauer observes in a new essay, “that restricting the speaker on account of the actual or predicted hostile and potentially violent reaction[Read More…]

March 2, 2018 Below the Fold, Offensive Speech, Speech
Ballard Spahr: Arizona Court of Appeals Declares Trial Court’s Media Restrictions Unconstitutional

Ballard Spahr: Arizona Court of Appeals Declares Trial Court’s Media Restrictions Unconstitutional

Reprinted with Permission from Ballard Spahr The Arizona Court of Appeals issued a unanimous opinion late last month reaffirming the strict requirements for limiting the media’s ability to disseminate public information and strongly cautioning trial courts against imposing prior restraints in all but the most exceptional circumstances. The case arose as a result of the high-profile capital murder trial of John Michael[Read More…]

February 27, 2018 Below the Fold, Prior Restraints