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]
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]
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."
"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.
, 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]
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
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.
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]
“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
) [more inside]
“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]
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]
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]
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?
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."
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.
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
"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]
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]
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]
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
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
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.
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]
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]
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.
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
? 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
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)
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?
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.
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]
“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.”
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."
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.
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