Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Some Perspective on Park51

Thursday, October 7th, 2010

The pastor of the oldest Catholic church in New York State was researching his church’s 200-year history this summer and noticed some interesting parallels to a debate going on a few blocks away. In an interview with the New York Times, Rev. Kevin Madigan explained that the anti-Muslim backlash to the proposed Park51 community center in Manhattan echoed the resistance that met St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church after it was built in 1785:

The angry eruptions at some of the demonstrations this summer against the proposed Muslim center — with signs and slogans attacking Islam — were not as vehement as those staged against St. Peter’s, Father Madigan said.

On Christmas Eve 1806, two decades after the church was built, the building was surrounded by Protestants incensed at a celebration going on inside — a religious observance then viewed in the United States as an exercise in “popish superstition,” more commonly referred to as Christmas. Protesters tried to disrupt the service. In the melee that ensued, dozens of people were injured and a policeman was killed.

“We were treated as second-class citizens; we were viewed with suspicion,” Father Madigan wrote in his letter to parishioners, adding, “Many of the ...

Honor Matthew Shepard by making it better

Thursday, October 7th, 2010

These words have perhaps never been truer than they are right now.

For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.

I was reminded of the late Senator Kennedy’s famous quote as I happened upon this blog post this afternoon. Twelve years ago today, Aaron Kreifels found Matthew Shepard clinging to life in a field outside Laramie, Wyoming. Unfortunately, Shepard lost that battle five days later.

Shepard’s story quickly became a rallying cry for the LGBT equality movement, and has remained such to this day. Judy Shepard works tirelessly to help make the world a better place for LGBT individuals. She has spoken out on bullying and the recent suicides of LGBT youth.

Quite simply, we are calling one more time for all Americans to stand up and speak out against taunting, invasion of privacy, violence and discrimination against these youth by their peers, and asking everyone in a position of authority in their schools and communities to step forward and provide safe spaces and support services for LGBT youth or those who are simply targeted for discrimination because others assume they are ...

Another Political Cartoon Controversy; This Time, at Eastern Michigan

Thursday, October 7th, 2010

Controversies over political cartoons in college newspapers are nothing new, but it's always disappointing to see them spring back up. This time it's Eastern Michigan University's turn, where a cartoon depicting members of the Ku Klux Klan has drawn the ire of some students and, almost inevitably, the university itself. The Eastern Echo published the below cartoon on September 28:

So what is this cartoon trying to say? Clearly it is meant to depict an absurd situation, but what is the social commentary meant to be? The Eastern Echo explained it in its official statement about the cartoon controversy:

We understand the "You Are Here" cartoon may have offended some readers. We apologize for the lack of sensitivity some felt we showed for publishing the cartoonist's work. The cartoon points out the hypocrisy of hate-filled people. Its intent was to ask how can someone show affection for one person while at the same time hating someone else enough to commit such a heinous act as hanging. We wish to remind readers that they are free to express their opinion on our discussion boards and we hope to continue to foster free thought and open discussion on campus and in ...

The ‘Spartan Edge’ on FIRE at Michigan State

Thursday, October 7th, 2010

Last Wednesday, FIRE's Associate Director of Legal and Public Advocacy Azhar Majeed addressed a group of students at Michigan State University (MSU) in a lecture hosted by the campus chapter of the Center for Inquiry. Justin Wan covered the event for the online campus paper Spartan Edge.

          

Wan first notes FIRE's recent case at MSU, in which student Kara Spencer was unjustly found guilty of "spamming":

The most recent case that involved MSU occurred in late 2008 when ASMSU director Kara Spencer was charged of abusing the MSU email system. She sent out emails to 391 MSU employees discussing the potential change in academic calendar. The Student-Faculty Judiciary found Spencer guilty after the MSU Academic Technology Services received a bulk email complaint.

"It was a major one, not only for what happened with Kara Spencer but also the fact that the university revised the policy afterward and actually made it worse," Majeed said.

Spencer's charge was later dismissed, but university officials straightened the email usage policy and further limited the definition of bulk email. According to an administrative ruling, MSU email addresses are not considered "a forum for the expression of personal opinions."

The e-mail usage policy and ...

Commentary: Dahlia Lithwick offers her views on yesterday’s oral argument in the funeral protest case

Thursday, October 7th, 2010

Quick constitutional pop quiz: What do you hate? (And by you, I mean you.)

If you answered: homosexuals, Jews, Catholics, the military, the pope, and more or less everyone except Fred Phelps, who founded the Westboro Baptist Church and is thus your dad/uncle/granddad/third cousin, you are probably one of the 30-plus members of the church, which argued at the Supreme Court this morning for the right to vile, hateful protests at the funerals of fallen soldiers. If you answered: intolerance, incivility, people who glom onto the private grief of military families, or the Westboro Baptist Church, you probably sympathize with Albert Snyder, whose efforts to bury his son, Matthew, who died in Iraq in 2006, were marred by members of the Phelps family wielding signs reading "God Hates Fags," "God Hates You," and "Thank God for Dead Soldiers."

Read the rest of Dahlia Lithwick’s commentary.

Panel: Administration blocked efforts to tell public extent of oil spill

Thursday, October 7th, 2010

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration blocked efforts by government scientists to tell the public just how bad the Gulf oil spill could become and committed other missteps that raised questions about its competence and candor during the crisis, according to a commission appointed by the president to investigate the disaster.

In documents released yesterday, the National Oil Spill Commission's staff describes "not an incidental public relations problem" by the White House in the wake of the April 20 accident.

Among other things, the report states, the administration made erroneous early estimates of the spill's size, and President Barack Obama's senior energy adviser went on national TV and mischaracterized a government analysis by saying it showed most of the oil was "gone." The analysis actually said it could still be there.

"By initially underestimating the amount of oil flow and then, at the end of the summer, appearing to underestimate the amount of oil remaining in the Gulf, the federal government created the impression that it was either not fully competent to handle the spill or not fully candid with the American people about the scope of the problem," the report states.

The White House is pushing back against the accusations, ...

9th Circuit temporarily reinstates Wash. campaign-spending law

Thursday, October 7th, 2010

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Federal appeals judges have temporarily reinstated a state law that limits campaign contributions in the final weeks of ballot-measure campaigns, saying that the law shouldn’t be overturned so close to the election.

U.S. District Judge Ronald Leighton ruled last month that the limit is an unconstitutional infringement on political speech.

But the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals blocked that ruling from taking effect while the state appeals. The 9th Circuit’s stay was issued on Oct. 5.

In the stay, announced yesterday by the state Public Disclosure Commission, the three-judge panel wrote, “Washington and its voters have a significant interest in preventing the State’s long-standing campaign finance laws from being upended by the courts so soon before the upcoming election.”

The law in question bans contributions larger than $5,000 in the final three weeks of an initiative or referendum campaign. Leighton kept in place a requirement to identify donors who contribute more than $25.

Attorney General Rob McKenna’s office is representing the state Public Disclosure Commission in the case. Family PAC, a political group involved in the 2009 referendum on expanded domestic partnerships for gay couples, sued the state last year challenging the contribution limit.

Attorney General ...

Facebook Moves Closer to EFF Bill of Privacy Rights

Wednesday, October 6th, 2010

Today Facebook announced three new features that help move the social networking giant closer to satisfying EFF's Bill of Privacy Rights for Social Networking. While EFF continues to have outstanding issues with Facebook, we greatly appreciate these important steps toward giving Facebook users more transparency and control when it comes to how the information they post to Facebook is shared, and more power to take their Facebook data with them if they ever choose to leave the service. While Facebook has taken some good steps here, and we recognize that this is just the first iteration of the new features, we do have several additional recommendations, noted below. We will continue to dialogue with Facebook on these issues.

Clearer Application Controls and The Right to Informed Decision-Making

Today Facebook introduced new application controls, which offer more transparency regarding when and what user information is requested by third-party applications running on Facebook's Platform. Facebook is also moving the application controls into the privacy controls section of the site, where users concerned about app privacy are more likely to find and interact with them.

We think that this is an important step forward in terms of providing more transparency to users ...

Stevens: Campaign money is “simply not speech”

Wednesday, October 6th, 2010

In a wide-ranging interview with NPR’s Nina Totenberg this week, former Justice John Paul Stevens touched on his strong opposition to the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. FEC, to which he wrote an adamant dissenting opinion.

As for the court's recent ruling allowing corporations and unions to spend unlimited amounts on candidate elections, Stevens thinks it was dead wrong — and, indeed, still doesn't think that money is the same thing as speech. "Can you hear it talk? Can you read it? [Money is] simply not speech," he says. "And I have to confess that my own views are that there is an interest in trying to have any debate conducted according to fair rules that treat both sides with an adequate opportunity to express their view. We certainly wouldn't, in our arguments in this court, give one side a little more time because they could pay higher fees to hire their lawyers, or something like that."

Stevens is hardly alone among legal luminaries in thinking that the decision in Citizens United was flat-out wrong. On Monday, People For and the fair elections group Free Speech For People sent a letter signed by over 50 prominent lawyers and ...

Download 74 Banned Books for Free!

Wednesday, October 6th, 2010
Wanna get your banned books reading on?  In celebration of last week’s Banned Books Week, Internet Archive has opened up access to 74 banned books. Check them out – download is available in many different formats. You can also view the latest map of book challenges across the US, created by NCAC’s newest board member, [...]

Craigslist “Censored” and the War on Adult Services Ads

Wednesday, October 6th, 2010
For several days in September, Craigslist, the Internet’s premier destination for classified ads, replaced the link to its adult services section with a bar reading “censored.” The eight-letter word was a symbol of the way in which the government managed to regulate the site’s content despite the existence of a federal law – Section 230 [...]

Kudlow to Corporate-Backed Groups: Disclose Your Funding

Wednesday, October 6th, 2010

Yesterday, Think Progress dropped a campaign finance bombshell when it reported that the US Chamber of Commerce, which is spending tens of millions of dollars this year to run ads supporting GOP candidates in federal elections, is collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars from foreign owned businesses, including companies owned by foreign governments.

Reliable clean elections proponents, like Minnesota senator Al Franken, spoke out immediately for the FEC to investigate the Chamber’s finances. But the voices in support of campaign finance disclosure haven’t been coming only from the left.

CNBC host Larry Kudlow, a columnist for the conservative National Review, said today that groups like the Chamber and Karl Rove’s shadowy group Crossroads GPS should put their funding and spending records out in the open. According to fact sheet from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office, Kudlow said:

“Why not have the media posting of the contribution information on the Internet? That's all. And let everybody decide… Who, what, when, how, where, who got it? Put it up on the net and let free speech and free politics take its work… American Crossroads and Karl Rove and all them should post also.” [10/6/10]

We reported last week on ...

The 2010 Liberty Annual Is Here!

Wednesday, October 6th, 2010
The CBLDF's Liberty Annual 2010 has arrived! Get yours by visiting your local comics retailer today! Ask your retailer how you can get a copy of the rare Charlie Adlard Walking Dead retailer variant with the classic CBLDF logo on the t-shirt. The color Walking Dead variant will be available from CBLDF at this weekend's New York Comic Con. Jam packed with stellar work from industry greats, the 2010 Liberty Annual supports the work of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and delivers a cracking good read. Get yours today!

Chamber’s Foreign Funding Demonstrates the Need to Revisit Citizens United

Wednesday, October 6th, 2010

Coming on the heels of a report by ThinkProgress on how the US Chamber of Commerce uses membership dues from foreign corporations to pay for political advertisements in American elections, the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United is facing new scrutiny for opening up the floodgates of corporate spending. People For the American Way has spoken out against the Chamber’s practices of collecting “hundreds of thousands of dollars from foreign owned businesses, including companies owned by foreign governments,” and the editorial board of the New York Times is also sounding the alarm. The Times editors write that the election system is broken as a result of Citizens United and actions by Republicans in Congress and the FEC to weaken the remaining regulations of campaign finances:

Because the United States Chamber is organized as a 501(c)(6) business league under the federal tax code, it does not have to disclose its donors, so the full extent of foreign influence on its political agenda is unknown. But Tuesday’s report sheds light on how it raises money abroad. Its affiliate in Abu Dhabi, for example, the American Chamber of Commerce, says it has more than 450 corporate and individual members in the United ...

‘The Daily Tar Heel’ on FIRE at UNC-Chapel Hill

Wednesday, October 6th, 2010

I was privileged to be part of a panel discussion for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's First Amendment Day observance last Thursday. I joined Jenna Ashley Robinson of the Pope Center for Higher Education Policy and Stephanie Davis, president of UNC's College Libertarians club, on a panel to discuss free speech at UNC in particular and on our nation's campuses in general.

The Daily Tar Heel campus newspaper covered the event and subsequently ran an editorial about free speech at UNC. The editorial board affirmed its support of FIRE's mission, saying, "[w]e admire the organization's pursuit of making speech as broadly applicable as possible. Students should be able to express themselves freely on the basis of the First Amendment," and "[w]e find solidarity with FIRE's attempt to make policies as accessible as possible." However, the DTH also expressed its opinion that UNC's culture is supportive of free speech and that FIRE should reevaluate its yellow-light rating of the campus, saying, "we think that our culture, when taken with [UNC's speech] policies, warrants us a green light for speech."

It is generally a good sign when an independent campus newspaper believes that free speech is well protected on ...

Virginia Attorney General Issues New Demand for University of Virginia Documents

Wednesday, October 6th, 2010

On September 29, Virginia's Attorney General, Kenneth T. Cuccinelli, II, issued a new Civil Investigative Demand (CID) for a huge amount of documents relating to his investigation of former University of Virginia professor Michael Mann. Mann is one of the people at the center of the well-known "Climategate" controversy.

Cuccinelli's previous CIDs were set aside by Judge Paul M. Peatross, Jr., who ruled that four out of the original five grants that were being investigated were not state grants and therefore out of the scope of the Virginia Fraud Against Taxpayers Act (FATA). Cuccinelli had issued the CIDs as part of a fraud investigation under FATA. The fifth grant, Judge Peatross ruled, could only be subject to investigation under FATA "if any funds were paid on the grant after January 1, 2003," the date FATA went into effect. (Documents from an earlier time could be requested "as reasonable discovery to evaluate any conduct after January 1, 2003.")

As for the scope of any possible future CID on the 2001 state grant, Judge Peatross stated that the information available for review would be limited significantly:

[T]his request would be limited to correspondence ... to or from Dr. Mann that relate to ...

1st Circuit rejects challenge to Maine campaign limits

Wednesday, October 6th, 2010

AUGUSTA, Maine — A federal appeals court has upheld key portions of Maine's campaign-finance laws.

The 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday rejected a challenge to provisions that limit private contributions to gubernatorial candidates to $750, set independent expenditure-reporting requirements for contributors and provide matching public funds for so-called Clean Election candidates.

The provisions were challenged by Respect Maine Political Action Committee and Republican state Rep. Andre Cushing III of Hampden. Lower courts had denied a request for court orders that would have set the provisions aside.

The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law, which joined other supporters of the law, says the decision in Respect Maine PAC v. McKee keeps Maine's campaign-finance laws intact.

Similar lawsuits have been filed in Maine as well as Arizona, Connecticut and Wisconsin.

Justices struggle with funeral-protest case

Wednesday, October 6th, 2010

  • Transcript of oral arguments

    WASHINGTON — Supreme Court justices today pondered the vexing question of whether the father of a dead Marine should win his lawsuit against a Kansas church that picketed his son's funeral.

    The complexity and weightiness of the First Amendment issue were palpable in the courtroom as justices heard arguments in the case of Albert Snyder. His son died in Iraq in 2006, and members of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan., protested the funeral to make their point that U.S. troop deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq are punishment for Americans' immorality, including tolerance of homosexuality and abortion.

    During oral argument this morning in Snyder v. Phelps, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said the question was whether the First Amendment must tolerate "exploiting this bereaved family." There was no clear indication of how the justices might answer that question.

    Snyder is asking the Court to reinstate a $5 million verdict against the Westboro members who held signs outside the funeral of Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder, including ones that read "Thank God for Dead Soldiers, "You're Going to Hell" and "God Hates the USA." The Marine was killed in a Humvee accident in 2006.

    The church also posted ...

  • Anti-war activists refuse to testify before grand jury

    Wednesday, October 6th, 2010

    CHICAGO — Anti-war activists whose homes or offices were raided as part of an FBI terrorism-funding investigation will refuse to testify before a grand jury as ordered, in a show of defiance that could land them in jail.

    Attorneys for the 14 activists called to testify have coordinated their responses since the Sept. 24 raids and have agreed their clients won’t testify, Melinda Power, an attorney for a Chicago couple whose home was searched, said yesterday. Agents searched seven homes and one office in Minneapolis and Chicago.

    “They feel grand juries are now, and have historically been, a tool of harassment against activists,” Power said.

    Some of the anti-war activists won’t testify because they don’t want to be complicit in what they see as an attempt to stifle freedom of speech and assembly, said Jess Sundin, whose Minnesota home was raided.

    “We feel like the reason we’re being called and we’re being looked into is because of our very legitimate and constitutionally protected work in the anti-war movement,” she said.

    About 50 peace activists protested yesterday outside of the Dirksen Federal Building in Chicago, where the grand jury was to convene.

    “We will not be silent,” Stephanie Weiner told protesters. ...

    At White House Summit on Community Colleges, Take a Moment to Remember Student Rights

    Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

    Today, the White House is holding a summit on community colleges, where it has convened "150 people from across the nation, including community college, business, philanthropy, federal and state policy leaders, and students." Among the agenda items for the summit, led by Jill Biden (herself a community college instructor), are improving graduation and retention rates, the affordability of higher education, and the ways community colleges can adapt their education models to the rapidly changing needs of the workforce.

    All of these are important issues to discuss, especially now. Recent years have seen a surge in community college enrollment, with many adults returning to school for the first time in yearsif not decadesfor advanced training in the hopes of regaining the middle-class existences (and salaries) that they have lost in the recession. Even in the good times, though, roughly half the number of students enrolled in America's postsecondary educations are enrolled in our community colleges; any conversation on the future of higher education in the United States must by necessity include them.

    I hope, perhaps loftily, that the conversation going on at the White House today leaves some room for the acknowledgment of the importance of ...

    Banned Books Week Machinima Winner: Clark Abismo in SL (Miguel Mimoso Correia in RL)

    Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

    For the first time ever, ALA hosted a Banned Books Week machinima contest in Second Life. Machinima is filmmaking within a real-time, 3-D virtual environment like Second Life. The entries were inspired by this year’s theme: “Think for Yourself and Let Others Do the Same.”

    We are pleased to announce that Clark Abismo in SL (Miguel Mimoso Correia in RL) is our grand prize winner!

    The grand prize winner will receive 10,000 Lindens and a 2010 Banned Books Week T-shirt.

    Our runners-up include Tidewater Community College for “Banned Books Week at Rosie’s House”:

    And a music video celebrating some of America’s 100 Most Banned Books List 2010 from MimiSoleilFirelight:

    Both runners-up each will receive a 2010 Banned Books Week T-shirt.

    Thank you for your entries! And please remember to celebrate your freedom to read and read a banned book!

    For more information on the contest, please click here.

    Chamber of Commerce uses Foreign Funding for Political Ads

    Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

    In January President Obama in his Statue of the Union address warned Americans of the deleterious impact the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United would have on our political process:

    With all due deference to separation of powers, last week the Supreme Court reversed a century of law that, I believe, will open the floodgates for special interests, including foreign corporations, to spend without limit in our elections. I don't think American elections should be bankrolled by America's most powerful interests or, worse, by foreign entities.

    While Justice Alito and others criticized Obama’s assertion that “foreign corporations” will be allowed to spend money in elections, ThinkProgress looked into how the Chamber utilizes its foreign branches to raise money for the $75 million it plans to spend on the 2010 election:

    A ThinkProgress investigation has found that the Chamber funds its political attack campaign out of its general account, which solicits foreign funding. And while the chamber will likely assert it has internal controls, foreign money is fungible, permitting the Chamber to run its unprecedented attack campign. According to legal experts consulted by ThinkProgress, the Chamber is likely skirting longstanding campaign finance law that bans the involvement of foreign corporations ...

    High court grapples with NASA privacy questions

    Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

    WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court seemed unwilling today to restrict the government’s ability to investigate the people who want to work inside its installations in the post-9/11 world, despite concerns that federal officials could go too far when prying into people’s private lives in name of safety.

    The high court heard arguments from government contractors who work at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, who are fighting the government’s request to have them submit to what they call intrusive background checks as a condition of their continued employment.

    The case, NASA v. Nelson, could have ramifications far beyond NASA. Neal Katyal, the acting solicitor general, said the same questions the contractors were objecting to are also used to investigate full- and part-time government employees throughout the government.

    “It’s a big government,” said Chief Justice John Roberts, adding that the government can’t be expected to individualize background checks to avoid asking questions one person might find intrusive while another might not.

    An applicant might have a yard sign proclaiming a wish for the space shuttle to blow up, Justice Samuel Alito said. “I don’t see how you’re going to get that information without asking open-ended questions,” he said.

    But with “low-risk or ...

    Ore. high school clamps down on cursing

    Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

    ALBANY, Ore. — South Albany High School to students: Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words could get you suspended.

    South is cracking down on cursing this year, to the tune of suspending students any time their, um, stuff hits the fan.

    Principal Brent Belveal, now one month into his first year at South Albany, said staff members told him shortly after he joined the administration that profanity was a campus concern.

    The new policy: Mention a potentially off-color word — that one that rhymes with "witch," say — and you'll probably get a warning. Stronger language means stronger measures.

    "If they drop an "F-bomb," which is one people really get offended by, that's going to be a suspension," Belveal said.

    Belveal met with each class in the first few weeks of school to outline the enforcement policy. Part of South Albany's mission is to train students for future job situations, he says, and most employers don't tolerate foul language.

    The bottom line: "We're trying to help you to learn how to be productive employees."

    Staff, too, are watching their mouths, even in the faculty room, Belveal said. "It's not OK for us, either."

    As of Sept. 29, ...

    FCC seeks more merger info from Comcast, NBC Universal

    Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

    WASHINGTON — The Federal Communications Commission is requesting additional information from Comcast Corp. and NBC Universal as it reviews the cable operator's plan to acquire a controlling stake in the media company.

    The FCC yesterday sent letters to Comcast and NBC Universal asking questions about both companies' businesses. Among other things, regulators are seeking details about Comcast's distribution agreements for several popular cable channels that it already owns, including regional sports networks, E! Entertainment, Versus and the Golf Channel.

    The FCC also wants details about Comcast's current channel lineups and about the thinking behind Comcast's decisions on which programming to carry.

    From NBC Universal, the FCC is asking for details about existing agreements with a number of cable, satellite and phone companies to carry popular NBC Universal channels, including Oxygen and local NBC and Telemundo stations.

    Comcast, the nation's largest cable operator, is seeking FCC and Justice Department approval to acquire a 51% interest in NBC Universal from General Electric Co. The deal would give it control of the NBC and Spanish-language Telemundo broadcast networks; cable channels such as CNBC, Bravo and Oxygen; the Universal Pictures movie studio and theme parks; and a stake in the online video site Hulu.

    ...

    Alaska TV stations warned not to air tea-party ad

    Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

    JUNEAU, Alaska — U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s campaign is warning Alaska broadcasters not to air an ad by a national tea-party group that the campaign says is “littered with lies and intentional mischaracterizations” about her and her write-in campaign.

    Attorney Timothy McKeever, in a letter to broadcasters yesterday, said they are under a “legal and moral obligation” not to air the new ad from Tea Party Express, which is supporting Joe Miller, the political upstart who defeated Murkowski in the August GOP primary.

    Under federal regulations, “broadcast stations must allow ‘reasonable access’ to their airtime to candidates for Federal office,” McKeever wrote. But “this provision applies only to candidates and does not apply to advertisements which a station broadcasts at the request of non-candidate groups. … For messages proposed by such groups broadcast stations have the right and the obligation to make sure that the messages are truthful and accurate.”

    A Tea Party Express spokesman said his initial reaction was that the group stood behind the ad.

    At issue is an advertisement the group unveiled yesterday, titled “Arrogant Lisa Murkowski — You Lost!” It seeks to paint Murkowski as more interested in political self-preservation than in serving the interests of ...

    Will Indiana University Go Green?

    Monday, October 4th, 2010

    This summer, FIRE was fortunate to have Nico Perrino from Indiana University (IU) as one of our interns. Nico quickly made clear his intention to help transform IU from a "yellow-light" university in FIRE's Spotlight speech code database into a "green-light" university that fully protects free speech. Nico isn't the only IU student concerned about his fellow students' rights. On July 25, Nathan Miller wrote an article about IU's speech codes in the Indiana Daily Student, and the next day, the Indiana University Student Association (IUSA) joined the effort. Yesterday's Indiana Daily Student tells the story:

    Murat Kacan, chief of communications for IUSA, issued a letter to the student body on July 28 in response to [FIRE's yellow-light] rating.

    In the letter, Kacan said IUSA strongly opposes any University rule that seeks to restrict students' rights to free expression.

    "We called FIRE that week and talked through every issue," Kacan said. "We agreed that there were definitely areas of ambiguity. We don't ever want free speech to be seen as a form of instigation."

    The University's designation of free speech zones and what constitutes "fighting words" were too vague, members of FIRE said.

    After reviewing the student code ...

    FIRE Legal Scholarship in ‘Cardozo Public Law, Policy & Ethics Journal’: College Administrators Face Loss of Qualified Immunity

    Monday, October 4th, 2010

    I am pleased to announce that my article on the piercing of qualified immunity for violations of public university students' free speech rights has been published in the Cardozo Public Law, Policy & Ethics Journal.

    In the article, I argue that given the clear state of the law on speech codes, administrators responsible for maintaining unconstitutional speech codes at public universities should not be shielded by qualified immunity against personal liability for monetary damages. I also argue that qualified immunity should not protect administrators in the most common types of applied free speech violations. The article deepens important arguments that FIRE has long made with regard to violations of the First Amendment on public university campuses.

    FIRE followers will recognize the importance of these arguments. We have pointed out on many occasions that the law is well established that speech codes restricting protected expression on their face are legally untenable at public colleges and universities, as the courts have consistently struck down such regulations over the past two decades. Indeed, prior legal scholarship from FIRE has laid out this uniform case law, decision by decision. Likewise, we have repeatedly made the point that the most typical applied free ...

    Speech Code of the Month: Grambling State University

    Monday, October 4th, 2010

    FIRE announces its Speech Code of the Month for October 2010: Grambling State University.

    Grambling State University (GSU) has an e-mail policy that bans "the creation or distribution of any disruptive or offensive messages, including offensive comments about race, gender, hair color, disabilities, age, sexual orientation, pornography, religious beliefs and practice, political beliefs, or national origin." GSU employees who receive any such e-mails from other employees are instructed to "report the matter to their supervisor immediately." This policy betrays any sense of a free marketplace of ideas at GSU, as FIRE explained on October 1 in a letter to GSU President Frank G. Pogue. 

    First, this policy relies on impermissibly vague and overbroad formulationsnamely, prohibiting "disruptive" or "offensive" speechthat could, in application, mean virtually anything. Exactly what "offensive" speech violates this policy can only be determined by an entirely subjective judgment. Thus, no student or faculty member seeking to ascertain precisely what speech is or is not forbidden could possibly determine what is actually prohibited. How could any faculty member feel safe discussing controversial matters of race, gender, religion, politics, and so on--involving some of the hottest debates in society today--if anyone could claim to be offended? ...

    Miss. high school offers Bible class

    Monday, October 4th, 2010

    NORTH CARROLLTON, Miss. — The best-selling, most influential book of all-time is back at Carroll County public schools.

    The Bible, banned for religious use in the classroom by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1963, is being taught this semester at J.Z. George High School as an English elective.

    The course emphasizes the literary value of Scripture. Teacher Connie Bunch says it helps students with reading comprehension and understanding allusions and symbolism.

    “We don’t preach. We teach it,” Bunch said. “If a child says, ‘I don’t believe in God, but I want to study the Bible,’ that’s fine.”

    The idea for the course came from Anjuan Brown, who teaches character education at J.Z. George. Brown also serves on the Greenwood school board and heard about the Bible class at a national school board conference in Virginia.

    “I was surprised because of all the taking the religion out of school — prayer and things of that nature,” he said.

    The 1963 U.S. Supreme Court decision that found Bible reading violated the First Amendment’s prohibition of government support of religion didn’t stop all use of the Good Book.

    “It certainly may be said that the Bible is worthy of study for its literary ...

    Mich. worker’s blog sparks free-speech debate

    Monday, October 4th, 2010

    LANSING, Mich. — An assistant attorney general in Michigan who used his personal blog to attack the openly gay student body president at the University of Michigan has spurred debate about the right of public employees to say controversial things on their own time.

    Andrew Shirvell, 30, started a blog in April in which he regularly lambasted 21-year-old Christopher Armstrong as a racist with a “radical homosexual agenda.” Shirvell, one of about 250 lawyers in the attorney general’s office, has said that when he’s not at work, he has a right to say whatever he wants.

    First Amendment expert Cliff Sloan said public employers must be careful because the Constitution says government can “make no law abridging the freedom of speech.” Still, judges and state officials have some discretion when it comes to dealing with workers, he said.

    “While they have a right to free speech, they don’t have a right to a public service job,” said Sloan, the former publisher of Slate magazine. “Government can set some limits on the appropriate conduct and behavior of their employees.”

    Free speech is less of an issue in the private sector, where companies have far more leeway to decide what workers can ...

    Panels to examine national security, First Amendment

    Monday, October 4th, 2010

    The intersection of criminal law, national security and the First Amendment will be explored in a panel program in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 29.

    The First Amendment Center, in partnership with Arnold & Porter LLP and McDermott Will & Emery LLP, is hosting the 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. event at the Newseum.

    National security and open government have often been at odds in the past decade, particularly since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Classified documents, as in the current WikiLeaks controversy, are frequently at the center of debate. Panelists for the program, "Criminal Law, National Security and the First Amendment," will examine what's at stake in conflicts involving security, secrecy and the public's right to know.

    Many Americans, including politicians, say precautions must be taken when our national security is threatened, and that these may involve certain restrictions on our rights to free speech, privacy and freedom of information. Others insist that our constitutional rights cannot be diminished, sacrificed and/or criminalized, even in the name of national security.

    Amid the WikiLeaks situation involving the release of thousands of pages of classified material, and a current leak case, United States v. Stephen Kim, the program will provide an opportunity ...

    Free-speech cases top Supreme Court’s agenda

    Monday, October 4th, 2010

    WASHINGTON — First Amendment cases top the Supreme Court's docket as it begins a new term today with a new justice and three women on the bench for the first time.

    On a busy opening day, the justices turned away today a number of First Amendment-related appeals in which parties sought to have their cases heard before the nation's highest court:

  • The Court won't make the super-secret National Security Agency divulge whether it has records of the warrantless wiretapping it did of lawyers representing Guantanamo Bay inmates. The justices refused to hear an appeal from detainee lawyer Thomas B. Wilner in Wilner v. National Security Agency, 09-1192. Wilner and other detainee lawyers filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the NSA asking whether it had warrantless wiretapping records about them. But the NSA won't say whether it does or does not, insisting that revealing this information would endanger national security. Federal courts have agreed with the NSA, saying that FOIA does not require disclosure of sensitive national-security information.

  • The justices refused to reconsider whether a New Jersey school district can constitutionally ban celebratory religious music. The Court refused to hear an appeal from Michael Stratechuk. He sued in 2004, ...
  • First Monday in October

    Sunday, October 3rd, 2010

    Today, as the Supreme Court opens its new term, the major news concerns a decision from last term: the solid rebuke of Citizens United by a bipartisan group of more than 50 legal scholars and public officials. The impact of that decision is poisoning election campaigns around the country and, through the Congress that will be elected as a result, will doubtless impact the lives of every American.

    This term, the Court will be deciding at least one new corporate personhood case, as well as other cases affecting our most important rights, including freedom of speech, church-state separation, and due process. Some of the ones we'll be looking at:

    Corporate Personhood & Privacy: AT&T v. FCC. The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) generally requires federal agencies to disclose records to the public upon request. There are numerous exceptions, such as records or information compiled for law enforcement purposes whose disclosure could reasonably be expected to constitute an unwarranted invasion of "personal privacy." The Supreme Court will decide if "personal privacy" applies to corporations, as well as to people.

    Free Speech: Snyder v. Phelps. Fred Phelps and his fellow fanatics from the Westboro Baptist Church are infamous for picketing ...

    Group fights firm that’s suing news-sharing Internet users

    Sunday, October 3rd, 2010

    LAS VEGAS — A San Francisco group that defends online free speech is taking on a Las Vegas company it says is shaking down news-sharing Internet users through more than 140 copyright-infringement lawsuits filed this year.

    The Electronic Frontier Foundation’s counterclaim represents the first significant challenge to Righthaven LLC’s unprecedented campaign to police the sharing of news content on blogs, political sites and personal Web pages.

    At stake is what constitutes fair use — when and how it is appropriate to share content in an age where newsmakers increasingly encourage readers to share stories on Facebook, Twitter, Digg and other social-networking sites.

    The EFF argues that the lawsuits limit free speech and bully defendants into costly settlements by threatening $150,000 in damages and the transfer of domain names. The foundation represents Democratic Underground LLC, which Righthaven sued in August for posting parts of a Las Vegas Review-Journal article on a message board.

    Many of the cases involve stories originally published by the Review-Journal, Nevada’s largest newspaper and the flagship of Stephens Media LLC.

    “This case is a particularly abusive instance of a broad and aggressive strategy by Stephens Media, working in conjunction with its ‘little friend’ Righthaven as its front ...

    Calif. gov. vetoes disclosure bill aimed at college foundations

    Saturday, October 2nd, 2010

    SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Organizations linked to California's public colleges and universities will remain free from increased scrutiny.

    On Sept. 30, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed a bill that would have required university foundations and auxiliary associations to comply with the California Public Records Act.

    A loophole in the law previously has allowed the nonprofits to bypass the disclosure requirements that apply to higher education institutions.

    State Sen. Leland Yee, the author of S.B. 330, says the measure would have ensured greater transparency within the state's higher education institutions.

    The bill also aimed to prevent a repeat of the recent controversy over the CSU Stanislaus Foundation's refusal to disclose Sarah Palin's speaking fee for a June fundraiser appearance.

    The governor said S.B. 330 would not sufficiently protect the privacy of donors.

    Banned Books Week Day 7 – News, Blogs, and the Machinima Contest Entries!

    Friday, October 1st, 2010

    Stephen Colbert mentions Banned Books Week in his introduction to The Colbert Report on Monday and Thursday.

    NPR links to the bannedbooksweek.org map (bannedbooksweek.org is a joint site of OIF and the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression).

    Comics Alliance gives us a humorous, graphic novel-themed “7 Most Ridiculous Reasons for Banning Books, 2009-2010″.

    Comics Alliance also shares the news that 20+ newspapers pulled Sunday’s upcoming “Non Sequitir” comic strip for its mention of Mohammad.

    The Canadian Library Association has released its survey of materials challenged in Canada’s libraries in 2009.

    The Christian Science Monitor continues its coverage of Banned Books Week with a look at Amnesty International’s efforts to support persecuted authors.

    Author Ellen Hopkins writes an article for Huffington Post: “Banned Books Week 2010: An Anti-Censorship Manifesto.”

    Time offers an overview of the Operation Dark Heart controversy.

    From Springfield, Missouri: “Proponent of ban gets attention from local filmmakers.”

    Book Reading to Bring Attention to Banned Volumes: htttp://ozarksfirst.com/fulltext?nxd_id=333865

    ‘Huck Finn’: Minds, pages open With no ban, Highland Park High students read Mark Twain novel ‘Huckleberry Finn

    A special thanks to all the Banned Books Week Machinima entries:

    Entry #1, Banned Books Week Music ...

    Attendance Not Logged at ‘Required’ Hamilton College ‘Rape Culture’ Event, but Fundamental Freedoms Still at Risk

    Friday, October 1st, 2010

    Amidst heated debate, Keith Edwards' "She Fears You" presentation went forward Monday evening at Hamilton College. FIRE argued that this event, which claims to be a "cognitive and emotional intervention" aiming to teach that certain views about masculinity will be "no longer acceptable in any way," should not have been mandatory for freshman males. Two senior faculty members also expressed their dismay over the mandatory nature of the program. One of them, in an e-mail to Dean of Students Nancy Thompson, argued:

    Especially in light of our proclaimed devotion to the "open curriculum," I see no reason why this one event with embedded political content about "rape culture" and "social justice" should be required of all first year men during the academic year.

    Hunter Brown of Hamilton College Alumni for Governance Reform went so far as to say that alumni should consider withdrawing financial report from the school.

    Students also expressed their displeasure at the required event. According to an article in The Spectator, Hamilton's student newspaper, several students were upset that the women's mandatory program focused on "support and acceptance" while the men's program focused on "how to improve themselves." The program indeed was upsetting to many students:

    ...

    Spotlight on Censorship – The Perks of Being a Wallflower

    Friday, October 1st, 2010

    Chbosky

    The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky
    “The trouble with free speech is that it insists on living up to its name.” – Jonathan Yardley

    The sometimes charming, sometimes heartbreaking The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky is a delightful coming-of-age-tale that captures the bittersweet tumult of high school.  It has been challenged or banned publicly eleven times since 2002, and many additional challenges have been reported confidentially to the Office for Intellectual Freedom.  Notable was the challenge, along with seventeen other books, in Fairfax County (Virginia) elementary and secondary school libraries by a group called Parents Against Bad Books in Schools (PABBIS).  Whatever its definition of “bad books,” in this case the group objected to these titles because they “contain profanity and descriptions of drug abuse, sexually explicit conduct, and torture.”

    PABBIS claims, “You might be shocked at the sensitive, controversial and inappropriate material that can be found in books in K-12 schools.”  Completely overlooking the freedom to read and free expression protections afforded by the First Amendment – which are not limited to adults – and the value that this literature has for its readers, this group’s purpose is to “to provide information related ...

    Did Someone Lie to UCLA Chancellor Gene Block?

    Friday, October 1st, 2010

    University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Chancellor Gene D. Block has responded to FIRE's August 26, 2010, letter in the matter of Associate Resident Professor James Enstrom. All signs are that UCLA retaliated against Dr. Enstrom's activism and research in the area of environmental health. Our letter explained that the faculty members in his department voted against his reappointment on nebulous grounds--that his research on environmental health "is not aligned with the academic mission of the Department, and that [his] research output and other contributions do not meet the [Environmental Health Sciences] department minimums." According to Enstrom, however, no minimum requirements had ever been communicated to him, and any reasonable person could infer that his research on environmental healthfor example, on the extent of the threat to public health posed by certain air pollutantshas everything to do with the work of an environmental health sciences department.

    The circumstances of Enstrom's non-reappointment are suspicious for additional reasons. One of the faculty members in Enstrom's department had lost his position on the Scientific Review Panel (SRP) on Toxic Air Contaminants for the California Air Resources Board (CARB) due to Enstrom's activism. Enstrom had demonstrated that several SRP members ...

    It gets better

    Friday, October 1st, 2010

    It’s not often that a web site like Gawker makes me stop and think, but staff writer Brian Moylan did just that in a moving post about anti-gay bullying.

    If we can't save these kids' lives, then all of our struggles for civil rights and marriage equality aren't worth anything.

    Brian’s right. Repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Passing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. Health benefits and housing. Immigration rights. Relationship recognition. Marriage equality. If we don’t save the next generation, what we’re fighting for today won’t mean anything tomorrow.

    These days we can’t seem to escape the stories of lives ruined, or even ended, by bullying based on actual or perceived sexual orientation. Tyler Clementi has dominated the news this week. We’ve also heard about Seth Walsh, Justin Aaberg, Billy Lucas, and Asher Brown. One death is too many. Five in such a short period of time is unconscionable. This must stop.

    Columnist Dan Savage makes a simple plea to those who think they have nowhere to turn: It gets better.
     

     

    Talk show host Ellen DeGeneres has a similar message: Things will get easier. People’s minds will change. And you should be alive to ...

    FIRE Chairman Questions Response to Rutgers Tragedy

    Friday, October 1st, 2010

    Over at the Boston Phoenix Phlog, FIRE Co-founder and Chairman Harvey Silverglate responds to the coverage of a recent tragedy at Rutgers University.

    A front-page article in yesterday's New York Times discussed the events leading up to, and following, the suicide of a Rutgers freshman, three days after his roommate secretly recorded and broadcast online a video of his sexual encounter with a male. Reporter Lisa W. Foderaro noted that this "was the latest by a young American that followed the online posting of hurtful material." Harvey believes that both the Times' emphasis on the emotional pain caused by the act and Rutgers' new "civility" initiative trivialize the criminal conduct at issue:

    The problem with what the video-recording student did was not that it was "hurtful," but rather that it was a crime -- a despicable act, but nonetheless and most fundamentally a crime.

    Foderaro reports that on the same day as the student's suicide, Rutgers "kicked off a two-year, campus-wide project to teach the importance of civility, with special attention to the use and abuse of new technology." With this thought-reform nonsense, the administrators are wasting students' time and taxpayers' money -- Rutgers, after all, is a ...

    N.Y. lawyer convicted in Dead Sea Scrolls case

    Friday, October 1st, 2010

    NEW YORK — A scholar's son was convicted yesterday of using online aliases to harass and discredit his father's rivals in a heated academic debate over the origins of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

    A Manhattan jury found Raphael Golb guilty of about 30 counts against him, including identity theft, forgery and harassment. He was acquitted of one count of criminal impersonation.

    Golb didn't react as he heard the verdict in the unusual criminal trial over claims of Internet impersonation — even more unusual because of the arcane subject. He said outside court that he wasn't surprised by the verdict, because he felt the judge's instructions to the jury were biased. He said he planned to appeal.

    Prosecutors said Golb, 50, used fake e-mail accounts and wrote blog posts under assumed names to take his father's side in an obscure but sharp-elbowed scholarly dispute over the scrolls' origins. Golb acknowledged on the stand that he crafted the e-mails and blog posts, but said the writings amounted to academic whistle-blowing and blogosphere banter, not crime. He said he was using irony, satire and parody to expose a plagiarist.

    Defense attorney Ron Kuby said the case was a clear violation of the First ...

    6th Circuit: Parts of Ohio milk-labeling rule violate free speech

    Friday, October 1st, 2010

    CINCINNATI — Dairy processors can make claims that their products are free of a synthetic growth hormone, a federal appeals court ruled yesterday in striking down parts of the state’s rule on milk labeling.

    Key parts of the state’s labeling rule violated First Amendment rights to commercial free speech, a three-judge panel of 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously ruled.

    The Organic Trade Association and the International Dairy Foods Association sued the Ohio Department of Agriculture in 2008 over a state rule on how consumers are informed about whether milk is made from cows that were given a synthetic hormone.

    The trade groups argued that the rule is too restrictive. It prohibits composition claims such as “antibiotic-free” and “pesticide-free,” violating their free-speech rights and impeding interstate commerce, the groups argued.

    The appeals court reversed a lower court decision on the free-speech issue, concluding that the state’s ban is “more extensive than necessary to serve the state’s interest in preventing consumer deception.” The appeals court agreed with a lower court ruling that the rule does not impede interstate commerce.

    The hormone, recombinant bovine somatotropin, is also known as rbST.

    The trade groups also challenged the rule’s requirement that any dairy ...

    Calif. court orders release of records in friars’ sex-abuse cases

    Friday, October 1st, 2010

    LOS ANGELES — A California appeals court ruled yesterday that psychiatric and other confidential records of Franciscan friars accused of sex abuse should be made public. The long-awaited decision could speed the release of similar documents about dozens of other accused priests and religious figures.

    Unless the state Supreme Court takes up the case, the ruling from the 2nd District Court of Appeal means thousands of pages of files on six friars accused of sexual abuse will be released in the coming months.

    The decision also could influence judges in Los Angeles and San Diego who are deciding how much material to release from the confidential files of Roman Catholic priests and lay people involved in multimillion-dollar settlements in those dioceses.

    "All citizens have a compelling interest in knowing if a prominent and powerful institution has cloaked in secrecy decades of sexual abuse revealed in the psychiatric records of counselors who continued to have intimate contact with vulnerable children while receiving treatment for their tendencies toward child molestation," the court wrote in its opinion, In re The Clergy Cases I.

    The files are expected to contain records of the friars' sessions with therapists and psychotherapists, disciplinary and personnel files, and ...

    Alito lays out concerns about cameras in high court

    Friday, October 1st, 2010

    DES MOINES, Iowa — Televising U.S. Supreme Court hearings may provide a glimpse at how the Court works but also could threaten to relay the wrong impression that the justices’ work on cases is limited to what is shown on TV, Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. said yesterday.

    Alito weighed in on the question of cameras in the high court during his presentation of the Dwight D. Opperman Lecture in Constitutional Law in front of hundreds of students, faculty and staff at Drake University.

    During the hourlong lecture, Alito used the history of the Court to raise the concerns he has with allowing cameras in the chamber.

    In the late 1700s, when justices wore powdered wigs and red robes, it wasn't uncommon for oral arguments in a single case to take days, he said. In the modern court, the robes are black, many oral arguments have been replaced by written briefs and hearings are limited to an hour.

    He said many hearings consist of justices interrupting attorneys and asking unrelated questions that don't follow a "logical order."

    "What would ordinary viewers think?" Alito said.

    He said that although televising the Court's oral arguments could provide the public a better understanding ...

    Commentary: “Citizens United” and Its Critics

    Thursday, September 30th, 2010

    The Yale Law Journal has just published online an article by Floyd Abrams.  In the article, the noted First Amendment attorney  criticizes the way so many scholars and journalists have treated the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United, which largely overturned the law restricting and regulation campaign financing in national elections, commonly known as McCain-Feingold.

    Abrams writes he was not surprised that many didn’t like the decision but was puzzled that critics treated the ruling “as a desecration," refusing to acknowledge the legitimate First Amendment principles of the majority opinion.

    Read the article and let us know what you think.

    Banned Books Week Display Pic of the Day

    Thursday, September 30th, 2010

    Our Banned Books Week display pic of the day comes from Twin Hickory Area Library in Henrico County, VA:

    Twin Hickory Area Library

    Thank you so much for your photos! Please add more to our Flickr group or send them to intellectualfreedomoffice@gmail.com.

    Spotlight on Censorship – And Tango Makes Three

    Thursday, September 30th, 2010

    Richardson

    And Tango Makes Three, Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
    “The books that the world calls immoral are the books that show the world its own shame.” – Oscar Wilde

    A delightful story about a new addition to the family, And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell teaches children not only about the unique circumstances of penguin egg incubation atop their parents’ feet, but about the trans-species themes of love and family.  The Office for Intellectual Freedom reports that this slim book, based on the true story of two male penguins that adopted an abandoned egg in New York’s Central Park Zoo in the late 1990s, was the most frequently challenged book in 2006, 2007, and 2008.  It was the second most frequently challenged book in 2009.

    Most complaints center on the fact that the story is “controversial” or “unsuitable” for children because the penguin parents are both male. In 2007, a Lodi, California resident challenged the book at the public library for what she called its “homosexual story line that has been sugarcoated with cute penguins.”

    Fortunately, And Tango Makes Three was returned to or retained on library shelves in a majority of the publicly reported ...

    Victory: Internet Censorship Bill is Delayed, For Now

    Thursday, September 30th, 2010

    This morning's Politico brought with it great news for those who care about free speech and fair use online:

    A markup on SJC Chairman Leahy’s IP infringement bill was postponed late Wednesday, as staffers anticipated the chamber would finish legislative work and adjourn for recess before the hearing could commence. The change in plans should delight some of the bill’s critics, at least, who expressed concern that the legislation was moving forward quickly.

    Translation: The Senate Judiciary Committee won't be considering the dangerously flawed "Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act" (COICA) bill until after the midterm elections, at least.

    This is a real victory! The entertainment industry and their allies in Congress had hoped this bill would be quickly approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee with no debate before the Senators went home for the October recess.

    Massive thanks to all of you who used our Action Center to write to your Senators to oppose this bill. Thanks as well to the 87 Internet scientists and engineers whose open letter to Congress played a key role in today's success, and to all the other voices that helped sound the alarm.

    Make no mistake, though: this bill will be back soon ...