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Where's The Juice? Commercial Speech versus Truth in Advertising

In June of this year, POM Wonderful won "a round in a food fight with Coca-Cola" in the case about how a fruit juice blend is labeled. It's a case of commercial speech, to which John Oliver opined that "in Coke's defense, they only mislead us about what was in their juice. For years, POM Wonderful has mislead us about what is in pomegranates". Generally speaking, as long as the labeling isn't incorrect or harmful, it can make bold claims, to a point. For instance, you can't claim your cereal could improve kids' attentiveness and memory when it doesn't. Whatever you do, you shouldn't add new labeling to existing, even if it is to clarify that the product sucks less, or is asbestos-free. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Aug 1, 2014 - 37 comments

"An argument that has the characterizing flavor of bullshit."

The entire first episode of John Oliver's new current-events comedy show on HBO, Last Week Tonight, is viewable on its official YouTube Channel. [more inside]
posted by JHarris on Apr 28, 2014 - 99 comments

Larry Flynt, Activist:

Don't Execute the Man Who Paralyzed Me "I would love an hour in a room with him and a pair of wire-cutters and pliers, so I could inflict the same damage on him that he inflicted on me. But, I do not want to kill him, nor do I want to see him die."
posted by maggieb on Oct 17, 2013 - 42 comments

McCutcheon v. FEC

Supreme Court to consider lifting campaign contribution limits. Reversing McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission would allow unlimited individual campaign contributions.
posted by kliuless on Oct 7, 2013 - 101 comments

"I always had low self-esteem. I never thought I'd get anywhere."

How Joe Redner Invented The Lap Dance, Built A Strip-Club Empire, Became A Model Citizen, Fought For Your Rights, And Beat Cancer
posted by reenum on Sep 3, 2013 - 23 comments

A win for boobie bracelets in middle school

"The question was not so much what the bracelets said but whether school officials used reasonable judgment when they concluded that such apparel was inappropriate and might lead to more egregiously sexual and disruptive displays, all in the name of advocating a cause." Special bonus: The knockers displayed in a Google ad running below the innocent image of a boobie-bracelet-bedecked wrist.
posted by Bella Donna on Aug 7, 2013 - 33 comments

Daddy, what was the MetaFilter?

New Proposal Could Singlehandedly Cripple Free Speech Online
47 state attorneys general have sent a letter asking Congress to amend Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. The EFF responds.
posted by cjorgensen on Aug 6, 2013 - 108 comments

Corporations hijacked the First Amendment

The Right to Evade Regulation: How corporations hijacked the First Amendment.
posted by homunculus on Jun 4, 2013 - 12 comments

"A serious interference with AP's constitutional rights..."

"The U.S. Department of Justice notified The Associated Press on Friday, May 10, that it had secretly obtained telephone records for more than 20 separate telephone lines assigned to AP journalists and offices, including cell and home phone lines." [more inside]
posted by BobbyVan on May 13, 2013 - 291 comments

No longer sci-fi: world's first 3D printed (almost) all-plastic firearm.

Defense Distributed, creators of the controversial printable AR-15 receiver, have now released CAD files and video of the first firing of the Liberator, a real plastic pistol capable of firing between one and 10 .380 calibre rounds before exploding. [more inside]
posted by MoTLD on May 7, 2013 - 257 comments

Fire!

In Schenck v. United States, Chief Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes famously used the phrase "shouting fire in a crowded theater" as an example of how the First Amendment does not cover speech that poses a clear and present danger. But how did Holmes come to use that particular phrase? The backstory is surprisingly complex.
posted by Chrysostom on Feb 18, 2013 - 15 comments

Coursera Not Allowed to Provide Courses to Minnesota Residents?

The State of Minnesota has informed Coursera that it cannot offer courses to Minnesota residents because it has not obtained permission to do so from the state. The Chronicle of Higher Education's Wired Campus blog reports on the story here. The State was acting pursuant to the "Minnesota Private and Out-of-State Public Postsecondary Education Act," which requires schools to register with the state if they offer courses in Minnesota and requires approval if degrees are granted or the words "college" or "university" are used in the name of a school. The law was enacted in 1975 and appears to have been intended to be a consumer protection law. Noted First Amendment scholar Eugene Volokh has opined at his blog that the statute is unconstitutional, at least as applied to a web site that offers its courses for free and does not grant degrees.
posted by Area Man on Oct 19, 2012 - 69 comments

Bible Verse Banners

The dispute comes down to a single question: Were the cheerleaders representing the school when they held the banners? Their lawyers and Mr. Abbott said it was clear that they were acting as individuals. The squad came up with the idea, they say, bought the supplies for the banners with their own money and made them off campus. [more inside]
posted by DynamiteToast on Oct 18, 2012 - 143 comments

...and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Arrested for speaking out! When does an "open-palm pat on the shoulder" become assault? When it's the Vice President's shoulder, that's when. The Supreme Court of the United States (previously) will today hear arguments in the matter of Reichle v. Howards. [more inside]
posted by gauche on Mar 21, 2012 - 40 comments

U.S. Press Freedom Rankings Plummet

“The United States [owes] its fall of 27 places [to 47th] to the many arrests of journalist covering Occupy Wall Street protests.” -Reporters Without Borders

Btw, Occupy Wall St. has begun heating up again for the spring with 400 arrested in Oakland yesterday. And a blooming Occupy K Street movement (DC, FB) [more inside]
posted by jeffburdges on Jan 30, 2012 - 232 comments

This is why we can't have nice things.

Unanimous SCOTUS ruling: Anti-discrimination laws (such as the ADA) do not apply to church employees with religious duties. Full ruling: PDF, HTML
posted by Evilspork on Jan 13, 2012 - 107 comments

#heblowsalot

High school student Emma Sullivan posted a tweet disparaging Kansas Governor Sam Brownback while on a field trip to the State Capitol. Brownback's staff called Sullivan's principal and complained. This has not resulted in postive PR for Brownback.
posted by reenum on Nov 24, 2011 - 130 comments

“Reddit is uninterested in stopping them, even though it boasts on the corporate blog the good it is doing for the world"

“We’re a free speech site and the cost of that is that there’s stuff that’s offensive on there.” This was the response of Erik Martin aka hueypriest, General Manager of Reddit, to the accusation on last night’s Anderson Cooper 360 that the “jailbait” subreddit is “borderline kiddie porn.” [more inside]
posted by waraw on Sep 30, 2011 - 237 comments

1st Circuit Upholds Right to Record Police in Public

The U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals has held that recording police officers performing their duties in public is a "clearly established first amendment right". [more inside]
posted by epsilon on Aug 31, 2011 - 132 comments

Save Our Snark!

William Lawrence Cassidy has been indicted for a series of threatening tweets directed towards Alyce Zeoli, aka Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo, the leader of a Buddhist organization known as Kunzang Palyul Choling (KPC) to which Cassidy had belonged. There is however a small problem that federal prosecutors are employing a vague anti-stalking law that makes 'intentional infliction of emotional distress' through the use of 'any interactive computer service' a felony, rather than focussing more narrowly upon the outright threats. [more inside]
posted by jeffburdges on Aug 1, 2011 - 34 comments

No First Amendment Right to Bark at a Police Dog

An Ohio trial court judge last Friday in State v. Stephens [.pdf] held that there is no First Amendment right to bark at a police dog. [more inside]
posted by T.D. Strange on Jul 26, 2011 - 35 comments

some people might call that chutzpah

We have explained that the matching funds provision substantially burdens the speech of privately financed candidates and independent groups. ... We have explained that those burdens cannot be justified by a desire to “level the playing field.” In a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court has struck down an Arizona law that provided public funds to candidates who have been outspent by either private funding or independent spending. Link to PDF of full decision. [more inside]
posted by gerryblog on Jun 27, 2011 - 105 comments

Ask me about my gun collection. No wait... don't.

Do doctors violate the 2nd Amendment when they ask their patients if they own guns? May the government force doctors to stop asking that without violating the 1st Amendment?
posted by steambadger on May 13, 2011 - 151 comments

Spy Files: Illegal Domestic Spying

ACLU launches "Spyfiles" to track domestic surveillance. "The American Civil Liberties Union launched a new website Tuesday to track incidents of domestic political surveillance by the government along with a report (PDF) claiming such incidents have increased steadily since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. According to the report there have been 111 incidents of illegal domestic political surveillance since 9/11 in 33 states and the District of Columbia. The website, Spyfiles, will serve as the ACLU's online home for all news and reports of domestic spying."
posted by homunculus on Jun 29, 2010 - 12 comments

The First Amendment Prevails -- Sort Of.

The Supreme Court has affirmed the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Doe v. Reed (R-71 case) but don't celebrate yet. The Court rejected (.pdf format) the general claim that release of initiative petitions violates petition signer's First Amendment rights. But the Court's 8-1 ruling did not reach the petitioner's specific assertions that they will be harassed or harmed if their signatures are released in this case. That claim returns to the federal district judge who first issued the injunction against releasing names. Hence, the names of signers remain unrevealed at this time.
posted by bearwife on Jun 24, 2010 - 92 comments

Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project

Court Affirms Ban on Aiding Groups Tied to Terror. "In a case pitting free speech against national security, the Supreme Court on Monday upheld a federal law (PDF) that makes it a crime to provide 'material support' to foreign terrorist organizations, even if the help takes the form of training for peacefully resolving conflicts."
posted by homunculus on Jun 22, 2010 - 59 comments

Don't shoot like the police.

"In at least three states (Illinois, Massachusetts, and Maryland), it is now illegal to record an on-duty police officer even if the encounter involves you and may be necessary to your defense, and even if the recording is on a public street where no expectation of privacy exists. The legal justification for arresting the “shooter” rests on existing wiretapping or eavesdropping laws, with statutes against obstructing law enforcement sometimes cited." Previously. One of the illegal recordings, embedded in an article. [more inside]
posted by SixteenTons on Jun 5, 2010 - 83 comments

Deciding the fate of the Mojave Cross

Yesterday, in a highly split decision with six separate opinions, the United States Supreme Court overturned a Ninth Circuit ruling in Salazar v. Buono. The issue at hand? Whether the location of the Mojave Memorial Cross represented an unconstitutional endorsement of religion. The Ninth Circuit decided that it did, but its ruling has been called into question by the high court on several levels. [more inside]
posted by Riki tiki on Apr 29, 2010 - 114 comments

Are Pagans in California Prisons Entitled to Religious Freedom?

From The Wild Hunt:
A case coming before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals could end up having major legal ramifications for all religious minorities in the United States. Wiccan chaplain Patrick McCollum has been fighting for years to overturn the State of California’s “five faiths policy”, which limits the hiring of paid chaplains to Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, and Native American adherents. While McCollum has suffered setbacks in his quest, with a California federal district court ruling in early 2009 that he had no standing to bring his suit, he recently gained support on appeal from several civil and religious rights groups who argue that his case should be heard.
[more inside]
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey on Feb 1, 2010 - 43 comments

The Constitutional Right to Discriminate

The Supreme Court has taken review in a case in which a law school barred a Christian legal group which apparently excludes non-Christian and LGBT students. The Hastings Christian Fellowship, a chapter of the Christian Legal Society, lost its official recognition as a student organization when it wouldn't agree to accept members and officers "regardless of their religion or beliefs about homosexuality" and ran afoul of the Hastings Law School's anti discrimination policy. The HCF sued and lost in district court and the 9th Circuit, which issued a two line order finding the law school's policy reasonable and content neutral. The 7th Circuit, by contrast, ruled in 2006 that such exclusion of the CLS by the Southern Illinois University law school violated the Society's free speech and expressive association rights. Today the Supreme Court, after some dithering, has accepted review of the case.
posted by bearwife on Dec 7, 2009 - 95 comments

Celebrate freedom: Read a banned book!

Banned Books Week, held annually on the last week of September, emphasizes the importance of intellectual freedom and the threat of censorship. [more inside]
posted by orrnyereg on Sep 28, 2009 - 51 comments

Who owns The Man?

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has published a criticism of Burning Man, LLC's Terms and Conditions, saying that the automatic rights assignment to BMOrg for photos & video taken during the event is "creative lawyering intended to allow the BMO to use the streamlined “notice and takedown” process enshrined in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) to quickly remove photos from the Internet" and that this is corrosive to our freedom of speech. Burning Man responds.
posted by scalefree on Aug 14, 2009 - 123 comments

Awkward first day back?

Ward Churchill reinstated. A jury has found that The University of Colorado wrongfully dismissed the controversial professor, author, and activist. After a day and a half of deliberation, they cited the tenured professor's infamous post-9/11 essay, wherein he compared technocrats who died in the World Trade Center to "little Eichmanns," as the "substantial or motivating" factor in the University's decision to fire him and awarded him $1. (previously here and here.)
posted by inoculatedcities on Apr 4, 2009 - 54 comments

It was worse than you thought.

The Obama Justice Department has released nine legal memos from the Bush administration that assert broad extra-Constitutional powers for the president. The memos assert that both the First and Fourth Amendments may be subordinated to the needs of wartime. [more inside]
posted by EarBucket on Mar 2, 2009 - 81 comments

Pleasant Grove City v. Summum

The previously-mentioned Summums want to place their own monument in a park which contains the Ten Commandments, making the Supreme Court's heads explode in a a hilariously weird oral argument[pdf]: "Scalia: I don't know what that means. You keep saying it, and I don't know what it means. [...] Breyer: Suppose that there certain messages that private people had like "eat vitamins"—and then somebody comes along with a totally different content, "ride the roller coaster," and they say this part of the park is designed to get healthy children, not put children at risk." [more inside]
posted by Non Prosequitur on Nov 13, 2008 - 116 comments

Hate Speech or Free Speech?

Out of Step With Allies, U.S. Defends Freedom to Offend NYT article [more inside]
posted by lalochezia on Jun 11, 2008 - 140 comments

He meant "Character Assassination"

Is it Art? The Assassination of Hillary Clinton/The Assassination of Barack Obama [more inside]
posted by Xurando on Jun 4, 2008 - 73 comments

Remember the Alamo, but don't forget Poleland

Texan judge rules $5 "pole tax" violates First Amendment rights. Further, Judge Scott Jenkins found no evidence to justify the purpose of HB 1751 (PDF), finding the anecdotal link of the patronage of strip clubs with a lack of health insurance and increased sexual assault rates for dancers insufficient, and ordered the state to pay the plaintiffs' legal fees. Activists are already looking to appeal Jenkins' ruling and reenact the tax. (Previously on Metafilter.)
posted by Blazecock Pileon on Apr 3, 2008 - 9 comments

Can't we just go Dutch?

If European and North American societies are morally responsible (print-friendly) for safeguarding free speech, should we also take financial responsibility for its proponents' safety (pf)? Hitchens seems to think so.

Today's moral dilemma is brought to you, of course, by the West's favourite Voltairian nightmare: prominent Islam critic, former Dutch MP, and scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, Ayaan Hirsi Ali.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane on Oct 9, 2007 - 17 comments

'...almost one-third of respondents appear to believe that the religious views of the majority should rule....'

37% beleive the media shouldn't be allowed to "freely criticize the U.S. military about its strategy and performance."; 55% believe the Constitution establishes a Christian nation. The State of the First Amendment Survey.
posted by orthogonality on Sep 12, 2007 - 77 comments

Rally Squads ORLY? RLY.

Presidential Advance Manual [pdf] has been leaked, apparently. WaPo reporter Peter Baker discusses the "rally squads" to be set up by the advance team, whose job is to drown out potential protesters with chants of "USA! USA!" Slate's Dahlia Lithwick opines as well, and relates the document to the recent payment of 80,000 dollars to two people who had the unmitigated gall to wear anti-Bush T-shirts at a public event.
posted by bardic on Aug 22, 2007 - 38 comments

New Supreme Court Opinions

A very big day for the Supreme Court. In Morse v. Fredrick, the Court ruled that a school could suspend a child for holding up a "Bong HiTs for Jesus" banner. (Previous post here). In Hein v. Freedom from Religion, the Court held that taxpayers lacked standing to challenged Faith Based Initiatives (previous discussions). In Wilke v. Robbins, the Court held that land owners do not have Bivens claims if the federal government harasses landowners for easements. In FEC v. Wisconsin Right to Life, the Court held that the portion of the campaign finance law which had blackout periods before elections on issue advocacy advertising was an unconstitutional restriction of speech (other). This Thursday, the Justices will deliver their last opinions of the term, including a death penalty case and the school assignment cases. (Opinions are .pdfs)
posted by dios on Jun 25, 2007 - 224 comments

I may disagree with what you say, so fuck off.

"The president's right to control his own message includes the right to exclude people expressing discordant viewpoints from the audience". (NYT, reg req). More. Lots more
posted by unSane on Apr 16, 2007 - 87 comments

Shooting Down the Privacy of VA Gun Owners

So Much for Privacy (Part II) In another Sunshine Week "exposé" columnist Christian Trebjal of the Roanoke (Va.) Times decided that everyone needed to know the full names and addresses of every Concealed Handgun Permit holder in Virginia. So he got a list from the VA state police and had the newspaper put it in a handy searchable database. In the ensuing blog post regarding the column and database comments quickly got heated and comments were closed for several hours for unknown and unstated reasons (though perhaps due to the publication of Trebjal's home address). Of course, Virginian CHP holders were completely and wholly unamused. Following the outcry, the newspaper has removed the database, with a self-serving statement about concern for public safety but there was no concern for public safety guiding their actions before the objections. Overall, a question is raised: if Sunshine Week is supposed to be about open government why are newspapers aggregating and publishing information about private citizens at all?
posted by Dreama on Mar 13, 2007 - 46 comments

Bill Sullivan's situational photography

Bill Sullivan calls his strict approach to taking candid shots "situational photography." Each subject in the uniformly composed photos is doing the exact same thing, like going through a turnstile or posing for a street artist. More candid street photograpy: Harry Callahan (1 2 3 4 more), Philip-Lorca diCorcia (1 2 3 4 more) ,and previously. One diCorcia photo led to a recent ruling that non-commercial street photography is protected under the 1st Amendment. 'more' links have NSFW images. The other direct links should be fine.
posted by hydrophonic on Jan 23, 2007 - 15 comments

A Chilling Effect?

VBlogger and journalist jailed for refusing to give up footage of protest
Josh Wolf is a video blogger and freelance journalist who was jailed by a U.S. district court on August 1, 2006 for refusing to turn over a collection of videos he recorded during a July 2005 anarchist protest in San Francisco, California. During that event, anarchists allegedly set a police cruiser on fire. [more inside]
posted by stenseng on Oct 1, 2006 - 58 comments

Nina Hartley, Bolshevik Porn Star

(NSFW) “If you are denying yourself pleasure then you have to take responsibility for where you are right now. When you get to a place where you are happy then love comes into your life. When you begin to love yourself then people recognize that and you can start receiving it. Self-pity will get you nowhere. Our society is sexist, racist, ageist, but I am a biological creature with all these amazing gifts of orgasm and I cannot wait for the world out there to change for me to be happy. I have all the happiness I need inside myself and I’m keeping it. I have denied it and avoided it for myself for too long. I have waited around for other things to be arranged before I gave myself happiness and I’m not going to do that anymore. It wasn’t until I stopped wallowing in all that self-pity and took matters into my own hands that things started to change for me. . . . Don’t wait around for another person to give that to you, give it to yourself. . . . We have been taught to not like ourselves and it takes a lot to unteach that to ourselves. There is a lot of conditioning and everyone has their own kind of conditioning that they have to unlearn. . . . All I can tell people about myself is that I give it to myself just as I can. My area just happens to be sex, while others have art, painting or public health or whatever. I’m just as true to myself as I can be.” --Nina Hartley
posted by jason's_planet on Sep 23, 2006 - 79 comments

The Limits of Free Speech in Schools

From the guy who brought you the Whitewater scandal and the impeachment of President Clinton for lying about oval antics in the Oral Office, a legal push to make the Supreme Court just say no to "Bong Hits 4 Jesus." Ken Starr's petition to the Court [PDF] makes clear that Starr believes this is no laughing matter, but a chance for the Court to make a landmark ruling that will give school adminstrators the power to limit student speech: "This case presents the Court with a much-needed opportunity to resolve a sharp conflict among federal courts (and to eliminate confusion on the part of school boards, administrators, teachers, and students) over whether the First Amendment permits regulation of student speech when such speech is advocating or making light of illegal substances."
posted by digaman on Aug 28, 2006 - 131 comments

Loompanics R.I.P.

America's craziest bookstore has gone out of business. Loompanics, a libertarian publisher in Washington State, has gone out of business. Some blame the changed political climate after 9/11. Others blame Amazon.com and the big bookstore chains. No matter what the cause might be, I will miss them. What will I do if I decide I want to try to cook some crank? And if that doesn't succeed in paying the bills, what if I need to go dumpster diving for my dinner? And if get truly desperate, what if I decide to rip off a drug dealer instead? I'm glad that Amok is still with us.
posted by jason's_planet on Jun 30, 2006 - 23 comments

Money continues to count as speech.

SCOTUS strikes down campaign finance restrictions [pdf]. The Supreme Court issued an opinion today in Randall v. Sorrell, striking down limits on campaign contributions and campaign spending imposed by the state of Vermont. The Court, in a fractured opinion (six separate opinions, including two dissents), concluded that restrictions on both contributions and expenditures ran afoul of the First Amendment. More from Amy Howe at SCOTUSblog. Expect more from Rick Hasen later today.
posted by monju_bosatsu on Jun 26, 2006 - 81 comments

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