Facebooks Soleimani Ban Flies in Face of First Amendment – Common Dreams

Instagram, and its parent company Facebook, took down posts regarded as too sympathetic to Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, who was assassinated January 3 in a controversial US airstrike. The news website Coda (1/10/20) was credited with breaking the news, and Newsweek (1/10/20) also reported that:

Iranian journalists have reported the censorship of their Instagram accounts. Posts about Soleimani have disappeared from Instagram, which is currently the only operational international social media site within Iran.

According to the Facebook corporation, as quoted by CNN (1/10/20), removal of such posts is required by US sanctions; the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, of which Soleimani was a commander, was designated as a terrorist organization by the US government in April:

As part of its compliance with US law, the Facebook spokesperson said the company removes accounts run by or on behalf of sanctioned people and organizations.

One might rightly ask: What constitutes a post supportive of the late military commander? According to the CNN report, merely posting a photo of the general could get the Facebook authorities to take a post down.

The International Federation of Journalists condemned the censorship:

The measures have gone even further, and some accounts of Iranian newspapers and news agencies have now been removed from the social media platform. This poses an immediate threat to freedom of information in Iran, as Instagram is the only international social media platform currently still operating in the country.

The Washington Times (1/11/20) reported:

Ali Rabiei, a spokesperson for the Iranian government, complained from his Twitter account on Monday this week about the disappearance of social media discussions about Soleimani, accusing Instagram of acting undemocratic and unashamed.

Much of the coverage has centered on the fact that Instagram is one of the few social media networks not widely restricted in Iranthus, the blackout serves as a way of censoring information going into Iran. In fact, the US government news agency Voice of America (1/7/20) reported that the Iranian government was clamping down on social media posts too critical of Soleimani, and NBC News (8/21/19) reported on how Iranians used networks like Instagram to skirt government regulation. (The irony here is thick.)


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But this news has also gotten journalists and press advocates worried about what this means for free speech and the First Amendment in the United States. On the one hand, as a private company, Facebook is free to make its own rules about acceptable content. Yet if the network is removing content because it believes it is required to do so by law, that is government censorshipand forbidden by the Constitutions guarantee of freedom of the press.

Shayana Kadidal, a senior managing attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights, told FAIR that while it was possible for the US government to restrict media companies from coordinating with sanctioned entities and providing material support to the IRGC, the US government cannot restrict Americans from engaging in what he called independent advocacy.

Independent advocacy, as the law stands, cant be banned, he said. For [Instagram] to remove every single post would mean it was pulling posts that are protected.

The Washington Post (1/13/20) reported that free speech advocates were worried, with the director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation calling it legally wrong. Others concurred:

Eliza Campbell, associate director at the Cyber Program at the Middle East Institute in Washington, DC, [said] that the existing laws had failed to keep up with online speech, calling it a field of law that hasnt been written quite yet.

The terrorist designation system is an important tool, but its also a blunt instrument, she said. I think were walking down a dangerous path when we afford these platformswhich are private entities, have no oversight, and are not elected bodiesto essentially dictate policy, which is whats happening right now.

Emerson T. Brooking, a resident fellow at the Atlantic Councils Digital Forensic Research Lab, [said] that Facebook and Instagram are taking a very aggressive position and it may not be sustainable. He said it could result in Facebook removing any speech of any Iranian mourning Soleimanis death and could represent a harsh new precedent.

Regardless of whether the government directed Facebook to take this action, the fact that a media company felt the need to do so is proof of a chilling effect on speech. Who, specifically, is to decide what is so unabashedly pro-Soleimani material that it violates US sanctions? Is an article that merely acknowledges that many Iranians mourned Soleimani and denounced his killing a violation? Is an anti-war editorial that doesnt sufficiently assert Soleimani was no angel constitute such a crime? Could satirical material that facetiously supported the Tehran regime get censored? (The last item isnt so hypothetical: A Babson College professor was fired for jokingly encouraging Iran to follow Trumps lead by targeting US cultural sites.)

All of these questions, and all this ambiguity, should be enough evidence that this kind of censorship would be capricious and unfairly applied, and thus inappropriate in the face of free speech protections.

Free press advocates in the United States should think seriously in the coming days about how to respond. If sanctions can be invoked by a social media network to take down certain content, what is next? In order not to find out, well need a concerted pushback to Facebooks censorship from journalists and civil libertarians.

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Facebooks Soleimani Ban Flies in Face of First Amendment - Common Dreams

Op-Ed: Religious liberty in our schools must be protected – The Intelligencer

Schools must be held accountable to the Constitution. The Trump administrations new guidelines will ensure that they are, says Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

Theres a reason why the First Amendment comes first. Our country was founded upon the first freedoms it protects. The freedom to express ourselves through speech, through the press, through assembly, through petition and through faith defines what it means to be American.

And no American forfeits these freedoms including the right to pray to anyone or in any place, especially in public schools. The notion of separation of church and state is not an invitation for government to separate people from their faith.

Yet, too many students and too many teachers are separated from their faith while they are in school:

Utah fourth-grader William McLeod was told by his teacher that wearing ashes in the form of a cross on his forehead, a sign of public penance at the beginning of Lent, was inappropriate. The teacher gave William a sanitizing cloth to wipe his forehead clean.

Kentucky high school sophomore Emily Chaney established a prayer locker in her school so that fellow students could submit prayer requests anonymously. A radical secularist group complained, and the local superintendent forced Emily to close her prayer locker.

These incidents indicate that too many champion the part of the First Amendment that bars an establishment of religion but choose to ignore the clear admonition against prohibiting the free exercise of religion. In fact, the First Amendment doesnt exist to protect us from religion. It exists to protect religion from government.

This president and this administration are committed to ensuring that all people of faith are free to exercise it. And we know that exercise means more than simply worship. Much more.

Thanks to President Donald Trumps leadership, we are adhering to the Constitution, which protects the peoples right to pray in their houses of worship, in their homes and everywhere else including in public schools. The Elementary and Secondary Education Act was amended in 2002 to ensure that taxpayer-supported schools are following the law when it comes to constitutionally protected prayer in public schools. Under the law, the Department of Education is to issue guidance every two years for states and local communities concerning every students and every teachers right to pray in public schools.

This guidance had been issued only once. We took action and updated the guidance to reflect the law with respect to religious expression in public schools.

Our new guidance explains that the law requires states to report which of their schools failed to certify that they do not have any policy that denies anyone the right to pray. Students may, for instance, read the Bible during homeroom. They may give thanks to God before lunch or a snack. They can pray a decade or two of the rosary at recess. They can be excused from class to fulfill prayer obligations, such as during Ramadan. Students may organize faith-based clubs as they see fit. Students may invite a local rabbi to preach at an assembly. Teachers can pray in the lounge during a break. And students most certainly may express their faith in homework or other assignments free from discrimination based on religion.

Our updated guidance now makes clear that the law requires states to have a clear process for students, parents and teachers to report violations of their right to pray. It also notes that the law requires states to notify the department of any complaints against schools alleging violations of the right to pray.

This is but one way we are protecting the free exercise of religion in education. In light of the Trinity Lutheran Supreme Court decision, we are not enforcing unconstitutional prohibitions on school districts contracting with tutors, counselors or other similar secular services simply because of their religious affiliation. We successfully negotiated a consensus position with diverse stakeholders on protecting and respecting religious missions of higher education institutions.

We took down the previous administrations list, which publicly shamed faith-based schools for requesting assurance of an exemption from Title IX, a 1972 law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex in education. And we are especially eager for the Supreme Court to put an end to the last acceptable prejudice made manifest in bigoted Blaine Amendments to 37 state constitutions that deny students the freedom to pursue faith-based education.

In our fast-paced, noisy world, it is healthy to develop an interior life. To be still, to reflect, to review, to contemplate to pray. Ones faith is personal, but it doesnt have to be hidden under a bushel basket. Americans have fought and died for the right to live their faith in all aspects of life.

This administration is and always will be committed to ensuring that all believers can live and practice their faith without fear.

Betsy DeVos is the Trump administrations Secretary of Education. This piece appeared in USA Today. Follow DeVos on Twitter at @BetsyDeVosED

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Op-Ed: Religious liberty in our schools must be protected - The Intelligencer

The First Amendment and Privacy: Free Speech Rules (Episode 9) – Reason

When can the law stop you from saying things about me in order to protect my privacy? Pretty rarely, it turns out.

Let's just make clear what kind of "privacy" we're talking about. The Supreme Court has sometimes discussed a "right to privacy," but that's generally a right to personal autonomyfor instance, the right to buy and use contraceptives. We're not talking about that right here.

We also often have a right to physical privacy in the sense of freedom from trespass or surveillance. The Fourth Amendment, for example, protects us against "unreasonable searches and seizures" by the government. The law of trespass protects us against physical intrusions by our neighbors.

The tort of "intrusion upon seclusion" protects us from other kinds of surveillance, such as people photographing into our bedrooms using high-powered magnifying lenses or people telephoning us repeatedly in the middle of the night. We're not talking about that here, either.

Rather, we're talking about "informational privacy"restrictions on communicating information about me when I think that information is highly private.

Here are the five rules of free speech and privacy:

Rule 1: We usually have a right to speak about other people, not just about ideas. We can express opinions about them, even if those opinions are insulting. We can say true things about them, even when they'd rather keep that information private.

Newspapers and TV programs are chock full of such speech about people, many of whom would rather not be spoken about. The same is true of biographies. Even autobiographies usually reveal information not just about the writer, but about his family, friends, lovers, business associates, and more.

Rule 2: We have a nearly absolute right to reproduce information drawn from government records. Newspapers can quote arrest reports, or documents from court cases, even when they describe the private details of the defendant's lifeor of a victim's life. For instance, in 1989 the Supreme Court struck down a statute that forbade the media from publishing the names of sex offense victims. Such a statute, the Court held, wrongly limited the right to publish information drawn from government records, such as arrest reports.

And this right doesn't vanish with time. There can be no European-style "right to be forgotten" under American law, at least when it comes to material taken from government records.

Rule 3: Our free speech rights extend to speech about private figures, and not just about government officials or famous people. Indeed, newspaper stories often disclose information about ordinary people who have never sought publicity.

Rule 4: Lower courts have allowed some civil lawsuits for so-called "public disclosure of private facts." The Supreme Court has never decided whether this tort is constitutionally valid. But even if the tort can be constitutional, courts agree that it's sharply limited.

First, it applies only to revelations of highly embarrassing or personal information, such as sexual history or medical conditions.

Second, it's limited to statements that aren't "newsworthy." That's a vague line, but courts have read the newsworthiness defense quite broadly: So long as the facts are linked to newsworthy events, such as a crime, people are free to repeat them.

Third, as Rule 2 notes, material borrowed from government recordsagain, such as trial transcripts or arrest reportscan pretty much always be published.

Rule 5: The strongest protection for privacy is generally contract. If a business, for instance, promises not to disclose information about its customers, that promise can be enforced in court. Same if, for instance, someone who is working for a celebrity signs a nondisclosure agreement as a condition of employment.

Such contracts aren't always enforceable; for instance, if a court orders you to disclose information about a customer, you can't just insist that you had promised the customer to keep it secret. Likewise, a federal statute bars businesses from requiring consumers to sign "non-disparagement" clauses, in which the consumer promises not to publish critical reviews of the business.

But if a contract not to speak is otherwise enforceable, the First Amendment doesn't prevent its enforcement. And that extends to promises of privacy as well as to other nondisclosure agreements.

Written by Eugene Volokh, who is a First Amendment law professor at UCLA.Produced and edited by Austin Bragg, who is not.Additional graphics by Joshua Swain

This is the ninth episode of Free Speech Rules, a video series on free speech and the law. Volokh is the co-founder of The Volokh Conspiracy, a blog hosted at Reason.com.

This is not legal advice.If this were legal advice, it would be followed by a bill.Please use responsibly.

Music: "Lobby Time," by Kevin MacLeod (Incompetech.com) Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

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The First Amendment and Privacy: Free Speech Rules (Episode 9) - Reason

Op-ed: Did the University forget about the first amendment? – The Michigan Daily

Legislators at every level have adopted an operational ethos of ignore all relevant laws and sign it." This is a deeply concerning trend, and one that will result in dystopian realizations as politics continue moving toward the extremes. However, my fragile hope for the future remains intact thanks to the courts consistent rejection of this ethos. The University of Michigan is only the latest subject of both this trend and justices ruling in a case concerning our most potent liberty: speech.

On May 2, 2018, the Universitywas sued by Speech First, an organization dedicated to upholding the First Amendment on college campuses. The subject of the legal dispute was the Universitys Bias Response Team (BRT), which, according to Speech First, stifled freedom of speech and was therefore unconstitutional. In September 2019, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the BRT acts by way of implicit threat of punishment and intimidation to quell speech," and the Universityagreed to disband the BRT. This case is hugely symbolic, more so than it may appear.

The most basic freedom belonging to each person is life, defined by their freedom of conscience. Both life and free conscience are impossible to breach without direct action perpetrated by one unto another. Freedom of speech, therefore, is the concretization of our freedom of conscience. And fundamentally, this is why Speech First v. Schlissel is so symbolic: The courts defended our most basic right.

No student at the University should ever feel discriminated against. Yet, while the BRT held this same belief as its cornerstone, the metric used to determine if an offense had occurred the Universitys anti-harassment policy did not offer any objective definitions as to what constituted a violation. And here lies the unconstitutionality, as described by the Department of Justice: The University imposes a system of arbitrary censorship of, and punishment for, constitutionally protected speech.

This broader conflict is not unique to the University. Colleges across the country face similar challenges in trying to secure welcoming campus environments without infringing upon students First Amendment rights. In this, Im sympathetic with the universities. Were riding a 50-year wave of legal victories for equality in a number of areas; so, in keeping with the trend, lets try to fix campus speech, right? Sure, but not like this.

Todays political climate is one of friction and frustration on both sides. Any comment not perfectly impartial sets off a firestorm, regardless of the reasoning behind the statement, the context or the speaker. We are on a hair trigger. So, how, in this era so characterized by scrutinizing the most minute actions and verbiage, did the University fly right by the First Amendment?

Sadly, today, the legitimacy of actions taken in pursuit of something noble are largely ignored. Those in charge act impulsively without considering their actions. The University wanted to create a safer campus climate, so it created an agency capable of implicitly punishing students who voiced opinions that offended others. To me, this sounds like a paragon of this trend, a laudable end to be achieved by censorship. And the courts said no.

At last, herein lies my optimism for the fate of America: the judiciary. Currently, it seems the shared methodology to enact change, among both parties, is to act now and consider legality later. And yet, the courts have stood tall. The Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against the state of California for violating Article 1, Section 10; a federal judge blocked Alabamas abortion ban; and the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the Universitys Bias Response Team. This case was altogether important and worrying, but I find its conclusion reassuring for the future. The courts remain the protectors of our fundamental rights amidst brazen violations, and it looks like they might just continue holding the torch even if legislators at every level keep trying to blow it out.

David Lisbonne is a junior in the College of Engineering and can be reached at lisbonne@umich.edu.

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Op-ed: Did the University forget about the first amendment? - The Michigan Daily

Move to handcuff news outlets is unconstitutional | Opinion – Eagle-Tribune

The police blotter wasnt a good place to see your name in the newspaper even in the days before it ended up on the internet. Now, in this modern era, its digital twin is especially troubling for those among us who wish they could wipe away traces of their arrests. Online news is a tricky thing. It lingers and is readily searched by Google.

It was only a matter of time before someone like New Hampshire state Rep. Jack Flanagan came along to try to make all of those old arrests disappear, or at least be stuck with asterisks. Flanagan has a bill in Concord that would force news organizations to update online police logs and news stories once notified of someones acquittal, or in cases where charges are dropped or a defendant is found not guilty. The bill would place the burden a news organization to update, retract or correct an online story. Otherwise it could be held liable for damages.

Flanagans bill, which was up for consideration by a legislative committee this past week, is as impractical as it is unconstitutional. It should be dropped in the dustbin.

The argument that puts it there is clear-cut. The protection of news organizations is baked into the First Amendment. Virginian James Madison crated the first revisions to our Constitution amid concerns the document placed too much power in the hands of government. He began by protecting five individual and collective freedoms freedom to practice ones religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly and freedom of petition.

Specifically the First Amendment says Congress shall make no law abridging freedom of the press. That prohibition extends broadly across government to include state legislatures.

Flanagans bill would do precisely what the New Hampshire Legislature is prevented from doing. That alone should be reason to move on.

But lets give him benefit of the doubt for a moment. The lawmaker has said he was contacted by constituents found not guilty of crimes who were frustrated when media refused to update online reports of their arrests, though he has not identified those constituents.

This inspired House Bill 1157, which Flanagan says does not protect the guilty. The bigger thing here, what I really want to do, is get the full story, he tells reporter Madeline Hughes.

As Flanagan notes, some media including this news organization routinely update stories and police blotters to indicate the outcome of charges once contacted by the person in question and given the proper documents. The trouble is Flanagans yearning to force this practice into law. Doing so would remove judgement and discretion from editors and publishers, replacing it with the government's. Thats a chilling prospect for anyone who respects the role of a free, independent press in our democracy.

On a practical level, what if there were a compelling reason not to post that update, perhaps because it would be misleading or tell only part of a story? What if the original report was copied in another online source not controlled by the originating news outlet? What about online reports that do not originate with news organizations but are made on social media by individuals? Could they be held liable as well? The bill invites a long list of uncertainties.

It also threatens the reporting that news organizations do on police. Who gets arrested and charged with a crime is essential information, not only because of the community's interest In knowing whos in trouble but also as a check on the power of police and prosecutors. And it's safe to say that most, if not all, who see those reports have some basic understanding of the criminal justice system. U.S. Appellate Court Justice Richard Wesley wrote in a 2014 decision, Reasonable readers understand that some people who are arrested are guilty and that others are not. Reasonable readers also know that in some cases individuals who are arrested will eventually have charges against them dropped."

Wesley was ruling in a Connecticut case involving news organizations that did not delete items about a womans arrest once the charge was dropped. News organizations had no obligation to do so, he found, noting that the information was accurate at the time it appeared. His decision was quoted by the New England First Amendment Coalition in a letter to lawmakers arguing against Flanagans bill.

We are not unsympathetic with those who wish to move on with their lives once theyve been arrested. But even the act of sealing ones records in court, when that's an option, cannot erase the history of what, in fact, happened.

Placing a burden on news outlets to fix those circumstances is both impossible and unconstitutional.

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Move to handcuff news outlets is unconstitutional | Opinion - Eagle-Tribune

Trump Takes Steps to Protect the Right to Pray in Schools – CNSNews.com

(Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images)

(CNSNews.com) President Donald Trump marked National Religious Freedom Day on Thursday by announcing steps his administration is taking to protect the First Amendment right to pray in schools.

This afternoon, we're proudly announcing historic steps to protect the First Amendment right to pray in public schools. So you have the right to pray, and thats a very important and powerful right. There's nothing more important than that, I would say, Trump said.

He was joined in the Oval Office by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen as well as students and prayer advocates from across the country.Trump said that government must never stand between the people and God.

Yet, in public schools around the country, authorities are stopping students and teachers from praying, sharing their faith, or following their religious beliefs. It is totally unacceptable. You see it on the football field. You see it so many times where they're stopped from praying, and we are doing something to stop that, he said.

Tragically, there is a growing totalitarian impulse on the far-left that seeks to punish, restrict, and even prohibit religious expression. Something that, if you go back 10 years or 15 years or 20 years, it was un-thought of that a thing like that could even happen -- that anybody would even think of something like that happening, the president said.That is why, today, my administration is issuing strong new guidance to protect religious liberty in our public schools. The right of students and teachers to freely exercise their faith will always be protected, including the right to pray, Trump said.

Nine federal agencies are also proposing new rules to roll back discriminatory regulations. So we have rules to roll back discriminatory regulations on religious service organizations, and earlier this afternoon, my White House released a new memo to make sure federal funding is never used to violate the First Amendment -- which is a very big deal, the president said.

Hannah Allen, a high school freshman from Texas who attended the event, explained how she was told by her school that she and her classmates had to hide to pray.

So, me and a group of students from our school wanted to pray for our former classmate's brother who had got hurt in an accident. After the prayer, our principal told us, Dont do that again. So the next day, parents had called and complained. He told us that we could pray, but he said we had to hide in the gym or behind a curtain, or somewhere away from everyone else, she said.And I know that if this can happen in a small town in Texas, it can happen anywhere across America, and thats not right. No one should feel ashamed of their faith, especially in school or anywhere, Allen said.

She explained that the students sought help from the First Liberty Institute, a legal group dedicated to helping protect religious liberty.

So we got with First Liberty. They've been amazing. They supported us the whole way, and they sent the school a letter, and the school complied with the letter, and now the students are allowed to pray in school, Allen said.

Also on hand was Marilyn Rhames, founder and president of Teachers Who Pray. She explained why she founded the group:

I founded Teachers Who Pray because I, as a teacher, believe in the beauty of every child and the unlimited potential that resides within. However, the students that I was getting weren't set up for success, because they were so significantly behind grade level, and I taught in Chicago Public Schools for 14 years.

And during that time, we were losing students every year to gun violence, and one year, it was like 30, 32 students getting killed, and I was overwhelmed with the heaviness of the work, so I thought about quitting, and I decided not to. I was going to fight, and I was going to pray and uplift my spirit so that I can do the job that I knew God had called me to do.So I began praying with other teachers in the building who were like-minded, and we really supported each other, built community, built more hope, built more joy in the work despite it being so difficult, and we grew. Like, right now, there's over 150 chapters of Teachers Who Pray because teachers need that spiritual support and guidance.And today, I believe it's super important, because there is a myth out there that what Teachers Who Pray does and other organizations do for teachers'spiritual wealth is not legal, and it absolutely is. And I'm here to tell teachers that we need to pray for your faith. We need to pray. We need to buckle and just do what we have to do for our kids, because they need us, and they're depending on us. And if we're not strong, we can't make them strong. So thats why I'm here.

Trump pledged that his administration will not to let anyone push God from the public square. He said they will uphold religious liberty for all.

DeVos thanked Trump for his leadership, courage and friendship to people of faith, especially our nation's children.

Too many misinterpret a separation of church and state as an invitation for government to separate people from their faith, the education secretary said. In reality, our Constitution doesn't exist to protect us from religion. It exists to protect religion from government. The First Amendment affirms our free exercise of religion, and we dont forfeit that first freedom to anyone or in any place, especially in public schools.

After all, it's been noted that as long as there are final exams in schools, there will be always be prayer in schools, DeVos joked.

Thanks to your leadership, Mr. President, today we remind schools of the law with respect to religious expression -- something that hasnt been done in more than 15 years - and where there are violations, we now make clear that the law requires states to establish a clear process for students who want to pray in school and face opposition, she said.

The law also directs states to notify the administration about all complaints as well, DeVos said. The administration will ensure that all believers have the freedom to learn, to pursue our passions, to use our talents, and to live in accordance with the unique purpose that God has called us each to do.

If we embrace that freedom, our faith will be a light no darkness can overcome, the education secretary added.

The DOJ is committed to enforcing Americans' constitutional rights, including this one. So thats part of why Im very honored and privileged to be a part of todays announcement on the new guidance document about prayer in school, Rosen said.I think sometimes people dont appreciate that there are many, many Americans who feel called to pray during the day, and our First Amendment to our Constitution protects that, and sometimes I think theres a confusion about this issue as to whether its trying to force people to pray who dont want to, but thats not what this is about, the deputy attorney general said.

This is about protecting the rights of those who do to have the liberty to do that on school grounds, and that is protected by the First Amendment. So todays guidance reaffirms and clarifies and spells out for Americans what that freedom is with regards to prayer and religious expression, he said.

And I really think that the courage of people of faith, such as the folks we have here today, is really a reminder of how important our constitutional liberties are and of the great action that your administration is taking to ensure that they remain legally protected, Rosen concluded.

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Trump Takes Steps to Protect the Right to Pray in Schools - CNSNews.com

Breaking down the first amendment lawsuit against Florida State Representative Spencer Roach – Fox 4

CAPE CORAL, Fla. Tonight we are learning more about the lawsuit against State Representative Spencer Roach who is being sued by a civilian for blocking him on Facebook.

Anyone can sue anybody for anything. Question is, whether or not they will win, said Pamella Seay, FGCU criminal justice professor.

Randy Scott believes he will. Scott is suing State Representative Spencer Roach for blocking him on his public Facebook page. Saying he sees Roach not wanting to engage in public discourse.

That is representative Roach having a disdain for public discourse that is critical of him and his other people in Lee County who want to just have a free ride at public discourse, said Scott.

However, FGCU criminal justice professor Pamella Seay says this is not a public figure's account, but one for a candidate for public office so the limitations are different.

The key when you're looking at one of these social media accounts is whether or not it is a public forum, as he is using this particular account it is not a public forum. So yes he does have the right to block someone from that account, said Seay.

State Representative Spencer Roach emphasizes this is not an official government page.

That page is a campaign page, it is a promotional page, its an advertisement page that is paid for with funds in my campaign account. It is not an official government page, said Roach.

Roach says he welcomes criticism but claims Scott has personally threatened him and he will not tolerate it.

You know we welcome criticism and defense and especially policy debate on my campaign Facebook page ,but once you make a threat to kill me I think that kind of crosses the line and thats not something I am going to tolerate on that page."

Roach says the fight is not over.

I look forward to vigorously defending any lawsuit this or any others that attempts to harass me or my staff, said Roach.

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Breaking down the first amendment lawsuit against Florida State Representative Spencer Roach - Fox 4

Letter: It’s the First Amendment that needs sanctuary protection – Verde Independent


There is a movement underway to declare some cities or counties as Second Amendment sanctuaries. Using the very word sanctuary in connection with the Second Amendment is a cruel distortion of the meaning of the term.

The Second Amendment is not in need of a refuge or haven. Lets be clear: There is no political party, group, organization, cult, faction or any other synonym for a gathering of people that wants to take every gun from every individual in America. None.

This idea is born and raised in the mind of the NRA and the gun lobby to frighten gun owners into thinking otherwise. Can we have a reasonable discussion on the types of weapons suitable for our society? Yes.

Can we have a discussion on the appropriateness of certain individuals being allowed access to weapons in some circumstances? Yes.

These are not slippery slopes, as the gun lobbies would have you believe. These are legitimate and appropriate items for discussion. When reasonable gun laws are introduced the NRA counters with gun violence is a mental health issue.

Yet, when legislation is introduced to address that claim by suggesting that those closest to individuals who, at a time, due to mental or emotional problems, should be denied access to weapons until they can be evaluated as responsible again, the gun lobby and the NRA scream bloody murder.

The Second Amendment is low-hanging fruit for some politicians to grandstand. We have seen that at the last couple Board of Supervisors meetings.

If there ever was an amendment that needed sanctuary its the First Amendment, which has been under siege from the current occupant of the White House since before he took office.

Bob Burke

Beaver Creek

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Letter: It's the First Amendment that needs sanctuary protection - Verde Independent

Ask The Mayor: Bloomington’s Hamilton On First Amendment Rights, 4th Street Garage – Indiana Public Media

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Ask The Mayor: Bloomington's Hamilton On First Amendment Rights, 4th Street Garage - Indiana Public Media

Alabama jail preserving cell where Martin Luther King Jr. was held months before his assassination – WDAF FOX4 Kansas City

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. An Alabama county has passed a resolution to preserve a jail cell where civil rights icon the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. is believed to have been held months before he was assassinated in 1968.

The cell, on the seventh floor of what is now the Jefferson County Courthouse in Birmingham, is the only one that was not removed when the building underwent renovations in 1996.

In order for Jefferson County to truly move forward, we must first recognize our past mistakes, take corrective action, and move forward with a sincere desire to embrace people from all walks of life, said Jefferson County Commission President Pro Tem Lashunda Scales in a press release.

The commission unanimously approved the resolution Thursday to memorialize the cell the last existing one at the old Jefferson County Jail, Scales told CNN.

King spent three days in the cell in late October and early November 1967. His arrest was triggered by a civil rights protest that he and several others had organized in Birmingham more than four years earlier.

The city of Birmingham had obtained an injunction from the state forbidding anti-segregation protests, and Kings group was denied a parade permit. Yet when they proceeded to march anyway in April 1963, King was arrested and spent eight days behind bars, where he wrote his renowned Letter from Birmingham Jail.

After being released from jail King and several colleagues were convicted of contempt of court. Their appeal of the conviction failed when the US Supreme Court upheld the arrests, meaning that King, along with the Rev. Ralph Abernathy, Sr. and several others, were immediately arrested after getting off an airplane in Birmingham on October 30, 1967.

The three were charged with a failure to obtain a Birmingham parade permit and were taken to a jail in Bessemer. One day later, the civil rights leader and his companions were transferred to the Jefferson County Jail, where they spent three days before being released.

Its believed to have been the last time King was jailed before his assassination five months later, according to Scales.

At the time he was arrested, Jefferson County was segregated, prejudiced and mean-spirited because of the evident racial and economic disparities that still linger to this very day, Scales told CNN. She said the county plans to turn the jail cell into a public exhibit for educational purposes.

The jail cell tells a story of this city being a civil rights city, said Jefferson County Sheriff Mark Pettway, the countys first African-American sheriff.

It tells the story of Martin Luther King, Jr. being here, serving time fighting for us and our civil rights, Pettway told CNN.As the first black sheriff, its very important because I stand on shoulders of men just like him who fought for me to be able to have the right to be in this office.

Visitors to the jail cell will become better educated on how civil rights activists like King used the First Amendment to fight injustice and pave a path for positive change, Pettway said.

The passing of the resolution came about a week before the national commemoration of Kings birthday on January 20.


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Alabama jail preserving cell where Martin Luther King Jr. was held months before his assassination - WDAF FOX4 Kansas City

Can the Constitution stop the government from lying to the public? – Raw Story

When regular people lie, sometimes their lies are detected, sometimes theyre not. Legally speaking, sometimes theyre protected by the First Amendment and sometimes not, like when they commit fraud or perjury.

But what about when government officials lie?

I take up this question in my recent book, The Governments Speech and the Constitution. Its not that surprising that public servants lie they are human, after all. But when an agency or official backed by the power and resources of the government tells a lie, it sometimes causes harm that only the government can inflict.

My research found that lies by government officials can violate the Constitution in several different ways, especially when those lies deprive people of their rights.

Consider, for instance, police officers who falsely tell a suspect that they have a search warrant, or falsely say that the government will take the suspects child away if the suspect doesnt waive his or her constitutional rights to a lawyer or against self-incrimination. These lies violate constitutional protections provided in the Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendments.

If the government jails, taxes or fines people because it disagrees with what they say, it violates the First Amendment. And under some circumstances, the government can silence dissent just as effectively through its lies that encourage employers and other third parties to punish the governments critics. During the 1950s and 1960s, for example, the Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission spread damaging falsehoods to the employers, friends and neighbors of citizens who spoke out against segregation. As a federal court found decades later, the agency harassed individuals who assisted organizations promoting desegregation or voter registration. In some instances, the commission would suggest job actions to employers, who would fire the targeted moderate or activist.

And some lawsuits have accused government officials of misrepresenting how dangerous a person was when putting them on a no-fly list. Some judges have expressed concern about whether the governments no-fly listing procedures are rigorous enough to justify restricting a persons freedom to travel.

But in other situations, it can be difficult to find a direct connection between the governments speech and the loss of an individual right. Think of government officials lies about their own misconduct, or their colleagues, to avoid political and legal accountability like the many lies about the Vietnam War by Lyndon Johnsons administration, as revealed by the Pentagon Papers.

Those sorts of lies are part of what Ive called the governments manufacture of doubt. These include the governments falsehoods that seek to distract the public from efforts to discover the truth. For instance, in response to growing concerns about his campaigns connections to Russia, President Donald Trump claimed that former President Barack Obama had wiretapped him during the campaign, even though the Department of Justice confirmed that no evidence supported that claim.

Decades earlier, in the 1950s, Sen. Joseph McCarthy sought both media attention and political gain through outrageous and often unfounded claims that contributed to a culture of fear in the country.

When public officials speak in these ways, they undermine public trust and frustrate the publics ability to hold the government accountable for its performance. But they dont necessarily violate any particular persons constitutional rights, making lawsuits challenging at best. In other words, just because the governments lies hurt us does not always mean that they violate the Constitution.

There are other important options for protecting the public from the governments lies. Whistleblowers can help uncover the governments falsehoods and other misconduct. Recall FBI Associate Director Mark Felt, Watergates Deep Throat source for The Washington Posts investigation, and Army Sgt. Joseph Darby, who revealed the mistreatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib. And lawmakers can enact, and lawyers can help enforce, laws that protect whistleblowers who expose government lies.

Legislatures and agencies can exercise their oversight powers to hold other government officials accountable for their lies. For example, Senate hearings led Sen. McCarthys colleagues to formally condemn his conduct as contrary to senatorial traditions and ethics.

In addition, the press can seek documents and information to check the governments claims, and the public can protest and vote against those in power who lie. Public outrage over the governments lies about the war in Vietnam, for example, contributed to Lyndon Johnsons 1968 decision not to seek reelection. Similarly, the publics disapproval of government officials lies to cover up the Watergate scandal helped lead to Richard Nixons 1974 resignation.

It can be hard to prevent government officials from lying, and difficult to hold them accountable when they do. But the tools available for doing just that include not only the Constitution but also persistent pushback from other government officials, the press and the people themselves.

[ Deep knowledge, daily. Sign up for The Conversations newsletter. ]

Helen Norton, Rothgerber Chair in Constitutional Law, University of Colorado Boulder

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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Raw Story is independent. You wont find mainstream media bias here. Unhinged from billionaires and corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click to donate by check.

then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism and were investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnstons DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. Weve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. Weve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You wont find mainstream media bias here. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.

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Can the Constitution stop the government from lying to the public? - Raw Story

Deported Activist Files Suit Demanding Return to New York – The Intercept

A New York City immigration rights activist who was deported by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in 2018 filed a lawsuit in federal court in Brooklyn on Thursday morning, alleging that he was targeted for deportation because of his political speech. Jean Montrevil said his removal from the U.S. was in violation of his First Amendment rights and demanded that the government return him to his home in New York from Haiti.

The suit brought by Montrevil, 51, a founding member of the New Sanctuary Coalition of New York City, builds on a significant ruling last spring by the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in the case of a former colleague, activist Ravi Ragbir. In Ragbirs case, the court found that ICEs moves against Ragbir in early 2018 were intended as retaliation for Ragbirs political speech and thus, violated his rights under the First Amendment.

Its only once he began speaking out as an activist that his real problems with ICE began.

Ragbirs suit revolved around surveillance, intimidation, and an attempted deportation foiled only by an emergency court order, all in January 2018. Montrevils record of being threatened for his activism goes back further, stretching over a decade. And while Ragbir was able to narrowly escape deportation, Montrevil was not in large part, he alleges, because of an elaborate and carefully planned conspiracy of official lies and misconduct that deprived him of access to courts, his lawyer, and his due-process rights just long enough to get him on a plane out of the country.

Since 2005, Jean was, like nearly a million other people, living under an order of supervision, which allowed him to live in the U.S. with authorization, said Lauren Wilfong, one of the advocates representing Montrevil. Its only once he began speaking out as an activist that his real problems with ICE began.

Montrevils friends and family describe the trajectory of his life as precisely the sort of story of redemption and growth that is demanded of people convicted of crimes. They say hisadult life was characterized by the industry, community building, and love that this country valorizes in its immigrants. In their eyes, Montrevils deportation is a double-jeopardy punishment for youthful crimes he long since served time for. Even more troublingly, it is punishment for daring to raise his voice to call attention to the violence and injustice of Americas immigration enforcement apparatus. Montrevils lawsuit is seeking to make the court recognize what seems plain to many who have followed his case: that his deportation was, at its essence, political the literal banishment of a dissident who challenged the government too often and too loudly.

Montrevil came to New York legally in 1986, at the age of 17, when his father, a former Haitian military official living in Brooklyn, obtained a green card for him. For Montrevil, who had grown up fending for himself in Port-au-Prince, the transition to living under the stern authority of his father was difficult. It was a bit of a shock, Montrevil told The Intercept from Port-au-Prince. He was very tough, you know, ex-military. It was hard for me to get along with him. Looking back, I blame myself for not listening.

Montrevil ran away from home and, in his telling, fell in with the wrong crowd. Over a two-year period, he racked up convictions for drug possession with intent to distribute in Virginia, a gun possession misdemeanor in New York, and a federal drug possession conviction in New Jersey. In jail awaiting trial on his Virginia charges, Montrevil got in a fight, leading to further charges. In 1989, with the war on drugs in high gear, mandatory-minimum sentences dictated meting out lengthy prison stays. At the age of 21, Montrevil was staring down a 30-year sentence. As a legal permanent resident, his convictions also made him deportable.

When he was released onprobation in 2000, Montrevil was 32 and determined to lead a different life. He took up management of a religious goods shop in Flatbush, Brooklyn. He met Jani Cauthen, a public-school aide, and they got married and had children. He scrupulously kept to the terms of hisprobationand checked in regularly for his scheduled appointments with immigration authorities. He volunteered with HIV patients through his church. And he began working with Families for Freedom, an organization that offers support to detained immigrants and their families.

Juan Carlos Ruiz, a Lutheran minister and immigration activist, met Montrevil through his work with Families for Freedom, and invited him in 2006 to help found what would become the New Sanctuary Coalition of New York City. Where Families for Freedom focuses its work on serving people caught up in the machinery of deportation, the New Sanctuary Coalition would be more outward-facing, more political, and more high-profile. Jean didnt let his fears stop him, but of course, he was concerned about the risks of becoming a public face of the movement, Ruiz said.

Those concerns proved well-founded. As Montrevils new role put him in the media spotlight, ICE responded with what he took to be retaliation. Within a year, the agency enrolled him in the Intensive Supervision Appearance Program, or ISAP, which was more ordinarily reserved for people who had failed to keep their scheduled check-ins or were otherwise considered a flight risk. Montrevil was required to wear an ankle monitor, check in with ICE three times a week, and keep a curfew of 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. Though most people at the time were placed on ISAP for short periods of time, Montrevil was kept on the program fornearly a year. The curfew crippled his new business, using a van to drive customers to airports or visit relatives upstate. The electronic shackle irritated his skin, leaving scars that he stillwears today.

ICE was definitelyaware ofhis political activism, Montrevil said. At a check-in in December 2009, as he was taken into custody as a prelude to deportation, an ICE officer referred to his media profile, calling Montrevil the one complaining to the Village Voice. As Montrevil waited in a Pennsylvania prison, his family, church, and supporters rallied round him, flooding ICEs New York Field Office phone lines and getting themselves arrested in noisy protests outside. Theres no question in my mind that Jean was being targeted for speaking out, the pastor of Montrevils church, Rev. Donna Schaper, said.

Montrevil was ultimately released, but he was given a stern warning from high up. In an unusual step, Christopher Shanahan, then the director of ICEs New York City Field Office, met with Montrevil, Schaper, and Montrevils lawyer, Joshua Bardavid. This cant happen again, Shanahan said, according to Schaper. If Montrevil would agree to lay low, Schaper said Shanahan told them, he wouldnt have any more problems. Montrevil said that Shanahan even told him that if he kept his head down, the ICE New York director would himself look into getting Montrevil deferred-action status, giving him lasting protection from deportation.

The Intercept could not reach Shanahan for comment by the time of publication. Rachael Yong Yow, a spokesperson for the ICE division that encompasses New York City, denied that Montrevil was targeted because of his activism, citing his convictions on multiple felony charges and final order of removal by an immigration judge. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement does not target unlawfully present aliens for arrest based on advocacy positions they hold or in retaliation for critical comments they make, she said. Any suggestion to the contrary is irresponsible, speculative, and inaccurate.

Shaken, traumatized, and worried about what would happen to his family if he continued to antagonize ICE, Montrevil decided to takeShanahans suggestion and step back from his activism. He stopped giving interviews and focused on his business, his church, and his family. Seven years went by, and Montrevil kept his periodic appointments with ICE without incident.

In 2017, President Donald Trump was elected on campaign promises to get tough on immigrants. Montrevil decided to take part in one of the New Sanctuary Coalitions prayerful demonstrations outside the local ICE headquarters. At his next check-in, Montrevil was detained, fingerprinted, and asked to turn over his property. Bardavid, his lawyer, showed ICE officials a paper receipt demonstrating that Montrevil still had a motion pending with the Board of Immigration Appeals, but ICE insisted thatit had no records of any open proceedings in its system. And then, as suddenly as his check-in had escalated, Montrevil was released without explanation. They just told me it had come from upstairs, Montrevil said. I think they were trying to scare me.

One of the guys said to me in the car, Dont you know we have Trump as president now? He doesnt like immigrants.'

Montrevil was given another check-in date on January 16, 2018, but ICE never intended for him to keep it. Sworn statements by ICE officials in Ragbirs case later revealed that they had begun planning Montrevils and Ragbirs deportations in October. Though they initially denied it, ICE officials later admitted that they put Montrevil, Ragbir, and the offices of the New Sanctuary Coalition under secret surveillance.

On January 3, plainclothes ICE officers who evidently knew that Montrevil regularly returned home on his lunch break arrested him near his house in the Far Rockaway area of Queens as he was returning to his car. Montrevil was taken to the local ICE office at 26 Federal Plaza in Lower Manhattan

One of the guys said to me in the car, Dont you know we have Trump as president now? He doesnt like immigrants, Montrevil said. I kept telling them I have a motion pending. They said, Anything you have pending, its been revoked.

At the ICE office, Montrevil repeatedly asked to speak with his lawyer but was told that his lawyer wasnt in the building. In fact, Bardavid was in the building, but was being told that he couldnt meet with his client. ICE moved Montrevil to detention in New Jersey but kept Bardavid in the dark at 26 Federal Plaza all afternoon, telling him that he could meet his client the next day.

Bardavid finally spoke with Scott Mechkowski, then the deputy director of ICEs New York Field Office, on January 5. We war-gamed this over and over, Bardavid recalled Mechkowski telling him, of Montrevils detention. What Mechkowskididnt initially tellBardavid was that ICE was moving his client that very day to the Krome Detention Facility in Florida. Montrevils outstanding paperwork was resolved over the long holiday weekend of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. By the time court opened at 8 a.m. the following Tuesday to consider Bardavids emergency petition, Montrevil was on a plane to Haiti that had taken off at 7:38 a.m.

ICE planned and executed Jeans removal in a way that would prevent him from accessing counsel and the courts, Bardavid concludes, in a sworn declaration attached to todays lawsuit.

Montrevils advocates in his new lawsuit, Wilfong and Diana Rosen, students in New York University Law Schools immigration law clinic, said the legal and civic issues at question in Montrevils case are critical. There are dozens of other documented instances around the country of immigration activists being targeted for deportation. This is an ongoing harm, and ICE clearly feels they can act with impunity to silence their critics, Rosen said. In deporting Jean the way they did, ICE sought to send a chilling message to immigrants who might exercise their First Amendment rights. Whats at stake with this case is really whether theyre successful in that or not.

For Montrevil and his family, there are more personal stakes as well. Montrevil said he is having a tough time in Haiti, a country he left as a boy, where conditions are deteriorating rapidly. His oldest child with Cauthen, Jahsiah, is now 16 and a junior at the prestigious Brooklyn Technical High School, but since his fathers deportation, he has been struggling and the family is worried about him. Montrevils daughter, Jamya, said she talks to her father each day over WhatsApp, when Haitis unreliable communications infrastructure permit, but that its not the same as having him present in her life. I thought he was going to come back, but he never actually did, she said. I wish people understood: When you deport someone, it doesnt only affect one person, it affects their families too.

Correction: January 16, 2020, 1:06 p.m.This story has been updated to reflect that Jean Montrevil was released from prison in 2000 on probation, not parole, and that ICEs Scott Mechkowskiinitially withheld information aboutMontrevils transfer to a detention center in Florida from his lawyer.

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Deported Activist Files Suit Demanding Return to New York - The Intercept

First Amendment Activities | United States Courts

Apply landmark Supreme Court cases to contemporary scenarios related to the five pillars of the First Amendment and your rights to freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly, and petition.

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for redress of grievances."First Amendment, U.S. Constitution

Cox v. New HampshireProtests and freedom to assemble

Elonis v. U.S.Facebook and free speech

Engel v. VitalePrayer in schools and freedom of religion

Hazelwood v. KuhlmeierStudent newspapers and free speech

Morse v. FrederickSchool-sponsored events and free speech

Snyder v. PhelpsPublic concerns, private matters, and free speech

Texas v. JohnsonFlag burning and free speech

Tinker v. Des MoinesFree speech in schools

U.S. v. AlvarezLies and free speech

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First Amendment Activities | United States Courts

The History of the First Amendment – ThoughtCo

The Firstand most well-knownAmendment of the Constitution reads:

James Madison was instrumental in drafting and advocating for both the ratification of the Constitution and the U.S. Bill of Rights. He is one of the Founding Fathers and is also nicknamed "the father of the Constitution." While he is the one who wrote the Bill of Rights, and thus the First Amendment, he wasn't alone in coming up with these ideas nor did they happen overnight.

Some important facts to know about James Madison are that even though he was born into a well-established family, he worked and studied his way into the political circles really hard. He became known between his contemporaries as "the best informed man of any point in debate."

He was one of the early supporters of the resistance to the British rule, which probably later reflected in the inclusion of the right to assembly in the First Amendment.

In the 1770s and 1780s, Madison held positions on different levels of Virginia's government and was a known supporter of the separation of church and state, also now included in the First Amendment.

Even though he is the key person behind the Bill of Rights, when Madison was advocating for the new Constitution, he was against any amendments to it. On one hand, he did not believe that the federal government would ever become powerful enough to need any. And at the same time, he was convinced that establishing certain laws and liberties would allow the government to exclude the ones not explicitly mentioned.

However, during his 1789 campaign to get elected into the Congress, in efforts to win his oppositionthe anti-federalistshe finally promised he would advocate for adding amendments to the Constitution. When he was then elected into Congress, he followed through with his promise.

At the same time, Madison was very close with Thomas Jefferson who was a strong proponent of civil liberties and many other aspects that are now part of the Bill of Rights. It is widely believed that Jefferson influenced Madison's views regarding this topic.

Jefferson frequently gave Madison recommendations for political reading, especially from European Enlightenment thinkers such as John Locke and Cesare Beccaria. When Madison was drafting the Amendments, it it likely that it wasn't solely because he was keeping his campaign promise, but he probably already believed in the need to protect individual liberties against the federal and state legislatures.

When in 1789, he outlined 12 amendments, it was after reviewing over two hundred ideas proposed by different state conventions. Out of these, ultimately 10 were selected, edited, and finally accepted as the Bill of Rights.

As one can see, there are many factors that played into the drafting and ratification of the Bill of Rights. The anti-federalists, along with Jefferson's influence, states proposals, and Madison's changing beliefs all contributed to the final version of the Bill of Rights. On an even larger scale, the Bill of Rights built on the Virginia Declaration of Rights, the English Bill of Rights, and the Magna Carta.

Similarly to the entire Bill of Rights, the language of the First Amendment comes from a variety of sources.

As mentioned above, Madison was a proponent of the separation of church and state, and this is probably what translated into the first part of the Amendment. We also know that JeffersonMadison's influencewas a strong believer of a person having the right to choose their faith, as to him religion was "a matter which [lied] solely between Man and his God."

With regards to the freedom of speech, it is safe to assume that Madison's education along with literary and political interests had a great effect on him. He studied at Princeton where a great focus was placed on speech and debate. He also studied the Greeks , who are known for valuing freedom of speech,toothat was the premise of Socrates' and/or Plato's work.

In addition, we know that during his political career, especially when promoting the ratification of the Constitution, Madison was a great orator and gave an enormous number of successful speeches. This, along with similar to the free speech protections written into various state constitutions also inspired the language of the First Amendment.

Besides his call-to-action speeches, Madison's eagerness for spreading ideas about the importance of the new Constitution also reflected in his vast contribution to the Federalist Papersnewspaper-published essays explaining to the general public the details of the Constitution and their relevance.

Madison thus highly valued the importance of the uncensored circulation of ideas. Also, until the Declaration of Independence, British government imposed heavy censorship on the press which early governors upheld, but the Declaration defied.

Freedom of Assembly is closely associated with the freedom of speech. In addition, and as mentioned above, Madison's opinions about the need to resist the British rule likely played into inclusion of this freedom into the First Amendment as well.

This right was established by the Magna Carta already in 1215 and was also reiterated in the Declaration of Independence when the colonists accused the British monarch of not having listened to their grievances.

Overall, even though Madison wasn't the sole agent in the drafting of the Bill of Rights along with the First Amendment, he was unquestionably the most important actor in its coming to existence. One final point, however, that is not to be forgotten, is that, just like most other politicians of the time, despite lobbying for all kinds of freedoms for the people, Madison was also a slave-owner, which does somewhat taint his achievements.

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The History of the First Amendment - ThoughtCo

1st Amendment – constitution | Laws.com

First Amendment: Religion and Expression

What is the First Amendment?

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The First Amendment Defined:

The First Amendment is a part of the Bill of Rights, which are the first 10 Amendments to the United States Constitution and the framework to elucidate upon the freedoms of the individual. The Bill of Rights were proposed and sent to the states by the first session of the First Congress. They were later ratified on December 15, 1791.

The first 10 Amendments to the United States Constitution were introduced by James Madison as a series of legislative articles and came into effect as Constitutional Amendments following the process of ratification by three-fourths of the States on December 15, 1791.

Stipulations of the 1st Amendment:

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits the passing or creation of any law which establishes a religious body and directly impedes an individuals right to practice whichever religion they see fit.

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution is a part of the Bill of Rights and the amendment which disables an entity or individual from practicing or enforcing a religious viewpoint which infringes on the freedom of speech, the right peaceable assemble, the freedom of the press, or which prohibits the petitioning for a governmental evaluation of grievances.

In its infancy, the First Amendment only applied to laws enacted by Congress; however, the following Gitlow v. New York, the Supreme Court developed that the Due Process Clause attached to the Fourteenth Amendment applies the fundamental aspects of the First Amendment to each individual state, including all local governments within those states.

The Establishment clause of the First Amendment is the primary pronouncement in the Amendment, stating that Congress cannot institute a law to establish a national religion for the preference of the U.S. government states that one religion does not favor another. As a result, the Establishment Clause effectively created a wall of separation between the church and state.

How the First Amendment was created:

When the original constitution was created there was significant opposition due to the lack of adequate guarantees for civil freedoms. To offer such liberties, the First Amendment (in addition to the rest of the Bill of Rights) was offered to the states for ratification on September 25, 1789 and later adopted on December 15, 1791.

Court Cases tied into the 1st Amendment

In Sherbert v. Verner, the Supreme Court applied the strict scrutiny standard of review to the Establishment Clause, ruling that a state must demonstrate an overwhelming interest in restricting religious activities.

In Employment Division v Smith, the Supreme Court went away from this standard by permitting governmental actions that were neutral regarding religious choices.

Debs v. United States on June 16, 1919 tested the limits of free speech in regards to the clear and present danger test.

1st Amendment: Freedom of Speech

Freedom of speech in the United States is protected by the First Amendment and is re-established in the majority of state and federal laws. This particular clause typically protects and individuals right to partake in even distasteful rhetoric, such as racist or sexist comments and distasteful remarks towards public policy.

Speech directed towards some subjects; however, such as child pornography or speech that incites an imminent threat, as well commercial forms of speech are regulated.

State Timeline for Ratification of the Bill of Rights

New Jersey:November 20, 1789; rejected article II

Maryland:December 19, 1789; approved all

North Carolina:December 22, 1789; approved all

South Carolina: January 19, 1790; approved all

New Hampshire: January 25, 1790; rejected article II

Delaware: January 28, 1790; rejected article I

New York: February 27, 1790; rejected article II

Pennsylvania: March 10, 1790; rejected article II

Rhode Island: June 7, 1790; rejected article II

Vermont: November 3, 1791; approved all

Virginia: December 15, 1791; approved all

Georgia, Massachusetts and Connecticut did not ratify the first 10 Amendments until 1939


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1st Amendment - constitution | Laws.com

First Amendment rights in the 2010s – UConn Daily Campus

CharlesDickensunwittingly described our current political situationwhen writingA Tale of Two Cities:It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness.

United States citizens live in an age of unprecedented rights. Our Supreme Court in 2015upheld the right for gay people to get married.Recently,civil asset forfeitureis being reconsidered, and theapparatuses supporting the war on drugs arebeginning to be dismantled.The currentgenerationhas upheldtheimportance of Miranda Rightsin Florida v. Powelland more broadly questioned the importance of the police state. Thecourts agree that speech includes the right to spend money onadvertising ideasand that corporationsalso are entitled tospeechprotection.This generation realizes that patriotism should not stifle dissent. In fact,the United States Supreme Court recognizes in Snyder v. Phelps that one isevenable tolegallypicket a service members funeral.More charter schoolsare becoming another school choicefor poorer Americansand,as a result,are producing better-educated students.The death penalty is illegal in 21 states,andthe First Step Act is a good start to sentencing reform. In many ways, were living in the best of times.

On the other hand,all is not well in theUnited States. Thecurrent president workedvigorouslyto deport millions of undocumented immigrants, wanted to use extreme vetting of Muslim immigrants and tried toencouragea Muslim registry. His efforts todecry independent mediaandhis support for the death penalty andfor unconstitutionalstop-and-friskpoliciesaredisgustingremnants of a worse time.However, thedandyDemocratsare no lesser of a poison.Rather than condemn authoritarianism, the DemocraticParty has looked toward ways of making power polite.ElizabethWarrens specific brand of economic populism callsfor wealth taxes,which will increasegovernment intrusion into the lives of citizens ina way never before seen. Additionally, Warren calls for eliminating charter schools,which primarily benefit poorer children,while ironicallysending her son to a private school. OtherDemocratic darlingslikeBetoORourke claim that theyre forcibly going to be taking guns from the American populace.

Outside the larger political scene, First Amendment rights have been largely upheldby the Supreme Courtin the 2010s.Janus v. AFSCME successfully argued that labor unions collecting fees fromnon-union members violates the First Amendment provisions relating to free association and freedom of speech.In Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, the court upheld the right of conscience relating to artistic and religious freedom. In 2017, Lee v. Tam upheld the right of trademarking an offensive name.In Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia v. Pauley, the freedom to be associated with a religious group does not make one ineligible for government benefits and thus upholds free association.Another landmark win for free expression took place in 2017 whenPackinghamv. North Carolina struck down the statute that prohibited sex offenders from accessing social media. In Arizona Christian School Tuition Organization v. Winn, tax breaks and grants were further allowed to be given to churches and other religious organizations. Furthermore, Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and Schoolv. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission established that discrimination laws do not apply to organizations selections of religious leaders. In 2012 notably, United States v. Alvarez struck down exceptions to the First Amendment relating to stolen valor.

The trend through the 2010s showsan increasingly broad look on rights. By denying restrictions on churches, free assembly, artistic freedom, etc.,we strengthen the values of dissent and discourse that allow our country to thrive.

However, outsideof the Supreme Courtthe First Amendment has fared worse.Former PresidentBarackObama actively encouraged IRS action against conservative nonprofit organizations. In 2013, journalists protested the exclusion of press photographers from news events and criticized the first amendment case of Citizens United. Thats not to say that our current president has done any better.President Trump frequently bashes the mediaas fake news andwants to change libel laws. Also, our students are increasingly hostile to freedom of speech. According to a Brookings Institution poll, 40% of students believe the Constitution does not protecthate speech. Nineteen percentof students said that physical violence is an acceptable way to deal with offensive speech,and 50% of students said the appropriate response to speech they disagree with is to shut it down.

Overall, while the First Amendment is increasingly being upheld by higher courts, the cultureand political will upholding expressionhas weakenedand needs to be bolstered.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by individual writers in the opinion section do not reflect the views and opinions of The Daily Campus or other staff members. Only articles labeled Editorial are the official opinions of The Daily Campus.

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First Amendment rights in the 2010s - UConn Daily Campus

Zick’s new book examines the First Amendment in the Trump era – William & Mary News

by David F. Morrill, W&M Law School | December 3, 2019

Writing his latest book on the First Amendment his fourth in 10 years William & Mary Law ProfessorTimothy Zickdecided to try something a little different. His new volume would be slimmer, more accessible to general audiences, and ripped from the latest headlines.

And as of Oct. 28, its also in eager readers hands.

In "The First Amendment in the Trump Era," Zick, the John Marshall Professor of Government and Citizenship at William & Mary Law School, not only examines the growing number of First Amendment controversies in the past three years, but also connects present concerns to episodes throughout American history. He also relates recent First Amendment controversies to the concept of dissent.

Indeed, dissent looms large, beginning when Zick dedicates his book to all the noisy dissenters past, present, and future.


Zick believes that dissenters deserve a significant amount of credit for doing the hard work of checking governments and influencing citizens, often at considerable cost to their own safety and livelihoods. Although he has not chosen the path of activism, Zicks First Amendment scholarship highlights public contention and dissent.

I am a true believer in the power of dissent to facilitate social, political and constitutional change, Zick said.

Zick wrote his most recent book with minimal legal jargon or extensive discussions of cases or doctrines. He wants it to be read by people whether they support the current president or not.

I think the principles involved in the lessons Im drawing to the current era are useful to know and to embrace regardless of your partisan stripe, Zick said. I didnt want to write a book that was anti-Trump so much as pro-First Amendment.

Cracks in that amendment were forming well before the 2016 election, the result of what Zick refers to as preexisting conditions. Among them were the weakening of the institutional press, heightened political polarization, the rise of the Internet and the distrust of experts and institutionsall of which the President took advantage of when the time arose.

Digitized culture gives you democratic speech cheap and efficient speech, Zick said. But it also gives you a culture that trades on instant conflict, hate and take-downs; its a very mixed bag. Zick added, Trump is an archetype of the erahyper-communicative, hyper-combative and deeply polarizing.

Witnessing increasingly strident speech before and during the 2016 campaign, Zick knew a book was imminent. He noted that candidate Trump incited his supporters to rough up protesters, promised to open up the libel laws, and even proposed shutting down parts of the Internet to thwart terrorists. Many of these themes and patterns continued after Trump became president.

As of a year into his presidency, I thought there was already enough material for a book, Zick said. And the President just kept on talkingand tweeting.

With more and more examples piling up after the publication of the book, and the possibility of a second Trump administration, Zick does not rule out a second edition with, at the very least, an updated introduction or prologue.

I dont know if Trump will emphasize new themes or issues if he is re-elected or just go back to the old attacks, Zick said, So you just might get more examples of things that I point out in the book. Even so, the presidents views on free press and speech, and those of his supporters, are worth examining.

As noted, this book is very different from Zicks previous works. His other books include, "Speech Out of Doors: Preserving First Amendment Liberties in Public Places," "The Cosmopolitan First Amendment: Protecting Transborder Expressive and Religious Liberties" and "The Dynamic Free Speech Clause: Freedom of Speech and Its Relation to Other Constitutional Rights." These books were written primarily for academic audiences. The current book is aimed at a much broader audience and is about events happening in real time.

Its happening in front of you, and that poses challenges for trying to write with some dispatch, but it also means that the book connects to current and timely concerns, Zick said.

Pondering an audience beyond the academy, Zick hopes that readers will learn about the many misperceptions people have about the First Amendment. Its one thing, for example, for a president to speak about a subject from a bully pulpit, Zick says, but its quite another for him to coerce others or regulate speech.

And then there is the misunderstanding about the press in general the idea that there is a separate Constitutional provision the Free Press Clause that gives the institutional press a broad set of rights or immunities. The reality is that the institutional press does not generally have any special rights and privileges. The press rests on far shakier constitutional ground than many Americans realize.

I think its important to remember that the press has always been both problematic and essential, Zick says. Its always had excesses like any other institution, but its also been critically important to self-government, the search for truth, and other First Amendment values.

Above all, Zick hopes readers learn about the value of dissent. He notes that noisy dissent has long been considered part of the American ethos, but the reality is that the citizenry have an increasingly low tolerance for opinions that they dont agree with, from those who attend Trump rallies to students on college campuses.

Although headlines seem more clamorous as a new election looms, Zick nevertheless feels cautiously optimistic, particularly given the evidence that people still exercise their right to disagree and disrupt. He cites as examples the March for Life, the Womens March after the 2016 election, and protests at airports after the initiation of the Muslim travel ban.

These were pockets that suggest dissent is very much alive, and people havent caved into efforts to suppress public contention, Zick said.

Early reviews of "The First Amendment in the Trump Era" have been favorable. Geoffrey R. Stone, the Edward H. Levi Distinguished Service Professor of Law at the University of Chicago Law School, says the book makes a truly important contribution to our understanding of the contemporary First Amendment. Nadine Strossen, the John Marshall Harlan II Professor of Law at New York Law School and past president of the ACLU, calls the book a must read and says, Zicks book shows how the lessons of the past can helpfully guide us through the unique First Amendment challenges we face today.

Zick says his next project might be about public protests. In the meantime, he is enjoying talking about his latest book and sharing it with others.

I have friends and neighbors who are reading it, and asking questions, Zick says. Those conversations have been gratifying, and I hope others will learn about the First Amendment by reading the book.

Zick graduatedsumma cum laudefrom Indiana University andsumma cum laudefrom Georgetown University Law Center, where he received the Francis E. Lucey, S.J. Award for graduating first in his class. While at Georgetown, he was a Notes and Comments editor of theGeorgetown Law Journal. Following law school, he was an associate with the law firms of Williams and Connolly in Washington, D.C., where he assisted in the defense of congressional term limits in the Supreme Court of the United States, and Foley Hoag in Boston.

Zick served as a law clerk to the Honorable Levin H. Campbell of the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. He also served as a trial attorney in the Federal Programs Branch of the United States Department of Justice, where he defended the constitutionality and legality of a variety of federal programs and statutes.

A frequent commentator in local, national, and international media regarding public protests and other First Amendment concerns, Zick testified before Congress on the Occupy Wall Street protests and rights of free speech, assembly and petition. He received the Plumeri Award for Faculty Excellence in 2011, 2013 and 2017.

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Zick's new book examines the First Amendment in the Trump era - William & Mary News

First Amendment Loses as Pipeline Industry Scores Another Win in Wisconsin – In These Times

A pincer of police closes in on the front line camp, built on unceded Indian land north of the Standing Rock Indian Reservation and in the path of the Dakota Access Pipeline, on October 27, 2016. (Image: Law Enforcement Photo / The Intercept)

A recent pair of United Nations climate reports make at least one thing clear: It is critical that we stop constructing new fossil fuels infrastructure.

Unfortunately, some people seem to have misread the warnings: On Nov. 20, Wisconsins governor, Tony Evers, a Democrat, signed a law that, instead of penalizing oil pipelines, penalizes protesters who disrupt the construction of such critical infrastructure.

The new law makes it a felony, punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 and up to six years in prison, to trespass on the property of an oil pipeline or storage facility.

The Wisconsin law did not generate in a vacuum. The bill, which is similar to model critical infrastructure legislation promoted by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), was a response to the Lakota-led uprising at Standing Rock, N.D., against the Dakota Access Pipeline, during which protesters built a sprawling camp in the pipelines path, chained themselves to construction equipment and marched onto the pipeline right-of-way to halt construction. After Standing Rock, industry groups such as Koch Industries, Marathon Petroleum Corporation and Energy Transfer Partners mounted a lobbying campaign in state legislatures across the country to advocate such anti-protest laws.

The effort has been successful. According to Greenpeace, Wisconsin is the 10th state to institute such a law, and at least 13 others are considering similar measures.

But thats not the only context that matters. The latest U.N. Emissions Gap report, issued Tuesday, made headlines with its bleak finding that because the Earths governments have failed to cut emissions in the last decade, steeper cuts are now required much more quickly if the world hopes to avoid catastrophic climate change. According to the New York Times, the report found that even if every country fulfills its current pledge under the Paris Agreement, average temperatures would be on track to rise by 3.2 Celsius above the baseline temperature at the start of the industrial age. Bleaker still, many countries, including the United States, which has begun to officially pull out of the agreement, are not on track to meet their modest pledges under the Paris Agreement.

Bizarrely, even as they pledge to reduce emissions, many signatories to the Paris climate accord continue to ramp up fossil fuel production. According to the U.N. Production Gap reportissued on Nov. 20, the same day that Gov. Evers signed the bill to squelch pipeline proteststhe Earths governments plan to extract 50% more fossil fuels by 2030 than would be consistent with a pathway to 2 C of warming and 120% more than would be consistent with a pathway to 1.5 C of warming. While the production gap is largest for coal, according to the report:

Oil and gas are also on track to exceed carbon budgets, as countries continue to invest in fossil fuel infrastructure that locks in oil and gas use. The effects of this lock-in widen the production gap over time, until countries are producing 43% (36 million barrels per day) more oil and 47% (1,800 billion cubic meters) more gas by 2040 than would be consistent with a 2C pathway.

The report goes on to explain the maniac logic countries use to justify increasing production:

Many countries appear to be banking on export markets to justify major increases in production (e.g., the United States, Russia, and Canada) while others are seeking to limit or largely end imports through scaled-up production (e.g., India and China). The net result could be significant over-investment, increasing the risk of stranded assets, workers, and communities, as well as locking in a higher emissions trajectory.

In short, if governments really did their jobs, they would criminalize pipelines, not protesters.

In response to the reports, Mitch Jones, climate and energy program director for Food and Water Action, says our most urgent task is to cut off the supply of fossil fuels at their source. He says, We have no time left to waste on neoliberal market tweaks.

Jones, however, holds out hope that the task may yet be accomplished by policy makers and political leaders. Others, especially people in frontline and indigenous communities who witness the destruction of fossil fuel extraction first hand, arent waiting on the government to act. Faced with the abdication by their elected leadership, as detailed in the U.N. reports, these communities are taking the matter into their own hands, and forging a decentralized global movementthat Naomi Klein dubs blockadiato resist, disrupt and defeat new fossil fuel infrastructure. The movement burst into international visibility on the Dakota plains, but it did not stop there. As it were a milkweed pod, the North Dakota authorities who crushed the Standing Rock camps in February 2017 succeeded only in spreading the seeds far and wide.

Given this context, the Wisconsin law and others like it should be seen for what they are: maneuvers in the climate war, made by mad men intent on strapping us all into their doomsday machine and sealing the exits.

These laws are evidence, also, of how afraid they are that the blockade-at-the-source tactics that have proliferated since Standing Rock just might work.

In These Times has been selected to participate in NewsMatchthe largest grassroots fundraising campaign for nonprofit news organizations.

For a limited time, when you make a tax-deductible donation to support our reporting, it will be matched dollar-for-dollar by the NewsMatch fund, doubling your impact.

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First Amendment Loses as Pipeline Industry Scores Another Win in Wisconsin - In These Times

First Amendment Rights of Licensed Teacher Litigated in Federal Court – JD Supra

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First Amendment Rights of Licensed Teacher Litigated in Federal Court - JD Supra

FAITH IN ACTION COLUMN: Whos free speech protecting these days? – Wicked Local Cambridge

Free speech is one of the cornerstones of American democracy. However, what are the boundaries of free speech? In the current political milieu, the protection of free speech appears to have an amorphous and wide expanse when it comes to sexist, racist, homophobic, Islamophobic and xenophobic rants on many social media platforms and college campuses.

The recent Knight Foundation survey polled high schoolers view on the First Amendment; it found that Boys and white students are less inclined than girls and students of color to agree with the statement: The First Amendment goes too far in the rights it guarantees. Whos protected by free speech calls into question what the First Amendment to the Constitution means when it states, Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech.

On Nov. 20, Cambridge Community Television held a panel discussion tackling the question titled Civil Discussion in an Uncivilized World: Are there limits to the First Amendment? Ceasar L. McDowell, professor of the practice of civic design at MIT, and Jim Braude of WGBHs Greater Boston and Boston Public Radio were the panelists.

Susan Fleischmann, executive director of CCTV, who was once a First Amendment absolutist, wanted a discussion on the topic because, under the present administration, hate speech appears to protect the offenders.

For over 30 years, CCTV has proudly served as a First Amendment forum from our community, and I have defended speech that has been personally very challenging. However, the needle has dramatically moved, stated Fleischmann.

Both McDowell and Braude agreed that today, no one would dispute that there has been a steady decline in public civil discourse. People who traffic in hate speech appear to have boundless ways of disseminating their vitriol. When challenged, they push back at their opponents contesting First Amendment protection of free speech.

McDowell shared with the audience that he struggles with where are the limits of what we can say to each other, particularly with technology. Many, like McDowell, feel that social media (sites like Facebook and Twitter) are not doing enough to counter hate and violent speech. McDowell acknowledges that people have the right to express their views and need venues to do so, but he wants to know what it means to give voice in public spaces. In other words, is ones right to free speech limited by where you are, what you say, and how you say it?

For example, McDowell shared a recent incident he experienced on a crowded train from Harvard Square to Kendall Square. Two white guys on the Red Line were deliberately talking loud, spewing sexist and xenophobic epithets. McDowell wondered if the guys had a right to speak like that on a train where people didnt choose to be in that space for that sort of speech. The incident highlighted for McDowell the need for civil conversations in public spaces that uphold a sense of responsibility to each other and the greater society. However, in todays divisive climate, We are a right space society, McDowell told the audience (meaning protected by the First Amendment), and not a responsibility space society.

Braude advised that before you query how people use their speech in the public sphere, you have to ask, How does everyone get the right to speak?" In other words, how does society democratize voices in the public sphere to create a level playing field, where no voice is drowned out by louder ones due to social capital, political influence, money or bullying.

Social media, on the one hand, have democratized voices, especially marginalized voices in society due to race, gender, sexual orientation, religion and political affiliations to name a few. On the other hand, social media has created a neo-tribalism where people connect only with those of similar views. The adverse outcomes have been the dissemination of hateful language, deliberate misinformation and a deepening disconnection from one another and society all protected by anonymity.

Both panelists are proponents of anti-anonymity on social media. Its a controversial and censored stance because opponents contest anti-anonymity limits free speech, whereas proponents argue it enforces a greater responsibility to own your words.

The lack of a civic education contributes in part to the breakdown of our body politic. McDowell suggested an antidote to the microaggressions we see on social media are micro-inclusions where institutions and community spaces, like CCTV, have people come together and talk about their rights and duties of citizenship.

In thanking the panelists and audience, Fleischmann stated: I think this conversation illustrated the dangers of backing down from a principled support of free speech, as well as the need for us to all take responsibility, not only for ourselves as speakers, but as witnesses who cannot sit idly by.

I agree with Fleischmann.

As someone who intersects multiple identities and is the target of various forms of anonymous hate speech, its exhausting to bear the weight of a bigots tongue solely.

Cambridge resident Rev. Irene Monroe is a Huffington Post blogger and a syndicated religion columnist. Monroe also does a weekly Monday segment called All Revd Up on WGBH, a Boston member station of National Public Radio.

Continued here:

FAITH IN ACTION COLUMN: Whos free speech protecting these days? - Wicked Local Cambridge