Posts Tagged ‘free speech’

COVID-19 pandemic roundup

Free speech roundup

  • “‘Hate speech’ is not a legal category, and banning it wouldn’t stand up to scrutiny.” [Cato Daily Podcast episodes with Caleb Brown interviewing Matthew Feeney and Lou Perez]
  • “Civil FOSTA Suits Start Showing Up In Court; Prove That FOSTA Supporters Were 100% Wrong About Who Would Be Targeted” [Mike Masnick, TechDirt, earlier]
  • Cause célèbre in the U.K.: employment law tribunal, an institution with no exact counterpart in American law, rules against worker fired from nonprofit over tweets expressing view that sex is immutable biological characteristic [Owen Bowcott, The Guardian; Jodie Ginsberg (chief executive of Index on Censorship group]
  • California attorney general’s office demands donor lists of non-profits, including those out of state. Supreme Court should now clarify its doctrine that all laws infringing on First Amendment freedoms be narrowly tailored [Ilya Shapiro, Trevor Burrus, and James Knight on Cato certiorari amicus brief in Institute for Free Speech v. Becerra; earlier and related here, here, etc.]
  • Trump sues the New York Times for libel over a Max Frankel op-ed and Eric Turkewitz doesn’t think much of his prospects [earlier]
  • “Was This the Decade We Hit Peak Free Speech?” [Jesse Walker]

Ninth Circuit panel: YouTube isn’t a state actor

Everyone knew this was the state of the law, and highly unlikely to change, but conservative commentator Dennis Prager had many of his followers hoping otherwise. A Ninth Circuit panel has now ruled that YouTube is not a state actor and that its marketing of itself as a forum featuring diverse viewpoints was opinion and not false advertising. [Nancy Scola, Politico; Eugene Volokh; Prager University v. Google; earlier (many channels not identified with conservative ideas saw far higher shares of their content placed in parental-control category than did Prager); Jonathon Hauerschild, American Legislative Exchange Council last January (YouTube not “public forum” for legal purposes)]

Free speech roundup, campaign and political speech edition

  • “New legislation aimed at curbing foreign influence in U.S. elections also appears to be aimed at curbing Americans’ influence in U.S. elections.” [Cato Daily Podcast with Caleb Brown and Scott Blackburn of the Institute for Free Speech on SHIELD Act]
  • “Everyone always talks about how much money there is in politics. This is the wrong framing. The right framing is… why is there so little money in politics?” [Scott Alexander]
  • Free speech advances other freedoms: “Frederick Douglass’s “Plea for Freedom of Speech in Boston”” [Law and Liberty, Kurt Lash introduction] The very idea of a gay rights organization once seemed unthinkable in America, and might have remained so “in the absence of a strong and particularly libertarian First Amendment.” [Dale Carpenter, SSRN and Volokh Conspiracy summary]
  • “That unlimited right to lobby the lawmakers who make decisions that affect your life, your family, and your fortune is one that Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D–Mass.) thinks American businesses should not have.” [Peter Suderman; Bradley Smith and Luke Wachob, NRO] A federal appeals court says an independent Missouri activist doesn’t have to register as a lobbyist to talk to lawmakers [Cato Daily Podcast with Caleb Brown and Zac Morgan of the Institute for Free Speech]
  • “Every Democrat in the Senate Supports a Constitutional Amendment That Would Radically Curtail Freedom of Speech” [Jacob Sullum] Same bunch “Still Fundraising Off Citizens United, Still Wrong About What It Means” [Elizabeth Nolan Brown]
  • “Essentially, L.A. has passed a law saying people with one interest in a decision by the council can support candidates, but the other side can’t.” [Christian Britschgi, Reason on city’s ban on contributions by developer but not anti-development interests]

Free speech roundup

  • A new law making it a federal crime to threaten journalists? No thanks [Robby Soave, Reason]
  • “In 2012, there was just one journalist in jail on fake-news charges. By 2014, there were eight…. The number rose to 27 in jail by the end of last year.” And the charge can depend simply on what news the ruling authority deems true or false [Miriam Berger, Washington Post discussing new Committee to Protect Journalists report on imprisoned journalists]
  • Thread on the damaging impacts of COPPA, the children’s online privacy law [TechFreedom]
  • When are refusals to deal protected by the First Amendment? See whether your intuitions are consistent across 1) boycotts of Israel, 2) wedding cake refusals, and 3) SCOTUS’s 1982 decision in NAACP v. Claiborne Hardware [Eugene Volokh first and second posts on Arkansas challenge, David Bernstein first and second posts] My own views on anti-Israel-boycott and anti-BDS laws here, and related;
  • Officials in Lafayette County, Wisconsin quickly back off “completely bananas” suggestion of prosecuting news outlets that report “selectively” on water quality test results [Bruce Vielmetti, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Patrick Marley update]
  • Some IP claims are real killers: heirs of photographer known for famed Che Guevara image send takedown demand to maker of parody t-shirt [Paul Alan Levy]

German court: search engines must deindex reports of 1981 double murder

In case you were wondering exactly where the supposed “right to be forgotten” leads in Internet regulation:

A convicted murderer in Germany has the right to get all mention of his crime deleted from internet search results under the EU’s “right to be forgotten” provision, Germany’s highest court has ruled.

Let’s hope the United States never decides to follow Europe’s path by restricting speech rights in the name of personal data erasure. [Bill Bostock, Business Insider]

Free speech roundup

  • Massachusetts state lawmaker who introduced much-derided bill to criminalize the word “bitch” when directed at another person says he “filed the bill after being asked to do so by a constituent.” [Alex Griswold, Free Beacon]
  • Presidents have long used their power to retaliate against the press. When does the constitution direct or permit the courts to do anything about that? [First Amendment lawyer Robert Corn-Revere for FIRE, part one and part two]
  • After two students shout racial slur loud enough for others to hear, University of Connecticut arrests and charges them “under a rarely-used, unconstitutional state law prohibiting ‘ridicule.'” [Adam Steinbaugh, FIRE]
  • “May a company get an injunction to block a defendant from invoking the Streisand Effect?” [Paul Alan Levy]
  • How courts draw the line on when menacing language triggers the “true threat” exception to First Amendment protection [Federalist Society teleforum with Eugene Volokh, John Elwood, and Michael Dreeben]
  • “Should Congress Pass A ‘Deep Fakes’ Law? A few tentative thoughts.” [Orin Kerr, Volokh Conspiracy]

“The First Amendment does not depend on whether everyone is in on the joke.”

“…when it comes to parody, the law requires a reasonable reader standard, not a ‘most gullible person on Facebook’ standard. The First Amendment does not depend on whether everyone is in on the joke.” — Judge Amul Thapar, Sixth Circuit, writing on behalf of a unanimous panel that “an Ohio man who was acquitted of a felony after creating a parody Facebook page that mocked a suburban Cleveland police department can sue the city and two police officers over his arrest.” [Jonathan Stempel, Reuters]

Related: everyone has the right to call politicians idiots, and that goes for gun store owners too [Eugene Volokh; North Carolina gun store owner’s billboard likened by sitting member of Congress to “inciting violence”]