First Amendment

Art Auction 2019

By |2019-10-17T11:06:13-04:00October 8th, 2019|Events|

The National Coalition Against Censorship is grateful to the incredible artists who have generously donated to this year's NCAC Art Auction. The works will be displayed on Monday, November 11th at Let Me Speak: A Celebration of Free Speech and Its Defenders, NCAC's annual benefit in New York City. The auction is hosted online by Paddle8. Click here to [...]

NCAC Urges Queens Library to Restore Canceled Photography Exhibition

By |2019-02-26T15:18:06-05:00December 20th, 2018|Letters, News|

Image courtesy of Drew Kerr The National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) urges Queens Library to restore an exhibition of photographs it canceled and allow it to run for three weeks as originally planned. Drew Kerr’s exhibition, Faces of The 7 Train, consists of 32 black-and-white photographs that the artist shot of passengers on the 7 train over the course of [...]

Masterpiece Cakeshop v Colorado Civil Rights Commission

By |2017-12-06T14:02:39-05:00December 6th, 2017|Blog|

The Masterpiece Cake case that is currently before the Supreme Court is not about speech--it is about conduct. The First Amendment protects the baker’s right to condemn gay marriage, but it does not exempt him from obeying otherwise valid and neutral business regulations that require that he treat his customers equally. 

TomDispatch on Surveillance Abuses, Past and Present

By |2019-03-07T21:56:50-05:00January 13th, 2014|Blog|

This is a good, concise history of abuses by the intelligence community and offers a great argument against warrantless surveillance.  Without that break-in by the Media 8, J. Edgar Hoover’s “shadow FBI,” a criminal conspiracy at the heart of a developing national security state, might never have been revealed.  (The CIA, officially banned from domestic spying on Americans, turned out [...]

Board of Ed v. Pico: 31 years of reading freely in school libraries

By |2019-03-07T21:45:09-05:00June 25th, 2013|Blog|

If you love libraries, you might know that today marks the anniversary of an important decision upholding the First Amendment in schools. In Board of  Ed. v. Pico (1982), the plurality opinion stated that school libraries have “special characteristics” as providers of free access to information, and should be especially vigilant of upholding students’ First Amendment rights.  Pico began when [...]

SCOTUS Bans Demonstrations on Grounds

By |2016-01-14T12:05:06-05:00June 18th, 2013|Blog|

The following post was written by NCAC's summer legal intern, Ryan Gander. Ryan is a current student at Columbia Law School. His interests include philosophy, civil liberties, science fiction, and video games. The Supreme Court has a troubled relationship with the First Amendment and that’s not even talking about what goes on in the courtroom. Since 1949, federal law has [...]

Non-Traditional Families Book Banning Bonanza

By |2016-01-15T11:23:20-05:00June 18th, 2012|Blog|

(applause for alliteration, please) This month we've been working on restoring two children's picture books teaching tolerance for different types of families. Though they are quite different in content, tone, reading level and appropriateness, their challenges parallel one another immensely. Book one is The Family Book by Todd Parr, a peppy, colorful and simple picture book teaching that families might be [...]

Three Cheers for Broken Arrow School Board!

By |2019-03-15T17:10:50-04:00May 17th, 2012|Blog|

After a busy week working to fight back against book bans and challenges, we were thrilled to see some good news. A Tulsa school district recently heard a parent's challenge to the book Carter Finally Gets It by Brent Crawford.  The parent who challenged the book called the book "vulgar, vulgar, vulgar," objecting to its references to masturbation, pornography and an [...]

Video From Occupy Wall Street at Zuccotti Park Standoff

By |2019-03-07T21:51:09-05:00November 15th, 2011|Blog|

This morning, we took a moment to capture a bit of the action at Zuccotti Park in the wake of the late night, NYPD eviction of the encampment that had lasted almost two months. Here, a participant in the Occupy Wall Street movement talks about the judge's restraining order stating protestors must be allowed entrance to Zuccotti Park (pending a [...]

Truly Free Speech Protects Kids From Bullying

By |2019-03-20T14:25:09-04:00July 29th, 2011|Blog|

Photo by rosipaw on Flicrk This week, Stephanie Mencimer at MotherJones.com reported on horrifying cases of harassment and suicides in the Anoka-Hennepin schools  of Minnesota, in Rep. Michelle Bachman’s district. The article, published within days of a suit filed against the district by the Southern Poverty Law Center, has further mobilized advocates calling for expanded anti-bullying policies and [...]

Reading Below the Fold, and Between the Lines

By |2019-03-07T21:50:58-05:00April 19th, 2011|Blog|

After a member of the La Salle University's faculty hosted an optional symposium with special guests (read: exotic dancers), the editors of the university's  paper The Collegian knew they had a story on their hands. One of the Collegian staff members interviewed two students who had attended the conference, as well as university officials and the professor himself.  But the [...]

Senators Call For Response to Idiotic Burning of Qur’an, But What Kind?

By |2019-03-07T21:56:31-05:00April 4th, 2011|Blog|

A couple weeks ago, Terry Jones finally gave into his burning desire to burn a Qur'an. Over the weekend, Afghans rioted over online video of the burning, resulting in the deaths of up to 20 people. General Petreus called the burning a "security threat" to the Afghan occupation, and Senators Harry Reid and Lindsay Graham have called for Congress to [...]

Responding to Censorship

By |2016-01-15T10:37:19-05:00January 10th, 2011|Uncategorized|

The removal of David Wojnarowicz's video from the National Portrait Gallery last month renews conservative groups' attacks on the arts. Clearly, it's timed with the ascension of the Republican majority in the House and attempts to formulate a strategy for eliminating voices and ideas they find troubling. It's remarkable how unoriginal and inflexible their thinking and approach has become, using [...]

Stagliano Case: A Hollow Victory?

By |2019-03-15T17:03:30-04:00July 22nd, 2010|Blog|

John Stagliano had his case thrown out by Judge Richard Leon early this week.  Rather than having been found not guilty based on the First Amendment, it was thrown out because the prosecution bungled their case, and the judge determined that not enough evidence was given to prove that Stagliano was involved with Evil Angel Productions. The counsel for the [...]

Sotomayor is confirmed: What does it mean for the First Amendment?

By |2019-03-13T18:19:33-04:00August 6th, 2009|Blog|

Judge Sonia Sotomayor was confirmed by the Senate today as the newest member of the Supreme Court, replacing  Justice David H.  Souter who retired in June.  She becomes the 111th member of the U.S. Supreme Court, as well as the third woman and first Hispanic to serve on it. What does her confirmation mean for the First Amendment?  See our [...]

There’s no such thing as a “safe library”

By |2019-03-13T18:18:59-04:00July 17th, 2009|Blog|

The phrase “safe libraries” should always raise a red flag. Proponents for “safer libraries” argue that some information is inherently dangerous, but the First Amendment is designed to ward off the suppression of information. In the case of  internet filters intended to block sexually explicit material, librarians and community members have to ask the questions, “Safe for whom?” and “Safe [...]

Sonia Sotomayor: Judicial Minimalism and the Court of Last Resort

By |2019-03-07T22:42:31-05:00June 12th, 2009|Blog|

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. […]

Sotomayor carefully defended speech in Pappas v. Giuliani

By |2019-03-15T16:22:42-04:00June 5th, 2009|Blog|

Our analysis of Sotomayor’s free speech record wouldn’t be complete without a mention of her dissent in Pappas v. Giuliani.  The case reached the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in 2002 and concerned the firing of Thomas Pappas from the NYPD.  The department had found that he had anonymously circulated racist and anti-semitic literature through the mail from his home.  [...]

On Sotomayor and censorship: First the bad news…

By |2019-03-13T15:07:14-04:00June 1st, 2009|Blog|

Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s record of First Amendment cases has been under scrutiny since President Obama nominated her to the Supreme Court last week.  Let’s start with the bad news: In Doninger v. Niehoff (2008)*, Sotomayor was part of a panel of judges who decided that a high school student’s blog posts, made from a home computer, were not protected speech.  [...]

Libel Tourism: Taking a vacation from your First Amendment rights

By |2019-03-13T15:07:37-04:00May 27th, 2009|Blog|

The New York Times weighed in Tuesday on "libel tourism" and advocated for the Senate bill that would protect U.S. citizens’ First Amendment rights from the more stringent laws of other countries, notably England. Senators Arlen Specter and Joe Lieberman recently introduced the Free Speech Protection Act of 2008 in the U.S. Senate.  A bi-partisan effort prompted primarily by concern [...]