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First Amendment

Aug 2023

A New Film: Floyd Abrams – Speaking Freely

George Freeman

Not only to get pumped up, and more than just to learn some legal history, I urge all members to watch this film on September 22nd. It will renew your faith and dedication to the goals and principles we are striving for. Though the hero of the piece appears to be Floyd, the co-hero really…

Jul 2023

Maine Governor Vetoes Legislation Requiring News Outlets to Establish Unconstitutional Censorship Process for “Foreign Government-Influenced” Political Communications

Sigmund D. Schutz, Alexandra A. Harriman, and Margeaux E. Lavoie

No state has come closer than Maine to imposing on news outlets constitutionally fraught and onerous obligations to police and censor foreign-influenced spending on political advertising.

Jul 2023

Arizona Law Banning Video Recording of Police Ruled Unconstitutional

Matthew E. Kelley

Ruling in favor of a coalition of news organizations, a federal judge has struck down an Arizona statute that would have made it a crime to record video of police within eight feet of them after being warned to stop.

Jul 2023

Free Speech in the “Free State”

Rachel Fugate and Sarah Papadelias

Florida's distorted First Amendment reality stems from a “war on woke” that attempts to eliminate certain viewpoints and has infected Florida’s legislative and executive decisions. Fortunately, federal courts have pulled Florida back from the First Amendment "upside down." However, there still is a long way to go.

Jun 2023

Counterman v. Colorado: Good News for Sullivan Fans

Jeff Hermes

The Court says explicitly that whether a statement is a threat does not depend on the intent of the speaker but upon the message received by the listener. However, scienter amounting to subjective recklessness is required in order to avoid chilling effects on other speech.

May 2023

Ninth Circuit Holds Senator Warren’s Letter to Amazon Was Protected as Persuasive Speech

Margaret N. Strouse

Although Sen. Warren used “strong words,” her word choice and tone were a persuasive “call to action” consistent with elected officials’ right to “forcefully criticize” other speakers.

May 2023

The Supreme Court’s Next Target: Social Media

Clay Calvert

In late April, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear two cases affecting citizens’ ability to sue government officials who block them on social media. When the court tackles O’Connor-Ratcliff v. Garnier and Lindke v. Freed (likely this fall), it should embrace a rule that enhances, not constrains, the First Amendment right to engage with…

Mar 2023

Utah Becomes First State to Regulate Social Media Use by Minors

David C. Reymann

The two laws have drawn national attention in part because of the increasing focus on supposed harms social media platforms are causing minors, but also because they test, if not far exceed, the outer constitutional limits of regulating private speech.

Jan 2023

Texas District Court Enjoins Netflix Prosecution

Samuel Calkins

Judge Truncale concluded that the film was likely constitutionally protected by the First Amendment and that the claim that the film contains child pornography is flawed.

Jan 2023

Fourth Circuit Halts “Election Libel” Prosecution, North Carolina Law Likely Unconstitutional

Benjamin Rossi

In a strongly worded opinion, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals last week vacated a district court’s denial of a preliminary injunction against a state prosecution of Josh Stein, North Carolina’s Attorney General.