Category
Commentary and Analysis
Twitter, DeSantis, Zuckerberg

Florida’s New Social Media Law Suffers from Serious Constitutional Flaws

A Florida law signed by Governor Ron DeSantis on May 24, 2021, that regulates what speech social media companies must allow and disallow suffers from serious constitutional problems.  It already has been challenged in federal court by NetChoice, a lobbying firm that represents Twitter, Facebook, and other online companies, and Computer & Communications Industry Association.   

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Scales of Justice

Ninth Circuit Rules In Favor of Plaintiff In Bivens Claim Brought Against Federal Agents

A federal appeals court has ruled that a Washington state bed-and-breakfast owner has an implied right of action for damages, called a Bivens claim, for a First Amendment violation by federal agents. The decision is significant, as many lower courts have declined to find such an implied right of action for a violation of the First Amendment, leaving some plaintiffs without an effective remedy.   

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Minnesota Police Unions’ Call for Student to Face Punishment for Her Anti-Police Comments is Untenable

Two police unions in Minnesota have advocated for a University of Minnesota student government leader to face punishment—both criminally and from within the university—for her anti-police comments. If acted upon, the request would result in a violation of the First Amendment and, in all likelihood, considerable damage in the form of a chilling effect on student discourse.

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Iowa Legislature Joins Chorus of States Introducing Bills that Intrude On Academic Freedom and Free Speech

Iowa has joined the growing list of states where the legislature has introduced a bill mandating what can and cannot be taught in its public schools, in clear opposition to the First Amendment.

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Scales of Justice

Federal Appeals Court Panel Upholds Virginia Sign Restrictions Near Highways

Virginia law that prohibits signage “within the limits of any highway” does not violate the First Amendment, a federal appeals court has ruled. The appeals court also rejected a vagueness challenge to the Virginia scheme, even though there is no express distance listed in the law regarding how close is “within the limits.”  

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Appeals Court Reverses Conviction of Man Who Uttered Noxious Racial Slur

A retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel who used the most noxious racial slur at an exchange while shopping had his abusive language conviction reversed by a federal appeals court. The appeals court determined that the conviction could not stand because the government failed to show evidence that the words led to an immediate violent reaction by others.  

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College Campus

Troubling State Bills in Rhode Island, New Hampshire Take Aim at Teaching “Divisive Concepts”

Recently introduced legislation in Rhode Island and New Hampshire continues the trend of state legislatures taking aim at the teaching of “divisive concepts” about race and gender in higher education. The bills, like their counterparts in other states, are deeply flawed and pose a threat to free speech and academic freedom.

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Students of All Ages Should Not Lose First Amendment Rights at School

Two elementary school students in Ardmore, Oklahoma were pulled from their public school classrooms for wearing “Black Lives Matters” t-shirts,” reports The New York Times. Such action likely violates the First Amendment, including the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision protecting student-initiated expression in the public schools—Tinker v. Des Moines Independent School District (1969).  

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