Tag Archives | First Amendment

BU ACLU: ‘When Criticizing Rhetoric, Remember Freedom of Speech’

SarahPACToday I received an interesting email from the Boston University ACLU (text below). It’s also on their Facebook Page:

Jared Lee Loughner, charged with Saturday’s shootings, has invoked his right to silence, leaving us ignorant of his motives. Sources disagree on his politics — an acquaintance calls him an “extreme” liberal; a government memo links him to a “racial-realist” journal (one that denies any ties to him). His online writings point to an unhinged mind. But though much remains unclear, people are withdrawing some of their first theories, which rashly labeled the shootings a Tea Party / Republican plot.

Replacing those accusations is a broader look at how the shooter may have responded to intense political rhetoric. Critics again blame the right-wing, mainly Sarah Palin, whose PAC last year produced an image with crosshairs on congressional seats such as Giffords’. It was only a slight escalation from the usual manner of treating politics as war (Targeted districts, swiftboating, battleground states, political campaigns).

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Atheists Assaulted for Objecting to Prayer (Video)

On April 29, 2010, activists Mitch Kahle and Kevin Hughes were assaulted by Ben Villaflor, the Senate Sergeant-At-Arms, and State Sheriff’s Deputies, for objecting to unconstitutional Christian prayers used to begin each session of the Hawaii State Legislature. Hughes was injured in the attack and was taken to the hospital for x-rays and treatment. Kahle was arrested and prosecuted, but was ultimately vindicated when Judge Leslie Hayashi found Kahle “NOT GUILTY” and ruled that: “The Senate’s [Christian] prayers violate the constitutional separation of church and state.”

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U.S. Supreme Court Takes On Westboro Baptist Church Hate Case

WBC_protestJess Bravin reviews the upcoming docket of the U.S. Supreme Court, starting with a case relating to the Westboro Baptist Church, infamous for its “God Hates” placards, for the Wall Street Journal:

Free speech stands front and center in the Supreme Court term beginning next week, in a pair of cases testing the First Amendment’s reach in the digital age.

On Oct. 6, the justices will weigh whether the First Amendment protects a Kansas church’s campaign to publicize its beliefs by picketing military funerals with vulgar placards and insulting fallen soldiers’ survivors in online screeds.

The father of a fallen Marine is seeking damages for emotional distress from the church, which believes that God is killing American soldiers to punish the U.S. for its tolerance of homosexuality.

A month later , the court is to consider whether states can bar minors from buying violent videogames, on the theory that these games cause damage to developing minds and this outweighs young people’s constitutional rights.

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You Have The Right To Photograph Federal Buildings – So Long As You Don’t Actually Try It

One of Matt Urick's photos

One of Matt Urick's photos

Why do we put up with this kind of police state nonsense? Good to see Washington’s mainstream newspaper, the Post, highlighting the issue:

A few weeks ago, on his way to work, Matt Urick stopped to snap a few pictures of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s headquarters. He thought the building was ugly but might make for an interesting photo. The uniformed officer who ran up to him didn’t agree. He told Urick he was not allowed to photograph federal buildings.

Urick wanted to tell the guard that there are pictures of the building on HUD’s Web site, that every angle of the building is visible in street views on Google Maps and that he was merely an amateur photographer, not a threat. But Urick kept all this to himself.

“A lot of these guys have guns and are enforcing laws they obviously don’t understand, and they are not to be reasoned with,” he said.

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Rubber Fetus Ban Taken To Court

Rubber fetuses given out by pro-life students at high schools in Roswell, New Mexico were banned because they were “distracting the educational environment.” The want for the ban to be overturned has created a court case bringing to question where the first amendment lies in the situation. Matt Reynolds of OnPoint details:

The suspensions of seven pro-life students at two Roswell, N.M., high schools for distributing rubber fetuses have given birth to a lawsuit that takes the First Amendment protections for student speech into uncharted territory.

The students, who belong to a religious youth group called Relentless in Roswell, sued school officials last month, alleging their suspensions were unconstitutional. They were disciplined in February after they handed out hundreds of fetus dolls at Goddard and Roswell High Schools before classes.

The complaint describes the dolls as two inches in length and “the actual size and weight of a developing unborn child at 12 weeks’ gestation.” Attached to the dolls was a verse from the Bible: “For you formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb.

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Silenced Financial Crisis Blogger Wins Court Case: Re-Posts Materials on Mortgage Specialists’ Fraud

The Mortage Lender Implode-O-Meter blog reports:

In a resounding ruling for free speech, the New Hampshire Supreme Court has reversed a superior court’s ruling ordering the Implode-o-Meter web site to take down contributed materials and divulge the identity of a whistleblower.

Mortage Lender Implode-O-Meter

The case was The Mortgage Specialists vs. Implode-Explode Heavy Industries, Inc. (the owner of ML-Implode.com). It concerned items posted to MoSpec’s “Ailing/Watch List” entry — the 2007 “Loan Chart” data for the company, and a post by username “Brianbattersby” accusing MoSpec and its President, Michael Gill, of habitual/systemic fraud.

In light of the ruling, the original content has been restored at the company’s ML-Implode profile here.

The portions of the post written by ML-Implode chiefly concerned MoSpec being fined in 2008 by the New Hampshire and Massachusetts banking departments for its practices. (MoSpec’s President, Michael Gill, called these “compliance” issues; the ML-Implode whistleblower argued otherwise.)

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Who Really Won In The Supreme Court Animal Rights-Free Speech Decision?

dog FightingSo who were the winners from the big news First Amendment decision handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court yesterday? Free-speech advocates say the Supreme Court protected the First Amendment. Animal-rights advocates say it showed how Congress could pass a new anti-animal cruelty law, according to the Christian Science Monitor:

Free speech advocates praised Tuesday’s US Supreme Court decision striking down a federal law banning depictions of animal cruelty.

At the same time, animal rights groups are calling on Congress to enact a new, more targeted law, to prevent trafficking in photos and videos depicting acts of severe animal cruelty, including so-called “crush” videos.

In striking down the 1999 Depiction of Animal Cruelty Act, Chief Justice John Roberts said the law was substantially overbroad and could criminalize depictions of entirely lawful conduct such as hunting videos and magazines. The vote was 8 to 1.

“It is clear from the opinion and the size of the majority that the court heard the many voices concerned about this law,” said David Horowitz, executive director of the Media Coalition, a free-speech advocacy group.

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Kentucky Approves Bible Classes For Public Schools

BibleLEX18.com via the AP reports:

FRANKFORT (AP) — Kentucky may follow the lead of Texas and a handful of other states in allowing Bible classes to be taught in public schools.

The Senate Education Committee on Thursday unanimously approved legislation that would effectively return the Bible to classrooms across Kentucky.

“The purpose is to allow the Bible to be used for its literature content as well as its art and cultural and social studies content,” said state Sen. David Boswell, D-Owensboro, chief sponsor of the bill that is modeled after a Texas measure.

Under the Kentucky proposal, Bible courses would be offered as electives, meaning schools could choose whether to offer them to students as a social studies credit and that students could decide whether to take them.

Boswell said he believes the legislation is constitutional because the Bible won’t be taught from a religious perspective. What sets the legislation apart, he said, is that it proposes teaching, not preaching, the Bible.

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