Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Judge won’t toss charges involving political-message condoms

Friday, August 6th, 2010

A New York City criminal court judge has refused to dismiss charges against two men for selling novelty condoms bearing political messages without obtaining a street vendor’s license.

Although the condom wrappers featured messages about President Barack Obama and former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, the judge found that such expression was predominantly commercial in nature and not entitled to an exception in the license law for newspapers, books and other written material.

City officials had charged Thomas Larsen and Edward Waddle for selling condoms on the street without a license for the company Practice Safe Policy. Police observed Larsen selling “Obama condoms” and “Palin condoms” the corner of Broadway and Canal Streets. Court papers did not specify the part played by Waddle, whose case was consolidated with Larsen's.

One of the wrappers showed a picture of the president with the message, “HOPE IS NOT A FORM OF PROTECTION.” The wrapper picturing Palin said, “WHEN ABORTION IS NOT AN OPTION,” with the footnote, “As Thin As Her Resume.”

New York City Administrative Code § 20-453 says that “it shall be unlawful for any individual to act as a general vendor without having first obtained a license … except that it ...

Back to the Future?

Thursday, August 5th, 2010

Why, asked Senator Chuck Schumer of New York before Elena Kagan's confirmation today, were so many conservatives opposed to the nominee, despite her record of achievement and mainstream credentials? Because conservatives are attached to right-wing judicial activism, and see Kagan as a threat to the current hegemony of conservative ideology on the highest court. Said Schumer:

The supposedly staunch opposition to judicial activism on the right has shown its true colors in this debate over a truly moderate and mainstream candidate. They themselves want right wing judicial activism to pull this country into the past. I’ve always said that the far right is using the only unelected branch of government to do what it cannot do through the two elected branches: turn back history to a time when corporations and large special interests had more say in our courts than ordinary people.

As Senator Schumer reminds us, our society has made tremendous progress over the last century – but that’s not the way the right sees it. A case in point for Senator Schumer’s argument was the memorable exchange between Senators Coburn and Klobuchar during Kagan’s hearing, in which Sen. Coburn suggested that Americans were “freer” thirty years ago and ...

Indiana University Students Push for ‘Green Light’ FIRE Rating

Thursday, August 5th, 2010
After the student newspaper at Indiana University-Bloomington (IU) ran an article recently about IU's "yellow light" speech code rating, members of the IU student government have expressed their intention to work towards reforming IU's speech codes and earning a "green light" rating from FIRE. This is wonderful news. Murat Kacan, chief of communications for the Indiana University Student Association (IUSA), told the Indiana Daily Student that
IUSA vehemently opposes any University code or rule that seeks to restrict or infringe on any student's rights to assemble, advocacy and expression. We hold the First Amendment to be amongst our greatest rights and have no tolerance towards its repression in any form.
As the Daily Student article mentions, FIRE's "yellow light" rating of IUlike all of FIRE's ratingsis based on IU's written speech codes. Students sometimes ask us about this rating system, since it doesn't take into account the degree to which a particular university administration enforces those written policies. When speech codes are not enforced, it may seem in practice that a university is very tolerant of free speech. As we have written in the past, however, policies prohibiting free speech infringe on students' ...

Fiorina’s Supreme Court Extremism in Disguise

Thursday, August 5th, 2010

Is this the best impression of a political moderate that Carly Fiorina can do?

The California senatorial candidate announced yesterday that if she were currently a member of the Senate she would not vote to confirm Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court. Her reasoning?

The confirmation process revealed that she has many admirable qualities – an ability to solve problems, an energetic mind and an enthusiasm for her colleagues and her work – all of which qualify her to serve as Solicitor General, the Dean of a Law School or even as a legislator. However, the process also underscored her lack of experience as a jurist, which in my mind is a key element in determining whether or not a nominee is qualified to serve as a member of the Supreme Court.

Yes, Fiorina claims that her one and only qualm with Kagan is that the Solicitor General has never been a judge before.

I don’t think we need to remind Fiorina that the lack of judicial experience is hardly unusual for Supreme Court nominees. 41 of the 109 Supreme Court justices in American history came to the high court with no previous judicial experience--including former chief justice and stalwart ...

Senate Sends Kagan to the Supreme Court

Thursday, August 5th, 2010

The Senate just confirmed Elena Kagan to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. The vote was 63-37, with five Republicans voting to confirm her, and one Democrat (Ben Nelson of Nebraska) opposing her.

People For’s President, Michael Keegan, said:

“Americans should be proud that Elena Kagan was confirmed to the Supreme Court today. She brings to the bench sterling credentials and a formidable intellect. Her commitment to the Constitution and equal justice under law will serve the Court well in the decades ahead.

“During her hearings, Elena Kagan spoke powerfully about the Constitution as a timeless document, constructed by its framers to be interpreted over time in light of new situations and in new contexts. She articulated a view of the Constitution and the role of judges in sharp contrast to Chief Justice Roberts’ misleading analogy to an umpire calling balls and strikes. Solicitor General Kagan made clear that she has the intellectual fortitude and the command of the law to keep faith with our Constitution--its amendments, its history, and its core values like justice and equality under the law.

“Thanks to today’s vote, the Supreme Court will have three female Justices for the first time in ...

Travel Bans For Activists

Thursday, August 5th, 2010
People previously allowed free movement are now having problems leaving China.

Empathy vs. Sympathy

Thursday, August 5th, 2010

As the Senate debate continues on Elena Kagan’s confirmation, Republicans have used this opportunity to blast Obama for previously stating that judges should have the empathy to understand the lives of ordinary Americans. Republicans argue that possessing “empathy” is synonymous with “liberal judicial activism,” and have attempted to use this standard to oppose Kagan’s nomination.

Yesterday, Sen. Kaufman of Delaware reminded his colleagues of the actual meaning of “empathy”: 

Likewise, President Obama’s promotion of empathy is not, as his critics suggest, the advocacy of bias. “Empathy,” as a quick look at the dictionary will confirm, is not the same as “sympathy.” “Empathy” means understanding the experiences of another, not identification with or bias toward another. Let me repeat that. “Empathy” means understanding the experiences of another, not identification with or bias toward another. Words have meanings, and we should not make arguments that depend on misconstruing those meanings.

Republicans launched their assault on empathy last year during Sonia Sotomayor’s confirmation hearings. What was lost in the hubbub is what the word actually means. Sympathy leads to the kind of bleeding-heart reactionary reasoning that Republicans claim to be afraid of in nominees like Sotomayor and Kagan. Empathy is the quality ...

Proposition 8: Just the Facts

Thursday, August 5th, 2010

Yesterday afternoon, federal Judge Vaughn Walker ruled that Proposition 8 violated the United States Constitution. This is an important milestone.

One reason it is so important is the factual record that was compiled for the case. Judge Walker developed an extremely detailed factual record upon which to base his legal conclusions - a record of the significant harm that marriage inequality causes, of the history of discrimination faced by lesbian and gay people, and of the animus behind Prop 8. In fact, more than 50 pages of the opinion are devoted to his findings of fact.

For instance, there's Fact 55: "Permitting same-sex couples to marry will not affect the number of opposite-sex couples who marry, divorce, cohabit, have children outside of marriage or otherwise affect the stability of opposite-sex marriages."

Or Fact 56: "The children of same-sex couples benefit when their parents can marry."

Or Fact 66: "Proposition 8 increases costs and decreases wealth for same-sex couples because of increased tax burdens, decreased availability of health insurance and higher transactions costs to secure rights and obligations typically associated with marriage. Domestic partnership reduces but does not eliminate these costs."

Or Fact 74: "Gays and lesbians have been victims of ...

‘Popehat’ Blog: FRCC Speech Zones Possibly Attributable to Severe Head Injury, Tenure

Thursday, August 5th, 2010

Bloggers are lining up to take shots at Front Range Community College's "Free Speech Zone" policynamed as FIRE's Speech Code of the Month for August 2010 just yesterday. Popehat is first to the plate. Like FIRE, Popehat finds comic gold in the lengths that FRCC goes to disavow any liability whatsoever should you be killed, maimed, or paralyzed while attempting to exercise your First Amendment rights at FRCC:

As a new strategy for speech suppression, this is brilliant. Want to protest at this government-owned public forum [which, actually, FRCC declares isn't even public]? Fine. But you should know some of the guards we hired have itchy trigger fingers, and sometimes the gardeners leave pit traps with feces-smeared punji sticks, and we're not going to protect you from violent counter-protesters, and you have to sign a waiver that we're not liable for any of that. Where is your First Amendment now?
What I like most, however, are Popehat's concluding remarks:
Sometimes you have to askwho drafts these things? Did their counsel review it? Has their counsel read any First Amendment cases whatsoever? Does their counsel have a debilitating head injury, or some sort of tenure?

That ...

Schumer: No protection for Wikileaks in media-shield bill

Thursday, August 5th, 2010

WASHINGTON — The sponsor of a bill to protect journalists' confidential sources in federal courts says he will make certain the Wikileaks website will not be shielded.

Wikileaks posted more than 75,000 classified Afghanistan war records on its website last month.

Sen. Charles Schumer said yesterday that the existing media-shield bill includes language that would exempt Wikileaks from the protection. But the New York Democrat says he will write new language in the Free Flow of Information Act as an extra safeguard.

“Neither WikiLeaks, nor its original source for these materials, should be spared in any way from the fullest prosecution possible under the law,” Schumer said in an Aug. 4 statement. “Although the bill in no way shields anyone who broke the law from prosecution, we are going the extra mile to remove even a scintilla of doubt.”

Schumer says he and Sen. Diane Feinstein, D-Calif., are working with the newspaper industry in crafting the new language. Schumer added that the new language “will explicitly exclude organizations like Wikileaks — whose sole or primary purpose is to publish unauthorized disclosures of documents — from possible protection.”

Paul J. Boyle, senior vice president for public policy at the Newspaper Association ...

ACLU challenges Colo. jail’s postcard-only policy

Thursday, August 5th, 2010

BOULDER, Colo. — The American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado filed a lawsuit Aug. 3 in federal court over the Boulder County jail’s policy of restricting inmates’ outgoing mail to postcards.

The ACLU claims the policy is unconstitutional because inmates are reluctant to freely express themselves and write about personal, sensitive information. Mark Silverstein, the Colorado ACLU’s legal director, said the policy also violates the First Amendment rights of the recipients and possibly the news media, which might receive tips from inmates.

“This unnecessarily infringes on the rights of hundreds and hundreds of prisoners and potentially thousands of their correspondents in the outside world,” Silverstein said.

Boulder’s policy is rarely used by other jails, Silverstein added.

Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle said the practice is used by jails in Arizona and Oregon and has been upheld by federal courts. He said Boulder County had received calls about it from in- and out-of-state agencies.

The El Paso County sheriff’s department recently approved a similar policy. Sheriff Terry Maketa told The Gazette in Colorado Springs that the change was made to be more efficient. Using postcards will save $5,000 yearly, he added.

Silverstein said the ACLU had requested information about El Paso ...

Calif. judge bars L.A. Times from publishing photos

Thursday, August 5th, 2010

LOS ANGELES — A judge took the unusual and possibly unconstitutional step of barring a Los Angeles Times photographer from publishing images she allowed him to shoot at a hearing for a man charged with murdering a Hollywood family.

Lawyers for the newspaper planned to ask the judge to reconsider the order, which a press group argues amounts to a prior restraint that violates the First Amendment right to a free press.

Superior Court Judge Hilleri G. Merritt had granted a written request from photographer Al Seib before yesterday's hearing. But after a defense lawyer objected during the hearing, she ordered him to stop taking pictures and not to use any he already had shot.

There was no legal reason for Merritt to ban publication absent a demonstration of “direct, immediate, physical harm that is not speculative,” said Lucy Dalglish, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

“The judge has the ability at any time to order the photographer out of the courtroom,” Dalglish told the newspaper. "What the judge does not have the ability to do, based on U.S. Supreme Court precedent, is bar the photographer from publishing the information he lawfully collected. The U.S. ...

Kagan confirmed as 112th justice

Thursday, August 5th, 2010

WASHINGTON — The Senate has confirmed Elena Kagan as the 112th justice and fourth woman to serve on the Supreme Court.

The vote was 63-37 for President Barack Obama’s nominee to succeed retired Justice John Paul Stevens.

Five Republicans joined all but one Democrat and the Senate’s two independents to support Kagan. In a rarely practiced ritual reserved for the most historic votes, senators sat at their desks and stood to cast their votes with “ayes” and “nays.”

Kagan isn’t expected to alter the ideological balance of the court, where Stevens was considered a leader of the liberals.

But the two parties clashed over her nomination. Republicans argued that Kagan was a political liberal who would be unable to be impartial. Democrats defended her as a highly qualified legal scholar.

She is the first Supreme Court nominee in nearly 40 years with no experience as a judge, and her swearing-in will mark the first time in history that three women will serve on the nine-member court together.

Her lack of judicial experience was the stated reason for one fence-sitting Republican, Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts, to announce his opposition to her confirmation today, just hours before the vote.

Though calling ...

BlackBerry Bans Suggest a Scary Precedent: Crypto Wars Again?

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

Recent news reports have presented somewhat contradictory analysis of government plans in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, and other countries to block the use of BlackBerry smart phones as a form of pressure on Research in Motion, BlackBerry's Canadian manufacturer. All the reports agree that these governments feel RIM has made at least some BlackBerry messages too private and secure, but reports disagree about how private they actually are and exactly what RIM is being asked to do.

Many observers have noted that we're likely to stay in the dark about some of these details. As Jonathan Zittrain put it, "we're only seeing a small slice of a government-to-company negotiation — the public threat part — so exactly what's being asked hasn’t been disclosed, and neither the government nor RIM have much incentive to say more." We particularly appreciate the analyses of the situation from Prof. Zittrain and our former colleague Danny O'Brien at the Committee to Protect Journalists. Both emphasize that only a portion of BlackBerry communications are really strongly encrypted: those sent through BlackBerry's business-oriented BlackBerry Enterprise Service, but not those sent through the ordinary BlackBerry Internet Service. (Of course, all BlackBerry users — and other ...

The Wall Street Journal Asks: What Do Online Advertisers Know About You?

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

In a groundbreaking new series titled "What They Know," the Wall Street Journal is taking a close look at the information that online advertisers collect about you as you browse the Web:

"The tracking files represent the leading edge of a lightly regulated, emerging industry of data-gatherers who are in effect establishing a new business model for the Internet: one based on intensive surveillance of people to sell data about, and predictions of, their interests and activities, in real time."

What the industry knows about you may surprise you. The articles examine the world of tracking cookies, and other less well-known tracking technologies like flash cookies and beacons. They found that "the nation's 50 top websites on average installed 64 pieces of tracking technology onto the computers of visitors, usually with no warning."

Using information gathered this way, the advertising industry is able to accurately guess substantial information about you — often including your gender, age, income, marital status, credit-rating, and whether you have children or own a home. The findings are used not only to determine what advertisements you see, but sometimes to decide what kind of discounts or credit card offers you're allowed access to.

The ...

Southeastern Louisiana University Drops Security Fee Policy Following Fifth Circuit Ruling

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010
Sara Lipka of the Chronicle of Higher Education reports today that Southeastern Louisiana University (SLU) has shelved its security fee policy for non-university speakers after the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit found it unconstitutional in a ruling issued last week. The case was Sonnier v. Crane, No. 09-30186 (5th Cir. July 27, 2010).

SLU's former policy granted administrators "sole discretion" in determining security needs for speaker events, and then permitted administrators to pass that financial burden on to the student group bringing the outside speaker to campus. However, this kind of fee system was found unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in Forsyth County v. Nationalist Movement, 505 U.S. 123 (1992). In Forsyth County, the Court invalidated a Georgia county's ordinance that allowed local government to set fees for events based on anticipated security needs. Striking down the ordinance on First Amendment grounds, the Court observed that "[t]he fee assessed will depend on the administrator's measure of the amount of hostility likely to be created by the speech based on its content. Those wishing to express views unpopular with bottle throwers, for example, may have to pay more for their permit." As a result, ...

CBLDF Announces Changes To Board of Directors

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund announces changes to its Board of Directors made at the board’s meeting at Comic-Con International. Chris Powell stepped down as President, citing successfully meeting the goals he set upon taking the presidency in April of 2009 as the reason for the change. Powell will remain on the Board as a director. Larry Marder, the creator of Beanworld, and editor of CBLDF’s Liberty Annual 2010 was elected to succeed Powell as President. Dale Cendali, a nationally recognized leader in the field of intellectual property, joins the Board as a director.

On leaving the presidency, Chris Powell says, “I always had specific goals for the Fund that I wanted to accomplish during my term as President, and thanks to the solid efforts of my fellow board members, and the CBLDF office, we’ve been able to meet those goals in just over a year. Specifically, we relocated into a larger space that will allow us to perform our program work better, got a new website up and running, streamlined our donation processing to make our donors’ experience better, and implemented new policies that will guide the Fund as a growing organization. I’m comfortable stepping aside now to ...

EFF Offers New Help for Targets of Predatory Copyright Infringement Lawsuits

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) today published "U.S. Copyright Group v. the People," a comprehensive collection of resources designed to assist the thousands of individuals accused of online copyright infringement by a Washington, D.C., law firm calling itself the U.S. Copyright Group (USCG).

Earlier this year, the USCG filed "John Doe" lawsuits on behalf of seven filmmakers implicating well over 14,000 anonymous individuals in alleged unauthorized downloading of independent films, including "Far Cry" and "The Hurt Locker." USCG's strategy appears to be to threaten a judgment of up to $150,000 per downloaded movie -- the maximum penalty allowable by law in copyright suits and a very unlikely judgment in cases arising from a single, noncommercial infringement -- in order to pressure the alleged infringers to settle quickly for $1,500 - $2,500 per person.

EFF's new webpage at http://www.eff.org/uscg has important information for subpoena targets, including explanations of the claims made by USCG, discussions of possible responses, and resources to help people find legal counsel and assistance.

"The people targeted in these mass lawsuits need good information about this situation and their options," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Corynne McSherry. "USCG vs. the People provides answers to the ...

Speech Code of the Month: Front Range Community College

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010
FIRE announces its Speech Code of the Month for August 2010: Front Range Community College in Colorado.

Front Range Community College (FRCC) maintains a "free speech zone" policy limiting expressive activities on each of its three campuses to areas designated by the college. To use those areas, one must complete a "Free Speech Zone Registration Form" (the link is to the form for the Boulder County Campus, but they are all the sameyou can see the others here and here). The form contains a perfect blend of unintentional hilarity and horrendous unconstitutionality that makes it an ideal Speech Code of the Month.

First, the FRCC administration must think free speech is a tremendously dangerous undertaking, because the form leads off as follows:
For myself, my heirs, successors, executors, I hereby knowingly and intentionally waive and release, indemnify and hold harmless the college, Front Range Community College (FRCC), The State Board for Community College and Occupational Education, The State of Colorado, trustees, officers, employees, agents and volunteers from and against all claims, actions, causes of action, liabilities, suits, expenses and NEGLIGENCE of any kind of nature arising directly or indirectly out of any damage, loss, injury, ...

Conn. governor vetoes bill to fix campaign-finance law

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

HARTFORD, Conn. — Gov. M. Jodi Rell followed through Aug. 2 with her promise to veto a bill that attempts to fix Connecticut’s campaign-finance law after a federal appeals court found parts of it unconstitutional.

The Republican governor issued her veto on the same the day the measure, S.B. 551, arrived on her desk. The Democratic-controlled General Assembly passed the legislation July 30, attempting to save the underlying law, which includes the state’s public-financing program and other election reforms.

She said she “disagreed profoundly” with the legislature’s decision to increase grants for gubernatorial candidates in order to make the law constitutionally palatable.

“They have taken a program that was intended to remove the taint of special interests and corruption from political campaigns and turned it into a welfare program for politicians,” Rell said in her three-page veto message.

House Speaker Christopher Donovan, D-Meriden, said he was talking with his fellow House Democrats about their availability for a possible override of Rell’s veto.

“We will come back to resolve this,” he said.

Rell had warned legislators prior to the July 30 special legislative session that she would veto the bill if they increased the base grants for gubernatorial candidates who participate ...

Group to challenge vote that cleared way for NYC mosque

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

NEW YORK — Plans for an Islamic community center and mosque near ground zero moved forward as a city panel opened the way for developers to tear down a building that was struck by airplane debris on Sept. 11, 2001.

Even as the project's backers celebrated the decision, a conservative advocacy group founded by the Rev. Pat Robertson announced it would challenge the panel's vote in state court today.

Brett Joshpe, an attorney for the American Center for Law and Justice, said the group would file a petition alleging that the city's Landmarks Preservation Commission "acted arbitrarily and abused its discretion."

The panel voted unanimously yesterday to deny landmark status to a building two blocks from the World Trade Center site that developers want to tear down and convert into an Islamic community center and mosque. The panel said the 152-year-old lower Manhattan building wasn't distinctive enough to be considered a landmark.

Oz Sultan, a spokesman for the developers, said they had no comment on the possible legal action by the ACLJ. But he said the developers were grateful for the decision by the landmarks panel.

"We're very happy it's moving forward," he said.

The decision drew praise from Mayor ...

Pentagon refuses embed for Rolling Stone writer

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

WASHINGTON — The author of the Rolling Stone article that ended the military career of Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the former top commander in Afghanistan, has been denied permission to join U.S. troops fighting in Afghanistan, the Pentagon said yesterday.

Defense Department spokesman Col. David Lapan told reporters that freelance writer Michael Hastings was rebuffed when he asked to accompany, or "embed," with American forces next month.

The rejection came as the Pentagon ramped up an internal investigation into the circumstances behind some of the most salacious material Hastings used in his article in Rolling Stone. The Army inspector general is interviewing current and former McChrystal aides, the Associated Press has learned.

The inspector general's review began shortly after Rolling Stone published the article that torpedoed McChrystal's three-decade Army career.

The inspector general, an independent investigator, is considering whether officers were insubordinate and how far up the chain of command responsibility for decisions involving the Hastings interviews extended, officials said. Defense officials outlined the investigation on condition of anonymity because it is ongoing and has reached no conclusions.

Hastings quoted McChrystal and his aides criticizing and mocking Obama administration officials, including Vice President Joe Biden. McChrystal was recalled to Washington and ...

EFF and Boing Boing TV Go Mile High!

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010

Next time you fly Virgin America, you just might see one of EFF's new PSAs as part of your onboard entertainment. Earlier this year, EFF worked with Bucknell University Professor Eric Faden (of A Fair(y) Use Tale fame) to create these two video PSAs about important, cutting-edge digital rights issues!

Digital Books and License Agreements


Online Behavioral Tracking


Hopefully, viewers are reminded of the very important idea that many of the rights and protections we have in the physical world should apply to the digital world as well.

Many thanks to Bucknell University Professor Eric Faden, cinematographer Steve Gibson, and the spring 2010 film production class (Claire Bonti, Kristen Bucaria, Diego Chiri, Dana Farley, Meredith Field, William McCormick, Leanne Miller, Parker Phillips, Caroline Pogust, Hannah Roman, and Casey Sims) for their fantastic work in turning our ideas into these short PSAs!

Watch Jonathan Rauch’s Keynote from the 2010 CFN Conference

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010

Were you unable to attend the third annual CFN Conference this summer at Bryn Mawr? Have you been jealously reading articles describing the conference from presenters Daphne Patai and Greg Baylor and from student Irena Schneider?

Now, you don't have to wait for 2011 to share in the CFN experience. Thanks to Joe Stramowski, FIRE's Sweidy Stata Video Fellow, Jonathan Rauch's keynote address is now available on the FIRE and CFN websites and on FIRE's vimeo page.

At the conference, Jonathan Rauchguest scholar at the Brookings Institution, senior writer for the National Journal, corresponding editor for The Atlantic, and the author of Kindly Inquisitors: The New Attacks on Free Thoughtdiscussed the role of open discourse in modern society, quipping, "In liberal science, we kill our hypotheses instead of each other."His speech received a standing ovation. We highly recommend it.

Check back on the Torch for more video highlights from the conference over the next few weeks!

The Public Debates the Hinds Swearing Case

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010
Isaac Rosenbloom was interviewed yesterday afternoon for the evening news on WAPT 16, the ABC affiliate in Jackson, Mississippi. Rosenbloom was barred from one of his classes at Hinds Community College (HCC) and denied financial aid after a professor confronted him for using the "F" word after class. After FIRE intervened, this decision was reversed, and Rosenbloom is again able to pursue his studies, but Hinds has not yet abandoned its unconstitutional policy against swearing anywhere on campus at any time.

The case has drawn a great deal of debate, however. An August 1 article in the Clarion-Ledger (Jackson, Miss.) summarized Rosenbloom's case and quoted Adam, who said, "It's only a matter of time before another student decides to sue over this." Yet, the article generated over 200 comments from readers, many of which were critical of Rosenbloom's speech. The comments of "toddler1" are representative:

[Y]ou did not only break a "social more" when you spoke, you broke the published rules of the school ... I hope you do a better job of following rules of treatment on the job than you did at Hinds. Or only those rules you agree with?

The problem with this point of view, ...

Commentary: Governments should lay off political yard signs

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010

When elections near, a perennial free-speech dispute arises over the display of political campaign signs.

Many municipalities have laws limiting the number and size of signs in residential areas. Supporters of the laws contend they limit visual clutter, improve traffic safety and preserve neighborhood aesthetics of neighborhoods. Detractors counter that such limitations infringe on fundamental First Amendment rights.

Read more of David Hudson’ commentary.

Federal judge not fooled by differing demon Spawn

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010

MADISON, Wis. — Coraline and Stardust author Neil Gaiman is owed royalties for three more characters that appeared in artist Todd McFarlane's classic Spawn comic book series, a federal judge has ruled.

U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb ruled last week that the demon Dark Ages Spawn and two scantily clad female angels, Domina and Tiffany, were derived from characters Gaiman created. Spawn tells the story of a murdered CIA agent who becomes a demon and is hunted by angels.

A jury found eight years ago that Gaiman was due money for being a co-copyright holder for three other characters that appeared in the comic series — Medieval Spawn, Angela and a character named Cogliostro, a one-time Spawn ally. Neither side has agreed on how much is owed.

Gaiman testified in June that he believed Dark Ages Spawn was essentially a copy of Medieval Spawn, a character he created in the ninth issue of the Spawn series in 1993. He had been invited by McFarlane to do an issue. Gaiman also said the angels known as Domina and Tiffany were copies of the red-haired Angela, a character who also debuted in Spawn No. 9.

Crabb agreed, saying all three characters were ...

Pa. prisons can bar Muslim workers’ headscarves

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010

PHILADELPHIA — Prison officials can bar employees from wearing religious headscarves out of concerns they pose a safety risk, a federal appeals court in Philadelphia ruled yesterday in a 2-1 decision.

Prison officials have legitimate concerns the headscarves can hide drugs or other contraband, or be used by an inmate to strangle someone, the majority said in EEOC v. The Geo Group.

The ruling dismisses a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on behalf of three Muslim women employed at the Delaware County Prison in suburban Thornton. The EEOC had said they were being forced to compromise their religious beliefs to keep their jobs.

The suit was filed against the Geo Group, a Boca Raton, Fla.-based contractor that formerly operated the facility.

After the prison implemented a ban on hats and headscarves in 2005, nurse Carmen Sharpe-Allen was fired for refusing to remove her headscarf, or khimar, at work. Intake clerk Marquita King and correctional officer Rashemma Moss, after some deliberation, agreed to remove their headscarves on the job.

U.S. District Judge John P. Fullam had dismissed the EEOC lawsuit, and two of three judges on the appeals panel agreed with him. They called it a close ...

Panel’s denial of landmark status frees NYC mosque site

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010

NEW YORK — A city commission today denied landmark status to a building near the World Trade Center site, freeing a group to convert the property into an Islamic community center and mosque that has drawn national opposition.

The Landmarks Preservation Commission voted 9-0, saying the 152-year-old building a few blocks from the site of the Sept. 11 attacks wasn't special or distinctive enough to meet criteria to qualify as a landmark. Commissioners said other buildings from the era were better examples of the building's style.

National and New York politicians and the Anti-Defamation League have come out in recent weeks against plans for the mosque, saying it disrespects the memory of Sept. 11 victims. Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who also chairs the foundation building the Sept. 11 memorial, has defended plans for the mosque.

Several members of a crowd of 50 or 60 applauded, while others shouted "Shame!" as commission chairman Robert B. Tierney called for the vote. One opponent, Linda Rivera of Manhattan, held up a sign reading, "Don't glorify murders of 3,000. No 9/11 victory mosque."

Supporters of landmark status, including GOP gubernatorial candidate Rick Lazio and some Sept. 11 family members, had argued that the building warranted ...

Conn. attorney general can’t make confidential records public

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010

HARTFORD, Conn. — The Connecticut Supreme Court has ruled that state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal cannot make public the confidential business documents he obtains through a subpoena, handing a victory to a Florida insurance company that sued to prevent disclosure of the information.

In a decision released yesterday, the justices overturned a Superior Court ruling and agreed with Brown & Brown Insurance Inc. of Tampa and Daytona Beach, Fla., in a case that stemmed from Blumenthal’s ongoing investigation of the insurance industry.

Brown & Brown provided 12,000 documents in 2006 but sued when Blumenthal did not assure the company that the information would be kept confidential.

Michelle H. Seagull, a lawyer at Axinn, Veltrop & Harkrider in Hartford, which represented Brown & Brown, said she was gratified the Supreme Court acted unanimously to limit what Blumenthal may do with confidential information.

“A party can be caught up in an investigation without having done anything wrong,” she said. “Brown & Brown was never accused of anything.”

The insurer was concerned that confidential information would be shared in an “unlimited way,” she said. “We had no idea who it was disclosed to.”

Blumenthal, the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, said in a ...

Developing Effective Writing Programs: Help for High Schools

Monday, August 2nd, 2010
The new book Taking Initiative on Writing: A Guide for Instructional Leaders by Anne Ruggles Gere, Hannah A. Dickinson, Melinda J. McBee Orzulak, and Stephanie Moody (copublished by NCTE and NASSP) offers practical strategies and extensive resources to help principals and teachers develop effective writing programs in their high schools. Read on for a taste of this book, taken from the opening

D.C. judge lifts gag order against legal newspaper

Monday, August 2nd, 2010

WASHINGTON — A judge has lifted an order that prevented a legal newspaper from publishing information found in court records that were supposed to have been shielded from public view.

The Internet blog of the National Law Journal reported on July 30 that the judge freed the newspaper at 4:30 p.m. to publish the information, which concerned a Federal Trade Commission investigation of juicemaker POM Wonderful.

POM had fought to keep the investigating agency's name secret, but reversed course on July 30 and asked D.C. Superior Court Judge Judith Bartnoff to rescind her order. Bartnoff had ordered the records sealed, but they mistakenly remained available.

POM said in a July 30 statement that it never intended to provoke a First Amendment fight over the issue.

"POM is, and always has been, fervent supporters of and believers in the freedom of the press, and takes very seriously its commitment to transparency in all aspects of our business," the company said.

The company’s request to the judge came as news organizations filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the D.C. Court of Appeals in support of the law journal. The brief said Bartnoff's order lacked "any conceivable justification" and should be reversed immediately.

The ...

N.C. court won’t force newspaper to I.D. online commentator

Monday, August 2nd, 2010

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A North Carolina judge has ruled that news organizations do not have to release the identities of people who make comments on their online news articles.

Gaston County Superior Court Judge Calvin Murphy ruled the Gaston Gazette did not have to tell the attorney for a murder suspect who a commentator was on an article about the case.

The identity of a commentator had been sought by an attorney for Michael Mead, who is charged with shooting his fiancee Lucy Johnson twice in the back of the head then burning her house down to conceal the crime in 2008.

Mead’s attorney had sought the identity of someone who left an online comment on the newspaper’s website. The comment listed information related to a lie-detector test taken by the murder suspect, said attorney John Bussian, who represents the Gazette.

The judge’s order issued July 27 cites the First Amendment and North Carolina’s shield law that protects news-gatherers from having to release the identities of its sources, the Charlotte Observer reported July 31.

“The Gazette and (publisher Julie) Moreno have a qualified privilege against compelled disclosure of ... identifying information collected by The Gazette from posters to its website,” ...

U. of Ill. offers to reinstate Catholic instructor

Monday, August 2nd, 2010

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — The University of Illinois says it has offered a teaching job to an instructor who was fired over a complaint that he engaged in hate speech in his explanation of Catholic Church doctrine on homosexuality.

The university also said July 29 that it would stop allowing the on-campus St. John's Catholic Newman Center to pay instructors who teach Catholic-related courses and will instead pay those teachers itself — ending a decades-old arrangement that troubled some faculty.

It wasn't immediately clear whether adjunct instructor Kenneth Howell had accepted the university's offer, which does not include any guarantee of a job after the fall semester.

Under the offer, Howell would receive $10,000 to teach an Introduction to Catholicism class for the fall semester. Like all offers made to adjunct instructors, the offer is for only one semester, university spokeswoman Robin Kaler said.

It wasn't clear how much Howell previously had been paid.

The decision to offer Howell the job back, Kaler said, was made by the School of Literatures, Cultures and Linguistics, which the university's Religious Studies program is part of. The class, she said, has been full since registration started in the spring. Classes start Aug. 23.

"The ...

11th Circuit blocks extra funds for Fla. governor hopeful

Monday, August 2nd, 2010

ATLANTA — A federal appeals court’s decision late last week effectively blocked Florida Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill McCollum from receiving matching public funds for every dollar beyond $24.9 million spent by his self-financed opponent.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta on July 30 issued a preliminary injunction to keep the state of Florida from releasing the excess subsidy to McCollum.

Under Florida’s campaign-finance law, a publicly funded candidate can receive extra funds if an opponent who does not participate in the public-financing system spends over a certain amount.

McCollum’s opponent, multimillionaire Rick Scott, is self-funding most of his campaign. Under Florida law, he is allowed to spend up to $24.9 million on his own campaign. But for every dollar he spends beyond that, the state provides a matching dollar for McCollum.

Scott argued that the excess subsidy violates his First Amendment freedom of speech.

U.S. District Court Judge Robert Hinkle in Tallahassee on July 14 rejected Scott’s attempt to block McCollum from receiving extra state funds for his campaign. Hinkle said Florida’s election statute was designed to encourage voter participation and avoid the appearance of corruption. He said he didn’t want to override it less than six ...

Ending the silence on Uyghur repression

Sunday, August 1st, 2010
Uighur voices have been crying in the wilderness. It's time to listen says Carl Gershman, president of the National Endowment for Democracy.

Rights in the News: FIRE Celebrates Victories for Free Speech In and Out of the Classroom

Saturday, July 31st, 2010
FIRE's victory at Hinds Community College in Mississippi (HCC) highlighted a week of advances for free speech and thought around the country. It was at HCC, Torch readers know, where student Isaac Rosenbloom had been found guilty of "flagrant disrespect," barred from class, and subsequently denied financial aid following a single incident of cursing outside of class time. The reversal of Rosenbloom's punishment is documented here at the Torch, of course, and also at the Chronicle of Higher Education and Inside Higher Ed; the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression notes it as well. FIRE's Adam Kissel also appeared on The Gallo Radio Show to discuss the case this morning. Also, my601.com, of the Jackson, MS Fox affiliate, is on the scene, posting FIRE's press release and noting that HCC so far has not responded to its request for comment.

The case of June Sheldon at San José City College also came to a victorious end this week, with the biology professor agreeing to settle for $100,000 with the San José/Evergreen Community College District nearly three years after it refused to rehire her for her protected and germane classroom speech about the ...

FBI effort to update surveillance law prompts questions, fears

Saturday, July 31st, 2010

WASHINGTON — Invasion of privacy in the Internet age. Expanding the reach of law enforcement to snoop on e-mail traffic or on Web surfing. Those are among the criticisms being aimed at the FBI as it tries to update a key surveillance law.

With its proposed amendment, is the Obama administration merely clarifying a statute or expanding it? Only time and a suddenly on-guard Congress will tell.

Federal law requires communications providers to produce records in counterintelligence investigations to the FBI, which doesn't need a judge's approval and court order to get the records.

They can be obtained merely with the signature of a special agent in charge of any FBI field office and there is no need even for a suspicion of wrongdoing, merely that the records would be relevant in a counterintelligence or counterterrorism investigation. The person whose records the government wants doesn't even need to be a suspect.

The bureau's use of these so-called national security letters to gather information has a checkered history.

The bureau engaged in widespread and serious misuse of its authority to issue the letters, illegally collecting data from Americans and foreigners, the Justice Department's inspector general concluded in 2007. The bureau issued ...

Republicans Waiting It Out On Judicial Nominations

Friday, July 30th, 2010

In the wake of Citizens United and other rulings that put corporate bank accounts ahead of individual rights, it has become increasingly clear where the priorities of the Supreme Court’s conservative majority lie. Republicans in Congress, unlike most Americans, like what they’re seeing—and are doing everything in their power to make sure the Roberts Court’s philosophy is reflected in lower courts throughout the country.

Apparently not satisfied with the current conservative bent of the nation’s entire judicial system (nearly 40% of federal judges nationwide were appointed by George W. Bush), Republican Senators are trying to stall district and circuit court judicial nominations until they are in a position to appoint federal judges once again, packing the court even more firmly for corporate interests.

A recent study by the Center for American Progress found that the current Republican obstruction of judicial nominations is truly unprecedented. The graph below pretty much says it all:

The current Republican obstructionism is unprecedented. Even George H.W. Bush, whose party never controlled the Senate during his term, enjoyed a confirmation rate nearly double that of President Obama and the current solidly Democratic Senate.

Yesterday, several senators put a much-needed spotlight on the GOP’s obstruction of ...

Update: UIUC Responds to FIRE’s Letter, Confirms Victory

Friday, July 30th, 2010
As Adam noted earlier today, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) has reversed its decision not to rehire Professor Kenneth Howell to teach Introduction to Catholicism. UIUC has offered to return him to his class this fall and to pay his salary. The Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), which is providing Howell with legal representation, reported this outcome yesterday, and UIUC has now confirmed this reversal to FIRE in a letter we have just received in response to our letter of July 16.

The letter we received from Deputy University Counsel Steven A. Veazie is substantially the same as his letter to ADF. For now, we are happy to report that Howell's immediate future as a UIUC professor is no longer in doubt. In the longer term, one thing to keep watching is the official review of the initial decision not to rehire Howell, as Veazie notes:
The Faculty Senate's Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure will continue its review of the situation surrounding the earlier decision not to offer Dr. Howell a teaching assignment for the fall semester, and we look forward to receiving this committee's report.
This report is important because the principles involved go far beyond Howell's ...

This Month in FIRE History: Dave Barry Speaks Out on College Censorship

Friday, July 30th, 2010

Exactly one year ago, FIRE released a video of Pulitzer Prize-winning humorist Dave Barry in which he discusses the value of free speech on college campuses. The video, which now has over 24,000 hits, shows Barry's perspective on FIRE's work and why it's so important.



In 2006, Barry's writing was the subject of a FIRE case when a Ph.D. student at Marquette University posted a quote from one of Barry's columns on his office door that the administration deemed "patently offensive"—a legal term of art usually used in the context of evaluating hardcore pornography. The quote read, "As Americans we must always remember that we all have a common enemy, an enemy that is dangerous, powerful, and relentless. I refer, of course, to the federal government." Even after extensive press coverage and alumni outrage, Marquette has stood by its decision.

In the video, Barry makes the point that free speech is vital to humor and, like FIRE always says, no one has the right not to be offended. As he says in the video, "The whole point of learning about journalism, learning about writing is putting [your opinion] out there and then dealing with the reaction you get from it. ... ...

GOP’s Citizens United Hypocrisy

Friday, July 30th, 2010

As we witness the growing influx of corporate spending in elections from Kentucky to Minnesota as a result of the Citizens United ruling, campaigns across the country are bracing for a barrage of corporate expenditures. Senate Republicans claim that by refusing to allow the DISCLOSE Act to come up for a vote, they are defending free speech rights established by the Court. But Norman Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute criticizes the Republicans’ dangerously selective view of the Citizens United decision. While the 5-4 decision grants for-profit corporations the same free speech rights as individuals, the Court also ruled 8-1 to affirm the government’s right to enact rigorous campaign disclosure laws:

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who holds the undisputed twin titles of No. 1 campaign finance anti-reformer and No. 1 hypocrite, once said he didn't understand why a little disclosure is better than a lot of disclosure. Now the Kentucky Republican is leading his party and outside activists in spurning the clear, 8-1 mandate of the Roberts Supreme Court in the Citizens United decision to encourage robust disclosure, as they call the disclosure they once championed a horrendous burden and even an unconstitutional blockage of free speech.

Even though ...

Clampdown on Cantonese Campaign

Friday, July 30th, 2010
Officials detain one man for spreading “fake news” and warn off other activists.

Greg Discusses ‘Free Inquiry’ Article in ‘The Huffington Post’

Friday, July 30th, 2010
In his most recent blog entry at The Huffington Post, FIRE President Greg Lukianoff discusses his recently published article in Free Inquiry magazine, co-authored with FIRE Director of Legal and Public Advocacy Will Creeley.

The Free Inquiry article, as discussed previously here on the Torch, discusses the culture of political correctness driving much of the censorship of college speech, and how this trend has revealed itself particularly in the realm of political speech (both right and left) and religious speech (whether in support—or opposition—of Christianity, Judiasm, or Islam).

What can we do to turn back the tide? As Greg writes:
[B]y shutting down speech—whether that speech is religious, atheist, conservative, liberal, or what-have-you—we teach students that the proper response to speech they find offensive is censorship, not an engaged debate. What we need to be teaching students to do is not only to tolerate speech they don't like, but to jump into debates and encourage discussion of different points of view. If you think you are right and the other person is wrong, no harm in hearing them out, and who knows, maybe you'll learn something in the process. But this process cannot take place in an atmosphere ...

Victory for Academic Freedom at UIUC

Friday, July 30th, 2010

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) has reversed its unconstitutional decision not to rehire adjunct professor Kenneth Howell following a student complaint about the content of Howell's teaching. Howell had compared different criteria for judging the morality of sexual conduct in an e-mail to his Introduction to Catholicism students, and the complaining student (who was not in Howell's class) had objected to Howell's elaboration of Catholic "Natural Moral Theory" criteria as it applied to homosexual sexual conduct.

FIRE intervened on July 16, 2010, in a letter pointing out that it is constitutionally impermissible for a public college to refuse to rehire a professor in Howell's situation because of the professor's protected classroom expression. Howell had been teaching at UIUC for nine years, had never been warned or disciplined for his teaching, and had every expectation of being rehired for 2010-2011.

Late yesterday, the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), which also had intervened in Howell's case, reported that UIUC had just reversed its decision and had offered Howell a job teaching Introduction to Catholicism this fall. Meanwhile, a faculty investigation into the initial non-rehire decision will proceed.

UIUC also is putting a bit of money behind its decision. Under previous arrangements, ...

Daphne Patai on FIRE’s CFN Conference and How Students Can ‘Fight for Free Speech on Our "Sensitive" Campuses’

Friday, July 30th, 2010
Daphne Patai, professor at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and member of FIRE's Board of Directors, has authored a detailed overview of the CFN Summer Conference over at Minding the Campus.

Professor Patai describes the genesis of the CFN conference and why it is essential to FIRE's mission:
[FIRE Co-Founder Harvey Silverglate] has long argued that in addition to its case-by-case approach, FIRE needs to make deeper efforts to change the campus culture of political correctness, itself the driving force behind the decline of free speech on campus. As a result, in 2008 FIRE inaugurated a yearly conference for college students—those in the trenches who are fighting these battles at their own colleges and universities, often with little overt support from their cowering colleagues. At the moment, the Campus Freedom Network has about 4,000 members, but the yearly conference is intentionally kept small, so that dialogue is encouraged and information shared in a more personal setting.
After describing the conference presentations, she closes with some important words of advice for students to remember as they seek to reform their own campuses:

Always remember that red-light schools are violating the law; look carefully at their codes of conduct and ...

White House proposal would ease FBI access to records of Internet activity

Friday, July 30th, 2010

The Obama administration is seeking to make it easier for the FBI to compel companies to turn over records of an individual’s Internet activity without a court order if agents deem the information relevant to a terrorism or intelligence investigation.

But what officials portray as a technical clarification designed to remedy a legal ambiguity strikes industry lawyers and privacy advocates as an expansion of the power the government wields through so-called national security letters. These missives, which can be issued by an FBI field office on its own authority, require the recipient to provide the requested information and to keep the request secret. They are the mechanism the government would use to obtain the electronic records.

Read more.

Pentagon: Leak investigation may go beyond military

Friday, July 30th, 2010

WASHINGTON — A criminal investigation into the leak of tens of thousands of secret Afghanistan war logs could go beyond the military, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said yesterday, and he did not rule out that Wikileaks founder Julian Assange could be a target.

“The investigation should go wherever it needs to go,” Gates said.

Gates would not be more specific, waving off questions about whether Assange or media outlets that used the Wikileaks material could be subjects of the criminal probe. But he noted that he has asked the FBI to help in the investigation “to ensure that it can go wherever it needs to go.”

The Army is leading an inquiry inside the Defense Department into who downloaded some 91,000 secret documents and passed the material to Wikileaks, an online archive that describes itself as a public service organization for whistleblowers, journalists and activists.

The leak July 25 of what the website calls its “Afghan War Diary” involved raw intelligence reports and other material dating to 2004.

The Pentagon inquiry is looking most closely at Pvt. Bradley Manning, an Army intelligence specialist who was already charged with leaking other material to the website. Manning, 22, has been moved from ...

Divided 8th Circuit strikes down Minn. judicial-campaign restrictions

Friday, July 30th, 2010

ST. PAUL, Minn. — A divided federal appeals court ruled yesterday that Minnesota's restrictions on fundraising and endorsements by judicial candidates violated their free-speech rights, overturning parts of the state code of judicial conduct.

A sharp dissent warned that the change could threaten public trust in impartial courts.

The decision clears the way for bigger spending in what are typically sleepy judicial races at the bottom of the ballot.

In the 2-1 ruling, an 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel sided with attorney Greg Wersal, a Minnesota Supreme Court candidate who has filed multiple lawsuits challenging the state's judicial election system. The ruling reverses a lower court decision and wipes away three state judicial conduct rules that constrained judicial campaigning.

Writing for the majority in Wersal v. Sexton, Judge C. Arlen Beam said those rules — two dealing with fundraising restrictions and another preventing judicial candidates from endorsing each other or other candidates — impinged on candidates' First Amendment rights. He said the state's system of choosing judges may be imperfect, but candidates must be free to exercise those rights. He said judges can step aside in future court cases to avoid campaign-related conflicts of interest.

"As long as ...

Nev. high court tosses portion of state’s ethics law

Friday, July 30th, 2010

CARSON CITY, Nev. — The Nevada Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional a portion of the state’s ethics law yesterday in a case involving Sparks Councilman Michael Carrigan.

The high court said the law the Nevada Ethics Commission relied on when it censured Carrigan for voting on the controversial Lazy 8 casino project in 2005 was overly broad and lacked “necessary limitations to its regulations of protected speech.”

The ethics panel said Carrigan should have abstained from voting because his friend and campaign manager, Carlos Vasquez, also worked as a consultant for the Red Hawk Land Co., which was backing the casino project.

Carrigan disclosed his relationship with Vasquez on the record but voted on the advice of the city attorney, saying he didn’t stand to “reap either financial or personal gain or loss” by his action.

Carrigan petitioned a judge in Carson City for a judicial review of the ethics commission’s ruling. Former District Judge Bill Maddox rejected Carrigan’s constitutional claims and said the state’s interest in having an ethical government outweighs a public officer’s right to exercise his free speech through voting.

Yesterday’s 5-1 Supreme Court decision reverses the lower court ruling.

The majority opinion written by Justice ...