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How far do the First Amendment’s protections go when it comes to hate speech? – The San Diego Union-Tribune

As a journalist, I like to think I know a little something about the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Like most students in the United States, I studied the Bill of Rights in grade school and learned the First Amendments protections by rote: freedom of speech, religion, assembly, petition and the press. (That last one is now my bread and butter.)

In later years, I dove a little deeper by reading landmark U.S. Supreme Court decisions in college like Tinker v. Des Moines Independent School District, in which the court found in 1969 that black armbands worn to protest the Vietnam War were protected symbolic speech.

That was the same year the court decided Brandenburg v. Ohio, and determined that government could not punish public speech, including that of KKK leader Clarence Brandenburg at a 1964 Klan rally, unless it is directed at inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to spur such action.

Im no constitutional scholar, but I do know that protections exist even for hateful speech, the kind reported extensively in the aftermath of the white nationalist rally last weekend in Charlottesville, Va., where ensuing violence claimed the life of 32-year-old counter-protester Heather Heyer.

Even though most Americans would agree that the racist rhetoric spewed by Neo-Nazis, the KKK and other hate groups is vile and unsettling, many of us would likely also agree that it, too, must be shielded by the First Amendment to avoid creating an environment ripe for censorship and censure.

There it is, folks, the slippery-slope argument. End of story.

Well, not quite.

Im getting sort of sick and tired of all the absolute-constitutional-rights talk. Theres nothing absolute about constitutional rights, said Justin Brooks, a professor at California Western School of Law in San Diego.

Brooks said as much in a post he shared on Facebook last week, along with a photo of tiki-torch bearing white nationalists gathered on the University of Virginia campus. He added, Hate speech should not be protected speech.

The post attracted many responses and prompted a robust debate among friends and colleagues. It also prompted a call from the Union-Tribune.

Brooks said he disagrees with the U.S. Supreme Court, which has long held that there is no general exception for hate speech under the First Amendment, but has identified a few well-defined and narrowly limited exceptions that include obscenity, defamation, fraud, incitement and true threats.

(The court) has drawn the line you have to be inciting violence in order for it to be restricted, Brooks said. What bothers me about this discussion is it doesnt recognize how hurtful some of that hate speech is. At a certain point, speech can actually cause harm to individuals.

He said he understands the fear many Americans and the courts feel about the prospect of regulating hate speech, because defining it is subjective. But he argued that it is possible to draw a narrow definition that regulates public displays of hate, based on race, gender, nationality, ethnicity and sexual preference.

There is no doubt that the hate speech promoted by the KKK and Nazis causes harm to the members of our community who are targeted, Brooks said. Therefore, it is appropriate to regulate that speech.

He didnt need social media to know his views on the subject are unpopular, particularly among others in legal community. (See: slippery slope.)

Recently, the American Civil Liberties Union represented Jason Kessler, organizer of the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, in a lawsuit to keep the far-right groups permit to protest at a downtown park.

In response to criticism, ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero wrote a statement explaining the nonprofits decision to represent white supremacist demonstrators in court. In it, he acknowledged that speech alone can have hurtful consequences, but argued that the airing of hateful speech allows people of good will to confront the implications of such speech and reject bigotry, discrimination and hate.

Preventing the government from controlling speech is absolutely necessary to the promotion of equality, he wrote.

dana.littlefield@sduniontribune.com

Twitter: @danalittlefield

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How far do the First Amendment’s protections go when it comes to hate speech? – The San Diego Union-Tribune

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

The First Amendment and Hate Groups Should They Be Free to Rally? – WDET

Courtesy of Dan Gottlieb

White supremacist groups say theyre intent on holding more rallies and protests around the country. Thats after a rally in Charlottesville turned violent, resulting in many injuries and one womansdeath.

Some universities say they wont allow white nationalists and supremacists to rally on or near their campuses due to concerns over safety andsecurity.

That includes Michigan State University, which last weekdenied a request to come on campus from a group led by white nationalist ringleader RichardSpencer.

Spencer claims thats a violation of his First Amendmentrights.

And weve been hearing a lot from these hate groups in recent months about a perceived violation of their right to free speech.

What speech is protected under the First Amendment and what isnt? Is it important that these groups are able to demonstrate as long as they dont turnviolent?

Richard Primus is aconstitutional law expert and professor at theUniversity of Michigan Law School. He joins Detroit Today to talk about thosequestions.

Nobody thinks the founders didnt think, and the courts have never thought that the freedom of speech means the freedom to say any words you want under any circumstances in any way at any time, saysPrimus.

What the government is not supposed to do is repress speech for the purpose of preventing the dissemination of an idea, he says. The questions that are most relevant in things like the Charlottesville scenario are about the line between speech thats the conveying of an idea intended to be offered to persuade people and speech that is actually a set of actions designed not to persuade,but tointimidate.

Jake Neher/WDET

ShikhaDalmia

Reason Foundation Senior Analyst Shikha Dalmia and Lansing State Journal columnist Judy Putnam also join the show to continue the conversation and talk about MSUs decision, which Putnam says put safety over bravery in a recentcolumn.

Dalmia has written in Reason Magazine about her defense of First Amendment Absolutismas well as the University of California-Berkleys decision to cancel right-wing provocateurMilo Yiannopoulos speech earlier this year after his scheduled appearance sparked violentprotests.

I dont believe in content-based restrictions on free speech, even hate speech, saysDalmia.

I think the American model of free speech is correct that the antidote to hate speech is more speech. Free speech is a great disinfectant to badideas.

However, Dalmia defends MSUs decision, largely because there was no invitation from the university or any student groups to have the group oncampus.

Click on the audio player above to hear the fullconversation.

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The First Amendment and Hate Groups Should They Be Free to Rally? – WDET

Alinsky Politicians and Press Create Dangerous Anti-First Amendment Environment – CNSNews.com


CNSNews.com
Alinsky Politicians and Press Create Dangerous Anti-First Amendment Environment
CNSNews.com
I can attest to the fear being spread. Friday night before the next day's Boston rally, a liberal friend and First Amendment lawyer colleague who knows my work for an unrelated Free Speech Coalition out of McLean, Virginia emailed: Tell me it isn't
Keller @ Large: Making A Joke Of The First AmendmentCBS Boston / WBZ
A Huge Victory For Free Speech In BostonForbes
Boston Right-Wing 'Free Speech' Rally Dwarfed By CounterprotestersNPR
Columbia Journalism Review –Metro US –Esquire.com
all 1,628 news articles »

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Alinsky Politicians and Press Create Dangerous Anti-First Amendment Environment – CNSNews.com

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 Hampshire Protests and freedom to assemble

Elonis v. U.S. Facebook and free speech

Engel v. Vitale Prayer in schools and freedom of religion

Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier Student newspapers and free speech

Morse v. Frederick School-sponsored events and free speech

Snyder v. Phelps Public concerns, private matters, and free speech

Texas v. Johnson Flag burning and free speech

U.S. v. Alvarez Lies and free speech

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First Amendment Activities | United States Courts

There’s No ‘Nazi’ Exception to the First Amendment – National Review

Piers Morgan is at it again:

Morgan is echoing an idea that has been advanced repeatedly in the last couple of days: To wit, that there is something particular about Nazism that makes it ineligible for protection under the Bill of Rights. This is flat-out wrong. And, more than that, its dangerous. Abhorrent and ugly as they invariably are, there simply is no exception to the First Amendment that exempts Nazis, white supremacists, KKK members, Soviet apologists, or anyone else who harbors disgraceful or illiberal views. As the courts have made abundantly clear, the rules are the same for ghastly little plonkers such as Richard Spencer as they are for William Shakespeare. If that werent true, the First Amendment would be pointless.

This is not a controversial statement. It is not an interesting view. It is not a contrarian contribution to an intractable grey area. It is a fact. There are a handful of limits to free speech in the United States, and all of them are exceptions of form rather than of viewpoint. Heres Eugene Volokh to explain that further:

To be sure, there are some kinds of speech that are unprotected by the First Amendment. But those narrow exceptions have nothing to do with hate speech in any conventionally used sense of the term. For instance, there is an exception for fighting words face-to-face personal insults addressed to a specific person, of the sort that are likely to start an immediate fight.

. . .

The same is true of the other narrow exceptions, such as for true threats of illegal conduct or incitement intended to and likely to produce imminent illegal conduct (i.e., illegal conduct in the next few hours or maybe days, as opposed to some illegal conduct some time in the future). Indeed, threatening to kill someone because hes black (or white), or intentionally inciting someone to a likely and immediate attack on someone because hes Muslim (or Christian or Jewish), can be made a crime. But this isnt because its hate speech; its because its illegal to make true threats and incite imminent crimes against anyone and for any reason, for instance because they are police officers or capitalists or just someone who is sleeping with the speakers ex-girlfriend.

Under the doctrine laid out by a unanimous Supreme Court in the seminal Brandenburg v. Ohio decision, incitement to imminent lawless action may in some circumstances be prosecuted. But this rule is universal and narrow, and, crucially, is in no way akin to the sort of hate speech exceptions that obtain in every other country, and that so many Americans seem to believe exist here too. Under U.S. law it is legal for a speaker to say broadly that all the Jews should be killed or that it is time for a revolution, or that slavery is good, and it is not legal for a speaker to say to a crowd, lets all go and kill that guy wearing the yarmulke, or meet me in an hour at the armory and well start our insurrection at the Post Office, or look at that black guy over there in the blue t-shirt, lets chain him to my car.Who is saying these things, however, does not matter in the slightest. Whether one likes it or not, Brandenburg applies as much to neo-Nazis as to the Amish, as consistently to Old Testament preachers as to gay rights activists, and as broadly to my mother as to David Duke. It applies in exactly the same way to good people, to bad people, and to those in between.

It is, in other words, a principle a principle that cannot be obviated by cynical word games or by thinly disguised special pleading. I believe in free speech, but or I just dont think this is a free speech issue both popular lines at the moment simply will not cut it as arguments. On the contrary. In reality, all that the but and the I just dont think mean is that the speaker hopes to exempt certain people because he doesnt like them. But one can no more get away from ones inconsistencies by saying its not a speech issue to me than one can get away from the charge that one is unreliable on due process insisting in certain cases, well, thats not a due process issue to me. This is a free speech issue. Those who wish it werent just trying to have it both ways to argue bluntly for censorship, and then to pretend that they arent.

Leaving aside that the Supreme Court has been extremely clear on this matter, time and time again (inter alia, see: Brandenburg v. Ohio, R.A.V. v. City of St. Paul, Matal v. Tam),it seems obvious as a philosophical matter that any robust free speech protections will have to be assiduously neutral if they are to be useful at all. The purpose of the First Amendment is to deprive the government of the capacity to determine at the point of a bayonet what is true, and what is not; what is good, and what is not; what is acceptable to the ruling class, and what is not. To accept this arrangement is not to suggest that one thinks the Nazis might have a point, or to imply that one believes that we need the Bill of Rights in case Richard Spencers race science turns out to be true. And, however rhetorically effective it might be to pretend otherwise,it is in no way to defend those people. Rather, it is to propose that the only effective way of preventing governmental abuses is to take away its oversight of viewpoints in toto. Moreover, it isto submit that, having been born with ahost of unalienable rights, free human beings are not obliged to ask their employees in the government for permission to speak their minds.

In a country such as this one, that means that disgusting reprobates such as those who marched in Charlottesville will be beyond the reach of the state at least until they go beyond speech and into the realm of action (which does not include carrying a torch or a flag or wearing a t-shirt, but certainly does include driving a car into another human being). Is that distressing? Yes, it is. Had I been in Charlottesville at the weekend,Id no doubt have been even more appalled than I was watching it on television.But the salient question is not whether the status quo can be upsetting, but whether it is better than the alternative. Piers Morgan believes that If America doesnt wake up to the fact that what these Nazis did in Charlottesville is not free speech . . . it is in deep trouble. It seems obvious to me that the precise opposite is true. No free speech for fascists is an incoherent, almost Orwellian, position.Happily andon a routinelybipartisan basis the Supreme Court concurs.

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There’s No ‘Nazi’ Exception to the First Amendment – National Review

First Amendment in Peril? – City Journal

In the marketplace, traditionally understood, when a company produces a poor product or mistreats its customers, it faces market disciplinenew ones come in and steal market share. Thats the theory, at least.

Too bad its not true right now, at least not on the Internet.

Google and Apple, with a combined 98 percent market share in mobile-phone operating systems, have banned Gab, an upstart Twitter competitor with a free-speech policy quaintly modeled on the First Amendment itself, from their app stores. Google cited hate speech as its reason for exclusion; Gab doesnt censor. What few people yet understand is that Google and Apple have used their duopoly status to revoke the First Amendment on mobile phones. Because the Internet is now majority mobile, and a growing majority of all web traffic comes from mobile devices, the First Amendment is now effectively dead in the mobile sphere unless policymakers act to rein in the tech giants who serve as corporate gatekeepers to digital speech.

Twitter ran into controversy last year when it was accused of censoring conservative voices. Gab founders Andrew Torba, an alumnus of Silicon Valleys prestigious Y Combinator accelerator, and Ekrem Bykkaya saw a market opportunity for a competitor focused on free speechnot just for conservatives but for dissidents globally. Last August, they launched Gab, a Twitter-like app where, according to company spokesman Utsav Sanduja, Whatever is permissible under the First Amendment is what Gab allows onto its site.

Gab grew slowly but has now reached over 200,000 usersa substantial number, though tiny compared with Twitter. It generated modest revenue through a freemium model, wherein users could pay to upgrade to a Pro level. Gab pulled off a coup by raising $1 million through crowd-funded investment. The company says that it is planning an Initial Coin Offering with its own digital currency based on the Ethereum standard. In short, Gab is a real company, with legitimate founders, a business strategy, revenue, more than 200,000 users, and seven-figure funding.

Apple and Google dont agree. Gab built an app for Apples iOS operating system, but Apple wouldnt approve it. This means that iPhone and iPad users cant use the Gab app because users cant install applications on those devices unless Apple approves them. Gabs Android app was available through Googles app store until yesterday, when Google banned it, citing violations of its hate-speech policy. In order to be on the Play Store, social networking apps need to demonstrate a sufficient level of moderation, including for content that encourages violence and advocates hate against groups of people, a Google statement read. This is a long-standing rule and clearly stated in our developer policies. While Android users can install unapproved apps, its a cumbersome process, and being kicked out of the app store reduces the apps reach.

No doubt, a number of far-right groups have found a home on Gab. I tried Gab myself when it first came out, finding it functionally an interesting mix of Twitter and Reddit, but with too many far-right users for my taste. So I dropped it. Gab also courted trouble with provocative moves like publicly announcing a job offer for James Damore after Google fired him and taunting Silicon Valley after its crowd-funding success. It also uses a green frog as its logo. Gab claims that this is not the controversial Pepe the Frog, identified with the alt-Right, but rather inspired by the plague of frogs from Exodus. Even if this is true, the logo choice seems like a deliberate provocation.

But its difficult to credit Gab as a white-supremacist site when its cofounder is a Turkish Kurd and Muslim. Bykkaya, who says Ive never supported Trump for a minute in my entire life, is concerned about speech repression in his part of the worldfor good reason, as Turkey is infamous for its violations of free speech and for locking up journalists. Gab spokesman Sanduja is a South Asian Hindu from Canada.

Gab points out that other major social-media platforms have hosted ISIS activity, and child-porn rings, facilitated drug dealing, and carried live streams of murder, torture, and other crimes. Yet all are still allowed by Google. Google itself actually hired Chris moot Poole, founder of the notorious website 4chan, known not just for offensive speech but also for the distribution of hard-core pornography. Police have made multiple child pornography arrests associated with 4chan. There remain multiple 4chan apps in Googles app store.

At a minimum, Apple and Googles decisions about offensive app behavior are arbitrary. This is a problem the market cant easily solvebecause there is effectively no market. Both the Apple and Google app stores are private markets owned by those companies, which act as their effective governments. You cannot easily start a new mobile business without their permission. If your app follows the First Amendment, theres a good chance that youll be rejected. Regardless of how one views Gab or any other application or group, two Silicon Valley companies should not be the governors of the mobile Internetwhich, in due course, may be indistinguishable from the Internet itself.

The mobile-Internet business is built on spectrum licenses granted by the federal government. Given the monopoly power that Apple and Google possess in the mobile sphere as corporate gatekeepers, First Amendment freedoms face serious challenges in the current environment. Perhaps it is time that spectrum licenses to mobile-phone companies be conditioned on their recipients providing freedoms for customers to use the apps of their choice.

Aaron M. Renn is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a contributing editor ofCity Journal.

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

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First Amendment in Peril? – City Journal

How far do the First Amendment’s protections go when it comes to hate speech? – The San Diego Union-Tribune

As a journalist, I like to think I know a little something about the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Like most students in the United States, I studied the Bill of Rights in grade school and learned the First Amendments protections by rote: freedom of speech, religion, assembly, petition and the press. (That last one is now my bread and butter.)

In later years, I dove a little deeper by reading landmark U.S. Supreme Court decisions in college like Tinker v. Des Moines Independent School District, in which the court found in 1969 that black armbands worn to protest the Vietnam War were protected symbolic speech.

That was the same year the court decided Brandenburg v. Ohio, and determined that government could not punish public speech, including that of KKK leader Clarence Brandenburg at a 1964 Klan rally, unless it is directed at inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to spur such action.

Im no constitutional scholar, but I do know that protections exist even for hateful speech, the kind reported extensively in the aftermath of the white nationalist rally last weekend in Charlottesville, Va., where ensuing violence claimed the life of 32-year-old counter-protester Heather Heyer.

Even though most Americans would agree that the racist rhetoric spewed by Neo-Nazis, the KKK and other hate groups is vile and unsettling, many of us would likely also agree that it, too, must be shielded by the First Amendment to avoid creating an environment ripe for censorship and censure.

There it is, folks, the slippery-slope argument. End of story.

Well, not quite.

Im getting sort of sick and tired of all the absolute-constitutional-rights talk. Theres nothing absolute about constitutional rights, said Justin Brooks, a professor at California Western School of Law in San Diego.

Brooks said as much in a post he shared on Facebook last week, along with a photo of tiki-torch bearing white nationalists gathered on the University of Virginia campus. He added, Hate speech should not be protected speech.

The post attracted many responses and prompted a robust debate among friends and colleagues. It also prompted a call from the Union-Tribune.

Brooks said he disagrees with the U.S. Supreme Court, which has long held that there is no general exception for hate speech under the First Amendment, but has identified a few well-defined and narrowly limited exceptions that include obscenity, defamation, fraud, incitement and true threats.

(The court) has drawn the line you have to be inciting violence in order for it to be restricted, Brooks said. What bothers me about this discussion is it doesnt recognize how hurtful some of that hate speech is. At a certain point, speech can actually cause harm to individuals.

He said he understands the fear many Americans and the courts feel about the prospect of regulating hate speech, because defining it is subjective. But he argued that it is possible to draw a narrow definition that regulates public displays of hate, based on race, gender, nationality, ethnicity and sexual preference.

There is no doubt that the hate speech promoted by the KKK and Nazis causes harm to the members of our community who are targeted, Brooks said. Therefore, it is appropriate to regulate that speech.

He didnt need social media to know his views on the subject are unpopular, particularly among others in legal community. (See: slippery slope.)

Recently, the American Civil Liberties Union represented Jason Kessler, organizer of the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, in a lawsuit to keep the far-right groups permit to protest at a downtown park.

In response to criticism, ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero wrote a statement explaining the nonprofits decision to represent white supremacist demonstrators in court. In it, he acknowledged that speech alone can have hurtful consequences, but argued that the airing of hateful speech allows people of good will to confront the implications of such speech and reject bigotry, discrimination and hate.

Preventing the government from controlling speech is absolutely necessary to the promotion of equality, he wrote.

dana.littlefield@sduniontribune.com

Twitter: @danalittlefield

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How far do the First Amendment’s protections go when it comes to hate speech? – The San Diego Union-Tribune

Equality, Justice and the First Amendment – ACLU (blog)

For all people of good will regardless of party affiliation, race, creed, or color the events that took place thisweekend in Charlottesville were sickening and deeply disturbing.

Several clear themes emerged for me this weekend. And while they are pretty obvious, I thought I would share them with the broader ACLU community, in an effort to give voice to what many of us are feeling and to spark a further discussion that will allow us to move together with greater hope and resolve through what are likely to be troubling days ahead.

While the events of this weekend withwhite supremacists holding lit torches frightened and outraged many Americans, we can never underestimate the impact of these images on African-Americans. Thatrally reflected this nations history of slavery, racial violence, and terrorism, which has left an indelible mark on our democracy to this day. As employees, members, or supporters of an organization dedicated to racial justice, we are all affected. Many of us are even more directly affected because we and our family members are the direct targets of the white supremacists. I know that speech alone has consequences, hurtful and deep, and thats why I believe its important to place the ACLUs representation of white supremacist demonstrators in Virginia in the broader context of the values and principles that have guided this organization for nearly a century.

First, the ACLU unequivocally rejects the ideology of white supremacists and we work actively with all our might to oppose that ideology in diverse communities across the country and to defend the right of all Americans to speak out against those views. By budget allocation, the national ACLUs top issue areas are ending mass incarceration, protecting LGBT rights, and safeguarding immigrants rights, demonstrating our commitment to advancing equality and justice with communities that are often the targets of white supremacists’ bigotry and hate.

The ACLU has represented or publicly supported Black Lives Matter activists in First Amendment matters at least five times in recent months. Our work against police agencies surveillance of activists has been frequently in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and American-Muslim organizations and individuals. Weve represented and taken public positions in support of anti-Trump protesters more than five times since the election and represented one of the Standing Rock protesters in a free speech case. The ACLU has also defended the free speech rights of African-American environmental activists in Alabama against a defamation lawsuit brought by the toxic waste-generating corporation they opposed. This is all in the past yearalone.

We are not newcomers to this work. Weve defended individuals targeted for their socialist, anarchist, and communist affiliations, for anti-war speech, and for civil rights activism throughout our history. We have repeatedly defended the free speech rights of day laborers against city ordinances grounded in anti-Latino racism that would have prohibited their expressing their availability for work. The ACLU was founded in 1920 when the attorney general of the United States carried out his Palmer raids to round up immigrants based on their subversive views. And we stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the emerging labor movement of the early 20thcentury. The First Amendment freedom of speech, freedom of association, freedom of the press, and freedom of religionhas always been foundational for our organization.

Second,and more directly related to the events of this weekend, there are important reasons for our long history of defending freedom of speech including speech we abhor. We fundamentally believe that our democracy will be better and stronger for engaging and hearing divergent views. Racism and bigotry will not be eradicated if we merely force them underground. Equality and justice will only be achieved if society looks such bigotry squarely in the eyes and renounces it. Not all speech is morally equivalent, but the airing of hateful speech allows people of good will to confront the implications of such speech and reject bigotry, discrimination and hate. This contestation of values can only happen if the exchange of ideas is out in the open.

Thereis another practical reason that we have defended the free speech rights of Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan. Today, as much as ever, the forces of white supremacy and the forces for equality and justice are locked in fierce battles, not only in Washington but in state houses and city councils around the country. Some government decision-makers are deeply opposed to the speech we support. We simply never want government to be in a position to favor or disfavor particular viewpoints. And the fact is,government officialsfrom the local to the nationalare more apt to suppress the speech of individuals or groups who disagree with government positions. Many of the landmark First Amendment cases, such as NAACP v. Claiborne Hardware and New York Times v. Sullivan, have been fought by African-American civil rights activists. Preventing the government from controlling speech is absolutely necessary to the promotion of equality.

Third, the First Amendment cannot be used as sword or shield to justify or rationalize violence. Violenceeven when accompanied by speech does not garner the protection of the First Amendment. It is also true that the airing of ideasno matter how repugnant or loathsomedoes not necessarily lead to violence. The violence of this weekend was not caused by our defense of the First Amendment. The ACLU of Virginia went to court to insist that the First Amendment be appliedneutrally and equally to all protesters. Reasonable members of our community might differ on whether we ought to have brought that case. But I believe that having divergent views within an organization dedicated to freedom of speech is a sign of strength not weakness. I also believe the ACLU of Virginia made the right call here. Some have argued that we should not be putting resources toward anything that could benefit the voices of white supremacy. But we cannot stand by silently as the government repudiates the principles we have fought for and won in the courts when it violates clearly established First Amendment rights.

Invoking the threat of violence cannot serve as the governments carte blanche to shut down protests. If that were the case, governments would almost always be able to shut down protests, even when the protesters themselves are peaceful, because others could exercise a hecklers veto through violence or the threat of violence. We must not give government officials a free pass to cite public safety as a reason to stifle protest. They have a responsibility to ensure the safety and security of all protestersand may make their case in court for reasonable time, place, or manner restrictions. That is what we sought in our lawsuit in Virginia.

Thehard job for us now is to find concrete strategies for healing the divides that were laid bare this weekend. For the broader society, this would require that white supremacy, bigotry, and racism be confronted and rejected. Freedom of speech has to be valued and heralded as the cornerstone of our democratic society. Political leaders must shape the political discourse to underscore what binds us together as people, rather than exploit our differences. And government officials must neutrally apply the First Amendment and ensure the safety of all Americans when they take to the streets to exercise their constitutionally protected rights.

For our organization, we must remain focused and vigorous in our defense of civil liberties and civil rights in every community and in every context. Our 97-year history of defending the constitutional rights of all persons even those we disagree withis imbued with a belief that these rights are indeed indivisible, unalienable, and granted to each of us in our democracy. Our job is to turn those promises and aspirations into a reality for all people. And that work has never been more important than now.

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Equality, Justice and the First Amendment – ACLU (blog)

Welcome back, Garrison: Saluting the First Amendment – The Union Leader

But it doesnt hurt.

Our friends at the Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications have invited Keillor to headline the 15th Annual First Amendment Awards, Oct. 5 at the Palace Theatre in Manchester.

Some of our readers dont like that Keillor has sharpened the tone of his homespun prairie punditry in response to President Donald Trump. But we must never take for granted the freedom that allows a writer to call out the head of our government.

Our late President and Publisher, Nackey Loeb, founded the Loeb School in 1999 to promote understanding and appreciation of the First Amendment, and to foster excellence in journalism.

Partisans who rarely agree on anything should be able to agree on the importance of those principles.

Tickets to the First Amendment Awards are on sale now at the Palace Theatre. We would encourage you to attend.

Were sure everyone in the audience will be above average.

Politics Social issues Editorial

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Welcome back, Garrison: Saluting the First Amendment – The Union Leader

Letter: Peculiar First Amendment interpretation – Opinion – Milford … – Milford Daily News

According to Joseph Rizoli the First Amendment rights of free speech and assembly only extend to those with government-issued permits to exercise those rights (The real haters at Charlottesville, Aug. 15). Thus, the counter-protesters to the supposed non-haters had no right to assemble, no right to speak freely, only to stay home and shut up. Anything else is hate, according to Mr. Rizoli.

Of course, theres no excuse for either side throwing bricks or anything else at the other side, except perhaps insults, even without a permit. You, know, its the free speech thing. I notice, however, that Mr. Rizoli did not mention driving a car into the counter-protesting haters, apparently because having a permit to exercise ones First Amendment rights also allows attacking those without a permit with a 3,000-pound, deadly weapon.

The MetroWest News frequently publishes the First Amendment on the editorial page. Mr. Rizoli should read it, contemplate it, and try to understand it.

K. A. Boriskin

Bellingham

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Letter: Peculiar First Amendment interpretation – Opinion – Milford … – Milford Daily News

Vile speech still protected by First Amendment, experts concede – Tribune-Review

Updated 9 hours ago

Decades of Supreme Court decisions have upheld the right of anyone to peacefully demonstrate in public spaces no matter how abhorrent their views, said Vic Walczak, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania.

He has firsthand experience. When Pittsburgh refused a permit for a Ku Klux Klan rally at the City-County Building in 1997, Walczak went to court to defend the group’s First Amendment rights. He was among the onlookers when the Klan held its rally.

That speech was vile, he said.

Ironically, one of the speakers cursed the ACLU despite the organization standing up for their rights, Walczak said.

In the wake of the violent white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., several people and groups have criticized the ACLU for representing the rally organizer in a dispute over the demonstration’s location.

ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero said Thursday that the organization will no longer represent hate groups who want to demonstrate with firearms, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Getting criticized for representing unpopular groups has been familiar territory for the ACLU since 1977 when the nonprofit represented a neo-Nazi group that wanted to march through the Chicago suburb of Skokie but was refused a permit by the city.

The ACLU won the case and lost about 30,000 members, and the group never held its march.

We believe that rights are meaningless unless they belong to everybody, Walczak said. Everybody has a right to peaceful protest and assembly.

The Pittsburgh administration tried to stop the 1997 rally, arguing that it would lead to violence, he said. The same rationale has surfaced as a reason to block alt-right rallies in the wake of Charlottesville, where one counter-protestor was killed and several others were injured when a white nationalist drove his car into the crowd.

Known as the heckler’s veto in legal circles, the same argument was used in the South to shut down civil rights marchers, Walczak said.

You can’t shut down somebody exercising their constitutional right because there might be violence, he said. The solution is not to silence the speaker but to address the lawbreaker.

Even if previous rallies by the same group have turned violent, the First Amendment doesn’t allow the government to curtail the rights, said Bruce Ledewitz, a Duquesne University law professor who teaches state and federal constitutional law.

From a government standpoint, I can’t assume that you’re going to break the law, he said.

That’s true even if the speaker has been convicted of committing a crime during a previous event, he said.

You can’t say that because you broke the law in the past, you can’t speak, Ledewitz said. Unless you tell me you intend to incite violence, I have to assume that you will be peaceful and that others will be violent. My obligation at that point is to protect your right to speak.

If others show up and try to disrupt the demonstration, technically speaking, the police have an obligation to arrest those people, he said.

That doesn’t mean people can’t heckle a speaker, said Eugene Volokh, a UCLA law professor who teaches First Amendment law.

Throwing tomatoes or threatening to beat up the speakers if they don’t stop talking is not protected by the First Amendment. Catcalls or shouting questions generally is protected unless it reaches the point of drowning out the speaker or violates a state law.

It’s something of a matter of degree, he said.

The venue partly determines how much heckling is allowed, he added.

It is pretty clear that nobody expects library silence at a park, he said.

Another issue raised as a result of Charlottesville is whether the First Amendment protects people from losing their jobs if their employers disagree with their message.

The short answer is no,’ unless it’s a public employer, said Sam Cordes, a lawyer who specializes in employment cases.

Public employees are shielded from being fired as long as they’re speaking on a matter of public concern, he said. While the First Amendment doesn’t protect private employees, federal laws provide protection in some instances, he said.

If someone is speaking out against illegal workplace discrimination, federal anti-discrimination laws protect them even if the company they’re speaking against isn’t their employer, Cordes said. An 1866 law also protects people who are protesting commerce-based racial discrimination, such as a restaurant refusing to serve people because of their race.

The speaker is protected even if the claim isn’t accurate, as long as the person had a good-faith, reasonable belief that it was true, Cordes said.

Brian Bowling is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-1218, bbowling@tribweb.com or via Twitter @TribBrian.

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Vile speech still protected by First Amendment, experts concede – Tribune-Review

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe Issues Executive Order That Violates First Amendment – Breitbart News

In spite of weeks of preparation, the city of Charlottesville was the target of an act of domestic terrorism that cost one woman her life, and had a helicopter accident lead to the deaths of two state troopers, McAuliffe said in a statement that accompanied the executive order:

In the aftermath of this tragedy, several groups have requested permits to hold similar-styled events at the Lee Monument in Richmond. State and local officials need to get ahead of this problem, so that we have the proper legal protections in place to allow for peaceful demonstrations, but without putting citizens and property at risk. Let me be clear, this executive order has nothing to do with infringing upon first amendment rights. This is a temporary suspension, issued with the singular purpose of creating failsafe regulations to preserve the health and well-being of our citizens and ensuring that nothing like what occurred in Charlottesville happens again.

The statementadded:

Governor McAuliffe will issue a related executive order convening a task force, headed by Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran to study the safety concerns that arose from the events of August 12th. The Department of General Services will craft their new emergency regulations based on the recommendations of this new task force, which will be issued within three months.

Citing the power vested in me as the Chief Executive by Article V of the Constitution of Virginia and the laws of the Commonwealth, McAuliffe ordered the following:

No demonstrations shall be authorized at the Lee Monument in the absence of a permit issued by the Department of General Services. The term demonstrations includes demonstrations, processions, picketing, speechmaking, marching, vigils, and all other like forms of conduct, that involve the communication or expression of views or grievances, engaged in by one or more persons, the conduct of which is reasonably likely to draw a crowd or onlookers. This term includes the display of flags, banners, or other demonstratives designed to communicate a message.

The Department of General Services is directed to promulgate emergency regulations by November 18, 2017 to govern any public use of the Lee Monument based upon the recommendations from this task force.

Breitbart News contacted several constitutional law experts, none of whom would go on the record on such short notice to comment, for fear of retribution.

Breitbart News also contacted the executive director of the Virginia ACLU for comment but has not received a response.

Despite McAuliffes assertion, the executive order has nothing to do with infringing upon First Amendment rights, one constitutional law expert told Breitbart News on background that the executive order violates the First Amendment.

A 90-day ban on expression here violates the First Amendment. This sort of restriction is subject to strict scrutiny, under which the restriction is presumed unconstitutional, and the government must prove that is it narrowly tailored to achieve a compelling public interest. This EO should fail that test, the expert said.

The constitutional law expert anticipates that any legal challenge to the executive order will likely end up at the Supreme Court.

However, this is Virginia, which on appeal is in the Fourth Circuit. That court is now the most liberal appeals court in the nation, to the left of the often-maligned Ninth Circuitten liberals, twomoderates, and only threeconservatives. And there are no vacancies on the 15-member court, so it would probably take multiple consecutive terms of Republican presidents to take it back. The challengers would face an uphill battle in front of the Fourth Circuit, the expert added.

The order violates the First Amendment, another constitutional law expert told Breitbart News.

The state will say it is content neutral, and some statist judge could uphold it on those grounds, but thats a corrupted interpretation of the First Amendment, which we all know is common, the expert added.

Cornell University Law Professor William Jacobson wroteat Legal Insurrection that there are a number of such gathering storms and threats to liberty.

As part of the reaction to Charlottesville, the NY Timesran a chilling Op-Ed by K-Sue Park, a housing attorney and the Critical Race Studies fellow at the U.C.L.A. School of Law, Jacobson noted, adding, The Op-Ed is chilling because it represents a significant strain in the legal community and on campuses, that freedom of speech needs to be viewed in a social justice narrative.

In that New York Times op-ed, The A.C.L.U. Needs to Rethink Free Speech, Park wrote:

The American Civil Liberties Union has a long history of defending the First Amendment rights of groups on both the far left and the far right. This commitment led the organization to successfully sue the city of Charlottesville, Va., last week on behalf of a white supremacist rally organizer. The rally ended with a Nazi sympathizer plowing his car into a crowd, killing a counterprotester and injuring many.

After the A.C.L.U. was excoriated for its stance, it responded that preventing the government from controlling speech is absolutely necessary to the promotion of equality. Of course thats true. The hope is that by successfully defending hate groups, its legal victories will fortify free-speech rights across the board: A rising tide lifts all boats, as it goes.. .

The A.C.L.U. needs a more contextual, creative advocacy when it comes to how it defends the freedom of speech. The group should imagine a holistic picture of how speech rights are under attack right now, not focus on only First Amendment case law. It must research how new threats to speech are connected to one another and to right-wing power. Acknowledging how criminal laws, voting laws, immigration laws, education laws and laws governing corporations can also curb expression would help it develop better policy positions.

Parks view is standard critical race theory narrative, thats what makes it so chilling, Jacobson concluded.

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Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe Issues Executive Order That Violates First Amendment – Breitbart News

Lonegan: House Leadership Must Kill the First Amendment Tax – Breitbart News

You know our representatives have gone off the deep end when they begin considering imposing a tax on the First Amendment to raise more government revenue. But unfortunately, thats the reality were now living in.

Recently, the Daily News and Washington Times reported that party leadership is considering replacing the failed border adjustment tax with revenue raisers from former Rep. Dave Camps (D-MI) 2014 tax reform plan. Allegedly, one of the top contenders for replacement is his old advertising tax provision, which would scrap advertisings full deductibility as a business expense and make it only half deductible, with the other half being amortized over a ten-year period.

Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) are too smart to let this tax go into their soon to be released tax reform proposal. If it arises, they must use their knowledge and instincts to kill the provision, because passing such a tax would undoubtedly be political and economic suicide.

Against Our Founding Values

Perhaps the chief spark of the American Revolution was Great Britains imposition of an advertising tax the Stamp Act on the colonists, which was perceived to be a huge cost burden and an unnecessary limit to residents accessibility of important news. The tax was so unpopular that American citizens began unionizing and engaging in mob violence against stamp collectors. Parliament was forced to repeal the provision after just one year, but the colonists never forgave and never forgot. They ended up declaring their independence and engaging in armed rebellion against their mother country just years later.

Unconstitutional

After the colonists won that war and formed their own country, they established the First Amendment, which served as a safeguard against any future regulations of free speech.

By holding back Americans money for over a decade, the Camp ad tax proposal would be violating that amendment by essentially making free speech a dollar and cents game. Only those who could afford to do without the money would be able to continue.

Its clearly unconstitutional, and as constitutional scholar Bruce Fein at Huffington Post and litigation attorney Christopher Cooke at The Hill have detailed, theres plenty of Supreme Court precedent to prove it. Under the plan, advertising would be treated worse than every other business expense that receives full expensing, making it a clear violation of the First Amendment that would lead to the bankrupting of local newspapers and radio stations. This would keep communities in the dark about whats going on around them, all while adding more monopoly strength to the already-powerful cable news giants. Essentially, it would do exactly what our founding fathers tried to prevent.

Economic Growth Killer

Going against our founding principles and governing documents is bad enough, but the worst part about this tax is that it wont even be successful at what its brainchild intended for it to do fill Washingtons coffers.

There are few things that naturally stimulate the economy more than advertising spending. Reports have shown that annually, ad tax spending generates approximately 16 percent of the United States economic activity, as well as 14 percent of total U.S. employment. Thus, imposing such a tax will reduce federal revenue by hampering the many parts of the economy that are dependent on advertising.

An ad tax was already tried on the state level, and not surprisingly, it failed miserably. After campaigning on not raising taxes, Republican Governor Bob Martinez (R-FL) approved an ad tax, which destroyed $2.5 billion in personal income and washed away 50,000 jobs. The tax actually cost the state money the taxs administrative costs ended up exceeding the tax revenue.The public was rightfully outraged at the taxs futility, prompting the New York Times to report that Martinez suffered political embarrassment in his first year in office by having to shift from ardent support of the tax to advocating its repeal.

Conclusion

Clearly, including the Camp advertising tax in the so-called 2017 tax reform bill would be economic and political suicide, especially for the party that is supposed to be championing limited government and constitutional policymaking. A large portion of the House of Representatives understands this, which is why 124 members signed onto a bipartisan Dear Colleague letter to congressional leaders, stating: The potential for strengthening our economy through tax reform would be jeopardized by any proposal that imposes an advertising tax on our nations manufacturing, retail and service industries. The ball now lies in the Big Six tax reformers hands. Will they do whats best for the economy and the American people, or whats most pleasing to corporate donors and cable news talking heads?

Steve Lonegan is the former Mayor of Bogota, NJ and a frequent guest on Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC. Steve is the former New Jersey Chairman of Sen. Ted Cruzs presidential campaign, a former senior staffer for Americans for Prosperity and the American Principles Project, and a Republican candidate in several high-profile national political races.

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Lonegan: House Leadership Must Kill the First Amendment Tax – Breitbart News

How far to the First Amendment’s protections go when it comes to hate speech? – The San Diego Union-Tribune

As a journalist, I like to think I know a little something about the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Like most students in the United States, I studied the Bill of Rights in grade school and learned the First Amendments protections by rote: freedom of speech, religion, assembly, petition and the press. (That last one is now my bread and butter.)

In later years, I dove a little deeper by reading landmark U.S. Supreme Court decisions in college like Tinker v. Des Moines Independent School District, in which the court found in 1969 that black armbands worn to protest the Vietnam War were protected symbolic speech.

That was the same year the court decided Brandenburg v. Ohio, and determined that government could not punish public speech, including that of KKK leader Clarence Brandenburg at a 1964 Klan rally, unless it is directed at inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to spur such action.

Im no constitutional scholar, but I do know that protections exist even for hateful speech, the kind reported extensively in the aftermath of the white nationalist rally last weekend in Charlottesville, Va., where ensuing violence claimed the life of 32-year-old counter-protester Heather Heyer.

Even though most Americans would agree that the racist rhetoric spewed by Neo-Nazis, the KKK and other hate groups is vile and unsettling, many of us would likely also agree that it, too, must be shielded by the First Amendment to avoid creating an environment ripe for censorship and censure.

There it is, folks, the slippery-slope argument. End of story.

Well, not quite.

Im getting sort of sick and tired of all the absolute-constitutional-rights talk. Theres nothing absolute about constitutional rights, said Justin Brooks, a professor at California Western School of Law in San Diego.

Brooks said as much in a post he shared on Facebook last week, along with a photo of tiki-torch bearing white nationalists gathered on the University of Virginia campus. He added, Hate speech should not be protected speech.

The post attracted many responses and prompted a robust debate among friends and colleagues. It also prompted a call from the Union-Tribune.

Brooks said he disagrees with the U.S. Supreme Court, which has long held that there is no general exception for hate speech under the First Amendment, but has identified a few well-defined and narrowly limited exceptions that include obscenity, defamation, fraud, incitement and true threats.

(The court) has drawn the line you have to be inciting violence in order for it to be restricted, Brooks said. What bothers me about this discussion is it doesnt recognize how hurtful some of that hate speech is. At a certain point, speech can actually cause harm to individuals.

He said he understands the fear many Americans and the courts feel about the prospect of regulating hate speech, because defining it is subjective. But he argued that it is possible to draw a narrow definition that regulates public displays of hate, based on race, gender, nationality, ethnicity and sexual preference.

There is no doubt that the hate speech promoted by the KKK and Nazis causes harm to the members of our community who are targeted, Brooks said. Therefore, it is appropriate to regulate that speech.

He didnt need social media to know his views on the subject are unpopular, particularly among others in legal community. (See: slippery slope.)

Recently, the American Civil Liberties Union represented Jason Kessler, organizer of the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, in a lawsuit to keep the far-right groups permit to protest at a downtown park.

In response to criticism, ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero wrote a statement explaining the nonprofits decision to represent white supremacist demonstrators in court. In it, he acknowledged that speech alone can have hurtful consequences, but argued that the airing of hateful speech allows people of good will to confront the implications of such speech and reject bigotry, discrimination and hate.

Preventing the government from controlling speech is absolutely necessary to the promotion of equality, he wrote.

dana.littlefield@sduniontribune.com

Twitter: @danalittlefield

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How far to the First Amendment’s protections go when it comes to hate speech? – The San Diego Union-Tribune

First Amendment in Peril? – City Journal

In the marketplace, traditionally understood, when a company produces a poor product or mistreats its customers, it faces market disciplinenew ones come in and steal market share. Thats the theory, at least.

Too bad its not true right now, at least not on the Internet.

Google and Apple, with a combined 98 percent market share in mobile-phone operating systems, have banned Gab, an upstart Twitter competitor with a free-speech policy quaintly modeled on the First Amendment itself, from their app stores. Google cited hate speech as its reason for exclusion; Gab doesnt censor. What few people yet understand is that Google and Apple have used their duopoly status to revoke the First Amendment on mobile phones. Because the Internet is now majority mobile, and a growing majority of all web traffic comes from mobile devices, the First Amendment is now effectively dead in the mobile sphere unless policymakers act to rein in the tech giants who serve as corporate gatekeepers to digital speech.

Twitter ran into controversy last year when it was accused of censoring conservative voices. Gab founders Andrew Torba, an alumnus of Silicon Valleys prestigious Y Combinator accelerator, and Ekrem Bykkaya saw a market opportunity for a competitor focused on free speechnot just for conservatives but for dissidents globally. Last August, they launched Gab, a Twitter-like app where, according to company spokesman Utsav Sanduja, Whatever is permissible under the First Amendment is what Gab allows onto its site.

Gab grew slowly but has now reached over 200,000 usersa substantial number, though tiny compared with Twitter. It generated modest revenue through a freemium model, wherein users could pay to upgrade to a Pro level. Gab pulled off a coup by raising $1 million through crowd-funded investment. The company says that it is planning an Initial Coin Offering with its own digital currency based on the Ethereum standard. In short, Gab is a real company, with legitimate founders, a business strategy, revenue, more than 200,000 users, and seven-figure funding.

Apple and Google dont agree. Gab built an app for Apples iOS operating system, but Apple wouldnt approve it. This means that iPhone and iPad users cant use the Gab app because users cant install applications on those devices unless Apple approves them. Gabs Android app was available through Googles app store until yesterday, when Google banned it, citing violations of its hate-speech policy. In order to be on the Play Store, social networking apps need to demonstrate a sufficient level of moderation, including for content that encourages violence and advocates hate against groups of people, a Google statement read. This is a long-standing rule and clearly stated in our developer policies. While Android users can install unapproved apps, its a cumbersome process, and being kicked out of the app store reduces the apps reach.

No doubt, a number of far-right groups have found a home on Gab. I tried Gab myself when it first came out, finding it functionally an interesting mix of Twitter and Reddit, but with too many far-right users for my taste. So I dropped it. Gab also courted trouble with provocative moves like publicly announcing a job offer for James Damore after Google fired him and taunting Silicon Valley after its crowd-funding success. It also uses a green frog as its logo. Gab claims that this is not the controversial Pepe the Frog, identified with the alt-Right, but rather inspired by the plague of frogs from Exodus. Even if this is true, the logo choice seems like a deliberate provocation.

But its difficult to credit Gab as a white-supremacist site when its cofounder is a Turkish Kurd and Muslim. Bykkaya, who says Ive never supported Trump for a minute in my entire life, is concerned about speech repression in his part of the worldfor good reason, as Turkey is infamous for its violations of free speech and for locking up journalists. Gab spokesman Sanduja is a South Asian Hindu from Canada.

Gab points out that other major social-media platforms have hosted ISIS activity, and child-porn rings, facilitated drug dealing, and carried live streams of murder, torture, and other crimes. Yet all are still allowed by Google. Google itself actually hired Chris moot Poole, founder of the notorious website 4chan, known not just for offensive speech but also for the distribution of hard-core pornography. Police have made multiple child pornography arrests associated with 4chan. There remain multiple 4chan apps in Googles app store.

At a minimum, Apple and Googles decisions about offensive app behavior are arbitrary. This is a problem the market cant easily solvebecause there is effectively no market. Both the Apple and Google app stores are private markets owned by those companies, which act as their effective governments. You cannot easily start a new mobile business without their permission. If your app follows the First Amendment, theres a good chance that youll be rejected. Regardless of how one views Gab or any other application or group, two Silicon Valley companies should not be the governors of the mobile Internetwhich, in due course, may be indistinguishable from the Internet itself.

The mobile-Internet business is built on spectrum licenses granted by the federal government. Given the monopoly power that Apple and Google possess in the mobile sphere as corporate gatekeepers, First Amendment freedoms face serious challenges in the current environment. Perhaps it is time that spectrum licenses to mobile-phone companies be conditioned on their recipients providing freedoms for customers to use the apps of their choice.

Aaron M. Renn is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a contributing editor ofCity Journal.

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

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First Amendment in Peril? – City Journal

First Amendment Rights In The Digital Age – WBUR

wbur

A web hosting company said this week that the Justice Department had served it with a warrant demanding it hand over all files related one of its customer’s websites.

But DreamHost is resisting turning over the documents, and legal experts say what happens in this case could have far-reaching consequences for First Amendment rights. NPR’s Laurel Wamsley (@laurelwamsley) reports.

This segment aired on August 18, 2017.

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First Amendment Rights In The Digital Age – WBUR

Equality, Justice and the First Amendment – ACLU (blog)

For all people of good will regardless of party affiliation, race, creed, or color the events that took place thisweekend in Charlottesville were sickening and deeply disturbing.

Several clear themes emerged for me this weekend. And while they are pretty obvious, I thought I would share them with the broader ACLU community, in an effort to give voice to what many of us are feeling and to spark a further discussion that will allow us to move together with greater hope and resolve through what are likely to be troubling days ahead.

While the events of this weekend withwhite supremacists holding lit torches frightened and outraged many Americans, we can never underestimate the impact of these images on African-Americans. Thatrally reflected this nations history of slavery, racial violence, and terrorism, which has left an indelible mark on our democracy to this day. As employees, members, or supporters of an organization dedicated to racial justice, we are all affected. Many of us are even more directly affected because we and our family members are the direct targets of the white supremacists. I know that speech alone has consequences, hurtful and deep, and thats why I believe its important to place the ACLUs representation of white supremacist demonstrators in Virginia in the broader context of the values and principles that have guided this organization for nearly a century.

First, the ACLU unequivocally rejects the ideology of white supremacists and we work actively with all our might to oppose that ideology in diverse communities across the country and to defend the right of all Americans to speak out against those views. By budget allocation, the national ACLUs top issue areas are ending mass incarceration, protecting LGBT rights, and safeguarding immigrants rights, demonstrating our commitment to advancing equality and justice with communities that are often the targets of white supremacists’ bigotry and hate.

The ACLU has represented or publicly supported Black Lives Matter activists in First Amendment matters at least five times in recent months. Our work against police agencies surveillance of activists has been frequently in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and American-Muslim organizations and individuals. Weve represented and taken public positions in support of anti-Trump protesters more than five times since the election and represented one of the Standing Rock protesters in a free speech case. The ACLU has also defended the free speech rights of African-American environmental activists in Alabama against a defamation lawsuit brought by the toxic waste-generating corporation they opposed. This is all in the past yearalone.

We are not newcomers to this work. Weve defended individuals targeted for their socialist, anarchist, and communist affiliations, for anti-war speech, and for civil rights activism throughout our history. We have repeatedly defended the free speech rights of day laborers against city ordinances grounded in anti-Latino racism that would have prohibited their expressing their availability for work. The ACLU was founded in 1920 when the attorney general of the United States carried out his Palmer raids to round up immigrants based on their subversive views. And we stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the emerging labor movement of the early 20thcentury. The First Amendment freedom of speech, freedom of association, freedom of the press, and freedom of religionhas always been foundational for our organization.

Second,and more directly related to the events of this weekend, there are important reasons for our long history of defending freedom of speech including speech we abhor. We fundamentally believe that our democracy will be better and stronger for engaging and hearing divergent views. Racism and bigotry will not be eradicated if we merely force them underground. Equality and justice will only be achieved if society looks such bigotry squarely in the eyes and renounces it. Not all speech is morally equivalent, but the airing of hateful speech allows people of good will to confront the implications of such speech and reject bigotry, discrimination and hate. This contestation of values can only happen if the exchange of ideas is out in the open.

Thereis another practical reason that we have defended the free speech rights of Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan. Today, as much as ever, the forces of white supremacy and the forces for equality and justice are locked in fierce battles, not only in Washington but in state houses and city councils around the country. Some government decision-makers are deeply opposed to the speech we support. We simply never want government to be in a position to favor or disfavor particular viewpoints. And the fact is,government officialsfrom the local to the nationalare more apt to suppress the speech of individuals or groups who disagree with government positions. Many of the landmark First Amendment cases, such as NAACP v. Claiborne Hardware and New York Times v. Sullivan, have been fought by African-American civil rights activists. Preventing the government from controlling speech is absolutely necessary to the promotion of equality.

Third, the First Amendment cannot be used as sword or shield to justify or rationalize violence. Violenceeven when accompanied by speech does not garner the protection of the First Amendment. It is also true that the airing of ideasno matter how repugnant or loathsomedoes not necessarily lead to violence. The violence of this weekend was not caused by our defense of the First Amendment. The ACLU of Virginia went to court to insist that the First Amendment be appliedneutrally and equally to all protesters. Reasonable members of our community might differ on whether we ought to have brought that case. But I believe that having divergent views within an organization dedicated to freedom of speech is a sign of strength not weakness. I also believe the ACLU of Virginia made the right call here. Some have argued that we should not be putting resources toward anything that could benefit the voices of white supremacy. But we cannot stand by silently as the government repudiates the principles we have fought for and won in the courts when it violates clearly established First Amendment rights.

Invoking the threat of violence cannot serve as the governments carte blanche to shut down protests. If that were the case, governments would almost always be able to shut down protests, even when the protesters themselves are peaceful, because others could exercise a hecklers veto through violence or the threat of violence. We must not give government officials a free pass to cite public safety as a reason to stifle protest. They have a responsibility to ensure the safety and security of all protestersand may make their case in court for reasonable time, place, or manner restrictions. That is what we sought in our lawsuit in Virginia.

Thehard job for us now is to find concrete strategies for healing the divides that were laid bare this weekend. For the broader society, this would require that white supremacy, bigotry, and racism be confronted and rejected. Freedom of speech has to be valued and heralded as the cornerstone of our democratic society. Political leaders must shape the political discourse to underscore what binds us together as people, rather than exploit our differences. And government officials must neutrally apply the First Amendment and ensure the safety of all Americans when they take to the streets to exercise their constitutionally protected rights.

For our organization, we must remain focused and vigorous in our defense of civil liberties and civil rights in every community and in every context. Our 97-year history of defending the constitutional rights of all persons even those we disagree withis imbued with a belief that these rights are indeed indivisible, unalienable, and granted to each of us in our democracy. Our job is to turn those promises and aspirations into a reality for all people. And that work has never been more important than now.

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Equality, Justice and the First Amendment – ACLU (blog)

Police must act fast to protect First Amendment rights: Robert Shibley – USA TODAY

Robert Shibley, Opinion contributor Published 10:22 a.m. ET Aug. 17, 2017 | Updated 10:24 a.m. ET Aug. 17, 2017

In Charlottesville, Va., on Aug. 13, 2017.(Photo: Tasos Katopodis, epa)

Americans were shocked by the naked political violence we saw this weekend in Charlottesville, Va. Commenters on the left and the right immediately blamed the usual suspects. The right blamed identity politics. The left blamed entrenched racism. But an obvious cause of injury and death is once again being overlooked: the fact that the violence was allowed to get underway at all.

State, local, and even college campus leadership appear to be telling police to stand by while some degree of unlawful violence takes place right before their eyes. Yet when that violence predictably spirals out of control, the authorities profess their inability to have done anything to stop it. Meanwhile, those inclined to violence are emboldened, secure in the knowledge that the publicity payoff is high and the odds of punishment low.

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This must stop. Freedom of expression is what gives us the ability to hash out societal issues through argument instead of physical conflict, but it is only meaningful when people are reasonably confident that they will be physically safe while they speak and listen. When the authorities simply stand by and let political violence occur, even in the hope of the conflict somehow de-escalating itself, they send the message that both sides have a free hand to violently attack their opponents. This makes a mockery of the First Amendment rights to free speech and assembly.

After the riot that successfully prevented Milo Yiannopoulos from speaking at the University of California, Berkeley, in February, many reported on the conspicuous lack of police involvement despite the injuriesand destruction. I personally spoke to a woman who had come to see the speech. Having been pepper-sprayed and nearly blinded by a violent protester, she told me she crawled over three layers of crowd barriers to reach a building with dozens of police inside. Yet when she reached the door, the police refused her entry.

Likewise, CNN reported that in Charlottesville, both sides agree that one group didn’t do enough to prevent the violence as the crowds grew and tensions flared: the police. The organizer of the Unite the Right rally complained that police purposefully created the catastrophe that led to a melee in the streets of Charlottesville, while a Black Lives Matter leader attending the counter-protest remarked, It’s almost as if they wanted us to fight each other.

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Its hard to think of a more thankless task than riot policing. But when authorities fail at the basic task of preventing mob violence, both political and policy questions need to be asked. When the Huffington Post reports that Several times, a group of assault-rifle-toting militia members from New York State played a more active role in breaking up fights than the police, law enforcements response needs serious rethinking.

There is one group of people who have so far consistently benefitted when political violence has been allowed to take place: the politicians who lead our localities and the de facto politicians who run our campuses. They avoid the political fallout from images of police confronting violent protesters (who may also be their supporters), they get to blame whichever side they like less for causing the violence, and get to pretend to fulfill their responsibility to keep people safe by making it harder for controversial viewpoints to be expressed.

Ann Coulter had to cancel a speech at Berkeley after the school insisted it would not be safe for her to speak on campus. Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe blamed the ACLU of Virginia and a federal judge for blocking the citys attempt to revoke the rallys permit, saying We’ve got to look at these permits. This week, Texas A&M and the University of Florida announced that safety concerns prevented them from hosting speeches by Richard Spencer that are several weeks away. In contrast, in the 1960s American Nazi Party founder George Lincoln Rockwell was able to speak at UCLA, Michigan State, Brown, and other colleges, before audiences containing people who might have fought or lost loved ones to actual German Nazis. How can it be that hosting a similar speaker is impossible now?

Trading our free speech rights for the opportunity to be victimized by political violence is tremendously foolish, as is turning the blame for it on our civil liberties or those who defend them. Benjamin Franklin famously told a curious Philadelphian that Americas founders had given us a republic, if you can keep it. This is exactly what he was talking about.

Robert Shibley, an attorney, is executive director of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE).

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Police must act fast to protect First Amendment rights: Robert Shibley – USA TODAY


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