Tagged: Constitutional Law

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FAN 194 (First Amendment News) “Cato Unbound” & Knight Institute’s “Emerging Threats” host separate online exchanges on Free Speech abroad & on the Internet

Over at Cato Unbound they have just posted an online exchange entitled “Free Speech in International Perspective.”

The lead essay is by Jacob Mchangama and is titled “How Censorship Crosses Borders.”

Jacob Mchangama describes what he terms a “cross-fertilization of censorship,” in which regimes both free and unfree are in the process of copying one another’s restrictions on expressive freedoms. More liberal countries still frequently restrict hate speech, while less liberal ones use those restrictions to justify still more restrictive acts. The world’s centuries-long march toward freedom of expression seems to have halted. Can it be restarted?

Mchangama’s essay drew a reply from Anthony Leaker and is titled Against “Free Speech”

Anthony Leaker characterizes the recent free speech “crisis” as mythical. It is the product of far-right and indeed fascist propaganda, and we can know that this is so by observing the purported victims in the “crisis:” They are right-wing, successful, and absolutely not being persecuted. Indeed, they dictate the terms of present-day debate, exactly as people like them have always done. In this way, Leaker denies that the United States has been, or is, a force for liberty at all. Political speech does well when it liberates the oppressed, but the type of speech under discussion here is nothing of the kind.

RelatedFAN 192 — The Trend Continues: Forthcoming Book — Anthony Leaker, “Against Free Speech” (May 29, 2018)

Forthcoming

Two more essays are slated to follow:

Knight Institute’s “Emerging Threats” online symposium

Excerpt: “The United States’ internet freedom project is not just failing abroad. It is also failing at home. [T]he United States is increasingly engaged in forms of digital protectionism that it once decried. But both the commercial non-regulation principle and the anti-censorship principle are allowing real harms within the country’s borders as well. ‘[M]odern information networks and the technologies they support can be harnessed for good or for ill,’ Clinton acknowledged in her 2010 speech. The premise of the U.S. internet freedom agenda is that an open, unregulated internet is great at home on balance and thus should be exported abroad. This premise — built on an optimism about the impact of digital technologies on American public life — is now being called into question.”

“The fact that the U.S. internet freedom agenda is failing, however, does not necessarily mean that the larger project of internet freedom is failing. On the contrary, the growing detachment of this project from American commercial and ideological interests may suggest a new path forward. This is the glass-half-full perspective offered [in responses] by Nani Jansen Reventlow and Jonathan McCully, and David Kaye. While endorsing Goldsmith’s basic critique of U.S. policy, these leading international lawyers push back against the parochialism inherent in evaluating internet freedom in U.S.-centric terms.”

2017-2018 Term: First Amendment Free Expression Cases

Cert. Granted & Cases Argued 

  1. Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission (argument: Dec. 5, 2017)
  2. Janus v. American Federation of State, Municipal and County Employees(argument: Feb. 26, 2018)
  3. Lozman v. City of Riviera Beach, Florida (argument: Feb. 27, 2018)
  4. Minnesota Voters Alliance v. Mansky (argument: Feb. 28, 2018)
  5. National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra (argument: March 20, 2018)
  6. Benisek v. Lamone (argument: March 27, 2018)

Pending: Cert. Petitions 

  1. Nationwide Biweekly Administration, Inc., et al v. Perez
  2. CTIA v. City of Berkeley 
  3. Harris v. Cooper 
  4. A Woman’s Friend Pregnancy Resource Clinic v. Becerra
  5. Livingwell Medical Clinic, Inc. v. Becerra
  6. Berninger v. Federal Communications Commission

Review Denied

  1. Flanigan’s Enterprise, Inc. v. City of Sandy Springs
  2. Contest Promotions, LLC., v. City & County of San Francisco
  3. Holmes v. Federal Election Commission
  4. Walker v. N.Y.C. Dep’t of Educ. et al.
  5. Shepard v. Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission 
  6. Morris v. Texas (dismissed for want of jurisdiction)
  7. Connecticut v. Baccala
  8. Tobinick v. Novella
  9. Muccio v. Minnesota
  10. Elonis v. United States
  11. Final Exit Network, Inc. v. Minnesota 

Free-Speech Related Cases: Cert. Granted

  • Carpenter v. United States (Whether the warrantless seizure and search of historical cell phone records revealing the location and movements of a cellphone user over the course of 127 days are permitted by the Fourth Amendment.)

Free-Speech Related Cases: Cert. Pending

  • Blagojevich v. United States (When the Government prosecutes a public official for soliciting campaign contributions in alleged violation of the Hobbs Act or other federal anti-corruption laws, must the Government prove the defendant made an “explicit promise or undertaking” in exchange for the contribution, McCormick v. United States(1991) (emphasis added), as five circuits require, or “only . . . that a public official has obtained a payment . . . knowing that [it] was made in return for official acts,” Evans v. United States (1992), as three other circuits hold?)

Free-Speech Related Cases: Cert. Denied

Last Scheduled FAN # 193: Eight Free Expression Take Away Points from Masterpiece Cakeshop Case (# 8: Seven Justices Discuss Free Expression Claim)

Next Scheduled FAN # 195: Wednesday, June 20, 2018

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FAN 193.1 (First Amendment News) First Amendment Watch to host online roundtable on Seidman’s “Can Free Speech Be Progressive?” essay

The notion that our free speech tradition might be weaponized to advance progressive ends is fanciful.

Groups like the American Civil Liberties Union [once] managed to translate [the] right of agitation into the language of law, but the radicalism of free speech [has since been] lost in the translation.

Louis Michael Seidman

Professor Michael Seidman (credit: Book TV)

Over at First Amendment Watch Stephen Solomon and Tatiana Serafin are preparing to launch an online roundtable discussion of Professor Louis Michael Seidman’s forthcoming Columbia Law Review essay titled “Can Free Speech Be Progressive?

Below are the lineup and dates of postings:

  1. Wednesday, June 20:        Introduction & Seidman excerpt with link to his essay
  2. Thursday, June 21:            Floyd Abrams
  3. Friday, June 22:                 John Schnapper-Casteras
  4. Monday, June 25:             Jane Bambauer
  5. Tuesday, June 26:              Ronald K.L. Collins
  6. Wednesday, June 27:       Richard Delgado
  7. Thursday, June 28:           Louis Michael Seidman:  Rejoinder
  8. Friday, June 29                  Onward — Reader Responses
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FAN 193 (First Amendment News) Eight Free Expression Take Away Points from Masterpiece Cakeshop Case (# 8: Seven Justices Discuss Free Expression Claim)

Earlier today the Court, by a 7-2 margin, sustained the Petitioner’s Free Exercise claim in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. Even so, there was much in the various opinions that either indirectly or directly addressed the Free Expression claims rasied in the case.  The sketch below, replete with eight take away points, discusses that very issue.

* * *  * * *

MAJORITY OPINION (7 votes) : #1 — Subtext: Free Expression Implications  

Two First Amendment Claims: “The freedoms asserted here are both the freedom of speech and the free exercise of religion. The free speech aspect of this case is difficult, for few persons who have seen a beautiful wedding cake might have thought of its creation as an exercise of protected speech. This is an instructive example, however, of the proposition that the application of constitutional freedoms in new contexts can deepen our understanding of their meaning.”

Two Interrelated First Amendment Claims: “[Petitioner Phillips] argues that he had to use his artistic skills to make an expressive statement, a wedding endorsement in his own voice and of his own creation. As Phillips would see the case, this contention has a significant First Amendment speech component and implicates his deep and sincere religious beliefs. In this context the baker likely found it difficult to find a line where the customers’ rights to goods and services became a demand for him to exercise the right of his own personal expression for their message, a message he could not express in a way con- sistent with his religious beliefs.”

“Since the State itself did not allow those marriages to be performed in Colorado, there is some force to the argument that the baker was not unreasonable in deeming it lawful to decline to take an action that he understood to be an expression of support for their validity when that expression was contrary to his sincerely held religious beliefs, at least insofar as his refusal was limited to refusing to create and express a message in support of gay marriage, even one planned to take place in another State.”

Viewpoint Discrimination: “[T]he Commission’s treatment of Phillips’ case violated the State’s duty under the First Amendment not to base laws or regulations on hostility to a religion or religious viewpoint.” [emphasis added]

KAGAN CONCURRENCE (Joined by Breyer): #2 — No Expressive Conduct in this Case 

No Expressive Conduct: “The cake requested was not a special “cake celebrating same-sex marriage.” It was simply a wedding cake—one that (like other standard wedding cakes) is suitable for use at same-sex and opposite-sex weddings alike. See ante, at 4 (majority opinion) (recounting that Phillips did not so much as discuss the cake’s design before he refused to make it). And contrary to JUSTICE GORSUCH’S view, a wedding cake does not become something different whenever a vendor like Phillips invests its sale to particular customers with ‘religious significance.'”

“A vendor can choose the products he sells, but not the customers he serves—no matter the reason. Phillips sells wedding cakes. As to that product, he unlawfully discriminates: He sells it to opposite-sex but not to same-sex couples. . . .” [emphasis added]

GORSUCH CONCURRENCE (Joined by Alito): #3 — Making a Cake for a Gay Marriage = Same as Celebrating Gay Marriage = Compelled Expression 

Expression without Words: “To suggest that cakes with words convey a message but cakes without words do not—all in order to excuse the bakers in Mr. Jack’s case while penalizing Mr. Phillips—is irrational. Not even the Commission or court of appeals purported to rely on that distinction.”

“Words or not and whatever the exact design, it celebrates a wedding, and if the wedding cake is made for a same-sex couple it celebrates a same-sex wedding.”

“Like ‘an emblem or flag,’ a cake for a same-sex wedding is a symbol that serves as “a short cut from mind to mind,” signifying approval of a specific ‘system, idea, [or] institution.'”

Compelled Expression“Nor would it be proper for this or any court to suggest that a person must be forced to write words rather than create a symbol before his religious faith is implicated.”

Cake Celebrating Gay Marriage: “Suggesting that this case is only about ‘wedding cakes’—and not a wedding cake celebrating a same-sex wedding—actually points up the problem. At its most general level, the cake at issue in Mr. Phillips’s case was just a mixture of flour and eggs; at its most specific level, it was a cake celebrating the same-sex wedding of Mr. Craig and Mr. Mullins. We are told here, however, to apply a sort of Goldilocks rule: describing the cake by its ingredients is too general; understanding it as celebrating a same-sex wedding is too specific; but regarding it as a generic wedding cake is just right.”

#4 — Significant Fact: Roberts Did Not Join Gorsuch Concurrence 

Though Chief Justice John Roberts’ First Amendment free speech voting record is very speech protectiive, in this case he elected not to join the Gorsuch concurrence. Why?

THOMAS CONCURRENCE (Joined by Gorsuch): #5 — Free Expression Claim Limits Reach of Obergefell

Expressive Conduct: “The conduct that the Colorado Court of Appeals ascribed to Phillips—creating and designing custom wedding cakes—is expressive. Phillips considers himself an artist. The logo for Masterpiece Cakeshop is an artist’s paint palate with a paintbrush and baker’s whisk. Behind the counter Phillips has a picture that depicts him as an artist painting on a canvas. Phillips takes exceptional care with each cake that he creates—sketching the design out on paper, choosing the color scheme, creating the frosting and decorations, baking and sculpting the cake, decorating it, and delivering it to the wedding. . . . To [Mr. Phillips], a wedding cake inherently communicates that ‘a wedding has oc­curred, a marriage has begun, and the couple should be celebrated.’ Wedding cakes do, in fact, communicate this message. . . . Accordingly, Phillips’ creation of custom wedding cakes is expressive. The use of his artistic talents to create a well-recognized symbol that celebrates the beginning of a marriage clearly communicates a message—certainly more so than nude dancing, Barnes v. Glen Theatre, Inc., or flying a plain red flag, Stromberg v. California . . .” [emphasis added]

No Evidence of Communicating a Message Required: “The dissent faults Phillips for not ‘submitting . . . evidence’ that wedding cakes communicate a message. Post, at 2, n. 1 (opinion of GINSBURG, J.). But this requirement finds no support in our prece­dents. This Court did not insist that the parties submit evidence detailing the expressive nature of parades, flags, or nude dancing.”

Compelled Affirmation Prohibited: “Forcing Phillips to make custom wedding cakes for same-sex marriages re­ quires him to, at the very least, acknowledge that same- sex weddings are “weddings” and suggest that they should be celebrated—the precise message he believes his faith forbids. The First Amendment prohibits Colorado from requiring Phillips to “bear witness to [these] fact[s],”Hurley, 515 U. S., at 574, or to “affir[m] . . . a belief with which [he] disagrees,” id., at 573.”

Obergefell no Bar to Free Expression Claim: [T]he fact that this Court has now decided Obergefell v. Hodges, 576 U. S. ___ (2015), [does not] somehow diminish Phillips’ right to free speech. “It is one thing . . . to con­clude that the Constitution protects a right to same-sex marriage; it is something else to portray everyone who does not share [that view] as bigoted” and unentitled toexpress a different view. Id., at ___ (ROBERTS, C. J., dis­senting). This Court is not an authority on matters of conscience, and its decisions can (and often should) be criticized. The First Amendment gives individ­uals the right to disagree about the correctness of Obergefell and the morality of same-sex marriage. Obergefell itself emphasized that the traditional understanding of marriage ‘long has been held—and continues to be held— in good faith by reasonable and sincere people here and throughout the world.’ (majority opinion). If Phillips’ continued adherence to that under­ standing makes him a minority after Obergefell, that is all the more reason to insist that his speech be protected.”

Limiting Reach of Obergefell: “In Obergefell, I warned that the Court’s decision would ‘inevitabl[y] . . . come into conflict” with religious liberty, “as individuals . . . are confronted with demands to partic­ ipate in and endorse civil marriages between same-sex couples.’ 576 U. S., at ___ (dissenting opinion). This case proves that the conflict has already emerged. Because the Court’s decision vindicates Phillips’ right to free exercise, it seems that religious liberty has lived to fight another day. But, in future cases, the free­dom of speech could be essential to preventing Obergefell from being used to “stamp out every vestige of dissent” and “vilify Americans who are unwilling to assent to the new orthodoxy.” Id., at ___ (ALITO, J., dissenting).” [emphasis added]

#6 — Roberts & Alito did not join Thomas Concurrence & Its Analysis of Obergefell 

It is notewortthy that only Justice Gorsuch was willing to sign onto the Thomas opinion. Though Justice Alito’s supportive langauage was quoted, he declined to sign onto this opinion.  Same with the Chief Justice who in the course of oral arguments in the case stated: “when the Court upheld same-sex marriage in Obergefell, it went out of its way to talk about the decent and honorable people who may have opposing views.” Even so, he remained silent on this issue.

GINSBURG DISSENT (Joined by Sotomayor): #7 — No Free Expression Right Implicated 

No Free Expression Right: ” As JUSTICE THOMAS observes, the Court does not hold that wedding cakes are speech or expression entitled to First Amendment protection. See ante, at 1 (opinion concurring in part and concurring in judgment). Nor could it, consistent with our First Amendment precedents. [emphasis added]

“Phillips submitted no evidence showing that an objective observer understands a wedding cake to convey a message, much less that the observer understands the message to be the baker’s, rather than the marrying couple’s. Indeed, some in the wedding industry could not explain what message, or whose, a wedding cake conveys. . . . And Phillips points to no case in which this Court has suggested the provision of a baked good might be expressive conduct.”

Note that the Court’s other two liberals (Justices Kagan and Breyer) did not join Ginsburg’s dissent. Why?

#8 — Total Tallies: Seven Justices Openly Discussed First Amendment Expression Issue

  • Three Justices (Thomas, Gorsuch & Alito) supported the free expression claim
  • Two Justices (Thomas & Gorsuch) suggted that the free expression claim could not be limited by Obergefell.
  • Four Justices (Kagan & Breyer concurring / Ginsburg & Sotomayor in dissent) suggsted that there was no valid free expression claim made in this case.
  • All total, 7 Justices (everyone save Kennedy & Roberts) discussed the First Amendment free expression issue.
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FAN 192.1 (First Amendment News) Thomas & Gorsuch discuss First Amendment expression claim in Colorado baker case

While Phillips rightly prevails on his free-exercise claim, I write separately to address his free-speech claim. The Court does not address this claim because it has some uncertainties about the record. — Justice Clarence Thomas

Justice Clarence Thomas

Today the Supreme Court rendered its ruling in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. The vote in the case was 7-2 with Justice Anthony Kennedy writing for the majority and Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor in dissent.

The majority opinion was grounded in a First Amendment free exercise claim tailored to the specific facts of the case involving some evdience of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission’s “impermissible hostility toward the sincere religious beliefs motivating [the baker’s] objection. As the record shows, some of the commissioners at the Commission’s formal, public hearings endorsed the view that religious beliefs cannot legitimately be carried into the public sphere or commercial domain, disparaged Phillips’ faith as despicable and characterized it as merely rhetorical, and compared his invocation of his sincerely held religious beliefs to defenses of slavery and the Holocaust.” Given the basis of its ruling, the majority did not reach the baker’s First Amendment freedom of expression claims.

Writing separately, and joined by Justice Neil Gorsuch, Justice Clarence Thomas concurred in part and concurred in the judgment. Justice Gorsuch also authored a concurring opinion joined by Justice Samuel Alito.  Unlike the majority, Thomas and Gorsuch addressed the First Amendment free expression claim in their separate opinions.

Question: What are we to make of the fact that neither Chief Justice John Roberts nor Justice Samuel Alito signed onto Justice Thomas’s more expansive opinion?

Here, first, are some excerpts from Justice Thomas’s opinion:

  • Expressive Conduct: “The conduct that the Colorado Court of Appeals ascribed to Phillips—creating and designing custom wedding cakes—is expressive. Phillips considers himself an artist. The logo for Masterpiece Cakeshop is an artist’s paint palate with a paintbrush and baker’s whisk. Behind the counter Phillips has a picture that depicts him as an artist painting on a canvas. Phillips takes exceptional care with each cake that he creates—sketching the design out on paper, choosing the color scheme, creating the frosting and decorations, baking and sculpting the cake, decorating it, and delivering it to the wedding. . . . To [Mr. Phillips], a wedding cake inherently communicates that “a wedding has oc­curred, a marriage has begun, and the couple should be celebrated.” App. 162. Wedding cakes do, in fact, communicate this message. . . . Accordingly, Phillips’ creation of custom wedding cakes is expressive. The use of his artistic talents to create a well-recognized symbol that celebrates the beginning of a marriage clearly communicates a message—certainly more so than nude dancing, Barnes v. Glen Theatre, Inc., or flying a plain red flag, Stromberg v. California . . .”
  • No Evidence of Communicating a Message Required: “The dissent faults Phillips for not ‘submitting . . . evidence’ that wedding cakes communicate a message. Post, at 2, n. 1 (opinion of GINSBURG, J.). But this requirement finds no support in our prece­dents. This Court did not insist that the parties submit evidence detailing the expressive nature of parades, flags, or nude dancing.”

  • Compelled Affirmation Prohibited: “Forcing Phillips to make custom wedding cakes for same-sex marriages re­ quires him to, at the very least, acknowledge that same- sex weddings are “weddings” and suggest that they should be celebrated—the precise message he believes his faith forbids. The First Amendment prohibits Colorado from requiring Phillips to “bear witness to [these] fact[s],”Hurley, 515 U. S., at 574, or to “affir[m] . . . a belief with which [he] disagrees,” id., at 573.”
  • Strict Scrutiny Standard: “Because Phillips’ conduct (as described by the Colorado Court of Appeals) was expressive, Colorado’s public- accommodations law cannot penalize it unless the law withstands strict scrutiny. Although this Court some­ times reviews regulations of expressive conduct under the more lenient test articulated in O’Brien, that test does not apply unless the government would have punished the conduct regardless of its expressive component. See, e.g., Barnes, 501 U. S., at 566–572 (applying O’Brien to evalu­ate the application of a general nudity ban to nude danc­ ing); Clark, 468 U. S., at 293 (applying O’Brien to evaluate the application of a general camping ban to a demonstra­tion in the park). Here, however, Colorado would not be punishing Phillips if he refused to create any custom wedding cakes; it is punishing him because he refuses to create custom wedding cakes that express approval of same-sex marriage. In cases like this one, our precedents demand “ ‘the most exacting scrutiny.’ ” Johnson, 491 U. S., at 412; accord, Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project, 561 U. S. 1, 28 (2010).”
  • “The Court of Appeals did not address whether Colo­ rado’s law survives strict scrutiny, and I will not do so in the first instance.”
  • Obergefell no Bar to Free Expression Claim: [T]he fact that this Court has now decided Obergefell v. Hodges, 576 U. S. ___ (2015), [does not] somehow diminish Phillips’ right to free speech. “It is one thing . . . to con­clude that the Constitution protects a right to same-sex marriage; it is something else to portray everyone who does not share [that view] as bigoted” and unentitled toexpress a different view. Id., at ___ (ROBERTS, C. J., dis­senting). This Court is not an authority on matters of conscience, and its decisions can (and often should) be criticized. The First Amendment gives individ­uals the right to disagree about the correctness of Obergefell and the morality of same-sex marriage. Obergefell itself emphasized that the traditional understanding of marriage “long has been held—and continues to be held— in good faith by reasonable and sincere people here and throughout the world.” Id., at ___ (majority opinion). If Phillips’ continued adherence to that under­ standing makes him a minority after Obergefell, that is all the more reason to insist that his speech be protected.”

  • Limiting Reach of Obergefell: “In Obergefell, I warned that the Court’s decision would “inevitabl[y] . . . come into conflict” with religious liberty, “as individuals . . . are confronted with demands to partic­ ipate in and endorse civil marriages between same-sex couples.” 576 U. S., at ___ (dissenting opinion) (slip op., at 15). This case proves that the conflict has already emerged. Because the Court’s decision vindicates Phillips’ right to free exercise, it seems that religious liberty has lived to fight another day. But, in future cases, the free­dom of speech could be essential to preventing Obergefell from being used to “stamp out every vestige of dissent” and “vilify Americans who are unwilling to assent to the new orthodoxy.” Id., at ___ (ALITO, J., dissenting).”

Next, here are some excerpts from Justice Gorsuch’s opinion:

  • Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote a concurrence joined by Justice Samuel Alito

    Cakes Without Words Can Convey a Message “To suggest that cakes with words convey a message but cakes without words do not—all in order to excuse the bakers in Mr. Jack’s case while penalizing Mr. Phillips—is irrational. Not even the Commission or court of appeals purported to rely on that distinction. Imagine Mr. Jack asked only for a cake with a symbolic expression against same-sex marriage rather than a cake bearing words conveying the same idea. Surely the Commission would have approved the bakers’ intentional wish to avoid participating in that message too. Nor can anyone reasonably doubt that a wedding cake without words conveys a message. Words or not and whatever the exact design, it celebrates a wedding, and if the wedding cake is made for a same-sex couple it celebrates a same-sex wedding.”

  • Making Cakes vs Conveying a Message:  “Suggesting that this case is only about ‘wedding cakes’—and not a wed- ding cake celebrating a same-sex wedding—actually points up the problem. At its most general level, the cake at issue in Mr. Phillips’s case was just a mixture of flour and eggs; at its most specific level, it was a cake celebrating the same-sex wedding of Mr. Craig and Mr. Mullins. We are told here, however, to apply a sort of Goldilocks rule: describing the cake by its ingredients is too general; un- derstanding it as celebrating a same-sex wedding is too specific; but regarding it as a generic wedding cake is just right. The problem is, the Commission didn’t play with the level of generality in Mr. Jack’s case in this way.”

Note: The Gorsuch opinion, unlike the Thomas one (in which Gorsuch joined), did not mention Obergefell.  

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FAN 192 (First Amendment News) The Trend Continues: Forthcoming Book — Anthony Leaker, “Against Free Speech”

Dr. Anthony Leaker

Who is Anthony Leaker? Answer: He is a Senior Lecturer in Cultural and Critical Theory at the University of Brighton. Now this cultural critic has turned his attention to free speech. Perhaps taking his cue from Professor Steven Shiffrin (What’s Wrong with the First Amendment), Leaker’s forthcoming book, Against Free Speech (Rowman & Littlefield, November 16, 2018), may well be yet another example of the liberal flight from robust free-speech freedom.

Abstract: This book examines the renewed and vociferous defence of free speech witnessed in relation to a number of recent events, including the Charlie Hebdo massacre, the Brexit and Trump campaigns, and recent campus politics.Anthony Leaker argues that the defence of free speech has played a pivotal role in a resurgent right-wing nationalism, that it is the rallying point for a wider set of reactionary political demands, a form of aggrieved liberalism at best and patriarchal white supremacy at worst, aided by a complicit liberal centre.

By focusing on these events and situating them within the wider geopolitical context of a post-democratic, post-truth world of austerity, ongoing conflict in the Middle East, pasokification, and rising fascism, Leaker critiques the role that the defence of free speech has played in legitimising the scapegoating of oppressed minorities while deflecting attention from the egregious operations of power that have led to ever greater inequality, injustice and capitalist destruction.

This powerful book shows that free speech is in fact a myth, an ideological tool employed by those in power to sustain existing power relations.

Yesterday: Supreme Court Denies Cert. in Commercial Speech Case

The case is Contest Promotions, LLC., v. City & County of San Francisco. The issue in the case was whether the First Amendment permits a municipality to ban all signs, of any kind, advertising off-premises commercial activity, without making any showing that the ban furthers a substantial government interest in a direct, material and tailored way.

Just Launched — The FIRE Faculty Network

This from Julia Schwarz over at FIRE: “We’re excited to announce the launch of the FIRE Faculty Network, a diverse coalition of faculty interested in defending and sustaining academic freedom, free speech, and civil liberties on campus. By joining FIRE’s faculty network, you’ll receive information curated specifically for faculty, including the latest information on FIRE events, legal developments, strategies for activism, and noteworthy research and reporting related to free speech and academic freedom.”

“If you’re a faculty member, graduate student, or higher education professional interested in getting involved or staying informed on issues related to academic freedom and free speech on campus, sign up today!”

Upcoming: 2018 Faculty Conference 

“We’re also currently accepting applications to attend our 2018 FIRE Faculty Conference, taking place October 11-13 in Chicago, at Loyola University Chicago’s downtown Water Tower campus, with accommodations at the nearby Omni Hotel. We’re accepting applications on a rolling basis through July 31. Apply now to secure a spot — space is limited!”

“The conference will bring together faculty from a variety of disciplines and institutions to present research and discuss issues related to academic freedom and freedom of expression on campus. Beyond these discussions, faculty will meet peers from around the country who share an interest in defending academic freedom and promoting rigorous intellectual discourse. There is no fee to attend the conference, and those accepted will be eligible for a $750 travel stipend to assist with the costs of lodging and transportation.”

“If you have questions about the faculty network or the conference, please be in touch.”

Headline:” PETA — Texas A&M is violating First Amendment rights by blocking critics online” Read More

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FAN 191.2 (First Amendment News) Floyd Abrams Weighs in on Knight First Amendment Institute’s Victory in Twitter Ruling Against Trump

Back in July of last year, Jameel Jaffer, Katherine Fallow, and Alex Abdo filed a complaint in the Southern District of New York in a case titled Knight First Amendment Institute v. Trump. The suit contended that President Trump and his communications team violated the First Amendment by blocking seven people from the @realDonaldTrump Twitter account because they criticized the president or his policies.

                                                                 

Yesterday, in a 75-page opinion Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald ruled  that President Trump’s practice of blocking critics from his Twitter account violated the First Amendment. Judge Buchwald held that the “interactive space” where people reply to  Trump’s tweets amounted to a “designated public forum.” Given that, when the White House blocked users based on their viewpoints, it violated the First Amendment.

In an op-ed in today’s Daily News, Floyd Abrams wrote: “There are aspects [of the case] that are complex. But the core of the ruling is plain. A President who uses Twitter to pronounce many of his most critical decisions and defend them to the public cannot avoid his critics or deprive them of the chance to respond in the same place and at the same time as do his supporters. Judge Buchwald’s opinion is a powerful one that sends a powerful First Amendment message.”

Related News Story 

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FAN 191.1 (First Amendment News) Abrams Institute to Host Conference on Commercial Speech & Right of Publicity

Commercial Speech & the First Amendment:

Does the Right of Publicity Transcend Commercial Speech?

From Yale Law School’s Floyd Abrams Institute for Freedom of Expression

Please join us for an in-depth discussion on right of publicity. Our keynote speaker will be Jennifer Rothman, Professor of Law at Loyola Law School, Joseph Scott Fellow, and author of the upcoming book: The Right of Publicity: Privacy Reimagined for a Public World.

  • Are there First Amendment limits to this claim?
  • What are the litigation strategies for approaching these claims?
  • And what are the legislative strategies and imperatives for legislative initiatives?

Date & Time

Monday, June 4, 2018 // 8:30 AM – 2:30 PM EDT

Does the First Amendment have anything to say here?

Moderator: Jeremy Feigelson, Debevoise & Plimpton

Panelists:

  • Robert C. Post, Sterling Professor of Law, Yale Law School
  • Jennifer Rothman, Professor of Law, Joseph Scott Fellow, Loyola Law School
  • Rebecca Tushnet, Frank Stanton Professor of the First Amendment, Harvard Law School

What content is protected? What content should be protected? How to frame the argument. Does the concept of “commercial speech” retain any relevance to the analysis?

Litigating the Claims

Moderator: Stacey Dogan, Professor, Boston University School of Law
Panelists:

  • David Schulz, Ballard & Spahr LLP
  • Nathan Siegel, Davis Wright Tremaine LLP
  • Annie Pell, NFL

What are the strategic decisions to be made? What wins, and what does not?

Legislative Initiatives: What matters

Moderator: Daniel Kummer, NBCUniversal Media, LLC
Panelists:

  • Gena Feist, TakeTwo Interactive Software, Inc.
  • Edward Rosenthal, Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz PC
  • Vans Stevenson, Motion Picture Association of American, Inc.

Exceptions Clauses:

  • Do they lead courts to assume that all content is subject to ROP claims, except the exceptions?
  • How should they best be drafted?
  • What other key and contentious clauses are in the legislative mix today?
  • Are there viable compromises between the performers’ unions and the creative community on ROP statutes?

Accreditation

  • Application for New York accreditation of this program is currently pending.

Host of Conference

  • We want to thank Debevoise & Plimpton for agreeing to host the Conference this year.

Conference Sponsors: We want to thank the additional sponsors of this Conference:

  • Ballard Spahr LLP
  • Davis Wright Tremaine LLP
  • Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz PC

Location

Debevoise and Plimpton, 919  3rd Ave., New York, NY 10022

Registration

Space is limited for this Conference. We anticipate a waiting list, so please do not register if you do not think you will actually attend.

REGISTER HERE

If you find that you cannot attend, please let us know ASAP. Again, we anticipate a waiting list.

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FAN 191 (First Amendment News) “Robotica” — First Book on Speech Rights & Artificial Intelligence Published

If any current scholarly work of free speech theory survives into the next century, it will undoubtedly be this book.
Abstract: As more and more communication becomes robotized and/or is driven by artificial intelligence, a variety of questions arise about the relation between the government’s regulation of such communication and First Amendment law. Such robotized communication involves everything from our home appliances, automobiles, phones, computers, and more. Ever more press stories are today being written by algorithmic design, and stock transfers follow a similar path of communication.

But is such data speech under the First Amendment? Are such transfers even communication within the meaning of the First Amendment? And if so, to what extent, any why, can the government regulate these new technologies? Such questions and others are explored for the first time in book form in  the latest work by First Amendment scholars Ronald Collins and David Skover.

Professor David Skover

The book (their tenth) is ROBOTICA: SPEECH RIGHTS & ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE (Cambridge University Press, June 2018).

  Following the main text, are four commenatries by Ryan Calo, Jane Bambauer, James Grimmelmann, and Bruce E.H. Johnson. The authors thereafter reply to the commentaries.

Advance Praise

“Collins and Skover have produced a wonderfully readable, thorough, and insightful exploration of the intersection of technology and free speech theory, from the beginning of time well into the future. If any current scholarly work of free speech theory survives into the next century, it will undoubtedly be this book.” — Martin Redish, Louis and Harriet Ancel Professor of Law, Northwestern University Law School

“Collins and Skover have long been among the finest minds focused on free expression in America. In this remarkable book, they now turn insightfully to an incredibly complex and timely issue associated with ‘robotic expression’: how should the First Amendment handle contests involving regulation of ‘robot speech’ as artificial intelligence grows rapidly in prominence? This book conveys their deep knowledge – and the knowledge of other noted scholars – of the history, law, and technology that inform the way we should think about this emerging field of constitutional inquiry. ” — John Palfrey, Head of School at Phillips Academy, Massachusetts & former Executive Director of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, Harvard University

New Book on Right of Publicity 

Jennifer Rothman has written an important, informative study of the right of publicity as it has developed in the United States and its connections to a robust privacy right. By reexamining the past, she has elaborated principles that will be useful in defining both publicity and privacy rights for the digital age.Rebecca Tushnet, Harvard Law School

Abstract: Who controls how one’s identity is used by others? This legal question, centuries old, demands greater scrutiny in the Internet age. Jennifer Rothman uses the right of publicity―a little-known law, often wielded by celebrities―to answer that question, not just for the famous but for everyone.

In challenging the conventional story of the right of publicity’s emergence, development, and justifications, Rothman shows how it transformed people into intellectual property, leading to a bizarre world in which you can lose ownership of your own identity. This shift and the right’s subsequent expansion undermine individual liberty and privacy, restrict free speech, and suppress artistic works.

The Right of Publicity traces the right’s origins back to the emergence of the right of privacy in the late 1800s. The central impetus for the adoption of privacy laws was to protect people from “wrongful publicity.” This privacy-based protection was not limited to anonymous private citizens but applied to famous actors, athletes, and politicians. Beginning in the 1950s, the right transformed into a fully transferable intellectual property right, generating a host of legal disputes, from control of dead celebrities like Prince, to the use of student athletes’ images by the NCAA, to lawsuits by users of Facebook and victims of revenge porn.

The right of publicity has lost its way. Rothman proposes returning the right to its origins and in the process reclaiming privacy for a public world.

→ RelatedRothman’s Roadmap To The Right of Publicity

Steve Brill’s Latest Book Discusses First Amendment Law (among other things) Read More

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FAN 190 (First Amendment News) Seattle U. Law School’s Homeless Rights Advocacy Project Issues Report on Begging Restrictions in Washington State

Jocelyn Tillisch

An important new report has just been released by Seattle University Law School’s Homeless Rights Advocacy Project. The 105-page report is titled Begging for Change: Begging Retsrictions Throughout Washington.

The report was prepared by:

The Homeless Rights Advocacy Project researched the laws of sixty-four cities across Washington State and found 121 ordinances that prohibit or restrict begging. An overwhelming number of these ordinances punish begging as a misdemeanor, inflicting on already vulnerable people ongoing and escalating collateral consequences.

Executive Summary

Drew Sena

The act of panhandling, commonly known as begging, is a constitutionally protected form of speech. But Washington’s cities are increasingly enacting ordinances that criminalizebegging. The consequences of criminalizing begging are severe and include violations of First Amendment and due process rights. Indeed, these ordinances often outlaw peaceful and nonintrusive behavior protected by the First Amendment. Some advocates assert that since 2015, “100% of federal court cases have ruled bans/restrictions [on begging] are unconstitutional.”

Further, these laws do not contribute to a solution for homelessness; instead, they function to remove visible poverty and homelessness from sight. Due to the nature and penalties of these anti-begging ordinances, the debtor’s prison grows, and the cycle of homelessness continues.

Key findings include:

  • The vast majority of Washington cities punish begging: 86% of surveyed cities have at least one law criminalizing begging in their municipal codes.
  • 83% of these laws result in a misdemeanor if violated. Criminal convictions exacerbate homelessness.8
  • Begging restrictions are proliferating: approximately 2/3 of all begging ordinances were enacted after 2001.
  • Washington’s second most popular laws are “aggressive” begging restrictions.
  • In the 1990s, courts began invalidating prohibitions on peaceful begging asunconstitutional restrictions on free speech. Many cities tried to circumvent this outcome by incorporating non-aggressive conduct into their so-called “aggressive begging” laws.
  • Only 2% of aggressive begging ordinances turn on the specific, objectively aggressive conduct of the person begging.
  • For the vast majority— 98% of aggressive begging laws—a violation can occurbased solely on a bystander’s subjective perception.
  • If a bystander feels fearful or even feels compelled to give, such feelings may be enough to make begging criminal regardless of whether the person begging has done anything objectively aggressive.
  • 42% of all aggressive begging ordinances rely exclusively on a bystander’ssubjective perception.
  • This reliance on whether a witness “subjectively” feels fear is highly problematic in light of well-established science proving people tend to feel fear simply when viewing a homeless person regardless of that person’s conduct

LSU’s Sexual Harassment Policy Challenged in Fifth Circuit

The case is Buchanan v. Alexander (No. 18-30148, 5th Cir.), which was summarily dismissed by the District Court. The matter is now before the federal circuit court.  As framed by counsel for Plaintiff-Appellant, “[t]his appeal will require the Court to interpret the law establishing limitations on a public university’s ability to terminate a tenured professor for engaging in academic speech that purportedly conflicts with anti-sexual harassment policies.”

Appellant Teresa Buchanan (credit: FIRE)

Fired LSU Professor Files First Amendment Lawsuit Challenging Speech Code Championed by Feds, FIRE, Jan. 21, 2016 (Note: The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) is sponsoring Buchanan’s lawsuit, which is part of its Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project.)

On appeal, the Plaintiff-Appellant makes the following arguments:

I.  Standard of Review

II.  LSU’S Sexual Harassment Policy is Facially Unconstitutional

A.  The First Amendment Requires Sexual Harassment Policies Targeting Speech to Be Narrowly-Framed, Precisely Defined, and Limited to Severe, Pervasive, and Objectively Offensive Behavior

  1. The Government Cannot Restrict Speech Merely to Avoid Offense, and Any Regulation of Speech Must Be Narrowly Focused and Clearly Defined
  2. Anti-Harassment Policies Are Subject to First Amendment Limits

B. The District Court Applied the Wrong Standard of Review

C. LSU’s Policy Fails to Satisfy Constitutional Scrutiny

II.  LSU’S Sexual Harassment Policy was Unconstitutionally Applied to Professor Buchanan

A. Professor Buchanan’s Speech is Constitutionally Protected

1. Academic Freedom is of “Transcendent Value”

2. The District Court Erroneously Held Dr. Buchanan’s Academic Speech Was Unprotected

a. The Undisputed Record Established That Dr. Buchanan Advanced Pedagogical Reasons for Her Speech

b. The District Court Misread the Law to Support Its Distorted View of the Record

B. LSU’s Poorly-Defined Policy and Haphazard Approach Allowed Anything to Be Defined as “Sexual

Harassment”

C. LSU’s Termination of Buchanan Violated the First Amendment

IV. Appellees Cannot Avoid Personal Liability 

→ Counsel for Plaintiff-Appellant 

U. Michigan Harassment Code Challenged  Read More