Category: Constitutional Law

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The Duty Imposed by Section Two on the Commerce Department

In two posts, I observed that the current statutes regulating the reapportionment of the House of Representatives say nothing about how Section Two of the Fourteenth Amendment–which is still in force–should be taken into account when representatives are allotted to the states after each census. These statutes cannot lawfully prohibit Section Two from being taken into account, but they need not be read as doing so. They can instead be read as delegating authority to the Commerce Department to exercise that constitutional duty. Was that duty fulfilled following the last census?  No, because the Commerce Department ignored Section Two entirely.  Is there any remedy for that now? No. But there should be after the next census if the same thing happens.

A fine Note by Michael Hurta that appeared in the Texas Law Review about two years ago made a similar argument about the Commerce Department’s authority and duty to conduct Section Two review. What do I mean by review?  I mean that the Commerce Department must collect data on people who are eligible to vote under the Constitution but are not permitted to vote by a state. If they decide that no adjustment to representation is warranted by that data, then that conclusion should be reviewed deferentially under ordinary administrative law principles.  But such a review must, in my view, be done.  If not, I would think that almost every state would have standing to say that its allotment of representatives after the next census is invalid (maybe they are entitled to one more, for instance, if somebody else should be getting one fewer).

Here’s one problem though: The Commerce Department is not the right agency to conduct this analysis.  Suppose questions are included on the census about past voting history and someone claims that they were turned away at the polling place.  How could this be verified?  Census data is confidential, in large part to encourage people (even those here illegally) to respond. Moreover, the DOJ is the place where you find experts on voting rights–not the Commerce Department.  Thus, I think all Commerce could do is say “X number of people in a state told us that they were denied the right to vote for what appears to be an invalid reason.”  Now maybe that number would be so small as to be irrelevant, but suppose it were large and Section Two was invoked.  Congress would be free to reject the Department’s conclusion that a state’s representatives should be reduced based on a disputed question of fact, but partisan deadlock might prevent Congress from acting at all.

Consequently, I’m wondering if the reapportionment statute should be amended to require the DOJ to conduct a Section Two review following the census. Section Two does not require an enumeration of the disenfranchised in the way that the Census requirement in the Constitution does.  But I want to think about that some more.

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Unintended Consequences and the Bill of Rights

As you know, I’m working on a book about the Bill of Rights.  The book is currently in publisher’s limbo, by which I mean that I’ve turned in the first draft and am waiting for the manuscript to be returned to me for the next round of changes.  Until then, what will I be mulling over?

First, I want to see what (if anything) President Trump has to say about the Bill of Rights.  My book ends with Bush 41’s speech in 1991 marking the bicentennial of the Bill of Rights.  (I’ve posted about that speech before.)  Since then, there really haven’t been any significant presidential statements on the Bill of Rights, and no real celebration was held to mark the 225th anniversary of ratification this past December. But maybe the new President will say something that I will need to include.

Second, I’m wondering about a question posed by one reader of the draft.  To what extent was the expansion of civil liberties in the 1940s an unintended consequence of the way in which FDR talked about the Bill of Rights?  One argument in the book is that Roosevelt often used and emphasize the Bill of Rights to justify the New Deal and the growth of federal power to fight World War II.  If that’s true, then couldn’t you say that the wider embrace of the term and of the first set of amendments for a different purpose was in part an accident. I think my answer is “kind of,” but I need to give that more thought.

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FAN 138 (First Amendment News) Forthcoming book: “Unsafe Space: The Crisis of Free Speech on Campus”

A call to arms for studnets and academics who want to turn the tide on campus censorshipNadine Strossen 

Tom Slater

Seattle. He is the  deputy editor at Spiked, a British Internet magazine focusing on politics, culture and society from a libertarian viewpoint. His name is Tom Slater and he is the editor of a forthcoming book entitled Unsafe Space: The Crisis of Free Speech on Campus (Palgrave Macmillan, May 25, 2016). Here you can see young Slater speaking with calculated fervor on British TV while attacking those who would censor campus speech.

Here is the publisher’s summary of the book consisting of ten essays:

The academy is in crisis. Students call for speakers to be banned, books to be slapped with trigger warnings and university to be a Safe Space, free of offensive words or upsetting ideas. But as tempting as it is to write off intolerant students as a generational blip, or a science experiment gone wrong, they’ve been getting their ideas from somewhere. Bringing together leading journalists, academics and agitators from the US and UK, Unsafe Space is a wake-up call. From the war on lad culture to the clampdown on climate sceptics, we need to resist all attempts to curtail free speech on campus. But society also needs to take a long, hard look at itself. Our inability to stick up for our founding, liberal values, to insist that the free exchange of ideas should always be a risky business, has eroded free speech from within.

To give the book added spark, in his introduction Slater (a Brit) draws his inspiration from the Berkley free-speech movement of 1964 when students rebelled against the “university bureaucrats who severely limited students’ ability to speak freely and organize politically on campus.”

↓ Below is the list of contributors (many from Spiked): ↓

Introduction, Tom Slater, Reinvigorating the Spirit of ’64

Chapter 1: Brendan O’Neill, From No Platform to Safe Space: A Crisis of Enlightenment

Chapter 2: Nancy McDermott, The ‘New’ Feminism and the Fear of Free Speech

Chapter 3: Tom Slater, Re-Educating Men: The War on Lads and Frats

Chapter 4: Joanna Williams, Teaching Students to Censor: How Academics Betrayed Free Speech

Chapter 5: Greg Lukianoff, Trigger Warnings: A Gun to the Head of Academia

Chapter 6: Sean Collins, BDS: Demonising Israel, Destroying Free Speech

Chapter 7: Jon O’Brien, Debating Abortion on Campus: Let Both the Pro and Anti Sides Speak

Chapter 8: Peter Wood, A Climate of Censorship: Eco-Orthodoxy on Campus

Chapter 9: Tom Slater, Terrorism and Free Speech: An Unholy Alliance of State and Students

Chapter 10: Frank Furedi, Academic Freedom: The Threat from Within

Conclusion: Tom Slater, How to Make Your University an Unsafe Space

If you’re really serious about challenging prejudice, censorsing bigots is the worst thing you can possibly do. . . . It effectively buries our heads in the sand. It stops us from locating those views, arguing against them, and then discrediting them in the public forum. Censorship makes these problems worse, not better. — Tom Slater

→ Lee v. Tam (the “Slants” case) to be argued today (see here re Washington Post interview with the bands’ members)

From SCOTUSblog: “Argument analysis: Merchants seem to fall short in challenge to New York statute banning credit-card ‘surcharges'”

Professor Ronald Mann

This from Professor Ronald Mann writing in SCOTUSblog: “The oral argument . . . in Expressions Hair Design v. Schneiderman brought the justices face to face with the battle between merchants and credit-card networks over the “interchange” fees that merchants pay when they accept cards in retail transactions. The dispute that got the fees before the justices involves a New York statute that says that ‘[n]o seller in any sales transaction may impose a surcharge on a holder who elects to use a credit card in lieu of payment by cash, check, or similar means.’ The petitioner, Expressions Hair Design (leader of the group of merchants challenging the provision), argues that the statute violates the First Amendment because it limits a merchant’s right to describe the extra costs imposed on purchasers using credit cards as ‘surcharges.'”

“For a case into which so many groups poured so much effort (23 amicus briefs), the argument must have been deeply frustrating, because the most prominent thing not on display was any strong inclination to address the case head-on. Three themes dominated the argument. The first was a considered refusal of the parties to join issue about what the statute actually means. Representing the merchants, Deepak Gupta insisted that the statute prevents merchants from posting separate cash and credit prices and that the state of New York has no justifiable reason to do so. Representing the state, Steven Wu insisted that the statute is aimed only at “bait-and-switch” pricing – when a retailer posts a single price but then asks for a higher price at the register for customers who pay with cards. . . .”

David Cole: “Donald Trump vs the First Amendment”

The ACLU’s David Cole

That is the title of a new piece just published in The Nation.  David Cole, the ACLU’s new National Legal Director, took First Amendment aim at President-elect Donald Trump. Here are a few excerpts:

“Donald Trump has no particular reverence for the First Amendment. He may not even understand it very well. During the campaign, Trump said he would “open up” libel law so that newspapers could more easily be sued. As president-elect, he tweeted that those who burn the American flag should be stripped of their citizenship and jailed. These threats are constitutional nonstarters. There is no federal libel law to “open up”: Libel is a matter of state law, and to the extent it is governed by federal law, it’s the First Amendment that governs. Similarly, the Supreme Court held in 1989 (in a case I litigated) that the First Amendment protects flag-burning and ruled in 1967 that citizenship is a constitutional right that cannot be taken away as punishment under any circumstances—not for murder, not for treason, and certainly not for flag-burning.”

“. . . The First Amendment itself serves a critical checking function, by safeguarding the rights of citizens to criticize government officials, to associate with like-minded citizens in collective action, and to petition the government for redress of grievances. It is this First Amendment tradition that protects the institutions we will rely on to push back against Trump’s abuses.”

“The press has its own express protection in the First Amendment, and it will play a critical role in bringing abuses to light and arming citizens with information and arguments. Think Watergate. The academy, protected by the doctrine of academic freedom, will also be essential—questioning Trump’s policies, providing empirical evidence to refute his assertions, and educating citizens about the value of our civil liberties and civil rights. And the nonprofit sector, including organizations such as Planned Parenthood, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the ACLU, the American Immigration Lawyers Association, 350.org, and the groups that comprise the Movement for Black Lives, will be a focal point for organizing, educating, litigating, and inspiring resistance. If we are saved, it will be thanks to actions by citizens exercising their First Amendment rights against Trump. . .”

Massaro, Norton & Kaminski on Artifical Intelligence and the First Amendment 

Professor Toni Massaro

The article is entitled Siri-ously 2.0: What Artificial Intelligence Reveals about the First Amendment. It is scheduled to be published in the Minnesota Law Review. The authors (three tech-savvy and free-speech- informed scholars) are Toni Massaro, Helen Norton, and Margot Kaminski. Here is the abstract from this cutting-edge article:

The First Amendment may protect speech by strong Artificial Intelligence (AI). In this Article, we support this provocative claim by expanding on earlier work, addressing significant concerns and challenges, and suggesting potential paths forward.

This is not a claim about the state of technology. Whether strong AI — as-yet-hypothetical machines that can actually think — will ever come to exist remains far from clear. It is instead a claim that discussing AI speech sheds light on key features of prevailing First Amendment doctrine and theory, including the surprising lack of humanness at its core.

Professor Margot Kaminski

Courts and commentators wrestling with free speech problems increasingly focus not on protecting speakers as speakers but instead on providing value to listeners and constraining the government’s power. These approaches to free speech law support the extension of First Amendment coverage to expression regardless of its nontraditional source or form. First Amendment thinking and practice thus have developed in a manner that permits extensions of coverage in ways that may seem exceedingly odd, counterintuitive, and perhaps even dangerous. This is not a feature of the new technologies, but of free speech law.

Professor Helen Norton

The possibility that the First Amendment covers speech by strong AI need not, however, rob the First Amendment of a human focus. Instead, it might encourage greater clarification of and emphasis on expression’s value to human listeners — and its potential harms — in First Amendment theory and doctrine. To contemplate — Siri-ously — the relationship between the First Amendment and AI speech invites critical analysis of the contours of current free speech law, as well as sharp thinking about free speech problems posed by the rise of AI.

 Related & Forthcoming: Collins & Skover, Robotica: The Discourse of Data (Cambridge University Press, 2018).

Forthcoming Books Read More

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Is the Present House Apportionment Unconstitutional?

I’m going to begin a series of posts about my next project, which will examine the Reapportionment Act of 1929; a critically important statute that fixes the size of the House of Representatives at 435 and delegates the reapportionment power to the Department of Commerce.

My first comment on this deals with the problematic relationship between the 1929 Act and Section Two of the Fourteenth Amendment.  Section Two of the 14th Amendment says:

Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the Executive and Judicial officers of a State, or the members of the Legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such State, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such State.

The idea behind this provision is that a state should lose representation in the House and in the Electoral College to the extent that the state wrongfully excludes people from voting.  There is a school of thought that this provision was implicitly repealed by the Fifteenth Amendment. Let’s assume for purposes of argument that this is not the case (I’ll explain why I think that assumption is warranted in another post).

The current reapportionment statutes, though, do not say anything about conducting a Section 2 review after a census.  The Commerce Department just takes the census data for each state and plugs it into a formula (last revised by Congress in 1941) to decide how many representatives each state gets.  Each state must get at least one (because Article One of the Constitution says so) and the total number must be 435 (because the 1929 Act says so). Meeting these requirements means that every state actually ends up getting some fractional amount of representatives, and the formula tells the Commerce Department when to round a fraction up or down.

Why is the current statutory scheme constitutional?  The Section Two command is not in the specific formula Congress created to apportion representatives among the several states. You might say that these laws can be read as delegating this power to the Commerce Department (I’ll take this issue up in another post), but even if that is true the Department did not conduct such a review after the last census, nor have they ever done one as far as I can tell.

Thus, I submit that the current apportionment of Representatives in the House (and the allocation of votes in the Electoral College) violates Section Two of the Fourteenth Amendment by ignoring it. Congress or the Commerce Department could easily fix this problem, but I’ll get to that separately.

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FAN 137 (First Amendment News) Backpage.com removes adult content due to government censorship — vows to fight First Amendment battles

Seattle. This from a press release from Backpage.com:

As the direct result of unconstitutional government censorship, Backpage.com has removed its Adult content section from the highly popular classified website, effective immediately. For years, the legal system protecting freedom of speech prevailed, but new government tactics, including pressuring credit card companies to cease doing business with Backpage, have left the company with no other choice but to remove the content in the United States.

As federal appeals court Judge Richard Posner has described, the goal is either to “suffocate” Backpage out of existence or use the awesome powers of the government to force Backpage to follow in the footsteps of Craigslist and abandon its Adult advertising section. Judge Posner described such tactics as “a formula for permitting unauthorized, unregulated, foolproof, lawless government coercion.” [Backpage.com v. Dart, 7th Cir., 2015]

“It’s a sad day for America’s children victimized by prostitution,” said Dr. Lois Lee, Founder and President, Children of the Night, a leading national hotline and shelter program for victims of sex trafficking based in Los Angeles. “Backpage.com was a critical investigative tool depended on by America’s vice detectives and agents in the field to locate and recover missing children and to arrest and successfully prosecute the pimps who prostitute children.” She added, “The ability to search for and track potentially exploited children on a website and have the website bend over backwards to help and cooperate with police the way Backpage did was totally unique. It not only made law enforcement’s job easier, it made them much more effective at rescuing kids and convicting pimps.”

Backpage.com was created thirteen years ago by Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey, through their newspaper company, New Times Media, to compete with Craigslist, the nation’s largest online classified ad platform. Larkin and Lacey were pioneers in independent journalism, establishing Village Voice Media in 1970 to provide alternative news coverage of the Vietnam war and later served as editor and publisher of twenty weekly newspapers.

As The Center for Democracy and Technology and the Electronic Frontier Foundation have observed, the Senate subcommittee has engaged in an “invasive, burdensome inquiry into Backpage.com’s editorial practices [that] creates an intense chilling effect, not only for Backpage but for any website operator seeking to define their own editorial viewpoint and moderation procedures for the third-party content they host.” [amicus brief below]

This will not end the fight for online freedom of speech. Backpage.com will continue to pursue its efforts in court to vindicate its First Amendment rights and those of other online platforms for third party expression.

 Appellants’ Reply Brief, Ferrer v. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (D.C. Cir., oral arguments pending)

Lawyers for Backpage.com re Appellants’ Reply Brief:

  • Steven R. Ross & Stanley M. Brand (Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld)
  • Robert D. Luskin, Stephen B. Kinnaird, & Jamie S. Gardner (Paul Hastings)
  • Robert Corn-Revere & Ronald London (Davis Wright Tremaine)

Amicus Brief on behalf of DKT Liberty Project, Cato Institute & Reason Foundation (supporting Appellant) (counsel: Jessica Ring Amunson & Joshua M. Parker (Jenner & Block))

Jessica Ring Amunson, Joshua M. Parker, Ilya Shapiro, & Manuel S. Klausner, Ferrer v. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, Cato Institute, Nov. 22, 2016

Related links

Cert Petition: Case to Watch 

The case is is McKay v. Federspiel in which a cert. petition has just been filed in the Supreme Court.  The issues in the case are:

1. Whether a law criminalizing protected speech or conduct implies a threat to prosecute such that a pre-enforcement challenge is proper without any additional showing that enforcement is imminent.

2. Whether, absent extenuating circumstances, there is a constitutional right to make a public recording of courtroom proceedings.

Summary of Facts: the chief judges of Saginaw County, Michigan issued a joint administrative order limiting the use of electronic devices in courtrooms and court-related facilities in the Saginaw County Governmental Center. Robert McKay, a resident of neighboring Tuscola County who states that he wishes to record law enforcement officers’ and judges’ activities inside the Governmental Center, contends that the administrative order violates his federal constitutional rights.

Sixth Circuit opinion (here)

Lead counsel for Petitioner: John J. Bursch 

Andy Hoag, Federal judge: Saginaw County cellphone ban not unconstitutional; preliminary injunction denied, Michigan Live, April 18, 2014

[ht: A.L.]

Court Denies Cert. in Internet Communications Case

On Monday the Court denied cert in Flytenow, Inc. v. Federal Aviation Administration. One of the issues in the case was: whether the circuit court erred in holding that the Federal Aviation Administration could, consistent with the First Amendment, lawfully discriminate against content-based Internet communications because of the message conveyed and the means chosen by pilots to convey it.

[ht: Art Spitzer]

Public Employee: No 1-A protection for racial epithet Read More

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FAN 136 (First Amendment News) 2016: The Year in Review, including “the best of”

This is the 43rd and last FAN post for this year. All the hyperlinked posts for this year are listed below by month. Also below are some highlights of the past year along with a few “best ofs” of 2016:

Selected Highlights

Deaths: Justice Antonin Scalia. See FAN 97.1: Justice Scalia Dies — Free-Speech Legacy (Feb. 13, 2016)

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

Retirements: Steven Shapiro, the ACLU’s national legal director

Biggest First Amendment issue of 2016: Campus free-speech controversy (yet again!)

Beta launch of FIRE’s online First Amendment Library (Nov. 14, 2016)

Man of the Year

John Ellison, University of Chicago Dean of Students

Letter to the Class of 2020

Woman of the Year

Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo

vetoes overbroad “revenge porn” bill

___________________________________________

The First Amendment & The Best of 2016

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 Best Supreme cert. petition: Deepak Gupta, brief in Expressions Hair Design v. Schneiderman

 Best Supreme Court amicus briefs:

Best Supreme Court oral argument: Thomas Goldstein in Heffernan v. City of Patterson (2016)

Best lower court First Amendment opinionWomen’s Health Link, Inc. v. Fort Wayne Public Transportation Corp. (7th Cir., 2016, per Posner, J.)

Best lower court amicus briefWikimedia Foundation v. National Security Agency (4th Cir., 2016) (Chelsea J. Crawford, Joshua Treem, Margot E. Kaminski, Marc J. Blitz, A. Michael Froomkin, David Goldberger, James Grimmelmann, Lyrissa Barnett Lidsky, Neil M. Richards, & Katherine Jo Strandburg)

 Best new First Amendment organization: Knight First Amendment Institute (see here)

 Best group defending First Amendment rightsFoundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE)

 Best report: PEN America, And Campus for All: Diversity, Inclusion & Free Speech at U.S. Universities

 Best speech: Geoffrey Stone, “Free Speech on Campus: A Challenge of Our Times

 Best interview: Nico Perriono, The Daughters: Carlin, Pryor & Bruce Speak OutSo to Speak

 Best book: Stephen Solomon’s Revolutionary Dissent: How the Founding Generation Created the Freedom of Speech (2016) (see Salon discussion here)

Best documentaryCan We Take a Joke?

Best essays:

 Best law review articles:

Best scholarly conferenceBrooklyn Law Symposium: “Free Speech Under Fire — The Future of the First Amendment” (see also here)

Best conference for practitionersAbrams Institiute Conference on Commercial Speech (June 13, 2016)

Best new First Amendment blogIn A Crowded Theater

Best event: Newseum Institute: Pear v. United States (see also here)

Best funder of First Amendment:  John S. and James L. Knight Foundation (see here)

Best supporter of the First Amendment: Flying Dog Beer (see here and here)

→ The Year in Review: FAN Posts for 2016 ← 

January

FAN 92: Another License-Plate Case — Wooley v. Maynard Defense Raised in Cert. Petition (Jan. 6, 2016)

FAN 93: “What’s Wrong with the First Amendment?” — Steve Shiffrin Book Coming This Summer (Jan. 13, 2016)

FAN 94: Brooklyn Law School to Host Symposium: “Free Speech Under Fire — The Future of the First Amendment” (Jan. 20, 2016)

FAN 95: “Fifty Shades of Grey” too Blue for Idaho? (Jan. 27, 2016)

February

FAN 96: Animal Rights Group Claims First Amendment Right to Lift Park Service Closure of Yellowstone Park During Bison Capture (Feb. 3, 2016)

FAN 97: Trend Continues: ACLU’s 2016 Workplan Omits Mention of Protecting First Amendment Free-Expression Rights — No Longer a Fundraising Concern? (Feb. 10, 2016)

FAN 98: The Roberts Court’s 5-4 First Amendment Rulings — Will They Survive? (Feb. 17, 2016)

FAN 99: Welcome to the Marketplace of Ideologies — Where Ideas go to Die (Feb. 24, 2016)

March

FAN 100: FIRE Spreads — Group to Launch Online First Amendment Library (March 9, 2016)

FAN 101: Levine & Wermiel on First Amendment & Right of Publicity — Using Justices’ Papers to Understand Zacchini v. Scripps-Howard Broadcasting Co. (March 16, 2016)

FAN 102: Len Niehoff on Hulk Hogan’s $140.1M Award Against Gawker (March 23, 2016)

April

FAN 103: Coming Soon: New Book by Stephen Solomon on Dissent in the Founding Era (April 6, 2016)

FAN 104: Documentary on Comedy, Campus Codes & Free Speech to Air at National Constitution Center (April 13, 2016)

FAN 105:  Forthcoming: Tushnet, Chen & Blocher, “Beyond Words” — The Art of Protecting Non-Speech as Speech” (April 20, 2016)

FAN 106:  The Heffernan Case, the Chief Justice’s Curious Vote, the Significance of Justice Scalia’s Absence, & the Importance of Motive (April 27, 2016)

May 

FAN 107:  FTC’s Power to curb misleading ads remains intact (May 4, 2016)

FAN 108: Senate Races Could Shape the Future of the First Amendment — Campaign Spending Wars in Play (May 11, 2016)

FAN 109: Abrams Institute to Host Event on Commercial Speech (May 18, 2016)

FAN 110:  Steve Shapiro to Step Down as ACLU’s Legal Director (May 25, 2016)

June

FAN 111: Flying Dog Brewery Launches First Amendment Society (June 1, 2016)

FAN 112:  “Is First Amendment “almost entirely without content”? Yes, writes Mark Tushnet” (June 8, 2016)

FAN 113: “Abrams Court” Breaks with Tradition & Allows Cameras in Courtroom (June 22, 2016)

FAN 114: 2015 Term: What Happened to the Big Cases? — Equally Divided or Cert. Denied (June 29, 2016)

July

FAN 115: Profile: Jameel Jaffer to Head New Knight First Amendment Institute (July 6, 2016)

FAN 116: Farber on Scalia & the Abortion Protest Cases (July 13, 2016)

FAN 117: Center for Competitive Politics Prevails in Challenge to Utah Campaign Finance Law (July 20, 2016)

FAN 118: University of Cape Town Disinvites Flemming Rose — Floyd Abrams Dissents (July 27, 2016)

August

FAN 119: Snapshots of David Cole #2: Chipping Away at Citizens United (Aug. 17, 2016)

FAN 120: Snapshots of David Cole #2: Chipping Away at Citizens United (Aug. 24, 2016)

FAN 121: New York law to combat Citizens United is “constitutionally unsound” says NYCLU (Aug. 31, 2106)

September 

FAN 122: Alito’s prophesy? Cert. petition in Gov. Speech case raises questions about future of doctrine (Sept. 7, 2016)

FAN 123: When you think of free speech, think of “45” — New book by Stephen Solomon (Sept. 13, 2016)

FAN 124:  Ellen DeGeneres raises First Amendment defense in defamation case (Sept. 21, 2016)

FAN 125: Forthcoming book spotlights First Amendment freedom & LGBT equality (Sept. 28, 2016)

October

FAN 126: Geoffrey Stone: “Free Speech on Campus: A Challenge of Our Times” (Oct. 5, 2016)

FAN 127: Cert Petition Raises Question of Standard of Review in Retaliation Case for Calling the President a “Communist” (Oct. 12, 2016)

FAN 128:  Ten States Buttress High School Students’ Press Rights — Extend Protection Beyond (Oct. 19, 2016)

FAN 129: A 10-year chronology: Trump’s lawsuits & threatened ones involving freedom of speech & press (Oct. 26, 2016)

November 

FAN 130: “Porn Panic” Prompts Pushback (Nov. 2, 2016)

FAN 131: Forthcoming: Chemerinsky & Gillman on the importance of free speech on college (Nov. 10, 2016)

FAN 132: FIRE Launches First Amendment Online Library (Nov. 16, 2016)

FAN 133: Slants trademark case might be decided on statutory grounds (Nov. 23, 2016)

December

FAN 134:  “Anti-Semitism Awareness Act” ignites First Amendment controversy  (Dec. 7, 2016)

FAN 135: “Protect the Flag Act” Introduced in Congress” (Dec. 14, 2016)

→ Year in Review: FAN Posts for 2015 ←

 FAN 91: The Year in Review, including “the best of” (Dec. 30, 2015)

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FAN 135.1 (First Amendment News) First Amendment Salon: Jess Bravin Interviews ACLU’s David Cole

1a_salon_featured

The last First Amendment Salon has just been posted. It involved a dialogue between Jess Bravin (Supreme Court correspondent for the Wall Street Journal) and David Cole (Georgetown Law Professor and incoming National Legal Director of the ACLU).

The Salon, the eleventh, took place on December 8th at the law offices of Levine Sullivan Koch & Schulz in Washington,  D.C. and was video cast live to their offices in New York City.

The event was kindly filmed and audio recorded by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), this in partnership with the Salons. The Salons also work in partnership with the Floyd Abrams Institute for Free Expression.

Thanks to the folks at FIRE, the Salons will now be available in podcast and video form and on various platforms:

  • David Cole & Jess Bravin Salon: podcast available here on FIRE’s So to Speak site.
  • David Cole & Jess Bravin Salon: podcast available here on iTunes
  • David Cole & Jess Bravin Salon: podcast available here on SoundCloud
  • David Cole & Jess Bravin Salon: podcast available here on Stitcher
  • David Cole & Jess Bravin Salon: video available here on First Amendment Library
  • David Cole & Jess Bravin Salon: video available here on YouTube
Anthony Dick raises a question

Anthony Dick raises a question regarding compelled expression

Complimentary beverages were kindly provided by Flying Dog Beer.

 

 

 

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FAN 135 (First Amendment News) “Protect the Flag Act” Introduced in Congress

On December 2, 2016, Congressman Michael R.  Turner (R-OH) introduced the “Protect the Flag Act” (H.R. 6433).  Section 2 of the proposed bill provides:

“(a) In General.—Federal funds may not be made available to an institution of higher education (as defined in section 102(a) of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1002(a))) that, pursuant to an official policy of the institution to prohibit the display of the flag of the United States by the institution, removes, censors, takes down, prohibits, or otherwise halts display of a flag of the United States.”

“(b) Reinstatement Of Eligibility.—The prohibition described in subsection (a) shall cease to apply with respect to an institution described in such subsection upon complete and proper reinstatement, by the institution in its official capacity, of the flag of the United States at any and all locations on campus property (including across multiple campuses, if applicable) from which a previously displayed flag of the United States was removed, censored, taken down, prohibited, or otherwise halted from display pursuant to an official policy of the institution to prohibit the display of the flag of the United States by the institution.”

The summary caption for the Bill states: “To render ineligible for Federal funds any institution of higher education that removes, censors, takes down, prohibits, or otherwise halts display of a flag of the United States.” Fifty-two other House Republicans have signed onto the measure.

A group of demonstrators, many carrying American flags, gathered on Nov. 27 outside the campus of Hampshire College in Massachusetts. (Instagram/@axle_maximus via Storyful)

A group of demonstrators, many carrying American flags, gathered on Nov. 27 outside the campus of Hampshire College in Massachusetts. (Instagram/@axle_maximus via Storyful)

According to a news story by Joseph Cohn wriitng for FIRE, the “bill was likely inspired by the recent controversy at Massachusetts’ Hampshire College in which the institution temporarily decided to stop flying the American flag. Hampshire’s decision came after their own American flag was stolen and burned amongst protests that the flag, a proud symbol to some, represented fear and exclusion to others. According to CNN, the school’s Board of Regents then decided to lower the flag to half-staff in order to ‘continue the campus discussion on the flag’s meaning,’ but some interpreted that decision as a protest of the election results. It was then that the college decided to not fly the flag at all, spurring harsh public criticism.”

See O’Reilly Factor video clip here (Watters’ World: Flag controversy edition).

According to a December 2, 2016 Boston Globe story, “Hampshire College, which prompted a firestorm by removing the Stars and Stripes three weeks ago, restored the banner to the campus on Friday as its president and students expressed hope that the controversy would inspire a forthright dialogue.”

Hampshire College President’s Comments

“We did not lower the flag to make a political statement,” Hampshire College President Jonathan Lash said. According to a news report in the Daily Wire, Lash added: “Nor did we intend to cause offense to veterans, military families or others for whom the flag represents service and sacrifice. We acted solely to facilitate much-needed dialogue on our campus about how to dismantle the bigotry that is prevalent in our society. We understand that many who hold the flag as a powerful symbol of national ideals and their highest aspirations for the country — including members of our own community — felt hurt by our decisions, and that we deeply regret.”

Congressman Michael Turner

Congressman Michael Turner

Congressman Turner’s Comments  

“I am proud to introduce legislation that will protect the American flag from censorship across the country,” Congressman Turner said in a statement to the Washington Examiner. “The American flag is a symbol of freedom throughout the world and should be respected as such. Recent action by Hampshire College to remove the American flag from its campus was a blatant act of censorship. Furthermore, Hampshire College’s decision disrespected our servicemembers, veterans, and the liberties our flag embodies. We must work to ensure that such acts of censorship are not supported by the government in the future.”

Though unlikely to pass this year owing to time constraints, the bill would be considered next year.

Headline: “Oklahoma To Require Anti-Abortion Signs In Public Restrooms”

Hayley Miller, writing in the Huffington Post, reports that “Oklahoma may require public restrooms in restaurants, hospitals, public schools, hotels and nursing homes to post signs with anti-abortion sentiments as part of a drive against the procedure.”

“The state’s board of health was due to discuss Tuesday regulations that would force any restrooms in buildings regulated by the Oklahoma Health Department to carry signs that state”:

There are many public and private agencies willing and able to help you carry your child to term and assist you and your child after your child is born, whether you choose to keep your child or to place him or her for adoption. The State of Oklahoma strongly urges you to contact them if you are pregnant.

State senator AJ Griffin

State senator A.J. Griffin

According to an Associated Press story, “the State Board of Health will consider regulations for the signs on Tuesday. Businesses and other organizations will have to pay an estimated $2.3 million to put up the signs because the Legislature didn’t approve any money for them. The provision for the signs was tucked into a law that the Legislature passed this year that requires the state to develop informational material “for the purpose of achieving an abortion-free society.” The signs must be posted by January 2018.”

“The anti-abortion group Oklahomans for Life requested the bill,” reports the St. Louis Post Dispatch. “The sponsor, Sen. A.J. Griffin, said she may revise the measure in the upcoming legislative session to more narrowly target it to exclude some facilities.”

“‘I do see how it is going to need to be tempered a tad,” said Griffin, a Republican from Guthrie. ‘We need to make sure we have something that’s reasonable and still effective.'”

[ht: David Horowitz]

Florida Abortion Law Challenged on First Amendment Grounds Read More

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FAN 134 (First Amendment News) “Anti-Semitism Awareness Act” ignites First Amendment controversy

The bill was proposed by Senators Bob Casey, a Pennsylvania Democrat, and Tim Scott, a South Carolina Republican, to “ensure the Education Department has the necessary statutory tools at their disposal to investigate anti-Jewish incidents,” according to a news release. The senators say the act is not meant to infringe on any individual right protected under the First Amendment, but rather to address a recent uptick in hate crimes against Jewish students. The bill is supported by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the Anti-Defamation League, the Jewish Federations of North America and the Simon Wiesenthal Center. . . . The bill has attracted criticism from groups including Palestine Legal and Jewish Voice for Peace, who say the proposed definition of anti-Semitism wrongly conflates any criticism of Israel with anti-Jewish sentiments. — Colleen Flaherty, Inside Higher Ed (Dec. 2, 2016)

* * * * 

View # 1: Opposition to the “Anti-Semitism Awareness Act”

Liz Jackson, a staff attorney for Palestine Legal in Oakland, recently published an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times. The piece was titled “The Anti-Semitism Awareness Act would damage free speech rights on campus.” Here are a few excerpts:

Liz Jackson

Liz Jackson

“[T]he U.S. Senate . . . pass[ed] a bill last week called the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act, which cracks down on the constitutional rights of college students and faculty to criticize Israel. The House will vote on it any day now.”

“The Anti-Semitism Awareness Act endorses the State Department definition of anti-Semitism, which includes ‘delegitimizing’ Israel, ‘demonizing’ Israel or holding Israel to a ‘double standard.’ The bill directs the Department of Education to consider this definition when investigating complaints of anti-Semitism on campus. But the bill does not add any new protections for Jewish students; the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Department of Education’s interpretation of the statute, already protects Jewish students against discrimination.”

“The State Department standard is highly controversial because it conflates criticism of Israeli policies with anti-Jewish hatred, shutting down debate by suggesting that anyone who looks critically at Israeli policy is somehow beyond the pale. It has no place on college campuses in particular, where we need students to engage in a vigorous exchange of ideas — especially around our world’s most intractable problems, such as Israel’s nearly 50-year military occupation of Palestine.”

“The University of California rejected the same definition in 2015 after an outcry from free-speech advocates across the political spectrum, newspapers, students, graduate student instructors, and Jewish and other civil rights organizationsJewish commentators, including the definition’s original drafter, Kenneth Stern, repudiated its use on college campuses.”

“As a Jewish student at Berkeley Law in 2010, I joined the campaign pushing the university to divest from companies complicit in Israel’s occupation and violations of Palestinian rights. I was shocked when Israel advocacy organizations claimed that our support for Palestinian equality was so distressing for some Jewish students that the university should not even let us debate the issue. . . .”

View # 2: In Defense of the “Anti-Semitism Awareness Act”

This from a press release from the Anti-Defamation League:

“The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today hailed Senate passage of the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act, legislation which provides important guidance for the Department of Education and the Department of Justice for federal anti-discrimination investigations involving anti-Semitism, including on campus.”

unknown“The act addresses a core concern of Jewish and pro-Israel students and parents: When does the expression of anti-Semitism, anti-Israel sentiment and anti-Zionist beliefs cross the line from First Amendment protected free expression to unlawful discriminatory conduct?”

“ADL played a central role in working with U.S. Senators Tim Scott (R-SC) and Bob Casey (D-PA) in crafting and promoting the legislation. The League also urged the House of Representatives to approve the legislation before adjournment later this month.”

“‘We welcome Senate passage of this important legislation, which will help the Department of Education and Department of Justice to effectively determine whether an investigation of an incident of anti-Semitism is warranted under federal education anti-discrimination laws,” said Jonathan A. Greenblatt, ADL CEO. “This act addresses a core concern of Jewish and pro-Israel students and parents: When does the expression of anti-Semitism, anti-Israel sentiment and anti-Zionist beliefs cross the line from First Amendment protected free expression to unlawful, discriminatory conduct.'”

“. . . . This legislation uses a 2010 definition of anti-Semitism developed by the State Department’s Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism as a reference point that can be useful in their cases, including select instances when discriminatory anti-Semitic conduct may be couched as anti-Israel or anti-Zionist.  The legislation instructs the Department of Education to draw on this definition as part of its assessment of whether incidents are motivated by anti-Semitism when investigating possible violations of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 based on individuals’ Jewish heritage or ethnicity. The legislation takes great pains to protect freedom of expression.”

“‘To effectively address reported anti-Jewish incidents that may violate federal education anti-discrimination laws, it is necessary to understand the evolving, current manifestations of anti-Semitism,” Mr. Greenblatt said. “The State Department definition includes useful illustrative examples and can be an important resource.  However, it is also vital to accurately distinguish protected speech – including disagreement and even harsh criticism of the government of Israel – from harassing, intimidating, and discriminatory anti-Semitism.'” . . . .

Related Articles

Josh Nathan-Kazis, Expert on Hate Opposes Campus Anti-Semitism Bill — Based on Definition He Created, Forward, Dec. 6, 2016 (“‘If this bill is passed, its proponents will have the ability to threaten federal funding at colleges and universities where political speech against Israel occurs, and where administrators then don’t try to stop it, or fail to put the university on record calling such speech anti-Semitic,’ Stern wrote. ‘Think of the precedent this would set.'”)

Lea Speyer, Responding to Backlash, Co-Sponsor of House Antisemitism Act Insists Legislation Will Not ‘Diminish, Infringe on’ First Amendment Rights, The Algemeiner, Dec. 6, 2016

Headline: “Purdue’s free-speech orientation program could go national”

Writing in The College Fix, Greg Piper reports that “Indiana’s Purdue University is making a strong play for best public university in the country, based on its demonstrated commitment to free speech.”

unknown“And now it’s getting interest in taking that approach to other schools, whose leaders may be tiring of giving in to student demands to censor and punish students, faculty and staff for their speech and nonthreatening behaviors.”

“The university has been approached by NASPA (Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education) to present the “methodology” for its “free speech orientation program” – the first of its kind in the nation – at an upcoming conference, Director of Student Success Programs Dan Carpenter told the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. . . .”

Related: David Schutte, Law School holds First Amendment rights event, The Cavalier Daily, Dec. 2016

White nationalist’s speech draws protests at Texas A&M University

Richard Spencer

Richard Spencer

Reuters reporter Lisa Maria Garza reports that “Texas A&M University students and activists protested against a speech on Tuesday by white nationalist Richard Spencer, who was filmed at a conference last month saying “Hail Trump”, drawing Nazi-like salutes from some spectators.”

“About 1,000 demonstrators waved flags, marched, sang songs and shouted through loudspeakers outside the Memorial Student Center on the campus, where Spencer was speaking, as state police in riot gear stood by, blocking them from entering.”

“Caitlin Miles, a 26-year-old graduate student, stood on top of a box and yelled over the sound of tambourines and trumpets, telling her fellow demonstrators not to engage with any Spencer supporters.”

“‘He has made a lot of remarks and promoted chants that hail back to Nazi slogans. This is a campus that sacrificed nearly half of its student body to fight Nazis,’ Miles told Reuters. . . .”

“The university in College Station, Texas, said its leaders explored whether it could legally prohibit Spencer’s event, but ultimately recognized its obligation to uphold free speech, university spokeswoman Amy Smith said. . . .”

Trump & the Flap over the Flag

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Justice Antonin Scalia – Flag Burning Is Free Speech (2012 interview with CNN)

Robert Corn-Revere on Flag Desecration and Free Speech, Closeup, Newseum (02-28-08) (begins at 13:20 into discussion)

Robert Corn-Revere, Implementing a Flag-Desecration Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, First Amendment Center First Report (07.01.05)

  1. Kathleen Parker, Trump seems ready to burn down First Amendment, The Register-Guard, Dec. 6, 2016
  2. Kirsten Salyer, Burning Flags, Screaming ‘Trump’ and Our First Amendment, Time, Dec. 5, 2016
  3. Editorial, So now Trump is “endangering” the First Amendment, Hot Air, Dec. 5, 2016
  4. Erik Wemple, Pray for the First Amendment. Now., Washington Post, Dec. 4, 2016
  5. Scott Bomboy, Flag burning and the First Amendment: Yet another look at the two, Constitution Daily, Nov. 30, 2016
  6. Andrew Napolitano, Trump ‘offended’ the first amendment !!, Fox news, Nov. 30, 2016
  7. Alan Dershowitz, The First Amendment is not broken so let’s not try to fix it, Fox News, Nov. 30, 2016
  8. Mark Hensch, GOP rep: ‘No president is allowed to burn the First Amendment’, The Hill, Nov. 29, 2016
  9. Mark Hensch, House GOP leader on flag burning: ‘We’ll protect our First Amendment’, The Hill, Nov. 29, 2016
  10. Philip Bump, Donald Trump v. the First Amendment, Part 5, Washington Post, Nov. 29, 2016
  11. Max Kutner, Before Donald Trump Called for Flag-Burning Jail Time, Hillary Did, Newsweek, Nov. 29, 2016
  12. Ken Paulson, Trump tweet set Constitution ablaze, USA Today, Nov. 29, 2016

Justice Alito: Remarks at Federalist Society Conference Read More

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FAN 133.1 (First Amendment News) FIRE to podcast First Amendment Salons

Lee Levine

Lee Levine

The Foundation for Individual Rights (FIRE) will podcast future First Amendment Salons, the next of which is scheduled for December 8th in Washington, D.C. That salon, the eleventh, will feature a discussion between David Cole (the new national legal director of the ACLU) and Jess Bravin (the Supreme Court correspondent for the  Wall Street Journal).

Henceforth, a podcast of the Salons will be available on FIRE’s So to Speak: The Free Speech Podcast station hosted by Nico Perrino.  A video of the Salons will also be available on FIRE’s First Amendment Online library.

Lee Levine, one of the Salon’s co-chairs, stated: “The First Amendment Salon has quickly developed a well deserved reputation as the leading forum for spirited and frank discussion about the role of the freedom of expression in contemporary society.  Now, more than ever, we believe it is vital to bring those discussions to as wide an audience as possible and we are delighted to be working with FIRE to make that happen.”

screen-shot-2016-12-02-at-11-34-44-am

Nico Perrino

Nico Perrino

“The First Amendment Salon has become an important platform for bringing together the most prominent figures in the First Amendment community to regularly discuss hot-button free speech issues,” said Perrino, FIRE’s director of communications. “We are thrilled to partner with the Salon’s organizers to share these essential conversations with a wider audience on So to Speak.”

* * * *

The salons, which began in April 2014, engage members of the First Amendment community – lawyers, academics, journalists, and activists – in an ongoing discussion of key free speech issues of our day. Each by-invitation only program involves a 90-minute discussion concerning a timely topic related to freedom of expression, whether in a contemporary Supreme Court case, book, article, legal brief, or memorandum.

In September 2014, the Salons formed an association with the Floyd Abrams Institute for Freedom of Expression at the Yale Law School.  And in August 2015, the Salon first went “on the road,” beginning with an event in Los Angeles and thereafter one in Chicago.  The last salon involved a discussion between Professor Geoffrey Stone and Judge Richard Posner (YouTube video here).

This past October the First Amendment Salon launched its first in the “More Speech” series of Occasional Papers” to be circulated by the salon and the Floyd Abrams Institute. The purpose of these “More Speech papers is to introduce the practicing First Amendment bar to some new and important scholarly work that might be useful in litigation. Thus, the Salon will invite a noted First Amendment lawyer to write a foreword to a particular scholarly article. By the same token, from time to time it will invite a noted First Amendment scholar to write a foreword to some important appellate brief, which we think might be of interest to the academic community. In this way, among others, the Salon hopes to enhance the communication between the practicing bar and the legal academy (and among journalists and activists, too).

The next Salon will be on April 5, 2017 at the Floyd Abrams Institute at Yale Law School. Adam Liptak (Supreme Court correspondent for the New York Times) will interview Mr. Abrams in connection with his latest book, The Soul of the First Amendment (Yale University Press, 2017).

Co-Chairs

  • Ronald K.L. Collins, University of Washington School of Law
  • Lee Levine, Levine Sullivan Koch & Schulz
  • David M. Skover, Seattle University, School of Law

Advisory Board

  • Floyd Abrams, Cahill Gordon & Reindel
  • Sandra Baron, Floyd Abrams Institute for Freedom of Expression
  • Erwin Chemerinsky, University of California at Irvine, School of Law
  • Robert Corn-Revere, Davis Wright Tremaine
  • Robert Post, Yale Law School
  • David Schulz, Floyd Abrams Institute for Freedom of Expression
  • Paul M. Smith, Jenner & Block
  • Geoffrey Stone, University of Chicago, School of Law
  • Nadine Strossen, New York Law School
  • Eugene Volokh, UCLA School of Law