While the display of Janet Jackson’s naked breast and nipple during a 2005 CBS broadcast of the Superbowl may have been fleeting, the legal ramifications stemming from the incident are anything but. Last time we covered this case (here and here) the Supreme Court had vacated the Third Circuit Court of Appeals’ 2007 decision in […]
Schools that dish out draconian punishments to students who are mean to each other online (aka cyberbullying) risk running afoul of the First Amendment. Beverly Vista School, a K-8 school in the Beverly Hills Unified School District, learned this lesson via a November 2009 court ruling, where the federal district court for the Central District […]
The First Amendment provides American-based websites with the freedom to report on newsworthy events, including those that happen in other countries to citizens of other countries. Yet, the global nature of the Internet opens it up to legal challenges from countries with more restrictive speech regimes. Last fall, for instance, lawyers for the convicted murderers […]
On Monday, FCC Chair Julius Genachowski announced the commission’s support of net neutrality, a principle which holds that Internet Service Providers (e.g. Comcast, Verizon, Time-Warner, AT&T) should not be permitted to discriminate against specific online content or applications and privilege other content with higher quality service. In introducing the National Broadband Plan, Genachowski, described some of the threats […]
On Wednesday, September 9th , the Supreme Court reheard arguments in the case of Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission (see our coverage of this case here and here). The issues addressed in the rehearing were much broader than the question whether Hillary: The Movie, a 90-minute documentary attacking Hilary Clinton, may be considered electioneering […]
Earlier this year, we covered Citizens United v. FEC, a Supreme Court case on the constitutionality of federal election laws. As we explained in April, “the Court, among other things, needs to determine whether Hillary: The Movie, a 90 minute documentary about Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign with a decidedly conservative bias, is considered an “electioneering […]
GRADE: B – The push to teach abstinence-only education landed Health Education (primarily sexual education) in an abysmal place. As we have explained on the NCAC website, government funding-based mandates to provide a narrow and limited curriculum on a topic, such as human sexuality, amounts to censorship. Essentially, the abstinence only curriculum left out essentially […]
The Iranian government, never a proponent of free expression, has ramped up its practice of filtering its citizens’ access to social networking websites following Friday’s election and the ensuing protests. For instance, the Iranian government has blocked access to Twitter from servers located in Iran. The Iranian government’s efforts, however, have been thwarted by a […]
Last week, we analyzed cases from the Second Circuit, in which Sonia Sotomayor had some part in deciding, addressing the right to free expression. Still the Supreme Court’s role, and Sotomayor’s judicial style make it difficult to make a broad statement about how she will decide on free expression issues in the years to come.
Sonia Sotormayor’s joining Judge Debra Ann Livingston’s decision in the matter of Doninger v. Niehoff doesn’t provide information about her views relating to free expression. The Doninger decision was made in the context of nuanced civil procedure, and law governing student free speech rights previously mangled and misconstrued by other courts. If anything, the Doninger […]
Evaluating where Sonia Sotomayor stands relative to the principles espoused by the First Amendment is frustrating task for two reasons. First, Sotomayor has not authored that many opinions on free expression issues. More importantly, those opinions she has drafted have been fact specific and have narrowly applied existing laws. Her judicial style prohibits straying into […]
First Amendment jurisprudence celebrates the metaphorical marketplace of ideas. The website craigslist may very well be an actual representation of this metaphor in that it invites users all over the world to share their ideas, sell their used couches, find roommates and advertise other services, including sensual massages and escort services. I think most readers […]
On Tuesday April 28, the Supreme Court handed down a decision in the matter of FCC v. Fox Television Stations, which on its face appears to be hostile to free speech interests.
In a 5-4 decision, the Court sided with the FCC, finding that the agency had not been arbitrary or capricious in its sanctioning of Fox Television Stations, Inc. over two instances of live broadcasts where the F- and S- words were uttered. The FCC had determined that these instances of “fleeting expletives” were indecent, but not protected by the First Amendment— despite a long standing tradition of fleeting instances of indecent content being immune from FCC sanctions.
Every cloud has its silver lining, however. This case’s silver lining is that it will ultimately be fantastic for free expression, in that Justice Antonin Scalia, in writing for the majority, declined to make a decision regarding the constitutionality of the FCC’s new policy regarding fleeting expletives, instead sending the case back to the lower court for further deliberation on this issue.
The Vermont Legislature hopes to tackle the problem of teens facing criminal charges for sexting. The Senate has endorsed a proposal for a bill that would carve out a sexting exception in child pornography laws. Under this proposed law, people between the ages of 13 and 18 would not face child pornography charges for sending […]
Ohio lawmaker wants to make sexting a misdemeanor Last week, the Columbus Dispatch reported that Ohio State Representative Ron Maag (R-Lebanon) plans to introduce a bill in the Ohio state legislature which would make the creation, exchange, and possession of nude materials between minors a First-Degree Misdemeanor. According to Representative Maag, Local prosecutors have brought […]
Last week, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the matter of Citizens United v. The Federal Election Commission, Case no. 08-205. This is an interesting case in that the Court, among other things, needs to determine whether Hillary: The Movie, a 90 minute documentary about Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign with a decidedly conservative bias, […]
A victory for free expression! Last week, three Pennsylvania high school students and their families brought suit against a Wyoming County prosecutor over allegations of First Amendment violations. Yesterday, a U.S. District judge sided with the teens, and issued a temporary restraining order against the prosecutor. The judge held that the prosecutor’s proposed action violated […]
Another legal action over the practice of sexting has emerged. Only this time it is the alleged “sexters” who are suing state prosecutors on the grounds that criminalizing sexting infringes on their First Amendment rights. Last month, three high school students in Wyoming County, Pennsylvania faced the threat of being charged with the possession/dissemination of […]
On February 20, Washington D.C. resident Yaraslau Kryvoi received notice from Internet service provider and webhost, Utah-based Bluehost, that it was suspending Kryvoi’s account and giving him 10 days to remove content that Bluehost found objectionable from his website. The objectionable content in question? Kryvoi, an immigrant from the former Soviet republic of Belarus, maintained […]
Again? Another plaintiff ignores Section 230 of the CDA and sues a website over user generated content SUNY Albany freshman Denise Finkel is suing four former high school classmates, their parents, and Facebook, Inc. over the allegedly defamatory content contained in a private Facebook group the classmates had set up. (Finkel v. Facebook, Inc., 102578-09 […]