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.
Public officials using libel suits as a weapon against the press is nothing new. In the time of Times v. Sullivan, southern officials had brought nearly $300 million in libel actions against the press. For reference, Nunes alone has brought just over $900 million in defamation claims in a twelve-month period.
Law Professor Helen Norton explains how a case currently pending for Supreme Court review could potentially expand First Amendment protection for public employees who report on government corruption and or speak as a public "citizen."
“Despite the justices' unwillingness to bring the modern technologies of video into the courtroom, the COVID-19 pandemic reveals how some communication technologies can change the culture of the proceedings and how the court communicates with the public,” Ron Collins said in response to the court's decision.