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Donald Trump Slammed Sex Assault Accusers For Votes, President’s Lawyers Claim – Newsweek

President Donald Trumps denials and lashings out at those accusing him of sexual assault and harassment while he was on the campaign trail last year were meant to corral voters and were protected by the First Amendment, making them non-actionable in a lawsuit, Trumps lawyers claimed in a court filing late Friday.

In the latest filing in the case involving former Apprentice contestant Summer Zervos, Trumps personal lawyer Marc Kasowitz, who is now also heading up the presidents team against federal probes into whether or not his campaign colluded with Russia to win the 2016 election, reiterated his clients defense that he cannot be sued in state court because of his current office from a filing in March.

Legal news site Law Newz was the first to report on the filing.

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U.S. President Donald Trump arrives for a working session at the G-20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Markus Schreiber

The latest 53-page filing, calling for a dismissal of Zervoss defamation claim, also stated that Trumps statements against the victims were in the context of a heated political campaign and therefore were protected by the First Amendment.

The allegedly defamatory statements were made during a national political campaign that involved heated public debate in political forums, the filing read. Statements made in that context are properly viewed by courts as part of the expected fiery rhetoric, hyperbole, and opinion that is squarely protected by the First Amendment.

Later, the filing asserts that Trumps statements were meant to convince the public to vote for him.

The Statements all of which were advanced during a heated political campaign to convince the public to vote for Mr. Trump, and many of which were published via Twitter constitute non-actionable rhetoric and hyperbole that is protected by the First Amendment, it read.

The filing also states that because Zervos was not specifically mentioned by Trump, who denied many accusations of sexual assault and harassment throughout the late stages of his campaign, she cannot claim she was defamed.

Zervos first claimed in October that Trump had tried to kiss and grope her in a Beverly Hills hotel room in 2007, and Trump later responded to several allegations on Twitter without specifically citing Zervos. Her lawyer, Gloria Allred, then filed a defamation lawsuit on January 17. Shes demanding almost $3,000 in damages and a public apology from the president.

“This election is being rigged by the media pushing false and unsubstantiated charges, and outright lies, in order to elect Crooked Hillary!”Trump tweeted on Oct. 15.

Trump also posted the same day: 100% fabricated and made-up charges, pushed strongly by the media and the Clinton Campaign, may poison the minds of the American Voter. FIX!

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Donald Trump Slammed Sex Assault Accusers For Votes, President’s Lawyers Claim – Newsweek

Pittsburgh attorney fought hard for First Amendment rights, individual civil liberties – Tribune-Review

Updated 20 hours ago

Ron Barber had a passion for justice, a calm demeanor and a sharp intellect a combination that served him and his clients well as he successfully argued in Pennsylvania courts for the First Amendment rights of the media and individual civil liberties.

Ron was the most gentle trial lawyer I have ever seen, said fellow partner David Strassburger, who worked with Mr. Barber on many cases at the Pittsburgh law firm of Strassburger McKenna Gutnick & Gefsky. There was no fire and brimstone in him at all. His passion came through with his intellect and the words that he chose rather than the volume that he spoke them at.

Being honest about what he was saying resonated with every judge and jury he stood before.

Ronald D. Barber, 56, of Sewickley died Thursday, July 6, 2017, at West Penn Hospital in Pittsburgh of complications from prostate cancer.

Born in Fort Lewis, Wash., on Aug. 12, 1960, he was the son of Mary Barber of Sewickley and the late Alan Barber.

Mr. Barber graduated from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law in 1988 after completing undergraduate studies at Pitt in politics and philosophy with magna cum laude honors.

He began at the Pittsburgh law firm as an associate attorney and became a partner in 2003. His career at the firm bookended a period between 1994 and 2000 when he pursued another passion teaching and served as the permanent law clerk for Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Ronald Folino.

Known for mentoring younger attorneys, Mr. Barber was an adjunct faculty member at Pitt, teaching courses on ethics, public policy and mass media.

He was a pro bono legal adviser for the university’s student newspaper, The Pitt News, where he’d served as an editor while a student.

Strassburger said Mr. Barber obtained a ruling from the state Supreme Court that settlement agreements resolving claims against public agencies in this case, a civil rights suit filed against the Westmoreland County Housing Authority should be made public, even if paid with insurance money.

He successfully argued so many of those types of issues that did not result in a lot of notoriety but served to educate the bench and others about the importance of open government, Strassburger said.

He was a member of the legal committee of the Pittsburgh chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.

If he saw there was a wrong that needed righted, that’s what he saw as a good case, said his wife and fellow attorney, Jean Novak. He was always doing the right thing, whether or not it benefited him.

During his two-year battle with cancer, Mr. Barber participated in a trial treatment in the hope, even if it couldn’t help him, it would help other people in the future, she said.

When not working on cases, Mr. Barber enjoyed hiking at Cook Forest and playing chess.

A former longtime president of the Pittsburgh Chess Club, he often visited prison inmates to teach them the game.

He thought chess was a great equalizer, and he was devoted to doing what he could to promote the game to everyone, his wife said.

There will be no viewing for Mr. Barber. A memorial service is planned for later in the summer.

In addition to his wife and mother, Mr. Barber is survived by two children, Zachary and Alexandra Barber, both of Squirrel Hill.

Memorial donations were suggested to the Look Good Feel Better Foundation, 1620 L Street NW, 12th Floor, Washington, D.C. 20036, or to Animal Friends, 562 Camp Horne Road, Pittsburgh, PA 15237.

Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-6622, jhimler@tribweb.com or via Twitter @jhimler_news.

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Pittsburgh attorney fought hard for First Amendment rights, individual civil liberties – Tribune-Review

Watch First Amendment Panel Discussion Live Stream (Video) – TheWrap

With cries of fake news and violence against journalists, the First Amendment is under attack.

On Thursday, TheWrap presents The First Amendment in the Age of Trump, an evening devoted to addressing threats to free speech and freedom of the press under the Trump administration.

Following a screening of the Netflix original documentary Nobody Speak: Trials of the Free Press, there will be a panel discussion of recent threats to the First Amendment.

Watch the live stream below.

Also Read: Debating the Threat to Free Speech: Join TheWrap’s Panel and Screening on Thursday

The film explores the invasion of privacy case brought by wrestler Terry Bollea, aka Hulk Hogan against Gawker.com for posting a sex tape of wrestler Bollea. The trial ended with the jury awarding Bollea $140 million, sending the snarky website into bankruptcy. It was later learned that Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel bankrolled Hogans lawyers to get revenge on Gawker for a story it had done about the billionaire.

The panel will be moderated by University of Southern California media law professor and TheWraps First Amendment correspondent, Susan Seager. Panelists will includeBrian Knappenberger, director of Nobody Speak: Trials of the Free Press; Sharon Waxman, Editor-in-Chief of TheWrap; and others.

Subjects explored include:

Attorney Lisa Bloom, TheWrap founder Sharon Waxman, Emmy-winning actress Cynthia Nixon, actress Judith Light, and producer Paula Wagner attend the Power Women Breakfast NYC on June 29, 2017.

TheWrap founder Sharon Waxman and Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad attend Power Women Breakfast NYC.

Shelley Zalis, CEO of The Female Quotient and Founder, Girls Lounge; TheWrap Editor-In-Chief Sharon Waxman and film and theater producer Paula Wagner co-hosted the 2017 edition of Power Women Breakfast in NYC.

Shelley Zalis, CEO, The Female Quotient and Founder, Girls Lounge moderated a discussion at Power Women Breakfast.

Moj Mahdara, CEO of Beautycon Media, speaks at Power Women Breakfast NYC

Ibtihaj Muhammad, best known as the first U.S. Olympic athlete to wear a hijab during the games, speaks at the Power Women Breakfast in New York.

Attendees at Power Women Breakfast NYC.

“Friends From College” star Annie Parisse and “Sex and the City” alum Cynthia Nixon attend the Power Women Breakfast in New York.

Jenna Leigh Green, star of “Wicked,” attends the Power Women Breakfast in NYC.

Letitia James, Public Advocate for New York City, speaks atthe Power Women Breakfast in NYC.

Actress Lois Robbinsattends the Power Women Breakfast in NYC.

Sharon Waxman, Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad, attorney Lisa Bloom, and Oscar-Winning documentarian Laura Poitras pose on the red carpet of the Power Women Breakfast NYC.

“Orange Is the New Black” star Emma Myles attends the Power Women Breakfast in NYC.

Charity representatives Lisa Winjum and Sarah Haacke Byrd attend Power Women Breakfast benefitingJoyful Heart Foundation.

Rachel Bay Jones, a recent Tony winner for “Dear Evan Hansen,” attends the Power Women Breakfast NYC.

Producer and Co-host of the Power Women Breakfast Paula Wagner stops for a photo on the step and repeat.

Muhammad at Power Women Breakfast NYC.

U.S. fencer and Olympian Ibtihaj Muhammad talks about being a Muslim woman in a post-Obama world.

Cynthia Nixon and others at Power Women Breakfast NYC.

Attendees at Power Women Breakfast NYC.

Attendees at Power Women Breakfast NYC.

Attendees at Power Women Breakfast NYC.

Attendees at Power Women Breakfast NYC.

Moj Mahdara, CEO of Beautycon Media, talks why she doesn’t need to wear make-up to run a beauty business.

Beautycon Media CEO Moj Mahdara chats about why Generation Z is so important to brands.

Shelley Zalis chats one on one with Moj Mahdara.

Beautycon Media CEO Moj Mahdara at Power Women Breakfast NYC.

Attendees at Power Women Breakfast NYC.

Attendees at Power Women Breakfast NYC.

Attendees at Power Women Breakfast NYC.

Attendees at Power Women Breakfast NYC.

Attendees at Power Women Breakfast NYC.

Cynthia Nixon, currently starring on Broadway in “The Little Foxes,” compared her play with the Trump family.

Cynthia Nixon revealed she would “of course” be interested in another “Sex and the City” movie.

TheWrap founder ttSharon Waxman interviews Cynthia Nixon at the Power Women Breakfast NYC on Thursday.

Attendees at the Power Women Breakfast.

Women at the Power Women Breakfast NYC

A SAG-AFTRA board member attends Power Women Breakfast NYC.

Power Women Breakfast NYC.

Attendees at Power Women Breakfast NYC.

Attendees at Power Women Breakfast NYC.

Gail Becker reacts to Power Women Breakfast NYC.

Attorney Lisa Bloom said she receives death threats for standing up for women’s rights.

Oscar-winning documentarian Laura Poitras talks about being on the NSA watch list.

Activist and attorney Lisa Bloom joins the game-changers panel at Power Women Breakfast NYC.

“Citizenfour” filmmaker Laura Poitras talks fear and being on the right side of history.

New York City Public Advocate Letitia James hinted at a future mayoral run.

Power Women Breakfast NYC.

Power Women Breakfast NYC.

Attorney Lisa Bloom and NYC Public Advocate Letitia James speak at Power Women Breakfast NYC on Thursday.

Lisa Bloom with daughter attorney Sarah Bloom at Power Women Breakfast NYC.

Power Women Breakfast NYC, game-changers panelists: Sharon Waxman, Lisa Bloom, Letitia James, and Laura Poitras.

Sarah Haacke Byrd attends as representative of Joyful Heart Foundation, beneficiary of TheWrap’s Power Women Breakfast.

Charity auction at Power Women Breakfast NYC with designer Rachel Simone

Charity auction at Power Women Breakfast NYC.

Charity auction at Power Women Breakfast NYC.

Attendee at Power Women Breakfast NYC.

Charity auction at Power Women Breakfast NYC.

Attendees at Power Women Breakfast NYC.

Documentarian Aviva Kempner gets a Blushington touch-up at Power Women

Attendees at Power Women Breakfast NYC.

Attendees at Power Women Breakfast NYC.

Attendees at Power Women Breakfast NYC.

SCAD Film School Dean Andra Reeve-Rabb at Power Women Breakfast NYC.

Attendees at Power Women Breakfast NYC.

Sharon Waxman at Power Women Breakfast NYC.

Attendees at Power Women Breakfast NYC.

Judith Light at Power Women Breakfast NYC.

Attendees at Power Women Breakfast NYC.

Attendees at Power Women Breakfast NYC.

Lisa Bloom and Cynthia Nixon at Power Women Breakfast NYC.

The scene at Power Women Breakfast NYC.

Lisa Bloom and author and spiritual leader Marianne Williamson

Power Women Breakfast NYC.

Power Women Breakfast NYC.

Power Women Breakfast NYC.

Attendees at Power Women Breakfast NYC.

Women leaders in New Yorks entertainment, media and business communities converge at annual gathering

Attorney Lisa Bloom, TheWrap founder Sharon Waxman, Emmy-winning actress Cynthia Nixon, actress Judith Light, and producer Paula Wagner attend the Power Women Breakfast NYC on June 29, 2017.

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Watch First Amendment Panel Discussion Live Stream (Video) – TheWrap

All Americans should care about this First Amendment case – Fox News

First Amendment cases are very much on the national mind these days, and the news from the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) is very encouraging for those who believe in strong protections for constitutional freedoms. The court delivered a First Amendment victory last week in a case involving religious free exercise, and kept alive hope for victories in two other cases where the hot button issues of same-sex marriage and abortion are involved.

First, inTrinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer, SCOTUS ruled 7-2 that the State of Missouri had unconstitutionally excluded Trinity Lutheran Church Child Learning Center from a competitive grant program to help schools, daycares, and other nonprofits install rubber playground surfaces made from recycled tires. The preschool and daycare center ranked fifth out of 44 applicants the year it applied for the grant, but was categorically rejected by the government because it was operated by a church. In ruling for Trinity Lutheran, the Court reaffirmed that all Americans should be free from government discrimination based on their religious identity.

Looking down the road, SCOTUS also agreed to hearMasterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, buoying the hopes of First Amendment advocates who argue that government should not be permitted to compel a religiously opposed individual to create a wedding cake honoring a same-sex marriage, just as a secular wedding cake maker is not required to create a cake opposing same-sex marriage.

Later this year the Court will also decide whether to hearNational Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) v. Becerra.NIFLAis a national network of more than 1,400 pro-life pregnancy centers and medical clinics. Its membership includes 135 such centers in California, and of these, 85 operate as licensed medical clinics. These clinics and centers are faith-based ministries that do not provide or refer for abortion as a matter of principle. What SCOTUS eventually decides will have far-reaching implications for people of all faiths, no faith, and of all moral or political persuasions.

In asking the Court to hear this case, the petitioners noted the California law forces licensed pro-life medical centers to post notices informing women how to contact the state … for information on how to obtain state-funded abortions, directly contradicting the centers pro-life message.

Simply stated, the issue before SCOTUS is: Can the government compel a faith-based ministry to speak a message with which it fundamentally disagrees and which violates its foundational principles?

In the case from California, pro-life pregnancy centers have challenged AB 775, the states so-called Reproductive FACT Act, as unconstitutional. When asking SCOTUS to hear this case, the petitionersnotedthat this California law forces licensed pro-life medical centers to post notices informing women how to contact the State at a particular phone number for information on how to obtain state-funded abortions, directly contradicting the centers pro-life message. The same law also forces non-medical, unlicensed pro-life organizations to give extensive disclaimers that they are not a licensed medical facility in large font and in as many as 13 languages to clients on site as well as in their ads, both print and digital, including on their own Internet websites.

The First Amendment right to free speech not only protects the right to speak, but also prevents government from compelling speech. AB 775 compels faith-based charities to speak a message that goes against their pro-life values, and it imposes massive fines upon any pro-life clinic that does not comply. Such fines would force most noncompliant clinics to close.

This might seem like only a fight about abortion and the freedoms of pregnancy resource centerswhich number over 3,000 nationwide and provide free resources such as ultrasounds, maternity care, adoption services, education, STI testing, and more to pregnant women. However, the merits of constitutional challenges should not depend on whose conscience ox is being gored. For example, SCOTUS hasrecognizedthat Americans have the right to refuse to say the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools, as well as the right to claimconscientious objectionto military conscription. First Amendment freedoms are equally as valuable to death-penalty opponents and environmentalists as they are to pro-life nonprofits.

Pro-life pregnancy centers provide a very valuable resource to our nation at no cost to the taxpayer. A 2015surveyby the Charlotte Lozier Institute established that pro-choice women themselves are pro-pregnancy resource centers and admire the services they provide. Laws like Californias stem from activist ideology, not demands by women seeking help. This provides one more reason why SCOTUS should accept NIFLAs appeal and strike down this abusive law.

The illegitimate actions of government like AB 775s coerced speech should be of concern to all Americans even those who disagree with the life-affirming philosophy of pro-life pregnancy centers. The First Amendment is among our most treasured possessions, a guarantor of our freedom and ability to live together despite our deepest differences.

Thomas A. Glessner is the founder and President of the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA), a public interest law firm founded in 1993 and committed to legal counsel and training for Pregnancy Resource Centers. NIFLA represents more than 1,430 Pregnancy Resource Centers across the country.

Charles A. Chuck Donovan is president of the Charlotte Lozier Institute, the education and research arm of Susan B. Anthony List.

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All Americans should care about this First Amendment case – Fox News

Our Love-Hate Relationship With The First Amendment – Greeneville Sun

Common practice for liberals and conservatives now is to take turns calling each other enemies of the First Amendment. The results of this years State of the First Amendment survey gave us the opportunity to consider these insults and after the numbers are crunched, who is the real enemy of the First Amendment?

Well, no one. And, everyone.

Most of our fellow citiziens, regardless of their political ideology, are quite fond of the First Amendment, at least in the abstract. The people who think that the First Amendment goes too far are a minority 22.5 percent of us. A majority of Americans (67.7 percent) think that the press plays an important role as a watchdog on government; a slightly narrower majority (58.8 percent) thinks that freedom of religion should extend to all religious groups, even those widely considered extreme or fringe.

Thats the good news: Even in a time of great political turmoil, were generally supportive of the First Amendments protections.

The bad news: When it comes down to specific applications of the First Amendment, were less positive, and also deeply divided along ideological lines. Both liberals and conservatives have certain pain points where they balk at the amount of protection that the First Amendment provides.

Liberals are more likely than conservatives to think:

Colleges should be able to ban speakers with controversial views.

People should not be able to express racist comments on social media.

Meanwhile, conservatives are more likely than liberals to think:

Government officials who leak information to the press should be prosecuted.

Journalists should not be able to publish information obtained illegally, even if it serves the public interest.

Government should be able to determine which media outlets can attend briefings.

Government should be able to hold Muslims to a higher standard of scrutiny.

Worth noting: Some of these differences in attitude may not be a direct result of whether youre a liberal or a conservative; instead, they might be circumstantial. Do more liberals support press freedoms because thats a core value of liberal ideology or because the press is a watchdog on the government, which liberals dont currently control?

Do more conservatives think that colleges shouldnt be able to ban speakers because of a greater commitment to free speech or because most banned speakers, at least in recent years, have tended to be conservative?

It will be interesting to see in subsequent years if attitudes change as circumstances change.

One thing that unites the majority of Americans right now: Most of us both liberals and conservatives prefer to read or listen to news that aligns with our own views.

Thats true even if you think that the news media reports with a bias, as most Americans do (56.8 percent). Apparently, were not inclined to correct that bias by taking in multiple and varied news sources. Instead, were more likely to double down on the news that fits in with our pre-existing ideological perspective.

This finding is both obvious and disheartening: Everyone likes reading and hearing news that confirms what they already believed. Thats one of the factors that keep us so divided.

The writer is executive director of the First Amendment Center of the Newseum Institute. Contact her via email at lnott@newseum.org. Follow her on Twitter at @LataNott.

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Our Love-Hate Relationship With The First Amendment – Greeneville Sun

RIAA Trashes Its Legacy As 1st Amendment Supporter, Cheers On Global Internet Censorship [Op-Ed] – hypebot.com

Although the RIAA used to function as a major force in safeguarding free speech and the First Amendment, the organization has of late taken a different direction, and become noticeably wish-washy on the issue of free speech, and in some instances seems even to be championing censorship.

_________________________

Guest post by Mike Masnick of Techdirt

It appears that many people don’t remember this, but the RIAAused to bea major force in protecting free speech and the First Amendment. It had many good reasons to do so, after all, since free speech is very important to all of the artists that the RIAA’s labels work with. Artistic expression — especially in the musical realm — has frequently come under attack by politicians and, for decades, the RIAA was actually a really important player in standing up for the First Amendment. See, for example, this 1992 article in the LA Times from then RIAA President Jason Berman, in whichhe lists out all the waysthat the RIAA has been fighting censorship. Yes, these are all specific in protecting musicians, but they were some really important First Amendment arguments to be made in these areas:

And that’s just one article — the first I found via a quick Google search. If you were interested in these issues in the 1980s, the RIAA was very involved in protecting the First Amendment.

So it’s fairly ridiculous (if entirely expected) that the modern RIAA is destroying that historic legacy of protecting free speech by now cheering on global internet censorship. As we’ve discussed, Canada recently launched ahorrific attack on free speech, by saying that it can issue injunctions blocking entire sitesgloballyon mere accusations of infringement. Let’s repeat that: the Canadian court is saying that, even before a trial has determined if there is actual infringement, it can order sites (in this case Google) to blockentire websites(not just pages involved in the infringement) — and that it can do so globally. As we pointed out, this precedent is horrifying. What will happen when China demands all stories about Tiananmen Square be blocked globally? Or what happens when Saudi Arabia or Iran demands that pages supporting democratic reforms or LGBTQ rights must be taken down globally?

And yet, rather than condemn an overly broad ruling that will lead to global censorship, the RIAA sullied its own historical legacy andcheered on this global censorship ruling, claiming that it was “a win.”

These days, the bosses at the RIAA have got so much “piracy-on-the brain” that they seem completely unable to (1) stick to a principled position on the First Amendment or (2) see how cheering on global censorship might come back to bite them as well.

See more here:

RIAA Trashes Its Legacy As 1st Amendment Supporter, Cheers On Global Internet Censorship [Op-Ed] – hypebot.com

STASI: Even Trump can’t body-slam the First Amendment – New York Daily News

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Tuesday, July 4, 2017, 2:05 PM

On the verge of Independence Day, President Trump took time out from his busy schedule of press suppression and destruction of the First Amendment to exercise his right of free speech for himself.

He posted what appears to be a slightly altered video created originally by extreme Reddit user/bigot HanA——Solo who has a history of posting racist, violence-laden filth.

Until our President tweeted out the altered WWE video, HanA——Solo had been fairly obscure, rutting around on the darkest of fringes with hateful posts on his subreddit feed filled with violence, racism and bigotry of every kind.

Jonathan A. Greenblatt, the Anti-Defamation League CEO, called him out as an individual who “traffics in online hatred and at times violent rhetoric, has created an image labeling CNN journalists with Stars of David and has written about stabbing Muslims among other violent rhetoric.”

Celebrities slam President Trumps CNN WrestleMania tweet

Now the creep is a celeb among the hateful, all thanks to Donald Trump and thanks to freedom of speech.

For guys including the President who hate free speech, they certainly know how to use it to their advantage.

Shortly, Trump will head to Hamburg for the G20 where he’ll meet with his friend/not friend Vlad the Impaler Putin where he can get some tips from a real pro. Putin is a master at dismantling the independent media, jailing freethinkers, and when all else fails, poisoning critics.

We don’t do that. Yet.

Reddit troll takes credit for altered gif of Trump-CNN brawl

Recently I gave a speech sponsored by the Civil Liberties Union about how in 1733, a German immigrant named John Peter Zenger printed a publication titled The New York Journal. He was sued for libel for daring to criticize abusive, corrupt royal governor William Cosby. (No, not that Bill Cosby.)

Zenger’s wife kept printing the paper anyway and Andrew Hamilton signed on as Zenger’s lawyer.

Even though it was against the law at the time to print anti-government publications, he was found not guilty. Thus began the quest for America’s most important freedom the First Amendment, which we are NOW, after 228 years, truly in danger of losing.

That’s why the First Amendment freedom of the press, speech, religion, assembly and the right to petition the government comes first before all others.

Trump tweets edited clip of himself at WrestleMania punching CNN

The President is now at war with the press despite declaring “I love the First Amendment! Nobody loves it better than me.” If you remember, he tweeted this out just before arbitrarily barring several publications from the daily White House press briefings and even trying to get away with making the use of video verboten.

Declaring his love of the First Amendment by warring against it is as dumb as Gov. Christie lying that he didn’t get any sun on the beach that was closed to taxpayers before getting busted.

How can any American, no matter how far to the right, think attempted suppression of the press is OK? It’s never OK to bar or try to suppress information in a free society. It’s what our ancestors died for. It’s what we should at least be willing to fight for.

When it comes to this, our most important freedom, Trump is nothing more than Putin with a shirt on.

ADL slams Reddit troll behind CNN-Trump clip for racist comments

And it’s not funny. Anymore.

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STASI: Even Trump can’t body-slam the First Amendment – New York Daily News

First Amendment Issues in the News – Legal Reader (blog)

There have been a number of First Amendment issues in the news recently. Some are rehashes of the same old battles, and others give us more to chew on.

Remember that one about the Christian baker and the gay wedding cake? Yep, thats one of the First Amendment issues coming around again. This fall, newly topped up with conservative darling Neil Gorsuch, the Supreme Court will hear an appeal of theColorado case. Masterpiece Cake Shop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission concerns Colorado baker Jack Phillips, who refused to bake a cake for the wedding reception being held by David Mullins and Charlie Craig. Mullins and Craig were legally married in Massachusetts in 2012.

Phillips claims that baking the cake would violate his free exercise of religion and would also constitute coerced speech. Lower courts have consistently held that baking a cake would do neither of these, but is considered to be illegal discrimination due to the couples sexual orientation. This last bit is of key importance when only 22 states have anti-discrimination laws that extend protection to gay people. On one hand, the cake fight is bigger than it first appears: its a proxy in the culture war, and will have an outsized impact on the way some civil rights issues are decided in the future. On the other hand, if baking a cake means that the baker is actually endorsing or taking part in a same-sex union, perhaps gun shop owners will one day be considered to have participated in any crimes committed with the guns they sold. Hey, its possible, right?

Next in the series of First Amendment issues is the Trinity Lutheran v. Comer decision. The Supremes came down on the side of Trinity Lutheran, the church whose ministry involved running a daycare and playground for children. Amazingly, seven of nine justices agreed (for differing reasons) that public funds could not be denied to a church simply because it has a religious mission. Although some majority-opinion justices used language meant to limit the scope of their decision, theidea that governments must provide resources directly to a religious organization has implications for many future policy fights sure to arise, including funding of faith-based education. However, if funds provided to beef up a church playground are not considered fungible in the context of the Establishment clause, perhaps similarly non-fungible funds can be provided for Planned Parenthoods public health mission, free from any involvement with the Hyde Amendment.

Its not just the Supreme Court ruling on recent First Amendment issues. A Montana state court recently decided that the USDAs checkoff program constituted a form of coerced speech, paid for by the states independent cattle ranchers. Checkoff programs are tiny, mandatory taxes paid by producers of certain agricultural commodities. These funds go towards marketing efforts that supposedly benefit the producers of that commodity. This is where ad campaigns like Got Milk? or Beef: Its Whats For Dinner come from. In this case, the Montana Beef Council used checkoff money to partially fund a commercial claiming that Wendys fast food hamburgers are made using North American beef. American ranchers rankled at having to pay to promote Canadian and Mexican beef exports. As a result, the ranchers must still pay the dollar-per-head checkoff, but non-governmental organizations will only receive a portion of the proceeds from ranchers who opt in.

One of the First Amendment issues before Congress is whether or not churches should be able to back political candidates while also retaining their tax-exempt status. House Republicans amended a spending bill to de-fund IRS efforts at enforcing the Johnson Amendment, originally signed into law by Dwight Eisenhower in 1954. While priests and pastors have always been free, as private citizens, to endorse any political position they like, this would potentially turn the pulpit itself into your Facebook feed, minus the cat pictures. Interestingly, non-Christian houses of worship, such as mosques and synagogues, dont seem to be included in the conservative liberalization effort.

Finally, lest we mistake First Amendment issues as being about the rights of all Americans to express their sincerely held beliefs, we get to those whose free speech matters most: the wealthy. Since the landmark Citizens United decision in 2010, money has been even more equated with speech than ever before. Those with wallets full of words wasted no time making sure that their shouting could be heard over those who could afford only humble whispers. In this case, our loudest citizens are insisting that an agenda that benefits them at the cost of most of the rest of us be passed post haste, or the checkbooks would close and perhaps the Republicans would lose their majority in Congress in the next election. One can only hope.

Related: Fungibility Key in Trinity Lutheran Case

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First Amendment Issues in the News – Legal Reader (blog)

Facebook Challenges Gag Order, Cited First Amendment Rights – Legal Reader (blog)

A gag order was recently issued by a U.S. court preventing Facebook from commenting about three government search warrants issued over a three-month period. The warrants were accompanied by a nondisclosure order from a District of Columbia Superior Court judge which barred the company from notifying its users about the warrants before Facebook agreed to comply. Facebook responded, challenging the order. The company cited the First Amendment and the right to freedom of speech.

Officials say that have a right to notify the three users about the warrants seeking their communication and information. They claim the users should have a fair opportunity to object to such searches. The company released the following statement, We believe there are important First Amendment concerns with this case, including the governments refusal to let us notify three people of broad requests for their account information in connection with public events.

The underlying premise of the governments investigation is still not clear. However, its been speculated that it is affiliated with protesting attempts at the Donald Trump inauguration in which 200 people were taken into custody. The warrants are tied to potential felony charges, and neither the governments investigation nor its interest in Facebook user information was secret, according to the social media king.

Facebook receives thousands of requests from the government for user date annually and complies without question. However, in this particular case, the company cited it has decided to challenge the order because it believes in the protection of the First Amendment. Those who agree with Facebooks stance say that the gag order relies on outdated laws. In April, a local judge in Washington denied Facebooks request to remove it, according to court records, but Facebook cited this was unconstitutional and has appealed the original judgment. In a June 14th order, a three-judge panel of the DC Court of Appeals ruled that an unsealed notice about the case could be provided to any groups that Facebook deems necessary and briefs in support of Facebook were due by June 30th. The government can only insulate its actions from public scrutiny in this way in the rarest circumstances, which likely do not apply here, said attorney Andrew Crocker.

The Constitution can offer adequate protection only if the targets of seemingly overbroad warrants, such as those at issue here, know their rights are under threat, American Civil Liberties Union attorneys and Public Citizen Litigation Group wrote. Arthur Spitzer, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of the District of Columbia added that the scope of the warrants served on Facebook is like a warrant telling officers to seize all the papers and photographs in someones home, so prosecutors can peruse them at leisure looking for evidence. This violates the Fourth Amendment, which requires that warrants must particularly describ[e] the things to be seized a requirement that was designed to prohibit just such general warrants.

The District of Columbia Court of Appeals the highest court in Washington for local matters is scheduled to hear the case sometime in September.

Facebook challenges US gag order, claiming free speech

Facebook fights U.S. gag order that it says chills free speech

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Facebook Challenges Gag Order, Cited First Amendment Rights – Legal Reader (blog)

BRIEF-ATyr pharma enters into first amendment to loan and security agreement – Reuters

July 5 ATyr Pharma Inc-

* ATyr Pharma says on june 30, entered into first amendment to loan and security agreement with silicon valley bank and solar capital ltd – SEC filing

* ATyr Pharma -amendment provides up to $5.0 million in second tranche of term loans may be drawn down at any time before earlier of June 30, or event of default

* ATyr Pharma – amendment provides additional $5 million in third tranche of term loans may be drawn down at any time after june 30, before earlier of Dec 31, 2017

* ATyr Pharma Inc- in connection with loan amendment, second tranche of $5.0 million was funded on June 30, 2017 Source text: (bit.ly/2sNxzaX) Further company coverage:

NEW YORK, July 5 U.S. bank regulators disclosed on Wednesday how eight of the nations largest banks would wind themselves down in the face of collapse and gave American International Group Inc (AIG) and Prudential Financial Inc an extra year to submit their doomsday plans.

* Renewable Energy Group statement on proposed renewable volume obligations

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BRIEF-ATyr pharma enters into first amendment to loan and security agreement – Reuters

David Harsanyi: Fighting for the First Amendment, not against gay marriage – The Union Leader

By DAVID HARSANYI July 04. 2017 11:20PM Last week, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case of Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips, who refused to create a specialty wedding cake for a same-sex couple in Colorado in 2012. The stories dominating coverage distort the publics understanding of the case.

No matter how many times people repeat it, the case isnt about discrimination or challenging gay marriage. But when the news first broke, USA Today, for example, tweeted, The Supreme Court has agreed to reopen the national debate over same-sex marriage. The headline (and story) on the website was worse; it read, Supreme Court will hear religious liberty challenge to gay weddings. Others similarly framed the case.

There is an impulse to frame every issue as a clash between the tolerant and the closed-minded. But the Masterpiece case doesnt challenge the issue of same-sex marriage in America. Gay marriage wasnt even legal in Colorado when this incident occurred.

A person with only passing interest in this case might be led to believe that Phillips is fighting to hang a No Gays Allowed sign in his shop. In truth, he never refused to serve a gay couple. He didnt even really refuse to sell David Mullins and Charlie Craig a wedding cake. They could have bought without incident. Everything in his shop was available to gays and straights and anyone else who walked in his door. What Phillips did was refuse to use his skills to design and bake a unique cake for a gay wedding. Phillips didnt query about anyones sexual orientation. It was the Colorado Civil Rights Commission that took it upon itself to peer into Phillips soul, indict him and destroy his business over a thought crime.

Like many other bakers, florists, photographers, and musicians and millions of other Christians Phillips holds genuine longstanding religious convictions. If Mullins and Craig had demanded that Phillips create an erotic-themed cake, the baker would have similarly refused for religious reasons, just as he had with other costumers. If a couple had asked him to design a specialty cake that read Congrats on the abortion, Jenny! Im certain he would have refused them as well, even though abortions are legal. Its not the people; its the message.

In its tortured decision, the Colorado Court of Appeals admitted as much, contending that while Phillips didnt overtly discriminate against the couple, the act of same-sex marriage is closely correlated to Craigs and Mullins sexual orientation, so it could divine his real intentions.

In other words, the threshold for denying religious liberty and free expression is the presence of advocacy or a political opinion that conflates with faith. The court has effectively tasked itself with determining when religion is allowed to matter to you. Or, in other words, if SCOTUS upholds the lower court ruling, it will empower unelected civil rights commissions which are typically stacked with hard-left authoritarians to decide when your religious actions are appropriate.

How could any honest person believe this was the Constitutions intent? There was a time, Im told, when the state wouldnt substantially burden religious exercise and would use the least restrictive means to further compelling interests. Today, the state can substantially burden a Christian because hes hurt the wrong persons feelings.

Judging from the emails and social media reactions Ive gotten regarding this case, people are not only instinctively antagonistic because of the players involved, but also because they dont understand the facts. In this era of identity politics, some have been programed to reflexively side with the person making accusations of status-based discrimination, all in an effort to empower the state to coerce a minority of people to see the world their way.

Well, not all people. In 2014, a Christian activist named William Jack went to a Colorado bakery and requested two cakes in the shape of a Bible, one to be decorated with the Bible verses God hates sin. Psalm 45:7 and Homosexuality is a detestable sin. Leviticus 18:22, and the other cake to be decorated with another passage. The bakery refused. Even though Christians are a protected group, the Colorado Civil Rights Division threw out the case. The American Civil Liberties Union called the passages obscenities. I guess the Bible doesnt correlate closely enough with a Christians identity.

Or perhaps weve finally established a state religion in this country: Its run on the dogma of social justice.

.

David Harsanyi is a senior editor at The Federalist.

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David Harsanyi: Fighting for the First Amendment, not against gay marriage – The Union Leader

Can you name the five freedoms of the First Amendment? – Minneapolis Star Tribune

Unless youre a lawyer or a student taking a civics class, it might be hard to remember that the First Amendment covers more than freedom of speech. Issues such as speech on college campuses and the rights of the press have put these rights in the spotlight recently, but the First Amendment includes three other specific freedoms beyond speech and press.

We traveled around the metro area Monday to see how many of the five freedoms outlined in the First Amendment residents could identify before the Fourth of July. A few people could name as many as three and most people did remember free speech but no one we spoke to could name all five.

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Can you name the five freedoms of the First Amendment? – Minneapolis Star Tribune

CNS Files Ninth Circuit Brief in Six-Year First Amendment Odyssey – Courthouse News Service

In a six-year First Amendment battle, Courthouse News has filed its appellate brief defending Federal Judge James Oteros finding that the court clerk in Venturamust let the press see new civil actions before they are processed.

Californias Judicial Council has tried in a number of ways to roll back traditional press access where journalists would review the new cases before they were docketed. That term is now subsumed into the word processing, the set of procedures applied to get a new case into a court computer system.

The diehard resistance by the council and clerk Michael Planet to pre-processing access contrasts with the prompt and efficient resolution of the same issue in a number of other federal jurisdictions.

Planet undervalues the First Amendment, the medias role in democracy, and the importance of access to civil records, says the 90-page brief filed by CNS lawyers late Friday before the long Fourth of July weekend.

In the preceding 74-page brief, clerk and council argued, It has always been Ventura Superior Courts policy to provide reasonable access to all civil records.

On the cases third trip to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the clerk relied on an argument made intermittently in the six years of litigation, claiming that the First Amendment right of access does not attach to civil filings until a judge makes a ruling, an event that generally comes months if not years after a new case is filed.

The same underlying issue press access before processing was quickly resolved last year in the Southern District of New York. Ruling from the bench, Judge Edgardo Ramos enjoined the state court clerk in Manhattan from withholding access while he processed the new cases.

I find that injunctive relief would serve the public interest, said Ramos from the bench. There is, of course, an important First Amendment interest in timely access.

The injunction was granted in December, about one month after CNS filed the action, and by the end of January, the Manhattan clerk had set up an electronic in-box that allowed journalists to see the new cases the moment they are filed. E-filing is required in many New York courts, including Manhattan.

Since the ruling by Ramos, eight county courts in and around New York City have set up in-boxes for the press, providing access along the same lines as federal courts.

In an earlier Texas case on the same issue, U.S. District Court Judge Melinda Harmon enjoined the Houston clerk who was withholding access while he docketed, scanned and put paper-filed complaints online.

In both cases, the litigation cost less than on tenth of the millions of dollars spent to establish prompt access in one small court in California.

In the California case, Judge Otero in the Central District ruled last year that the First Amendment attaches to new civil actions upon their receipt by the Ventura clerk. In his judgment, he wrote that the press has the right to see the new cases before they are processed, whether they are paper-filed or e-filed.

The clerk and council then appealed his ruling to the Ninth Circuit, where judges Kim Wardlaw, Mary Murguia and N. Randy Smith will hear the case.

At the same time, Otero declined a request to publish his ruling which ran 30, single-spaced pages and, in response to CNSs request for attorney fees as the prevailing party, cut the lodestar amount by 63 percent. That cut, reducing a $5 million cost to a roughly $2 million reimbursement, is the subject of a cross-appeal by CNS and explains the length of the brief.

Since then, Oteros writ has not extended very far, even within the Central District.

A small set of clerks have stonewalled the ruling, including Orange County Clerk David Yamasaki who continues to withhold access to newly filed complaints until after processing. In an action filed by CNS against Yamasaki, seeking to enforce the guts of Oteros ruling, Otero declined to take the case as related.

It was assigned to Judge Andrew Guilford in Santa Ana who tentatively ruled that it is OK to withhold the new cases until they are reviewed for confidentiality, at which time they are also processed.

As a result of that tentative, which the judge has signaled he will confirm, a new case filed in Orange County at the same time as the CNS brief was filed, late on Friday, would be considered provided to the press in a timely fashion, even if it is made available on Wednesday morning, five days later. By way of contrast,the Ninth Circuit brief was available for review upon receipt, late Friday afternoon, before what many are taking as a long weekend.

In fact, most cases filed in Orange County on Friday were withheld and will not be seen for five days. Likewise, all new cases filed on Monday in Orange County were withheld.

A few other clerks, in Santa Barbara and San Jose, for example, are also stonewalling Oteros ruling, and withholding new cases from the press while the clerks process them into their case management systems. San Jose is a paper court while Santa Barbara has put in place e-filing software by Tyler Technologies.

In courts outside California, Tyler which makes the popular Odyssey case management system provides the press with an electronic in-box, in other words access before processing.

Traditionally, reporters gathered at the end of the day in the clerks office to review the days new civil cases, a potent source of news, long before they were docketed. That was true in the Central District and the rest of the federal courts in California, as well as Los Angeles and Orange County superior courts, among many others in the state and across the nation.

That tradition has come under attack from within the Judicial Council and from its staff who wrote a definition into statewide e-filing rules that a clerk wishing to withhold access could use as justification. That rule was passed by the council over the objection of the L.A. Times and a good part of the rest of the press corps in California.

The most loyal defenders of the withholding practice have been in courts, including Orange County and Ventura, that were early adopters of the Court Case Management System, software pushed by the Judicial Council that was meant to usher in e-filing but wound up as a half-billion-dollar waste of public funds.

In their Ninth Circuit brief on behalf of the council and the clerk, Robert Naeve, Craig Stewart, Erica Reilley, Jaclyn Stahl with Jones Day, and Frederick Hayes with his own law offices, argued the First Amendment does not attach when a new civil case is filed.

Rather than impose upon state court clerks a constitutional stopwatch, which starts ticking the moment a complaint is received, this Court should hold that access to civil complaints should be considered timely so long as they are made available to the public at the time the parties see judicial resolution of the issues arising from the complaint e.g., a motion to dismiss, a summary judgment motion, or trial, they wrote.

In their Ninth Circuit brief on behalf of CNS, Roger Myers, Rachel Matteo-Boehm, Jonathan Fetterly and Leila Knox with Bryan Cave cited a long list of recent appellate opinions in support of Oteros finding that Complaints have historically been made available to the press and public soon after they are received by the court.

The clerk is also arguing on appeal that he does not know what timely access means, and so Oteros decision is too vague. But most weeks since the Oteros ruling, the clerk has provided access to every single new complaint on the day it was filed, suggesting he understands the import of the ruling and how to put it into effect.

The CNS brief also outlined a standard that provides some elasticity in the application of Oteros ruling: If complaints are not withheld pending processing and can be viewed during the hours they can be filed, the result is access soon after they are received by the court, which is timely. That will usually be the day of filing, but there may be instances where complaints are delayed without violating the injunction.

In their final paragraphs, the clerk and council argued, An ordinary person reading the injunction would not be able to determine what is meant by in a timely manner. Hence, the district courts injunction must be vacated for vagueness.

They concluded, The district courts order granting summary judgment in favor of CNS and entering a permanent injunction against Ventura Superior Court should be reversed.

In their contrary conclusion, the CNS lawyers wrote, As CNSs declarations demonstrate, there is a long history of courts making complaints and exhibits publicly available upon receipt.

But in California, a few clerks in courts that adopted the ill-fated Court Case Management System refuse to budge. Influential on and funded by the state Judicial Council, they seek to upturn history and logic by allowing clerks to treat complaints as private until after processing, judicial action, judgment, or forever if a case settles first.

Forced to spend a small fortune over six years and three appeals to right this public wrong at just one court, the brief wound up, CNS respectfully requests this Court affirm the merits order, so clerks cannot deny access until after processing.

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CNS Files Ninth Circuit Brief in Six-Year First Amendment Odyssey – Courthouse News Service

STATE OF THE FIRST AMENDMENT | Columns | thehawkeye.com – Burlington Hawk Eye

Every year the First Amendment Center of the Newseum Institute conducts the State of the First Amendment survey, which examines Americans views on freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly and petition, and samples their opinions on contemporary First Amendment issues.

The results of the 2017 survey show that, despite coming out of one of the most politically contentious years in U.S. history, most Americans remain generally supportive of the First Amendment. When asked if the First Amendment goes too far in the rights it guarantees, 69 percent of survey respondents disagreed.

However, there are ideological divisions in attitudes toward the First Amendment, with liberals and conservatives disagreeing on the amount of protection the First Amendment should provide in certain scenarios. Conservatives were more likely than liberals to believe government officials who leak information should be prosecuted and the government should be able to hold Muslims to a higher level of scrutiny. However, liberals were more likely than conservatives to think that colleges should be able to ban speakers with controversial views and people should not be able to express racist views on social media.

This year, 43 percent of Americans agreed that news media outlets try to report the news without bias a significant improvement from only 23 percent in 2016. However, a majority of Americans (61 percent) expressed a preference for news information that aligns with their own views, demonstrating that many Americans may not view biased news in a negative light. The 2017 survey also attempted to assess the impact of the fake news phenomenon. Seventy-four percent of Americans did not think that fake news reports should be protected by the First Amendment, and about one-third (34 percent) reported a decrease in trust in news obtained from social media.

Regarding freedom of religion, 59 percent of Americans believe religious freedom should apply to all religious groups, even those widely considered as extreme or fringe. The age group least likely to agree with this is Americans between the ages of 18 and 29: Just 49 percent of them supported protection for all religious faiths, compared to more than 60 percent for every other age group.

On free speech, 43 percent of Americans felt that colleges should have the right to ban controversial campus speakers. Those who strongly agreed or disagreed with this tended to be current students and/or activists (people who had participated in political actions during the past year, such as signing a petition or attending a protest) on both sides of the political spectrum. Other Americans even those in the 18 to 29-year-old millennial demographic were more lukewarm on this issue.

We were glad to find that most Americans still support the First Amendment, although its troubling that almost one in four think that we have too much freedom, said Lata Nott, executive director of the First Amendment Center. Its also troubling that even people who support the First Amendment in the abstract often dislike it when its applied in real life.

Survey conducted and supported by Fors Marsh Group, and contributing support provided by the Gannett Foundation.

Read the full report: http://www.newseuminstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/FAC_SOFA17_report.pdf

First Amendment Center

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STATE OF THE FIRST AMENDMENT | Columns | thehawkeye.com – Burlington Hawk Eye

Cake shop is pro-First Amendment, not anti-gay marriage | The Daily … – The Daily Gazette

Proponents of gay marriage gather at a rally in June 2015.

Last week, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case of Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips, the man who refused to create a specialty wedding cake for a same-sex couple in Colorado in 2012.

Yet the stories that dominate coverage distort the publics understanding of the case and its serious implications.

For one thing, no matter how many times people repeat it, the case isnt about discrimination or challenging gay marriage.

But when the news first broke, USA Today, for example, tweeted, The Supreme Court has agreed to reopen the national debate over same-sex marriage.

The headline (and story) on the website was worse; it read, Supreme Court will hear religious liberty challenge to gay weddings.

Others similarly framed the case. (And, dont worry, religious liberty is almost always solidly ensconced inside quotation marks to indicate that social conservatives are just using it as a facade.)

There is an impulse to frame every issue as a clash between the tolerant and the closed-minded.

But the Masterpiece case doesnt challenge, undermine or relitigate the issue of same-sex marriage in America.

Gay marriage wasnt even legal in Colorado when this incident occurred.

So, the Associated Press headline, Supreme Court to Decide If Baker Can Refuse Gay Couple Wedding Cake, and story are also wrong.

As is The New York Times headline Justices to Hear Case on Bakers Refusal to Serve Gay Couple, which was later changed to the even worse headline Justices to Hear Case on Religious Objections to Same-Sex Marriage.

A person with only passing interest in this case might be led to believe that Phillips is fighting to hang a No Gays Allowed sign in his shop.

In truth, he never refused to serve a gay couple.

He didnt even really refuse to sell David Mullins and Charlie Craig a wedding cake.

They could have bought without incident. Everything in his shop was available to gays and straights and anyone else who walked in his door.

What Phillips did was refuse to use his skills to design and bake a unique cake for a gay wedding.

Phillips didnt query about anyones sexual orientation.

It was the Colorado Civil Rights Commission that took it upon itself to peer into Phillips soul, indict him and destroy his business over a thought crime.

Like many other bakers, florists, photographers and musicians and millions of other Christians Phillips holds genuine longstanding religious convictions.

If Mullins and Craig had demanded that Phillips create an erotic-themed cake, the baker would have similarly refused for religious reasons, just as he had with other costumers.

If a couple had asked him to design a specialty cake that read Congrats on the abortion, Jenny!

Im certain he would have refused them as well, even though abortions are legal. Its not the people; its the message.

In its tortured decision, the Colorado Court of Appeals admitted as much, contending that while Phillips didnt overtly discriminate against the couple, the act of same-sex marriage is closely correlated to Craigs and Mullins sexual orientation, so it could divine his real intentions.

In other words, the threshold for denying religious liberty and free expression is the presence of advocacy or a political opinion that conflates with faith.

The court has effectively tasked itself with determining when religion is allowed to matter to you.

Or, in other words, if SCOTUS upholds the lower court ruling, it will empower unelected civil rights commissions which are typically stacked with hard-left authoritarians to decide when your religious actions are appropriate.

How could any honest person believe this was the Constitutions intent?

There was a time, Im told, when the state wouldnt substantially burden religious exercise and would use the least restrictive means to further compelling interests.

Today, the state can substantially burden a Christian because hes hurt the wrong persons feelings.

Judging from the emails and social media reactions Ive gotten regarding this case, people are not only instinctively antagonistic because of the players involved but also because they dont understand the facts.

In this era of identity politics, some have been programed to reflexively side with the person making accusations of status-based discrimination, all in an effort to empower the state to coerce a minority of people to see the world their way.

Well, not all people.

In 2014, a Christian activist named William Jack went to a Colorado bakery and requested two cakes in the shape of a Bible, one to be decorated with the Bible verses God hates sin. Psalm 45:7 and Homosexuality is a detestable sin. Leviticus 18:22, and the other cake to be decorated with another passage.

The bakery refused.

Even though Christians are a protected group, the Colorado Civil Rights Division threw out the case.

The American Civil Liberties Union called the passages obscenities.

I guess the Bible doesnt correlate closely enough with a Christians identity.

Or perhaps weve finally established a state religion in this country: Its run on the dogma of social justice.

David Harsanyi is a senior editor at The Federalist. and a nationally syndicated columnist.

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Cake shop is pro-First Amendment, not anti-gay marriage | The Daily … – The Daily Gazette

Fighting for Free Speech in the Age of Trump and Twitter – Fortune

When Donald Trump began to block a growing number of Americans from seeing his tweets, the Knight First Amendment Institute shot back. The organization warned the President in June that the Twitter account is a public forum, and that excluding citizens (novelist Stephen King is among those blocked ) violates the Constitution.

The argument is novel and not every legal scholar thinks it will succeed. But whatever the outcome, the dispute over Trump’s tweets reflects how free speech fights are changing in the digital age. Today, many of the legal battles turn on technology, surveillance and who should control powerful communications platforms, like Facebook and Twitter.

Fortune spoke to the Knight Institute’s first director, Jameel Jaffer , and staff attorney, Alex Abdo , to learn more about free speech flash pointsand how they intend to stand up for the First Amendment in the time of Trump.

Free Speech on Facebook’s Public Square

Jaffer is an affable, ardent 40-something with a sparkling legal resume: Harvard Law Review, clerk to the Chief Justice of Canada and, most recently, deputy legal director of the ACLU. Now, he has the biggest job of his life leading the Knight Institute.

The goal of the center, which opened this year as a $60 million joint initiative of the Knight Foundation and Columbia University, is to defend free speech through research, lawsuits and education. It will pay close attention to technology.

New technology has transformed the landscape. A lot what used to take place in the public square now takes place on proprietary networks,” Jaffer says, pointing to the influence of Facebook and other social media companies on politics.

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Today, these companies have more influence than traditional news outlets. Yet they are less willing to take up the torch when it comes to fighting for the First Amendment in court. Unlike the newspapers that foughtand wonmany landmark First Amendment cases at the Supreme Court in the 1970s and 80s, tech firms are absent from many big free speech fights.

What’s more, Jaffer worries the likes of Twitter and Facebook possess too much power over what people can hear and say in the first place. And when it comes to challenging them, it’s an uphill legal fight since they are private companies , which are not subject to the First Amendment.

But that doesnt mean its not a free speech issue. Its probably the most important free speech issue of our agethe power of social media companies over the speech we are allowed to hear, says Jaffer.

This why controversies like the one over Donald Trump blocking citizens from seeing his tweets are so important. They involve traditional free speech concernsthe President could never block people from seeing a government web siteand new social media technology.

In July, following another social media rant by the President, the Knight Institute’s case that social media is subject to the First Amendment got a little stronger:

Speech in the age of Surveillance

While social media companies control over public discourse is a major threat to free speech, its hardly the Institute’s only concern. Another worry is creeping surveillance technology and the government’s ability to obtain enormous amounts of informationincluding our location right from the devices in our pockets.

Jaffer fears that increased ability of governments to spy produces a chilling effect. If people know their phones can be tracked, or their contents seized and extracted, they may be less willing to speak freely or criticize the government.

Meanwhile, even as the government expands its surveillance powers, it is getting more adapt at using laws to silence journalism and cover up its own activities.

According to Abdo, the staff attorney at the Knight Institute, the Justice Department has been particularly aggressive in invoking the Espionage Age to threaten reporters. In doing so, he says, it is using unproven legal theories to undermine the ability of journalists to talk to sources and conduct important reporting.

No court has decided how broadly that statute reaches or if it reaches as broadly as the government says it does, and if it violates the First Amendment, says Abdo.

In response, the Knight Amendment intends to advance the legal cause of whistleblowers. Specifically, Abdo says it will make a case that the First Amendment offers a shield for journalists and others who reveal information in the public interest.

Jaffer adds that the Institute will also focus on so-called structural litigation, which aims to reform government practices that stymie free speech and access to documents.

One such example is the growing number of current and former government workers who are subject to security clearance, which bars them from speaking without prior permission. The restraints may be sensible in the context of sensitive intelligence or military operations. But today more than 5 million Americansmany of whom possess little in the way of classified informationare subject to this censorship.

Its the largest system of prior restraints still in place in the United States. We think its unconstitutional, says Jaffer.

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Fighting for Free Speech in the Age of Trump and Twitter – Fortune

Carol Stark: Survey says First Amendment still in high regard – Joplin Globe

Its a report that I have been reading every year since its inception in the late 1990s, and while it might not be on your radar, I highly recommend the annual State of the First Amendment.

This is the 20th survey in this series, and the report is compiled after a survey by the First Amendment Center of the Newseum Institute.

Many years ago, I was part of a group of journalists who visited with those who conduct the survey.

They asked us some of the questions. It was interesting how even journalists sometimes had issues with the amendment that is virtually the only license we need to do our jobs.

First, as a refresher, heres 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.

While it may seem simple and straightforward, the First Amendment and how it can be applied is often misconstrued and often debated.

Here are a few of the questions on the survey. Before you leap ahead, try answering them for yourself.

Question 1: The First Amendment became part of the U.S. Constitution more than 225 years ago.

Based on your own feelings about the First Amendment, please answer whether you agree ordisagree with the following statements: TheFirst Amendment goes too far in the rights it guarantees.

Question 2:It is important for our democracy that the news media act as a watchdog on government.

Question 3:Overall, the news media tries to report the news without bias.

Question 4: In general, do you prefer news information that is aligned with your own views?

So how do your views line up with those of the more than 1,000 people surveyed in May of this year? By the way, this is the first year question four has been on the survey.

If youve jotted down your answers, read away for a comparison.

Twenty-three percent of those surveyed said they agreed that the First Amendment goes too far in protecting rights. In 1999 when the question was asked, 28 percent of those surveyed thought it went too far.

The news media still must act as the watchdog on government said 68 percent of those surveyed. That number was higher in 2004, when 77 percent agreed.

Based on some of the comments I hear, this one pleasantly surprised me. Forty-three percent of those surveyed agreed that the news media tries to report the news without bias. In 2004, only 39 percent agreed with that statement.

Question No. 4 indicates that 16.5 percent of the respondents strongly agree that they prefer news from outlets that are aligned with their views; 36.7 percent somewhat agree; 24.5 percent somewhat disagree; 17.3 percent strongly disagree and 5 percent either didnt know or refused to answer the question.

The short version of the report included interesting insight on the divisions in attitudes toward the First Amendment depending on whether the respondent was liberal or conservative.

Conservatives were more likely than liberals to believe that government officials who leak information should be prosecuted and that the government should be able to hold Muslims to a higher level of scrutiny. However, liberals were more likely than conservatives to think that colleges should be able to ban speakers with controversial views and that people should not be able to express racist views on social media.

Its a timely read in advance of the Fourth of July. Go towww.newseuminstitute.org/first-amendment-center/state-of-the-first-amendment to take a look for yourself.

As for me, I feel honored to be a part of a profession that exists because of the foresight of the Founding Fathers. A nation without a free press simply would not be America.

Carol Stark is the editor of the Globe. Her email address is cstark@joplinglobe.com.

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Carol Stark: Survey says First Amendment still in high regard – Joplin Globe

Editorial: First Amendment means free people have free expression – Omaha World-Herald

The U.S. Constitutions Bill of Rights rightly gives robust protections to Americans free expression of ideas, even when those thoughts are out of the mainstream or repulsive.

Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black summed up that vital concept in 1961 when he wrote that the right to expression under the First Amendment must be accorded to the ideas we hate, or sooner or later they will be denied to the ideas we cherish.

That principle received worthwhile discussion and elaboration recently when the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the importance of preserving free speech rights on college campuses.

First Amendment experts offered thoughtful observations on the enduring importance of promoting free thought and expression.

Floyd Abrams, a lawyer with a background in First Amendment cases, said the proper approach cannot be to limit expression but to discuss it not to bar offensive speech, but to answer it. Or to ignore it. Or to persuade the public to reject it. . . . What is unacceptable is to suppress the speech.

Eugene Volokh, a law professor at the University of California Los Angeles, said, To let hecklers and thugs generally control what is said on campus . . . is an abdication of the universities responsibility to educate to teach their students about the importance of responding to speech with arguments and not with suppression. . . .

Outside the university, when youre trying to persuade voters whom you cant threaten with expulsion or firing, you need to know how to listen and rebut even views that you find wrong even disgusting. That takes practice and what better place for that practice than a university, an institution that is supposed to be all about ideas, debate, reasoning and arguments? Precisely.

J. Richard Cohen, president of the Southern Poverty Law Center which is studying hate groups, said his organization is sometimes contacted for advice by students who want to take a stand against a campus speaker they consider offensive.

We suggest creating an alternative event, Cohen said, to provide an open and accepting space for those who want to promote unity rather than divisiveness. We tell leaders that it is their obligation to communicate to their community that they stand for the values of inclusion, pluralism and respect.

The nations universities, Cohen said, should be places where students learn to dissent in thoughtful and constructive ways. To do so is to uphold societys highest ideals.

The principles explained by those testifiers dont mean that every idea is worthy or admirable. The point, rather, is that society is best served by open, energetic debate in which arguments are rigorously tested. Such debate exposes mistaken, outlandish or abhorrent ideas to the light and makes them vulnerable to rebuttal and, as needed, ridicule.

Theres another reason why Americans should hold tight to First Amendment principles: We live in a lamentably polarized society. Many people isolate themselves within their political tribe and are so disdainful of the other side that they see little value in engaging in serious debate.

Such thinking undermines productive discussion of key issues. It also harms the country by preventing us from seeing ourselves as one people.

Our society is well served when we encourage strong, open debate under the First Amendment. Our institutions of higher learning need to be unwavering in promoting free expression and the defense of free speech.

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Editorial: First Amendment means free people have free expression – Omaha World-Herald

Pink Slime: The Latest Battle over the First Amendment – MediaFile

In yet another case trying the first amendment, ABC settled a $1.9 billion libel lawsuit from Beef Products Inc (BPI) in a state court in Elk Point, South Dakota on Wednesday. The suit stemmed from a 2012 story from ABCs World News, in which the broadcast repeatedly used the term pink slime to refer to lean, finely textured beef (LFTB).

BPI claimed the story, which highlighted the production LFTB and its USDA approval process, defamed the company and their beef product, which was at one point found in 70% of all ground beef from around the country. As a result of the story, BPI claimed they were forced to shutter three of their plants, and lay-off hundreds of employees, resulting in billions of dollars in damages.

The case had the potential to be one of the largest defamation suits in Americas history, due in large part to South Dakotas Agricultural Food Products Disparagement Act, which allows claimed damages to be tripled. This meant that BPIs 1.9 billion dollar claim could have resulted in a 5.7 billion dollar pay-out for ABC.

While the BPI case had been loitering in various courts for the past five years, the settlement earlier this week marks the third such high-profile libel case in recent years.

In 2016, a Florida jury found Gawker media guilty in a case stemming from the sites decision to publish wrestler Hulk Hogans sex tape. In November, a Virginia jury found the Rolling Stone guilty in their explosive 2014 report A Rape on Campus.

These cases come at a time in which the media is increasingly working against the court of public opinion, in a climate where fake news is a buzzword, and under a president who has been making headlines over the past week due to his attacks on journalists and news organizations.

Its this pernicious environment that has many first amendment lawyers concerned.

Part of it is the current political climate, said Alan Chen, a first amendment lawyer and professor of constitutional law at the University of Denver. Theres this wholesale onslaught against the media as sort of an untrustworthy institution. Sometimes the plaintiffs are bringing these cases in places where the juries are likely to be sympathetic with the businesses.

Indeed, ABC did attempt to persuade a judge that the case should not be heard in a South Dakota state court, largely because federal courts are viewed as more sympathetic to media organizations.

Chen argues that in a town like Elk Point, it would be difficult for ABC to get a fair shake.

The plaintiff is big employer. ABC is an outsider and an East coast news entity. Theres going to be bias because ABC is being accused of defaming an important employer, said Chen.

Further, Union County (the county in which Elk Point sits) went 67% for Trump who has repeatedly targeted news organizations in recent months and more intensely in recent days.

Though the terms of the settlement arent clear, the potential payout from the lawsuit was enough to prompt the Disney Corporation (ABCs parent company) to include the lawsuit on their 10-Q report, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Such a move indicates that the company believed the suit was potentially damaging enough to have a material impact on their bottom line.

Its that sort of belief that has scholars like Chen concerned. If a libel lawsuit has the possibility to impact the bottom line of a multi-billion dollar corporation like Disney, the potential impacts on a smaller media organization could be catastrophic.

Still, in most cases, the larger company does not carry an incentive to be very careful about what to report and how to report it. Even with will resourced companies, its hard to imagine there wouldnt be some hesitance to publish certain stories, said Chen. The downside of this is that I think they will start to censor themselves out of potential fears. Think about a much smaller entity. With much fewer resources theyre going to even be more hesitant.

The first amendment battles are far from over for the media, however. On Tuesday, former Alaska governor Sarah Palin filed a defamation lawsuit against the New York Times for their recent op-ed. Battles for the press may very well migrate from the Twittersphere to courtrooms, affecting constitutional press rights and how business is done within these organizations.

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Pink Slime: The Latest Battle over the First Amendment – MediaFile


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