FAN 91 (First Amendment News) 2015: The Year in Review, including “the best of”

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This is the 50th FAN post for this year. The others are listed below by month. Also below are some highlights of the past year along with a few “best ofs” of 2015:

Supreme Court: The Court decided four First Amendment free speech cases:

  1. Elonis v. United States (argue: 12-1-14 / decided: June 1, 2015) (8-1 per Roberts) (statutory-based ruling)
  2. Williams-Yulee v. The Florida Bar (argued: Jan. 20, 2015 / decided: April 29, 2015) (5-4 per Roberts)
  3. Walker v. Sons of Confederate Veterans (argued 3-23-15 / decided 6-18-15) (5-4 per Breyer)
  4. Reed v. Town of Gilbert (argued 1-12-15 / decided 6-18-15) (9-0 per Thomas)

The biggest surprise was the Chief Justice’s vote in William-Yulee followed by Justice Thomas’ vote in Walker.  Speaking of Justice Thomas, his majority opinion in Reed is likely to be the most important free speech case of the 2014-2015 Term.

Biggest First Amendment issue of 2015: Campus free-speech controversy

RetirementsLaura W. Murphy, the ACLU’s Washington legislative director, retired as did Dave Fidanque of the ACLU of Oregon.

Deaths: We had our losses in 2015: Al Bendich, the ACLU lawyer who represented both Lenny Bruce and Lawrence Ferlinghetti died as did Herald Price Fahringer, a noted criminal defense lawyer who did much to defend the cause of free speech.

Tweeting Free Speech: The Volokh Conspiracy went over to the Twitter side in 2015: @VolokhSpeech

MonumentalMobile Monument to the First Amendment (Thomas Jefferson Center)

The First Amendment & The Best of 2015

Best Supreme Court opinion: Reed v. Town of Gilbert

→ Best Supreme cert. petition: Paul M. Smith & Alonzo Wickers, IV (see here)

Best Supreme Court amicus brief: Ilya Shapiro & Robert Corn Revere (see here)

 Best lower court opinions: In re Simon Shiao Tam (Ct. App. Fed. Cir.) and Backpage.com v. Dart (7th Cir.)

Best state high court opinion: City of Keene v. Cleaveland, et al (N.H.)

Best First Amendment champions: Megan Kelly and Tim Tai

 Best group defending First Amendment rights: FIRE

→ Best report: “After-Action Assessment of the Police Response to the August 2014 Demonstrations in Ferguson, Missouri

 Best speech: Floyd Abrams, “Liberty is Liberty

Best newspaper article: Adam Liptak, “Court’s Free-Speech Expansion Has Far-Reaching Consequences,” New York Times

 Best interview: Bill Kristol’s interview with Justice Samuel Alito

 Best book: Catherine Ross, Lessons in Censorship: How Schools & Courts Subvert Students First Amendment Rights (see review here)

Best law review article: Eugene Volokh, “Gruesome Speech,” Cornell Law Review 

→ Best commentary: Amanda Shanor & Robert Post, “Adam Smith’s First Amendment,” Harvard Law Review Forum

 Best op-ed: Geoffrey Stone, “ISIS, Fear, and the Freedom of Speech,” Huffington Post (see here also)

→ FAN Posts for 2015 ← 

December

FAN 91: 2015: The Year in Review (Dec. 30)

FAN 90: Law Professors Urge Justices to Honor Stare Decisis in Union 1-A case (Dec. 23)

FAN 89: Corn-Revere Brings 1-A Challenge Against “Stop Advertising Victims of Exploitation” Act (Dec. 16)

FAN 88: Paul Clement Files Brief in 11th Circuit Prison News Case (Dec. 9)

FAN 87: Sunstein Urges Revising Holmes’s C&P Test in Our Terrorist Times (Dec. 2)

November 

FAN 86: Court may rule on occupational-speech petition soon (Nov. 25)

FAN 85: “Is phone sex violent?” — Posner challenges lawyer in online classified advertising case (Nov. 18)

FAN 84: Can newspapers publish truthful information disclosing police officers’ personal information? — Cert. petition pending (Nov. 11)

FAN 83: Paul Smith Files Cert. Petition in Right of Publicity Case (Nov. 4)

October

FAN 82: Smolla & Abrams to file First Amendment brief in Redskins trademark case (Oct. 28)

FAN 81: Parody Prevails, Copyright Challenge Fails — the Play Goes On (Oct. 14)

FAN 80: Coming Soon: Philippa Strum’s Book on Whitney v. California (Oct. 7)

September 

FAN 79: Conduits & Communication: Is “Mere” Transmission Speech? — Gov. Says No in Net Neutrality Case (Sept. 30)

FAN 78: Alan Garten, Trump’s Lawyer, Threatens “Multi-million dollar” Lawsuit for Attack Ads Against His Client (Sept. 23)

FAN 77: NPR & Other Press Groups Oppose Pentagon’s New “Law of War” Manual (Sept. 16)

FAN 76: Federal Report on Ferguson Identifies First Amendment Concerns (Sept. 9)

FAN 75: Justice Kagan & the future of Abood, the strength of stare decisis, & the relevance of Garcett(Sept. 2)

August

FAN 74: Summer thoughts on dissent (Aug. 26)

FAN 73: D.C. Circuit strikes down SEC “conflict minerals” rule by 2-1 margin (Aug. 19)

FAN 72: Megyn Kelly — Bold Defender of Free Speech Freedoms (Aug. 12)

FAN 71: Just Released: 2nd ed. of Cogan’s “The Complete Bill of Rights” — 30 New Pages on History of Press & Assembly Clauses (Aug. 5)

July

FAN 70: 10 Little known or long forgotten facts about the First Amendment (July 29)

FAN 69: Justice Alito discusses four First Amendment cases in Kristol interview — Free-Speech Jurisprudence Comes into Sharper Focus (July 22)

FAN 68: Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces to hear “true threats” case (July 15)

FAN 67: En Banc Unanimous Ruling from DC Circuit Upholds Federal Ban on Contributions by Federal Contractors (July 8)

FAN 66: Another money-is-speech controversy — Court agrees to hear public employee union free-speech case (July 1)

June

FAN 65: Does Justice Thomas believe in a race-hate exception to the First Amendment? (June 24)

FAN 64: More on the Roberts Court & the First Amendment — the Women Justices (June 17)

FAN 63: CJ Roberts: Mr. First Amendment — The Trend Continues (June 10)

FAN 62: Federal Judge Blasts Liberal Assault on the First Amendment (June 3)

May 

FAN 61: Past & Prologue — Ralph Young on the History of Dissent & David Skover on Free Speech in a Robotic Era (May 20)

FAN 60: Mohammed-Cartoon Controversy Continues — Liberals Divided (May 13)

FAN 59: Williams-Yulee — The Ruling Few Expected . . . & the One Few Will Remember (May 6)

April

FAN 58: Citizen Recordings of Police in Public Places — First Amendment Protection? (April 29)

FAN 57: Press Group & Others Await Ruling re Release of 1942 Grand Jury Transcripts in Chicago Tribune Case (April 22)

FAN 56: Floyd Abrams Signs Contract to do Third Book on Free Speech (April 15)

FAN 55: Another Sign Case Comes to the Court (April 8)

FAN 54: Fourth Circuit Skeptical of Local Panhandling Law . . . Issue Before SCOTUS in Another Case (April 1)

March

FAN 53: Justice Sotomayor joins in discussion of Burt Neuborne’s New Book (“Madison’s Music”) (March 25)

FAN 52: Corn-Revere signs with Cambridge to do Censorship Book (March 19)

FAN 51: Journalists, Scholars & Others Pay Tribute to Anthony Lewis (March 11)

FAN 50: ACLU’s 2015 Workplan & the First Amendment — Anthony Romero Responds (March 4)

February

FAN 49: ACLU “2015 Workplan” sets out narrow range of First Amendment Activities (Feb. 25)

FAN 48: The Dangers and Values of Offensive Speech (Feb. 18)

FAN 47: Anniversary Issue: Returning “Home” — Looking Back on Fox v. Washington (1915) (Feb. 11)

FAN 46: The Campaign Against Campaign Finance Laws — Another Law Struck Down (Feb. 4)

January

FAN 45: Neuborne & Corn-Revere debate judicial campaign solicitation case (Jan. 28)

FAN 44: Citizens United: it was 5 years ago today — 13 First Amendment lawyers & scholars offer differing views (Jan. 21)

FAN 43: The ACLU making (more) First Amendment news (Jan. 14)

FAN 42: Tribute to Al Bendich (1929-2015) — the ACLU lawyer who made the difference in the HOWL & Lenny Bruce cases (Jan. 7)

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