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Trump keeps escalating his war on the First Amendment and hes losing the fight – Raw Story

Donald Trump is at war with the First Amendment and the free press. The war is on full display nearly every day in hisrage-filled press conferenceson the COVID-19 pandemic, in which he regularly condemns the fake news media and bashes reporters who dare to ask the slightest probative questions about his handling of the ongoing public-health crisis.

Trumps war is also longstanding. And it is waged not only on television and inangry tweetsand atcampaign rallies(which have been put on hold because of the coronavirus), but also in courtrooms across the country in the form of defamation lawsuits designed to shame, silence and punish his critics.

The latest victim of the presidents intimidation-by-litigation strategy is TV stationWJFW, an NBC affiliate located in Price County in the rural reaches of northern Wisconsin. On April 13, Trumps principal reelection campaign committeeDonald J. Trump for President, Inc., headquartered in New York Citysued the stationin the countys circuit court. The suit alleges that the station had libeled the campaign and harmed the reputation of the president by airing an anti-Trump attack ad produced by Priorities USA Action, a pro-Democratic Super PAC.

Entitled Exponential Threat, the ad features audio and video clips of Trump downplaying the severity of the virus and disavowing any responsibility for his administrations slow and incompetent response to the virus overlaid against a graph displaying the exponential rise in the number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. since January.

The lawsuit contends that the ad stitched together Trumps statements about the virus in a false, misleading, deceptive and malicious manner to make it appear that he had called the virus a hoax. According to the complaint, Trump never termed the virus itself a hoax, but instead said at arallyin Charleston, South Carolina, on February 28, that the Democrats were perpetrating a hoax by politicizing his record on the virus.

The lawsuit comes on the heels ofother recent threatsmade by the Trump campaign to take legal action against TV outlets in Florida, Michigan, Minnesota and Pennsylvania for broadcasting the same ad.

The presidents campaign committee has also been busy suing print media. In March, the committeesued the Washington Postfor defamation allegedly arising from opinion columns written by journalistsGreg SargentandPaul Waldmanin June 2019 on the possibility of renewed foreign collusion in the 2020 election. And in February, Trumps 2016 campaign committeesued the New York Times, claiming defamation stemming from an op-ed about Russian collusion written in March 2019 by Max Frankel, who had served as the papers executive editor from 1986-94.

Sadly, the presidents latest round of defamation revenge is part of a pattern that dates back to his formative days as a real-estate developer and publicity-seeking huckster in New York City.

As detailed in a2016 studypublished by the Media Law Resource Center, Trump filed his first major libel suit in 1984, when he took the Chicago Tribune and architecture columnist Paul Gapp to court, claiming that he had sustained $500 million in damages as a result of an article Gapp had written, maligning Trumps plans to build a 150-story skyscraper in lower Manhattan. The case wasdismissedthe following year after the presiding judge determined Gapps article was a constitutionally protected expression of opinion.

The Media Law Resource Center study alsosummarizesTrumps failed defamation lawsuit against writer Timothy OBrien and the Time Warner Book Group, Inc. Now asenior columnist with Bloomberg Opinion, OBrien asserted in a 2005 bookTrumpNation: The Art of Being the Donaldthat Trump wasnt actually a billionaire. OBriens estimate of Trumps net wealth so rankled the future president that he demandeda whopping $5 billion in damages.Like the lawsuit against Gapp, the case was eventuallydismissed.

In addition, thestudychroniclesTrumps case against comedian Bill Maher. Trump targeted Maher in 2013 for a disparaging joke he told on NBCsTonight Show, in which he offered to donate $5 million to charity if Trump could prove he was not the spawn of his mother having sex with an orangutan. After Trump sent a copy of his birth certificate to Maher and the comedian refused to pay up, Trump sued Maher for breach of contract in California. Trump voluntarilywithdrew the caseeight months later, however. Although his then-spokesperson, Michael Cohen,told Politicothat Trump planned to amend and renew the lawsuit, he never did.

Like most of Trumps past defamation forays, the presidents latest round of defamation lawsuits seems destined to crash and burn. The cases will falter for one simple reason: they are utterly devoid of legal merit.

Under the Supreme Courts landmark 1964 ruling inNew York Times Co. v. Sullivan, criticism of public officials is entitled to stringent First Amendment protections. As the great liberal Justice William Brennan wrote for a unanimous court inSullivan, the Constitution embodies our profound national commitment to the principle that debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide-open, and that it may well include vehement, caustic and sometimes unpleasantly sharp attacks

Public officials, Brennan instructed, must be precluded from recovering damages for allegedly defamatory statements related to official conduct unless they prove that the statements are made with actual malicethat is, that they are made with the knowledge that they are false or with reckless disregard of whether they are true or false.

Insubsequentcases, the Supreme Court extendedSullivans actual malice holding to defamation lawsuits initiated by public figures andbusiness entitiesthat have obtained public-figure status, such as Trumps political campaign committees.

Sullivanis one of the Supreme Courts most consequential decisions, providing the press with the safeguards needed to keep the public informed and hold the rich and powerful to account. Among the courts current members, onlyClarence Thomashas gone on record to suggest thatSullivanbe reconsidered.

Why, then, does the president persist? The answer, it appears, is purely political.

At arally in Fort Worth, Texas, in February 2016, Trump told a throng of cheering red-meat followers, I think the media is among the most dishonest groups of people Ive ever met. Theyre terrible. If I become president, oh, do they have problems. Theyre going to have such problems.

And thenhe added, in a veiled reference toSullivan:

One of the things Im going to do if I win, and I hope we do, and were certainly leading, is Im going to open up our libel laws so when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money. Were going to open up those libel laws so that when the New York Times writes a hit piece, which is a total disgrace, or when the Washington Post, which is there for other reasons, writes a hit piece, we can sue them and win money instead of having no chance of winning because theyre totally protected.

As of now, the president is losing his war on the First Amendment and the free press. But as Trumps improbable rise to power confirms, the future remains uncertain. If we have learned anything in the Trump era, it is that our constitutional rights can never be taken for granted.

Bill Blum is a retired judge and a lawyer in Los Angeles. He is a lecturer at the University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication. He writes regularly on law and politics and is the author of three widely acclaimed legal thrillers:Prejudicial Error,The Last Appeal, andThe Face of Justice.

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

Raw Story is independent. You wont find mainstream media bias here. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.

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Trump keeps escalating his war on the First Amendment and hes losing the fight - Raw Story

NBC News Chief Andy Lack: Journalists Are Winning In Face Of White House Attacks, Coronavirus Challenges – Deadline

NBC News and MSNBC Chairman Andrew Lack says that journalists are succeeding in their reporting on the coronavirus in the face of attacks from the White House.

He also defended the way that the network has carried and covered President Donald Trumps daily White House press briefings.

In an essay for the networks opinion site NBC News Think, Lack wrote that Trump came into office railing against many of the foundations of our democratic institutions, including a free press.Forty months into his administration, coverage of the coronavirus outbreak is the latest sign that contrary to conventional wisdom he hasnt laid a glove on serious journalism. His attacks, most recently against excellent reporters like Jonathan Karl (ABC), Yamiche Alcindor (PBS), Peter Alexander (NBC) and Paula Reid (CBS), put the bully in bully pulpit, but they havent shaken the soul of the First Amendment.

Lack also defended the way that the network usually via MSNBC has approached the presidents daily coronavirus press briefings, which he said have frequently become a sideshow, filled with false and misleading statements, compulsive boasting and self-promotional videos.

Lack wrote that many news outlets, including ours, are aggressively fact-checking in real time, assessing the value to viewers minute to minute and cutting away when warranted.

Some on-air personalities, including MSNBCs Rachel Maddow and CNNs Don Lemon, have questioned why the news networks have been carrying the briefings live, arguing that they give the president a platform to spout misinformation or self promote.

Last week, as Centers for Disease Control director Robert Redfield appeared in the briefing room to clarify dire remarks he gave toThe Washington Postover a possible coronavirus outbreak next winter,Morning Joe co-anchor Mika Brzezinski wrote, The president is making CDC DIR clarify his comments so that the president feels less embarrassed. why Is this considered a briefing. I would not be live on this? I would be fact checking exactly what happened and waiting for scientists with News. This is pathetic.

Lack wrote that the pandemic has shown that the heart of journalism has never been stronger.

Not looking to win any popularity contests just doing what Woodward and Bernstein inspired my generation and the generations that followed to always do: seek the best obtainable version of the truth, he wrote.

He wrote that journalists have continued to do their jobs even in the face of furloughs and layoffs.

Cost-cutting measures have culled their ranks for years, and even in recent weeks, as they work to share this critical story with their communities, they have been furloughed and laid off, he wrote. They tell the stories that hit closest to home, often without the acclaim, resources or job security they deserve. And yet, they persevere.

Over the weekend, Trump tweeted that the briefings were not worth the time & effort!

What is the purpose of having White House News Conferences when the Lamestream Media asks nothing but hostile questions, & then refuses to report the truth or facts accurately. They get record ratings, & the American people get nothing but Fake News.

The White House has scheduled a briefing for later in the day on Monday. But its unclear whether Trump will participate.

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NBC News Chief Andy Lack: Journalists Are Winning In Face Of White House Attacks, Coronavirus Challenges - Deadline

If Liquor Stores Are Essential During the Coronavirus Pandemic, Why Isnt Church? – The New York Times

Churches and synagogues were tragically empty two weekends ago, among the holiest days of the year for Americas Christians and Jews. With few exceptions, the nations faithful found solace via computer screens and in solitary prayer, acquiescing to restrictions on their constitutional liberty that would have seemed unthinkable a few months ago.

But many are asking: How long must this go on? America was founded in no small part so that people of every creed and conviction could worship without hindrance, in accordance with conscience and tradition.

Individual churches have been closed for health reasons in the past. History buffs may recall that the first Free Exercise Clause case in Supreme Court history, in 1845, involved the prohibition of open-coffin funeral services in a New Orleans church during a yellow fever outbreak. But this is the first mass closure of churches, synagogues, temples and mosques all over the country. And it has lasted for almost a month.

Other important activities from shopping in hardware stores to voting manage to take place with appropriate safeguards against the spread of the disease. Yet worshipers have been prevented from gathering together (six to 10 feet apart) in cars in the church parking lot; Catholic churches have been told to close their doors even for solitary prayer; traditional sunrise services were canceled even when they would take place in the fresh air, observing the rules of social distancing.

In the early weeks of the crisis, it made sense to enforce sweeping closure rules against all public gatherings no exceptions. And even now, until the crisis subsides, religious communities will have to refrain from activities long central to the expression of love of God and one another. We would know: One of us had to forgo being with family who were sitting shiva, mourning his cousin. The son of the other could not be received into the church on Easter morning. Sacraments cannot be taken by Zoom.

But in the days ahead, religious leaders and public health officials will need to find new ways to deal with the novel conundrums forced on us by this novel coronavirus. Fortunately, these new arrangements can be fashioned with some very old materials: the centuries-old principles of the First Amendment.

Three time-tested principles of the First Amendment stand out as guideposts for navigating the competing demands of religious exercise and public health in a time of contagion.

First, separation of church and state does not give religious communities immunity from regulation that is necessary for the common good. As long ago as 1905, the Supreme Court rejected the religious objections of a Massachusetts pastor to compulsory vaccination against smallpox. Other legal rights, too, are affected. Less than two weeks ago, an appellate court approved restrictions on some abortion procedures during the crisis, saying, When faced with a society-threatening epidemic, a state may implement emergency measures that curtail constitutional rights so long as the measures have at least some real or substantial relation to the public health crisis and are not beyond all question, a plain, palpable invasion of rights secured by the fundamental law.

The second principle is that government can regulate religious activity only through what the Supreme Court calls neutral and generally applicable laws. This means that a government requirement cannot single out religious activity on the ground that it is somehow dispensable or nonessential. The government may regulate religious activities no more strictly than it regulates secular activities that present comparable risks. This principle was invoked by Judge Justin Walker of the Western District of Kentucky when he allowed a drive-in Easter service to take place in a church parking lot with cars six feet apart from one another. Noting that Kentucky permitted drive-through liquor stores to continue operating, the court quipped, if beer is essential, so is Easter. It is not for government officials to decide whether religious worship is essential; the First Amendment already decided that. The question is whether, and how, it may be conducted without undue risk to public health.

Third, both sides must seek what the courts call reasonable accommodations. These are tailored arrangements that allow people to practice their faith to the maximum practicable extent while still minimizing the dangers those activities pose to the public. Sacramental wine was permitted during Prohibition; Quakers are not drafted into the Army; kosher and halal facilities are excused from some of the details of meatpacking regulations.

Reasonable accommodation is the most important principle as we emerge from the first phase of this crisis. Government officials must continue to be vigilant about realistic public health dangers from religious practice, but they must identify less restrictive means for achieving their purposes. For instance, Jewish ritual baths, called mikvahs, are permitted to operate in the tristate area, but are doing so with stricter rules and regulations, including enhanced disinfection and cleaning, and they are visited by appointment only. Similarly, priests in New York City hospitals designated by the Catholic Archdiocese are permitted to enter patients rooms to give communion, so long as they wear all necessary protective equipment. These accommodations require a bit of trust on the part of the government and will need to be verified, potentially with clergy attesting to compliance with certain rules. But such trust is also required when California and Colorado deem marijuana dispensaries essential businesses.

Religious leaders and congregations will have to remember that the First Amendment is not an exemption from law applicable to all. And government officials must not forget that religious exercise is at the apex of our national values. Mass is not a football game, a minyan not a cruise. Worship cannot shelter in place indefinitely.

Michael W. McConnell, a former federal judge, is a law professor and director of the Constitutional Law Center at the Stanford Law School. Max Raskin (@maxraskin) is an adjunct professor of law at New York University.

The Times is committed to publishing a diversity of letters to the editor. Wed like to hear what you think about this or any of our articles. Here are some tips. And heres our email: letters@nytimes.com.

Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook, Twitter (@NYTopinion) and Instagram.

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If Liquor Stores Are Essential During the Coronavirus Pandemic, Why Isnt Church? - The New York Times

Why freedom of the press is a matter of life and death in coronavirus era | Plazas – Tennessean

Tennessean Opinion Editor David Plazas spoke to Linda Peek Schacht, former Harvard fellow and former Lipscomb University administrator Nashville Tennessean

Journalists work hard to be accurate, trustworthy, and to seek truth and report it truthfully. Facts and good information matter especially when lives are stake.

Students in Jennifer Ducks journalism classes at Belmont University learn how to assess the credibility of information and sources.

Duck also teaches her classes how to debunk myths, which are bountiful on places like social media platforms, where people tend to share links, often without clicking on, reading or vetting them.

The COVID-19 pandemic makes the stakes higher than ever.

This is a matter of life or death, said Duck, an instructor at Belmont in Nashvilleand a Clemson University Ph.D. student. We need truth and we need facts. Journalists help us separate fact from fiction.

Her research focuses on the importance of a free press, which is more important than ever as mixed messages have emerged from government leaders, generally at the national level, about how to handle the novel coronavirus crisis.

Media organizations including The Tennessean and others have striven to separate fact from fiction in daily fact check articles and deep reporting, which seeks to use data, credible sources and science to help inform the public and keep people safe.

So, it is encouraging that Duck urged students to compete in the National Student Essay Competition on the topic of freedom of the press, sponsored by The McCarthy Family Foundation in partnership with The Tennessean, the Committee to Protect Journalists and other U.S. newsrooms.

First Amendment of the US Constitution text, with other Constitution text above(Photo: Getty Images)

Several students, from middle school to college, submitted essays by the April 24 deadline.

They all show a great deal of maturity in wanting to be informed and discerning citizens who defend constitutional freedoms.

Remember: Freedom of the press is one of five freedoms delineated in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits government from enacting laws to abridge it.

Hear more Tennessee Voices:Get the weekly opinion newsletter for insightful and thought provoking columns.

Our founding fathers valued a free press, wrote Frank Runyon, a seventh grader at Richview Middle School in Clarksville. Thomas Jefferson once said,Freedom will be a short-lived possession unless the people are informed. Our founding fathers who believed in democracy thought that freedom of the press was an essential key to our freedom.

Jefferson and other presidents also became angry at the press when journalists were critical, but holding government accountable is why the Founding Fathers wanted to protect a free press.

Tennessee Voices, Episode 22: Linda Peek Schacht on leadership and truth

Tennessee Voices, Episode 11: Shanna Hughey, president of ThinkTennessee

Often, people will lump all journalists as the media, but citizens need to push back against this slight and ask: Which media organization? What did they get wrong (or right)? Is this just a propaganda attempt to discredit the free-flow of information to citizens who deserve to know the truth?

Katie Kuhnash, a senior studying music business at Belmont, reflected in her essay on the importance of being well-informed at a time when Americans are so limited in their ability to spend time with friends, see their families and do commerce because of stay-at-home orders.

In a time where so much is limited, I think it is more important than ever to keep our press free, she wrote. This is also one of the most mysterious, uninformed times we have ever lived through, where being informed is more important than ever.Where being a democracy is more important than ever.

Citizens should search for the truth and be discerning.

But know this: Journalists work hard to be accurate andtrustworthy, and to seek truth and report it truthfully.

We take the First Amendment seriously and are keenly aware that credible information, especially today, is a matter of life and death.

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David Plazas is the director of opinion and engagement for the USA TODAY Network newsrooms in Tennessee and an editorial board member of The Tennessean. Call him at (615) 259-8063, email him atdplazas@tennessean.comor tweet to him at@davidplazas. Subscribe and support local journalism.

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Why freedom of the press is a matter of life and death in coronavirus era | Plazas - Tennessean

Proposed Amendments to Revamp Wilf Constitution – The Commentator

Editors Note: The author of this piece is a member of the Wilf Standing Committee on Amendments.

The Wilf General Assembly (GA) recently approved six amendments to the Wilf Student Constitution that will be voted on by the male student body in the Wilf general election. The approval comes after students were able to propose their own amendments at the constitutional amendments convention that was held on April 7. The Commentator was provided with the text of the proposed amendments from the Standing Committee on Amendments. To ensure that students have a clear understanding of each amendment before they go to the polls, The Commentator has provided a summary of each amendment.

The first amendment contains the most changes of any amendment. Some of these include formally reinstating the position of Yeshiva Student Union (YSU) Vice President of Class Affairs and allowing Juniors to hold the position. The language in the current constitution is unclear about the standing of the Vice President of Class Affairs, as it is not listed as an official position but is still given a description due to an inconsistency in the passage of an amendment last year. The YSU Vice President of Clubs would also no longer be available to juniors as students running for the position would be required to be a senior. The Amendments Committee felt that if the Vice President of Clubs is next in line to succeed the YSU President, it is appropriate to require him to be a senior, since the president must be a senior. The amendment will also require the YSU President to be eligible to serve in the GA. This seeks to clarify the issue that arose from the contested presidency earlier this semester. Further clarifying the issue, the amendment will include a clause that requires the Vice President of Clubs to resign his current position if that position conflicts with the eligibility requirements to sit on the GA.

Another restriction would be added for eligibility to serve in the GA. The amendment would bar club heads, presidents, co-presidents and members of a clubs executive board from sitting on the GA. The addition of an article outlining the roles and responsibilities of the Student Life Committee would also be included in the Constitution, as per the amendment. The Senior Co-Chair of the committee is a member of the GA, thus the amendments committee felt it was best to add an article that outlines the role of the committee, which is currently not the case.

This amendment would also eliminate the requirement for candidates to garner signatures in order to appear on the ballot. Instead, the Canvassing Committee would be allowed to create its own by-laws regarding ballot qualifications. This change comes after an amendment to lower the signature threshold was denied by the Wilf Student Court over the Passover break.

Some of the more minor changes include changing the name of all Secretary/Treasurer positions to just Treasurer and removing the position of Sergeant-at-Arms. Another minor change includes the restructuring of the articles of the Constitution. For example, all student councils would have their own article instead of containing every council's rules in one large article as is the current structure of the Constitution.

If passed, the Katz Undergraduate School would have its own representative as outlined in the second amendment. The representative would be part of YSU, similar to the class representatives, and must be a full-time student for at least two semesters. Only students in the Katz School would be able to vote for the representative who will be elected during the spring election.

The third amendment would give students in the Makor College Experience a representative to be voted on only by students in Makor. It should be noted that Makor is officially a separate program from Yeshiva University, but Makor students do pay student activities fees. The candidate would be nominated by the director of the program, currently Dr. Stephen Glicksman, who would then submit the candidate to the Canvassing Committee. Unlike candidates from other councils, the representative from Makor may not run as a write-in candidate.

The next amendment, if passed, would require the student councils to release their respective budgets. During the last week of each semester, each council would be required to release a budget from the previous semester that includes the amount the council had at the beginning and end of the semester. The amendment would also require the GA to release a more detailed record of club events that were requested and approved within the last week of each semester, the amount of funding requested by each club and the amount that was approved.

As per the fifth amendment, the General Assembly would be required to vote to approve or reject clubs petitions within one week after the petitioning period ends.

The final amendment would include a non-discrimination policy similar to that in the Beren Constitution. The policy would prohibit the Wilf student councils from discriminating against students based on many factors, including, but not limited to, race, ethnicity, nationality and sexual orientation.

One possible effect of this amendments ratification could be the status of the YU Pride Alliance. Earlier this semester, the Pride Alliance filed a motion in the Beren Constitutional Council arguing that Stern College for Women Student Council (SCWSC) President Aliza Katz (SCW 20) discriminated against the club by abstaining on a vote to approve the Alliances club status; this, they argued, violated the Beren Constitutions non-discrimination policy. Ultimately, the court refused to hear the case on the grounds that the Pride Alliance had filed a complaint against YU with the New York City Commission on Human Rights . It is currently unclear if a similar motion will be filed in the Wilf Student Court if the amendment is passed.

Originally, the committee decided to have one big amendment that included many structural changes and a separate amendment for each position being added. The non-discrimination policy, budget policy and the deadline to approve clubs were first proposed at the Constitutional Convention, and only approved afterword. Thus, they each received their own amendment instead of being included in a single, larger amendment.

The proposed amendments aim to clarify some confusing points in the current constitution. For example, the new requirement for a member of the GA to resign from another position that conflicts with the eligibility to serve on the GA will hopefully avoid another contested presidency in the future. Removal of all mentions of the Executive Council and Student Senate, archaic and defunct bodies of student government, are changes that are a long time coming. The formal reinstatement of the Vice President of Class Affairs clarifies its role in the student council. The quest to clarify the uncertainties in the Constitution continues every year, and the latest amendments are a great next step to ensure that the constitution serves as a document that properly governs the student body.

Photo Caption: The Wilf ConstitutionPhoto Credit: The Commentator

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Proposed Amendments to Revamp Wilf Constitution - The Commentator

Freedom of the press a matter of life and death in COVID-19 era – Columbia Daily Herald

Students in Jennifer Ducks journalism classes at Belmont University learn how to assess the credibility of information and sources.

Duck also teaches her classes how to debunk myths, which are bountiful on places like social media platforms, where people tend to share links, often without clicking on, reading or vetting them.

The COVID-19 pandemic makes the stakes higher than ever.

This is a matter of life or death, said Duck, an instructor at Belmont in Nashville and a Clemson University Ph.D. student. We need truth and we need facts. Journalists help us separate fact from fiction.

Her research focuses on the importance of a free press, which is more important than ever as mixed messages have emerged from government leaders, generally at the national level, about how to handle the novel coronavirus crisis.

Media organizations including The Tennessean and others have striven to separate fact from fiction in daily fact check articles and deep reporting, which seeks to use data, credible sources and science to help inform the public and keep people safe.

So, it is encouraging that Duck urged students to compete in the National Student Essay Competition on the topic of freedom of the press, sponsored by The McCarthy Family Foundation in partnership with The Tennessean, the Committee to Protect Journalists and other U.S. newsrooms.

Several students, from middle school to college, submitted essays by the April 24 deadline.

They all show a great deal of maturity in wanting to be informed and discerning citizens who defend constitutional freedoms.

Remember: Freedom of the press is one of five freedoms delineated in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits government from enacting laws to abridge it.

Our founding fathers valued a free press, wrote Frank Runyon, a seventh grader at Richview Middle School in Clarksville. Thomas Jefferson once said, Freedom will be a short-lived possession unless the people are informed. Our founding fathers who believed in democracy thought that freedom of the press was an essential key to our freedom.

Jefferson and other presidents also became angry at the press when journalists were critical, but holding government accountable is why the Founding Fathers wanted to protect a free press.

Often, people will lump all journalists as the media, but citizens need to push back against this slight and ask: Which media organization? What did they get wrong (or right)? Is this just a propaganda attempt to discredit the free-flow of information to citizens who deserve to know the truth?

Katie Kuhnash, a senior studying music business at Belmont, reflected in her essay on the importance of being well-informed at a time when Americans are so limited in their ability to spend time with friends, see their families and do commerce because of stay-at-home orders.

In a time where so much is limited, I think it is more important than ever to keep our press free, she wrote. This is also one of the most mysterious, uninformed times we have ever lived through, where being informed is more important than ever. Where being a democracy is more important than ever.

Citizens should search for the truth and be discerning.

But know this: Journalists work hard to be accurate and trustworthy, and to seek truth and report it truthfully.

We take the First Amendment seriously and are keenly aware that credible information, especially today, is a matter of life and death.

David Plazas is the director of opinion and engagement for the USA TODAY Network newsrooms in Tennessee and an editorial board member of The Tennessean.

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Freedom of the press a matter of life and death in COVID-19 era - Columbia Daily Herald

What We Learned This Week – Voice of San Diego

This week, several statements were issued, press conferences were held and interviews were given all trying to suss out inconsistencies in law enforcements approach to protesters during this pandemic, and yet for all that talking and writing, were no closer to understanding what the guiding principles are and when people might expect to face police intervention for violating stay-at-home orders.

Demonstrators who remained in their cars to protest the treatment of detainees inside the Otay Mesa Detention Center were ticketed by the Sheriffs Department, yet protesters downtown and in Encinitas last weekend to protest stay-at-home orders were not.

When confronted about the discrepancy, the Sheriffs Department and SDPD issued a joint statement that did nothing whatsoever to clarify their policies, and instead said only that theyre hoping to strike a delicate balance between respecting peoples rights and enforcing the law.

A group of civil rights activists then issued a bizarre and counterintuitive call for police to go after the leaders of the weekend protests. The same group that has consistently spoken out against inappropriate police intervention was now calling for inappropriate police intervention for the sake of retribution.

And, just as bizarrely, police seemed receptive to that call. They announced theyre pursuing a case against one of the leaders of the weekend protests. But if the protest itself was protected First Amendment activity and police determined those participating shouldnt be cited, why would organizing that protected activity be a crime?

(Just to be clear, I think the protesters message that society should be reopened because freedom is idiotic; I just believe that the same First Amendment principles that have deemed journalists essential workers during the pandemic also extend to people with really stupid protest demands.)

Regardless of what you think of the protesters message, there is very clearly no overarching policy or principle guiding police behavior right now.

On the VOSD podcast this week, Mayor Kevin Faulconer, in what has become his trademark when pressed on law enforcements inconsistent enforcement policies, praised the department and escaped saying anything specific about what they might be able to do better.

I think its important that youre able to do your First Amendment activity and I think its incredibly important that our police department strike that balance. And I think they do a very good job of that.

If the mayor believes its important to safeguard citizens First Amendment rights, then surely it must rub him the wrong way that police are pursuing charges against the organizer of last weekends downtown protest of the governors stay-at-home order?

I think theyre going to have to make the decisions on a case by case basis based upon the facts on the ground as they see them, he said.

Is that an answer? Well, what an answer is must be determined by each person in their own heart. (Just kidding. No. Its not an answer. Its many words strung together that add up to less than the sum of their parts.)

So, there you have it. According to activists and the mayor, police should limit intervention, except when for no identifiable reasons whatsoever they should pursue it against only certain people.

The county has only just this week begun to ramp up its coronavirus testing, but is still not testing to its full capacity. The other piece of the puzzle experts say well need to emerge from lockdown is the ability to digitally trace peoples steps to alert them they may have been exposed to the virus and San Diego County is only taking baby steps toward that effort.

***

There are some dark explanations behind a drop in domestic violence calls to police during the pandemic. And one Carlsbad city councilwoman revealed some explosive details about her own experience while arguing for more resources for victims of domestic violence.

***

School officials are scrambling to track down homeless students who havent yet logged on to San Diego Unifieds online learning portal. Meanwhile, as the city moves more than 1,000 homeless residents into its Convention Center, the demand is still outpacing capacity and officials are rushing to figure out what will happen to them once theyre forced to move out of the facility. Part of that plan involves buying distressed hotels at a steep discount, but the citys progressives have some questions about how that would work.

***

San Diego County is getting more than $330 million from the federal government to help battle the coronavirus. But that money cant backfill county coffers, which have taken a major hit amid the economic shutdown. Meanwhile, we put together a handy explanation of which county officials are making big decisions during the crisis.

***

Lawyers, inmates and staffers at Donovan state prison told VOSDs Maya Srikrishnan that the conditions inside the facility could make it a powder keg if coronavirus took hold. The next day, the state confirmed a staffer there had tested positive.

***

A temporary stop-gap effort to slow suicides on the Coronado Bridge doesnt appear to be working.

Has this bread corpse casually slithered off of your countertop, pre-heated the oven to 375 degrees, opened the oven door with its doughy hand, and baked itself until its crust has achieved the perfect, golden-brown hue? How to tell if your quarantine sourdough starter is ready.

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What We Learned This Week - Voice of San Diego

‘SNL’s’ Cecily Strong roasts Trump as Gretchen Whitmer: ‘That woman’ is ‘what Trump calls his wife’ | TheHill – The Hill

Cecily Strong of "Saturday Night Live" roasted President TrumpDonald John Trump US capping how much banks can lend as part of coronavirus emergency program Trump on 'Noble' Prize tweets: 'Does sarcasm ever work?' Pompeo plans to force extension of arms embargo against Iran: NYT MORE while performing as Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) on Saturday.

Strong as Whitmer said governors are having a moment right now but that, unlike her, other governors are getting cool nicknames.

Trump refers to me as that woman from Michigan, she said. But Im not offended because I am proud to be from Michigan. And that woman is also what Trump calls his wife.

Shecontinued by giving advice for protesters to safelyexercise their First Amendment rights, including to stay home, maintain social distancing and wear a mask outside.

I promise you can call me a bitch from the safety of your couch. Its called Twitter, she said.

The skit also commented on how Whitmer is under consideration to become presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenSNL's Cecily Strong roasts Trump as Gretchen Whitmer: 'That woman' is 'what Trump calls his wife' President Trump faces a major hurdle with swing state voters Governors discuss, defend plans to reopen state economies amid coronavirus pandemic MOREs vice presidential candidate.

If its going to be a woman, it might as well be that woman, she said.

The president has referred to Whitmer as that woman from Michigan, prompting the governor to wear a T-shirt with the phrase on it when she was interviewed for The Daily Show" earlier this month.

Trump has accused Whitmer of taking her stay-at-home order too far as protesters have demonstrated against the order and called for the states economy to reopen.

Michigan has documented at least 37,778 confirmed coronavirus cases and at least 3,315 fatalities. The state ranks seventhin total cases and thirdin deaths, The New York Times reported.

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'SNL's' Cecily Strong roasts Trump as Gretchen Whitmer: 'That woman' is 'what Trump calls his wife' | TheHill - The Hill

Broadcasters and Trump’s False Information on Coronavirus: What Role for the FCC? – Just Security

With the unprecedented and rapidly evolving coronavirus crisis, it is crucial that the public receive accurate information. President Donald Trump has been documented to have provided inaccurate or misleading information about the disease and its effects. A group aimed at promoting internet and press freedom, Free Press, asserts that broadcast news outlets and on-air personalities have a responsibility to inform the public of the potential inaccuracy of Trumps statements when covering or discussing them. Otherwise, broadcasters could be responsible for the harm that results to those who believe and act on those statements. As an example, Free Press cites the death of an Arizona man who saw and believed TV news coverage in which Trump characterized hydroxychloroquine as a potentially effective treatment. The man apparently ingested a similar-sounding ingredient as a result, chloroquine phosphate, and died.

In an emergency petition filed with the Federal Communications Commission on March 26, Free Press urged the FCC to investigate the spread of false information about the coronavirus. Free Press documented a number of other false statements by Trump, which it alleges were widely broadcast by the press. The result of Free Press request was perhaps dismaying, but considering the First Amendment values involved here, not surprising. Even had the commission taken up the issue, its authority to act would be limited to broadcast media.

Free Press alleged that broadcasters who cover or repeat statements such as those Trump made about the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine, without also including disclaimers that the statements may not be accurate, could be in violation of the FCCs broadcast hoax rule. Free Press further urged the FCC to make a formal recommendation that broadcasters prominently disclose when information they air is false or scientifically suspect, even if the broadcaster is simply reporting on the presidents statements.

The FCC quickly dismissed the Free Press petition, stating that it does not act as the arbiter of truth in journalism. The FCC observed that broadcasters are covering a rapidly evolving health crisis, one in which new medical information is difficult to corroborate or refute in real time. Indeed, the FCC expressed the view that by providing live coverage of presidential briefings on the crisis, broadcasters could be serving the public interest.

While the FCC declined to involve itself here, the Free Press petition does raise the issue of whether the FCC can take action against broadcasters that provide inaccurate or misleading information related to the coronavirus pandemic. The FCC does have two potential bases on which to take action against inaccurate news reports: its broadcast hoax rule and its news distortion policy. Should the FCC seek to enforce these rules to help stop the spread of misinformation about the coronavirus? Or might it do more harm than good?

Broadcast Hoax Rule

The broadcast hoax rule was enacted by the FCC in 1992 after a number of incidents in which TV and radio stations pulled pranks on their audiences that caused panic among some members of the public or resulted in law enforcement responding to the false reports. Examples included a radio station airing a warning that the United States was under nuclear attack, a radio station falsely reporting that one of its on-air hosts had been shot in the head in the station parking lot, and a morning radio show on which the hosts orchestrated a false murder confession from a caller to the show. Without the rule, the FCC had no good options for addressing these situations. The broadcast hoax rule gave the FCC the ability to fine stations that pulled hoaxes like these.

The broadcast hoax rule has four prongs. First, a station must air false information concerning a crime or catastrophe. Second, the station must know that the information is false. Third, it must be foreseeable that broadcasting the false information will cause substantial public harm. Fourth, the broadcast of the false information must in fact cause immediate and substantial public harm. All four prongs must be met for the rule to be violated.

News Distortion Policy

In contrast to the broadcast hoax rule, the FCCs news distortion policy does not allow the commission to fine stations that violate the policy. Rather, the policy is applied only at a TV or radio stations license renewal, which occurs for stations every eight years. At that time, the FCC can consider whether a station has violated the policy in determining whether the station should have its license renewed. (In that respect, it may be a future FCC that looks back at what stations did during the Trump administration and coronavirus period.)

The news distortion policy likewise has four components. First, the station must deliberately intend to distort the news or mislead the audience. It is not enough that station simply aired inaccurate information. Second, there must be evidence, in addition to the news story itself, that the station intended to mislead the audience. Third, station ownership or management must initiate the distortion or know about it. It is not enough if a reporter acting on his or her own was responsible for the distortion. Fourth, the public must be deceived about a matter of some significance, rather than just an incidental part of the news.

The First Amendment

Both the broadcast hoax rule and the news distortion policy have several requirements which significantly narrow their applicability, in that much more is required for their violation than the airing of a false or inaccurate news story. First Amendment doctrine requires that government regulation of speech, such as the broadcast hoax rule or news distortion policy, be narrowly focused on just those types of speech that cause the harm the government is seeking to prevent. The additional elements contained in each of the rules are designed to do just that. It is significant that the FCC has very rarely had the occasion to consider the application of either rule, as their violation has seldom been alleged, and even more rarely has the commission found a broadcaster to have violated them.

Were the rules applicable to broader sets of circumstances, they would likely violate the First Amendment, which provides the highest level of protection to political speech, and even provides significant protection to false speech. Perhaps no other country in the world provides such expansive protection to free speech as the United States. Political speech is provided this protection to allow the public to engage in uninhibited, robust, and wide-open debate on public issues. Significantly, this protection is not dependent on whether a speakers claims are true or accurate.

Recognizing that falsehoods provide little or no benefit to society in and of themselves, the U.S. Supreme Court has concluded that some false statements are inevitable if we are to have open and vigorous debates on issues of public importance. These inevitable false statements might come from those who purposefully lie to persuade others to their point, or from those who attempt to spin the facts to support their cause. They might also come from those who mistakenly, and innocently, believe their statements to be accurate.

Punishing the press for covering false statements in these situations could limit and harm public debate on important issues due to a likely chilling effect. That is, the press might avoid covering statements on issues of public concern, even though some or all might be true, out of fear that some may turn out not be true and the outlet would risk prosecution or punishment. The news media, in effect, might censor itself.

Allowing the press to escape punishment by establishing the truth of these statements does not eliminate this chilling effect. News organizations may still be concerned about the difficulty of proving all aspects of their stories true in court, or even just about the difficulties and expense of having to do so.

That is not the end of the matter, though. Rather than let false statements simply circulate unchecked, we depend on the marketplace of ideas to help us sort the true from the false. We allow both true ideas and false ideas to compete in this marketplace. In fact, the First Amendment is grounded on the theory that the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market. Under this view, the best weapon against false speech is speech that is true. Counterspeech, accurate information which counters the false, is preferred as a remedy to government action.

In its denial of the Free Press petition, the FCC echoed this view. The commission concluded:

[T]he antidote to the alleged harms raised by Free Press is ironically enough a free press. The rapid and comprehensive coverage of the present pandemic, free from burdensome disclaimers, agency investigation, or other government oversight, advances the public interest in maximizing information flow, while facilitating the vetting of statements by public officials via the ordinary journalistic process.

In other words, let the marketplace of ideas operate without government intervention. The goals are the samegetting to the truth but the means to obtain it are markedly different (governmental regulation versus expansive press freedoms and counterspeech).

Fox News and CNN Out of Reach Anyway

Even if the FCC were to enforce the broadcast hoax rule or news distortion policy, this would only have limited effectiveness in countering the spread of false information. Thats because both rules apply only to broadcasters, which means TV and radio stations. Significantly, the two rules do not apply to cable networks like Fox News or CNN. Nor do they apply to newspapers or websites. This stems from the fact that broadcasters are licensed by the FCC to use a scarce public resource: the electromagnetic spectrum, which is used for all forms of wireless communication. Additionally, broadcasters so licensed are tasked with a government mandate to serve the public interest. Because of this, courts have allowed greater government regulation of broadcast speech than of speech in other forms of media. The FCCs authority over cable television content is much more limited, and the commission does not regulate or oversee newspaper or website content.

So targeting broadcasters would address just a portion of the flow of misinformation, meaning FCC enforcement of the rules would not be all that effective in reducing the harms stemming from the misinformation. Even then, any such action is complicated by the fact that the FCC does not have authority over broadcast networks themselves, such as ABC, CBS, FOX, or NBC, but rather only over the individual stations around the country that air each broadcast networks programming. Any action then, would need to be taken against each individual station airing false information. While not a perfect solution, reliance on the marketplace of ideas is better than having the FCC investigate and punish stations reporting on misinformation about the coronavirus crisis.

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Broadcasters and Trump's False Information on Coronavirus: What Role for the FCC? - Just Security

Internet Speech Will Never Go Back to Normal – The Atlantic

All these developments have taken place under pressure from Washington and Brussels. In hearings over the past few years, Congress has criticized the companiesnot always in consistent waysfor allowing harmful speech. In 2018, Congress amended the previously untouchable Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act to subject the platforms to the same liability that nondigital outlets face for enabling illegal sex trafficking. Additional amendments to Section 230 are now in the offing, as are various other threats to regulate digital speech. In March 2019, Zuckerberg invited the government to regulate harmful content on his platform. In a speech seven months later defending Americas First Amendment values, he boasted about his team of thousands of people and [artificial-intelligence] systems that monitors for fake accounts. Even Zuckerbergs defiant ideal of free expression is an extensively policed space.

Against this background, the tech firms downgrading and outright censorship of speech related to COVID-19 are not large steps. Facebook is using computer algorithms more aggressively, mainly because concerns about the privacy of users prevent human censors from working on these issues from home during forced isolation. As it has done with Russian misinformation, Facebook will notify users when articles that they have liked are later deemed to have included health-related misinformation.

But the basic approach to identifying and redressing speech judged to be misinformation or to present an imminent risk of physical harm hasnt changed, according to Monika Bickert, Facebooks head of global policy management. As in other contexts, Facebook relies on fact-checking organizations and authorities (from the World Health Organization to the governments of U.S. states) to ascertain which content to downgrade or remove.

Read: How to misinform yourself about the coronavirus

What is different about speech regulation related to COVID-19 is the context: The problem is huge and the stakes are very high. But when the crisis is gone, there is no unregulated normal to return to. We liveand for several years, we have been livingin a world of serious and growing harms resulting from digital speech. Governments will not stop worrying about these harms. And private platforms will continue to expand their definition of offensive content, and will use algorithms to regulate it ever more closely. The general trend toward more speech control will not abate.

Over the past decade, network surveillance has grown in roughly the same proportion as speech control. Indeed, on many platforms, ubiquitous surveillance is a prerequisite to speech control.

The public has been told over and over that the hundreds of computers we interact with dailysmartphones, laptops, desktops, automobiles, cameras, audio recorders, payment mechanisms, and morecollect, emit, and analyze data about us that are, in turn, packaged and exploited in various ways to influence and control our lives. We have also learned a lotbut surely not the whole pictureabout the extent to which governments exploit this gargantuan pool of data.

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Internet Speech Will Never Go Back to Normal - The Atlantic

Op-Ed: Should anyone own the rights to HOLLYWOOD? – Los Angeles Times

The Hollywood sign is a beloved Southern California landmark. Built in 1923 and donated to the City of Los Angeles in 1944, it sits on public land atop Mt. Lee in Griffith Park.

The sign truly belongs to the public. And yet, in a sleight of hand, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce insists that it owns trademark rights to the signs likeness and therefore can charge for the use of that image.

For years, lawyers for the chamber have been threatening to sue over the use of the Hollywood sign in a variety of projects, from a student film and UCLA law school recruitment brochure to an advertising campaign and tourist photo. British YouTuber Tom Scott mocked the chambers trademark bullying by bleeping out the word Hollywood Sign and pixelating the sign as if it were some X-rated porn star in his video about the sign.

The chamber, which has had control of licensing trademarks for the sign since at least 1992, claims it has certain trademark rights for usage of the Sign or its likeness for commercial purposes. But what most people dont realize is that the chamber tried and failed to register trademarks on the Hollywood sign with two applications to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in 2004.

The trademark office rejected the applications because you cant get trademark protection for the the name of a place. The Hollywood sign may be a landmark, but it is also the name of a place. Trademarks are only granted for geographic names in association with specific products and services. The only way that the chamber could have won a trademark for the Hollywood sign is if it had showed that the public widely associated the sign with a specific product. Thats what the owners of Arrowhead Water or California Pizza Kitchen did.

Before the chamber could appeal the trademark offices rejection, the big Hollywood studios Paramount Pictures, CBS Broadcasting, 20th Century Fox, Columbia Pictures and Universal City Studios went ballistic because the chambers applications sought a trademark for the sign as a stage prop. The studios feared that the chamber would demand licensing fees to show the sign in movies and TV shows, according to studio sources. After the studios filed papers with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office seeking more time to file comments, the chamber abandoned its applications.

The chamber, however, was not dissuaded from pushing its right to trademark the word Hollywood. It sought and obtained federal trademarks for the word, using the signs blocky all-caps, staggered lettering.

This time, the chamber followed the requirements for applying for a trademark for a geographical location. It argued that the word HOLLYWOOD had become known to the public as the brand name for candy, food, jewelry, clothing, athletic apparel, paper, licensing of intellectual property, and advertising services after five years of continuous use in the marketplace. The trademark office granted these dubious trademarks.

Those registrations do not apply to an image of the sign itself. But that hasnt stopped the chamber from demanding that filmmakers, television producers and other artists pay licensing fees to show the sign in their works. There is no need to pay. As one scholar explained, these creative works dont violate trademark laws when they simply show the Hollywood sign to signify that the scene took place in Hollywood. Thats called descriptive fair use.

Theres also the First Amendment. The constitutional right to free expression gives the creators of films, television shows, video games, and YouTube videos the right to show the Hollywood sign for artistic reasons or realism without paying a dime. But even when people are within their legal rights to use the image, they pony up when they get a cease-and-desist letter from the chamber demanding money because its cheaper than a lawsuit.

Many courts have reaffirmed a First Amendment protection for expressive works. The most recent decision came down on March 31 from a federal judge in New York. The judge dismissed a trademark lawsuit brought by the maker of Humvees against Activision, the publisher of the Call of Duty video games. He ruled that Activision has a First Amendment right to show the trademarked Humvees, which provide a dose of realism in depicting contemporary warfare.

The Hollywood sign is a historical, geographical and cultural touchstone for Los Angeles. Its not just a billboard for Hollywood. Its an icon that has come to represent dreams made here in California. You shouldnt have to pay a licensing fee for that.

Susan E. Seager is a staff attorney at the UC Irvine Law School Intellectual Property, Arts, and Technology Clinic and Sachli Balazadeh-Nayeri is a law student working in the clinic.

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Op-Ed: Should anyone own the rights to HOLLYWOOD? - Los Angeles Times

Judge Rejects Twitter Surveillance Request Lawsuit – The Ring of Fire Network – The Ring of Fire Network

Via Americas Lawyer: Mike Papantonio is joinedby RT Correspondent, Brigida Santos, to talk about a lawsuit brought forth by Twitter against the FBI and DOJ that has concluded that the federal government is free to demand consumer data from the social media giant and others via National Security Letters.

Transcript:

*This transcript was generated by a third-party transcription software company, so please excuse any typos.

Mike Papantonio: A judge has rejected a Twitter lawsuit against the US government that sought to inform the public about federal surveillance requests. RTs Brigida Santos joins me now to talk about this story. Brigida, Ive been pulling, you know, Ive really been pulling for these folks. Im not a huge, I never, I dont even tweet. Im not a Twitter person. I think might be because, you know, Donald ran me off from even being interested. But what can you tell me about the lawsuit? What happened here?

Brigida Santos: Look, this was first filed by Twitter in 2014 against the Obama era government, but it has since been amended to challenge the government under president Donald Trump. The social media giant sued because it had wanted to include information about the number of surveillance requests it receives from the federal government every year as part of its public transparency reports. The requests which are known as national security letters, however, are designed to be withheld from the public. So a federal judge in California after six years has now dismissed the case handing a victory to the federal government.

Mike Papantonio: No surprises here. You know, Id like to know more about the appointment of the judge and what their pedigree is, but I probably could guess. What does this mean for the public? Are they going to ever learn about the government spying? I mean, they at least have a right to know. Yeah, youve been spying on me and at least let us know that that happened. Thats, thats probably not going to happen though, is it?

Brigida Santos: No, its probably not. And the federal government can now continue to completely ban companies, not only from saying anything about government surveillance requests, but even that they have been doing them in the first place. National security letters are law enforcement tools that are similar to subpoenas and theyre most commonly issued by the FBI. However, other agencies can also issue them. NSLs force companies to turn over information about certain customers for national security related investigations.

But theres no way for companies to even know whether the government is legally doing this or whether theyre violating the law with these requests. So these companies are now forbidden from disclosing how many requests theyve received or that theyve received any in the first place. All we know is that the federal government has issued over 300,000 NSLs in the past 10 years. We dont know where they were issued or what they were issued for.

Mike Papantonio: Yeah. We try to call balls and strikes on this show as much as possible and, you know, people get mad at us because were not tribal and we dont have one position. So the balls and strikes in this, in this situation is the other side of the story is when we compare how we have been able to suppress terrorist activity United States because of this type of spying. Its nothing less than spying. Thats what it is. That that when we compare ourselves to Europe and Asia and other parts of the world, we have done far, far superior. And when you build in this, this is the, the argument is this is part of the reason.

But the empirical data is we have done far, far better than the rest of the world and so we hear that argument. Whether its accurate or not, I dont know. But the argument is certainly out there. If you compare apples to apples, yes, were doing far better. As far as the first amendment goes, is this a violation of the first amendment? I dont know how it could not be, but tell me what your opinion is.

Brigida Santos: Yeah, I think that it is. But unfortunately, by citing national security concerns, the government can always find a loophole for warrantless extra judicial surveillance and in this case, Twitter says the government was infringing on its rights to free speech by preventing it from publicly posting information and forcing it to engage in speech thats been preapproved by the government. But this goes deeper because the government often passes that from these social media companies then down to consumers and users by basically forcing us to squash our own speech. And when we talk about social media, theyre also collecting massive amounts of data on people.

So theyre also doing their own form of corporate spying. And while the government cant legally squash free speech, of course, unless its given it this loophole of national security, private companies can squash that free speech. They are free to do that and the government, as I said, often does pressure social media companies to do that. You know, silencing certain stories or voices and that often happens. And of course this is a bipartisan policy, one of Americas policies where both parties seem to agree. It spans multiple administrations. Mass surveillance, this is just the next chapter.

Mike Papantonio: Yeah, well the companies, you know, whether its Facebook or Twitter or whoever, you know, theyd benefit from it. They get, they get a lot of benefit from the federal government and breaks that the federal government gives them and the federal government has always has that hammer over their head. If you dont do this, then were going to do this and so thats always there. Its a reality. Theyre terrified that theyre going to lose a dollar. So, I really loved seeing Twitter take this position, but its no surprise to see a federal judge shoot it down because truthfully, he probably, they probably were on good grounds. When it comes down to the first amendment argument versus police power of federal government, health, safety and welfare. Health, safety and welfare is going to Trump something like the first amendment most of the time. Look, thank you for joining me. Okay. Stay safe out there in LA.

Brigida Santos: You too, Mike. Thanks.

Originally posted here:

Judge Rejects Twitter Surveillance Request Lawsuit - The Ring of Fire Network - The Ring of Fire Network

CDC draft outlines phased reopening of child care, religious institutions, food industry amid coronavirus – Fox News

Get all the latest news on coronavirus and more delivered daily to your inbox.Sign up here.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has drafted proposed guidelines for a phased reopening of the economy as some states begin to lift stay-at-home orders and resume operations amid the coronavirus pandemic, Fox News has learned.

Fox News obtained a copy of the 17-page draft proposal on Monday, which contains guidelines for child care centers, schools, day camps, faith-based institutions, bars and restaurants and public transportation, and an outline of specific directions for each sector.

TRUMP ANNOUNCES 'OPENING UP AMERICA AGAIN' GUIDELINES

According to the Washington Post, which first obtained the draft guidelines, coronavirus task force members Dr. Deborah Birx, Dr. Anthony Fauci, and assistant to the president and director of the Domestic Policy Council Joe Grogan have reviewed the proposed guidelines.

The CDC draft proposal begins with child care programs, stating that the reopening of those programs is crucial to helping parents and guardians return to work.

The guidelines note that in communities that are deemed significant mitigation areas by State and local authorities, child care programs should be closed, but that in other areas, programs can choose to remain open to serve children of essential workers, such as healthcare workers.

The reopening of child care centers includes three phasesphase one would restrict care to just children of essential workers; phase two would expand to all children with enhanced social distancing measures; and phase three would open the programs for all children with social distancing measures, while promoting healthy hygiene habits, and intensify cleaning, disinfection and ventilation.

The CDC recommends that during phase oneand two, classes should include the same group of children each day and the same child care providers, and recommend screening of children as they arrive.

As for schools, the CDC recommendsthat schools that are currently closed remain closed, while ensuring a continuation of student services, such as school meal programs. As for summer camps, theCDC draft recommends that camps be restricted to children of essential workers in phase one, with phase two welcoming children who live in the local area only. By phase three, the CDC recommends that camps restrict attendance to those from limited transmission areas.

Meanwhile, the proposal lays out guidelines for religious institutions, but according to The Post, those guidelines have been the subject of many changes in drafts.

This guidance is not intended to infringe on First Amendment rights as provided in the US Constitution, the CDC draft proposal says in the Communities of Faith section.

The federal government may not prescribe standards for interactions of faith communities in houses of worship and no faith community should be asked to adopt any mitigation strategies that are more stringent than the mitigation strategies asked of similarly situated entities or activities in accordance with the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act, the proposal states, adding that the CDC offers these suggestions that faith communities may consider and accept or reject, consistent with their own faith traditions, in the court of preparing their own plans to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The guidelines suggest that faith communities consider limiting gatherings to those that can be held virtually or streamed online, for phase one.

For all three phases, the CDC recommends that faith communities consider temporarily limiting the sharing of prayer books and worship materials, and consider using a stationary collection box or mail or electronic payment instead of the traditional shared collection trays or baskets; and avoid or consider suspending choir or musical ensembles during religious services.

WHITE HOUSE SAYS PAYROLL TAX CUT FOR EMPLOYEES SHOULD BE INCLUDED IN 'PHASE 4' CORONVIRUS STIMULUS PACKAGE

The CDC also recommends that when holding in-person services, institutions consider holding them in a large, well-ventilated area or outdoors, as circumstances and faith traditions allow, and space out seating for attendees who do not live in the same household to at least six feet apart when possible.

Meanwhile, the CDC draft proposes guidelines for vulnerable workers across all sectors and industries, encouraging workplaces to keep in mind that some workers are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

These vulnerable workers include individuals over age 65 and those with underlying medical conditions, the guidelines state. Such underlying conditions include, but are not limited to, chronic lung disease, moderate to severe asthma, hypertension, severe heart conditions, weakened immunity, severe obesity, diabetes, liver disease, and chronic kidney disease that requires dialysis. Vulnerable workers should be encouraged to self-identify, and employers should avoid making unnecessary medical inquiries.

The new guidelines extend to restaurants and bars, promoting ways to maintain healthy business operations and a safe and healthy work environment for employees.

The first phase recommends that bars remain closed and restaurant services remain limited to drive-through, curbside take out or delivery only with strict social distancing. Phase twowould allow bars and restaurants to re-open, with limited capacity, and seating capacity that allows for social distancing. Phase threewould allow bars to open with increased standing room occupancy that would allow for social distancing, and restaurants to operate while maintaining social distancing.

For restaurants, the CDC recommends that customers wait in their cars while waiting to be seated, and avoid the use of buzzers, switching to phone app technology when possible to alert patrons when their table is ready. The CDC also recommends that restaurants avoid self-serve food and drink options like buffets, salad bars and drink stations.

As for mass transit, the CDC recommends that phase onerestrictridership to essential critical infrastructure workers only; phase twomaintain social distancing between transit riders and employees; and phase threeencourage social distancing as much as possible.

The CDC specifically states that all decisions and policies based on the guidelines should be made with state and local authorities.

The draft proposal is reportedly under review by White House officials, and the CDC could release a final proposal in the coming days.

The proposed guidelines come as several states begin relaxing social distancing measures and begin phase one of the White House's guidelines to reopen the economy. The guidelinespass the decision on when to move to each phaseto governors and local officials.

The Trump administration's guidelines outline what individuals, businesses, health care workers and more should do over three phases in reopening the economy, with states making it to the first phaseonly if they see a decrease in the number of cases within their borders over 14 days.

As of Monday, the U.S. reported nearly 1 million positive cases of COVID-19, and more than 54,800 deaths.

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CDC draft outlines phased reopening of child care, religious institutions, food industry amid coronavirus - Fox News

‘Call of Duty’ Wins First Amendment Victory Over Use of Humvees – Hollywood Reporter

A judge rules that Activision is entitled to summary judgment in a trademark lawsuit brought by the manufacturer of military vehicles.

Call of Duty maker Activision has prevailed in a closely watched trademark dispute brought by AM General, the government contractor for Humvees. On Tuesday, a New York federal judge responded favorably to Activision's argument that it had a First Amendment right to depict contemporary warfare in its game by featuringHumvees.

"If realism is an artistic goal, then the presence in modern warfare games of vehicles employed by actual militaries undoubtedly furthers that goal," writes U.S. District Court Judge George B. Daniels in granting summary judgment in favor of Activision.

The video game publisherfought AM General's claimsalong with Major League Gaming Corp., a professional esports organization. The dispute was potentially worth tens of millions of dollars, and the discussion attracted intellectual property professors and the Electronic Software Association to weigh in with amicus briefs.

One of the reasons why the dispute became such a big deal was its potential to complicate a test established in Rogers v. Grimaldi, a 1989 decision that resulted from a lawsuit brought by the actress Ginger Rogers over the Fellini film Ginger and Fred. The test directs judges to examine whether use of a mark has artistic relevance, and if so, whether the work is explicitly misleading. But in thisCall of Dutycase,AM General argued that trademark laws hardly give way to the First Amendment when an infringing work is expressive, and when dealing with famous marks, judges should heed an additional eight-factor test for consumer confusion set forth in Polaroid v. Polarad. That's because, AM General told the judge, the "explicitly misleading" prong could be satisfied upon particularly compelling evidence of the likelihood of confusion.

Judge Daniels decides to travel down this road, and after coming to the conclusion that use of Humvees inCall of Dutyhas some artistic relevance, he ends up with a more surprising finding: The Polaroid factors actually favorActivision.

He acknowledges that there's strength in plaintiff's mark (i.e., consumers recognize Humvees) but doesn't see much similarity in how the two sides are using the mark. One is selling vehicles to the military while the other is creating realistic modern warfare video games. As for proximity of the products, while AM General may license out the rights to depict Humvees in games and toys, the judge isn't impressed because that's not its central purpose as a business. Then, there's the evidence of actual confusion. The judge acknowledges an expert's survey that shows some confusion (less than 20 percent), but says it tips only slightly in AM's favor.

One of the more notable Polaroid factors here is good faith, basically an analysis of why Activision decided to adopt Humvees into its game. AM general pointed to "documents, emails and witness testimony," the presence of Humvees decorated with Call of Duty logos at promotional events, and statements in user guides where consumers were allegedly told that Activision either owns or licenses the Humvee IP.

And yet it all fails as Daniels concludes that these "three clutches of circumstantial evidence, even if afforded the benefit of all reasonable inferences in Plaintiff's favor, do not demonstrate a desire to 'sow confusion between the two companies' products.'"

Here's the full opinion.

"To the extent that any of the Polaroid factors are satisfied such that a modicum of confusion might be present Plaintiff nonetheless has failed to present sufficient evidence to defeat summary judgment," writes the judge who then takes up whether Activision has offered a "persuasive explanation" of its use.

Here, that persuasive explanation is "realism," given Humvees' widespread use by modern militaries.

Daniels writes, "[A]ssuming arguendo that realism is the only artistic interest that Call of Duty games possess an assumption potentially belied by the presence of narrative campaign modes in all of the challenged games it is also true that realism can have artistic merit in itself."

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'Call of Duty' Wins First Amendment Victory Over Use of Humvees - Hollywood Reporter

Letter to the editor: Wolf violated First Amendment, Civil Rights Act – TribLIVE

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Letter to the editor: Wolf violated First Amendment, Civil Rights Act - TribLIVE

Accused of First Amendment Violation Against Churches, City of McKinney Amends Stay-At-Home Order – The Texan

When McKinney Mayor George Fuller issued a stay-at-home orderon Thursday, First Liberty Institute, a legal organization committed to defending religious freedom, took notice. In a letter to the mayor, the organization asserted that the order violates the First Amendments Free Exercise Clause and the Texas Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

First Libertys general counsel, Michael Berry, sent the letter to Fuller on Friday morning asking him to more narrowly tailor his order so as not to burden churches and other religious institutions.

Within hours of receiving the letter, McKinney city officials changed the order.

We were not surprised with how they responded, but we were surprised with how quickly it came. We certainly commend the city of McKinney, Berry told The Texan.

The order had required that religious and worship services be conducted only online or by teleconference and limited those conducting the service to ten people. It was changed to allow religious services by video or teleconference, or by other means that comply with the CDCs guidelines for social distancing.

First Liberty had advised churches to follow the White House and CDC guidelines for slowing the spread of the virus.

Under the Texas Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the government can only substantially burden the free exercise of religion if it has a compelling governmental interest and does so by the least restrictive means possible.

You can ensure health and safety but do so in a way that doesnt violate the federal or state law or the Constitution, Berry said.

Berry pointed out that the first order, before amended, placed a substantial burden on religious practices and that the city did not use the least restrictive means available to it.

In contrast to its limit on churches, McKinneys previous order did not put a ten-person limit on other locations listed as essential, like the number of staff preparing take-out food at a restaurant or on workers in child care facilities.

However, First Liberty asserts that religious exercise is an essential and constitutionally protected activity listed in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Berry pointed to creative ways that churches were staying within the CDC guidelines while still meeting together, like drive-in worship services where participants stayed in their cars to avoid contact with others and gathering in small groups of ten or less. Those were prohibited by McKinneys prior order.

Additionally, McKinney, found within Collin County, issued an order that was more restrictive than the one issued by Collin County Judge Chris Hill. The county has issued an order utilizing the least restrictive means possible and encouraging the highest level of personal responsibility.

It did not specifically limit religious gatherings but encouraged residents to avoid gathering in groups of more than ten.

When two orders are in conflict, Berry said, the county order supersedes according to Texas Local Government Code Section 418.108 (h).

When asked about other orders that might be problematic, Berry said they would be taking a look at orders all around Texas and the country. A citizen who believes an order in their county or city is unconstitutionally burdening the freedom of religion can consult the guidance on their website and is welcome to bring it to the attention of First Liberty.

A free bi-weekly commentary on current events by Konni Burton.

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Accused of First Amendment Violation Against Churches, City of McKinney Amends Stay-At-Home Order - The Texan

Cal Thomas: How to save the media – West Central Tribune

I confess to a certain self-interest in today's column. The media, especially newspapers, are in trouble. Conservatives like myself have been relentless in attacking their collective bias over the years, but as more of them fold or reduce staff, it is crucial the institution be saved.

Margaret Sullivan, a columnist for The Washington Post, has suggested that federal bailout money should be allocated to newspapers. That is an amusing suggestion since the world's richest man, Amazon's Jeff Bezos, owns the Post. He could infuse some of his own money to prop up that reliably liberal paper.In an age when fewer schoolchildren are taught civics, it is useful to recall that the press is the only profession mentioned in the Constitution's First Amendment, which specifically forbids Congress from "abridging" freedom of the press.The Founders were aware of newspapers' tendency to print inaccurate, even outrageous, stories, but as Benjamin Franklin noted: "I am ... for freedom of the press, and against all violations of the constitution to silence by force and not by reason the complaints or criticisms, just or unjust, of our citizens against the conduct of their agents."Newspapers then and one could argue since, along with modern television have been full of factual errors, innuendo and slanted coverage (check out the corrections section of The New York Times over the years, and those are only the mistakes they admit to), but no country has a freer press than the United States. Notice that the first entities totalitarians seek to shut down or take over are newspapers and television stations, which ought to tell us something.In a lengthy Vanity Fair article titled "Can the News Industry Survive Coronavirus," Charlotte Klein, quotes New York Times media columnist Ben Smith, who advocates "a painful but necessary shift" for saving the news business.Smith writes, "Abandon most for-profit local newspapers whose business model no longer works, and move as fast as possible to a national network of nimble new online newsrooms."Facebook has pledged $100 million to help struggling news outlets weather the financial storm caused in part by advertisers not buying ads because of the coronavirus pandemic.Financial subsidies are only a partial solution, like quitting smoking but refusing treatment when diagnosed with lung cancer. The real problem for the major media is the perception that their reporters are biased. It doesn't matter how many times they deny their biases or the frequency with which it's pointed out to them, especially by conservative organizations. The point is that as in any business if customers aren't buying your product, denying the reason why only prolongs your company's downfall.A 2018 Columbia Journalism Review story reported on a Knight Foundation-Gallup Poll: "A majority of those who were surveyed said they had lost trust in the media in recent years, and more than 30 percent of those who identified themselves as being on the conservative end of the spectrum said they had not only lost faith in the media, but they 'expect that change to be permanent.' According to a separate Gallup poll from earlier this year that tracked trust in major institutions, newspapers and television news were among the lowest, exceeded only by Congress."Among the solutions would be for the major media to address the perceived bias by including more conservatives and serious religious people on their staffs as part of "diversity" campaigns. No industry that ignores the concerns of large numbers of the public can long endure. It is vital to a free society, as the Founders believed, that a vibrant, free and, yes, responsible press endure, but the media can only save itself. That salvation will come, if it comes at all, not through financial aid alone, or even mainly, but by media owners coming to their senses and honestly addressing the concerns of people who no longer believe their message.

Cal Thomas can be reached at cthomas@wctrib.com.

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Cal Thomas: How to save the media - West Central Tribune

The EARN IT Act Violates the Constitution – EFF

Since senators introduced the EARN IT Act (S. 3398) in early March, EFF has called attention to the many ways in which the bill would be a disaster for Internet users free speech and security.

Weve explained how the EARN IT Act could be used to drastically undermine encryption. Although the bill doesnt use the word encryption in its text, it gives government officials like Attorney General William Barr the power to compel online service providers to break encryption or be exposed to potentially crushing legal liability.

The bill also violates the Constitutions protections for free speech and privacy. As Congress considers the EARN IT Actwhich would require online platforms to comply with to-be-determined best practices in order to preserve certain protections from criminal and civil liability for user-generated content under Section 230 (47 U.S.C. 230)its important to highlight the bills First and Fourth Amendment problems.

As we explained in a letter to Congress, the EARN IT Act violates the First Amendment in several ways.

1. The bills broad categories of best practices for online service providers amount to an impermissible regulation of editorial activity protected by the First Amendment.

The bills stated purpose is to prevent, reduce, and respond to the online sexual exploitation of children. However, it doesnt directly target child sexual abuse material (CSAM, also referred to as child pornography) or child sex trafficking ads. (CSAM is universally condemned, and there is a broad framework of existing laws that seek to eradicate it, as we explain in the Fourth Amendment section below).

Instead, the bill would allow the government to go much further and regulate how online service providers operate their platforms and manage user-generated contentthe very definition of editorial activity in the Internet age. Just as Congress cannot pass a law demanding news media cover specific stories or present the news a certain way, it similarly cannot direct how and whether online platforms host user-generated content.

2. The EARN IT Acts selective removal of Section 230 immunity creates an unconstitutional condition.

Congress created Section 230 and, therefore, has wide authority to modify or repeal the law without violating the First Amendment (though as a policy matter, we dont support that). However, the Supreme Court has said that the government may not condition the granting of a governmental privilege on individuals or entities doing things that amount to a violation of their First Amendment rights.

Thus, Congress may not selectively grant Section 230 immunity only to online platforms that comply with best practices that interfere with their First Amendment right to make editorial choices regarding their hosting of user-generated content.

3. The EARN IT Act fails strict scrutiny.

The bill seeks to hold online service providers responsible for a particular type of content and the choices they make regarding user-generated content, and so it must satisfy the strictest form of judicial scrutiny.

Although the content the EARN IT Act seeks to regulate is abhorrent and the governments interest in stopping the creation and distribution of that content is compelling, the First Amendment still requires that the law be narrowly tailored to address those weighty concerns. Yet, given the bills broad scope, it will inevitably force online platforms to censor the constitutionally protected speech of their users.

The EARN IT Act violates the Fourth Amendment by turning online platforms into government actors that search users accounts without a warrant based on probable cause.

The bill states, Nothing in this Act or the amendments made by this Act shall be construed to require a provider of an interactive computer service to search, screen, or scan for instances of online child sexual exploitation. Nevertheless, given the bills stated goal to, among other things, prevent online child sexual exploitation, its likely that the best practices will effectively coerce online platforms into proactively scanning users accounts for content such as CSAM or child sex trafficking ads.

Contrast this with what happens today: if an online service provider obtains actual knowledge of an apparent or imminent violation of anti-child pornography laws, its required to make a report to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Childrens (NCMEC) CyberTipline. NCMEC then forwards actionable reports to the appropriate law enforcement agencies.

Under this current statutory scheme, an influential decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, written by then-Judge Neil Gorsuch, held that NCMEC is not simply an agent of the government, it is a government entity established by act of Congress with unique powers and duties that are granted only to the government.

On the other hand, courts have largely rejected arguments that online service providers are agents of the government in this context. Thats because the government argues that companies voluntarily scan their own networks for private purposes, namely to ensure that their services stay safe for all users. Thus, courts typically rule that these scans are considered private searches that are not subject to the Fourth Amendments warrant requirement. Under this doctrine, NCMEC and law enforcement agencies also do not need a warrant to view users account content already searched by the companies.

However, the EARN IT Acts best practices may effectively coerce online platforms into proactively scanning users accounts in order to keep the companies legal immunity under Section 230. Not only would this result in invasive scans that risk violating all users privacy and security, companies would arguably become government agents subject to the Fourth Amendment. In analogous cases, courts have found private parties to be government agents when the government knew of and acquiesced in the intrusive conduct and the party performing the search intended to assist law enforcement efforts or to further his own ends.

Thus, to the extent that online service providers scan users accounts to comply with the EARN IT Act, and do so without a probable cause warrant, defendants would have a much stronger argument that these scans violate the Fourth Amendment. Given Congress goal of protecting children from online sexual exploitation, it should not risk the suppression of evidence by effectively coercing companies to scan their networks.

Presently, the EARN IT Act has been introduced in the Senate and assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee, which held a hearing on March 11. The next step is for the committee to consider amendments during a markup proceeding (though given the current state of affairs its unclear when that will be). We urge you to contact your members of Congress and ask them to reject the bill.

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The EARN IT Act Violates the Constitution - EFF

Trump Threat to Pull TV Licenses Over Coronavirus Ad Violation of First Amendment – PEN America

While mostly bluster, its a bullying attempt to intimidate the press says PEN America

(New York, NY) Donald Trumps presidential campaign this week sent a cease-and-desist letter to television stations airing ads critical of the way he has handled the coronavirus crisis, threatening to revoke their operating licenses. PEN Americas Nora Benavidez, director of U.S. free expression programs, issued the following statement.

Silencing critics is clearly a knee-jerk reaction for the president. He has a long history of tryingtoexploit the legal systemto scare his supposed adversaries. Its a troubling practice and a violation of the First Amendment. In the midst of an election andwhile theU.S.is grappling withan unprecedented public healthcrisis, its appalling for the president to focus in on using his influence to silence a critical television ad that is unquestionably protected political speech. The fact that this threatened action wouldnever hold up in court actually exposes it for whatit is: a bullying attempt to intimidatethepress and silencethepresidents critics.

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PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible.

CONTACT: Stephen Fee, Director of Communications, [emailprotected], +1 202 309 8892white house

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Trump Threat to Pull TV Licenses Over Coronavirus Ad Violation of First Amendment - PEN America

Judge: Suit filed by former Henrico firefighter who was fired after being charged with rioting during Trump’s inauguration can proceed – Richmond.com

A federal judge has ruled that a lawsuit filed against Henrico County officials by a former firefighter who was fired after she was arrested and charged with rioting at President Donald Trumps inauguration can proceed.

Rosa Dianne Roncales, who lost her job in April 2017, filed suit last year alleging her First Amendment free speech rights and her due process rights under the 14th Amendment were violated. The suit named four former fire department superiors and the county as defendants.

In a 36-page memorandum Tuesday, U.S. District Judge M. Hannah Lauck dismissed Henrico County as a defendant but ruled that Roncales suit could proceed against four of her former supervisors in the Henrico Fire Department on the First Amendment claim and against one of the officials on the due process claim.

She is represented by lawyers Nicholas Simopoulos and Jeffrey Fogel. Simopoulos said Wednesday that the ruling means the suit can proceed to discovery and more can be learned about the circumstances surrounding her firing.

Roncales suit says she attended the Jan. 20, 2017, inauguration protest on her own time and wore no clothing or other markings that would identify her as an employee or member of the Henrico Fire Department.

Although Ms. Roncales engaged in no criminal activity, she was swept up in a large-scale arrest of several hundred people by the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department and, subsequently, charged with several offenses. The charges were later dismissed, says the complaint.

The suit says she reported the arrest to a superior on Jan. 23, 2017. While so doing, Ms. Roncales requested that this confidential personnel information not be disseminated. Nonetheless ... her report was immediately disseminated throughout the HFD.

She alleges she was terminated for purported discrepancies in information she provided them during an administrative investigation of her arrest and the information likely provided them by police in Washington, D.C.

She said when questioned by fire officials, she was asked why she went to the protest and whether she agreed with the political view of the protesters. She said that yes, she did agree with the political view of the protesters.

She explained that she had no intention to break the law and when she saw others doing so, she made every effort to get away from them, says the suit.

She denies there were any discrepancies. She says she answered all questions truthfully during the administrative investigation and that the police had given Henrico County inaccurate information.

Her complaint stated that after she properly reported her arrest to a supervisor and he assured her it would be kept confidential, she began receiving phone calls and text messages from members of the Henrico and Petersburg fire departments Roncales was a Petersburg firefighter before joining the Henrico department.

The defendants allegedly asked Roncales why she attempted to disguise herself during the protest. Roncales said she denied disguising herself and said she wore simple, nondescript black clothing because she feared being doxxed by the Alt-right.

Doxxed is a term used to describe the research and publication of personal details so others can target and harass that individual.

Roncales suit says she had never been the subject of any discipline in the past while working in Petersburg or with Henrico and said she was told when fired that her actions had made things harder for female firefighters.

On April 4, 2017, an email was sent out to the entire fire department announcing Roncales termination.

Ms. Roncaless engagement in this protected speech outweighed and, in fact, had no impact upon any legitimate interest the defendants may have had in the operation of the fire department, the suit alleges.

Her suit also alleges that she was deprived of the fair and unbiased opportunity for a hearing, whether name-clearing or otherwise, to rebut the defendants representations, and to present her side of the story.

Her suit seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages and the awarding of attorney fees and costs.

In her memorandum Tuesday, Lauck dismissed Henrico County as a defendant, holding that the suit failed to allege an unconstitutional policy or custom that would make the county liable.

Lauck also dismissed the due process claim against the county but allowed that claim to proceed against one of the defendants.

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Judge: Suit filed by former Henrico firefighter who was fired after being charged with rioting during Trump's inauguration can proceed - Richmond.com


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