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Protected Speech
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Updated: Resident Sues Minnesota City For Prohibitions On Filming In Public Parks

On September 2nd, the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota ruled that a Bloomington, MN city ordinance banning photography and video recording in a public park violates the First Amendment.

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Revisiting New York Times v. Sullivan in the Age of Disinformation

Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch are urging the court to revise New York Times v. Sullivan to curtail the spread of false information. Utah University Law Professor RonNell Andersen Jones thinks they are both barking up the wrong tree.

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Utah Police Arrest Woman for Stomping on Pro-Police Flag

A Utah Police officer is charging a 19-year-old woman with a hate crime for “stomping on a ‘Back the Blue’ sign” while “smirking in an intimidating manner,” The Salt Lake Tribune reported on July 9th. The woman could face up to a year in prison or a fine of up to $2,500 for allegedly destroying stolen property “in a manner to attempt to intimidate law enforcement.”

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Supreme Court Rules that Student’s Off-Campus Speech Is Protected By the First Amendment

In an 8-1 decision on June 23rd, the Supreme Court ruled that a student’s off-campus speech was protected by the First Amendment. The case, Mahanoy Area School District v B.L., involves a message posted on Snapchat by a then-14 year old student identified as “B.L.”, after she learned she failed to advance from the junior varsity to the varsity cheerleading squad. The message, posted on a Saturday afternoon when she was off-campus, stated, in part, “f*** cheer, f***everything.” 

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Pennsylvania Police Chief Resigns After Threatening Facebook Critic with Arrest

A police chief in Pennsylvania has pleaded guilty to a federal civil rights violation for threatening to arrest a private citizen unless he removed Facebook posts that criticized the chief. According to a document obtained by The New York Times, Buglio pled guilty on May 25th to “one count of deprivation of civil rights under color of law and agreed to resign from his position within 10 days of his plea agreement."

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Student Sues University of Tennessee for Violating Her Free Speech Rights

On February 3rd, a University of Tennessee student sued the school for violating her First Amendment right to free speech. Filed in the U.S. District  Court for the Western District of Tennessee Western Division, Kimberly Diei says that she was nearly expelled from the university’s graduate pharmacy program for her social media posts. 

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Incarcerated Journalist Claims Prison Officials Punished Him for Reporting on COVID-19 Outbreak

Private prison officials at a halfway house in California seized an incarcerated journalist’s phone and delayed his release after he texted a colleague about a COVID-19 outbreak at the facility, according to a lawsuit filed in federal court on February 2nd.

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Universities Halt Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Programs, Fearing Loss of Federal Funds

At least two universities have postponed activities that may violate the President Sept. 22 directive against "race and sex stereotyping." It's likely more will opt to cancel activities, rather than risk being cut off from federal funds.

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