In his new book, "The Mind of the Censor and the Eye of the Beholder," Robert Corn-Revere asks a simple question: what characterizes the psychology of a censor? For Corn-Revere, the attitudes of moral crusaders have been fairly consistent over the last 200 years: they are marked at once by a rigid certainty that the ideas they target are indisputably harmful and an insecure defensiveness stemming from the awareness that most people will reject their attempts at censorship.
Despite numerous legal challenges over the right to record police officers in public, the Supreme Court has not yet ruled on the question of whether citizens have a First Amendment right to record the police. Because of this, only states in judicial districts that have established the right to record as a constitutional right consider it a “clearly established law.”
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.”
On June 3rd, the Supreme Court overturned a lower court's ruling that could have set a dangerous precedent for data journalists and security researchers. The case focused on the interpretation of a federal hacking law, and whether it could apply to an individual who is given access to a computer or online information, but uses it in an unauthorized manner.
For much of our nation’s history, the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of speech did not clearly protect art from government censorship. Over the course of the 20th century, however, courts gradually extended speech protections to a broader range of artistic expression, including film, dance, theater, and fine arts. Today, public officials can censor art only in limited circumstances. What are those circumstances, and what protection does the First Amendment provide?
On April 5th, the Supreme Court of the United States vacated the Second Circuit’s decision in Knight First Amendment Institute v. Donald Trump, a long-running lawsuit challenging former President Donald Trump’s pattern of blocking critics from his personal Twitter account, @realDonaldTrump.
A day before Joe Biden's inauguration, the Justice Department under Donald Trump made a last-minute effort to undo a major court decision related to public official's social media accounts.
The Sedition Act of 1798 was the first great test of the First Amendment’s protection for the freedom of speech and press. Under the new law, Americans could face up to $2,000 in fines (nearly $42,000 in 2020 dollars) and two years in prison for criticizing a public official. Passed only seven years after the ratification of the Constitution, the Sedition Act forced the young country to decide not just whether it was truly dedicated to freedom of speech, but also what that idea would even mean in a democratic republic.