First Amendment roundup

  • Dangerous and misguided: Michigan pursues prosecution on charges of jury tampering of man who handed out “jury nullification” pamphlets on public sidewalk outside courthouse [Jay Schweikert, Cato; Jacob Sullum, earlier here, here, etc.]
  • “‘Worst of Both Worlds’ FOSTA Signed Into Law, Completing Section 230’s Evisceration” [Eric Goldman] Among first casualties: Craigslist personals [Merrit Kennedy/NPR, Elizabeth Nolan Brown] And Elizabeth Nolan Brown joins (no relation) Caleb Brown on a Cato Daily Podcast;
  • Is reprinting thumbnail headshots fair use? [Mike Masnick, TechDirt]
  • “16 Pulse survivors sue Google, Facebook, Twitter for ‘supporting’ ISIS” [Daniel Dahm, WKMG Orlando]
  • Not the group it used to be: ACLU calls for government-owned broadband, claims First Amendment may require as opposed to forbid state-operated communications infrastructure [Randolph May and Theodore Bolema, Free State Foundation] More: Scott Greenfield;
  • Cato amicus commercial speech triple-header: Virginia’s ban on promoting happy hours (bars may hold them, but not promote them off premises) is an irrational leftover of Prohibition [Ilya Shapiro] While some commercial speech can be mandated, Ninth Circuit goes too far in upholding government-ordered scripts [Shapiro and Meggan Dewitt on structured-mortgage-payment case Nationwide Biweekly Administration v. Hubanks] Sign laws face tough scrutiny under 2015’s Reed v. Town of Gilbert, and Tennessee’s billboard law, which applies even to noncommercial speech, may run into trouble [Shapiro and Aaron Barnes]


  • Re: Jury “tampering”–perhaps the prosecutors should be prosecuted and go to prison for this nonsense.

    Why do we seem to think that people must simply meekly accept government abuse?

    • Because the government has guns and the desire to use them.

      You can meekly accept the abuse and maybe hope you can sue for damages later, but you probably can’t because Qualified Immunity.

      Or, you can stick your head between your legs and say goodbye.

  • The statute reads as if it would apply to a particular case, not the general interest information that Wood was passing out. Sounds like the DA’s office got mad at him for interfering with business as usual. No real lawyer would make such a twisted argument.

    • You would be surprised. This sort of prosecution happens over & over again across many jurisdictions. Ever since Sparf v. United States (1895), judges have been able to prevent defense attorneys from bringing up the jury’s right of nullification, and many do.

      • I think there’s a difference between opposing a jury instruction–which I think is eminently reasonable and using the criminal law to stop a citizen from informing other citizens of their powers.