First Amendment Friday: 05.02.2014

May 2, 2014 ACLU, Gay and Lesbian, Politics / Religion Comments (0) 592

This is a feature I started in my time working for the ACLU, that seems worth continuing here. It’s a roundup of news stories about First Amendment rights, not only from the United States but other parts of the world where such rights may not be guaranteed. As with any roundup of news stories, please consider the integrity of the linked source–I try not to link articles that feel bogus, but sometimes stories slip through.

  • In a new book, retired Supreme Court Justice Paul Stevens suggests six new amendments to the U.S. Constitution, including a revision to the First Amendment that would place “reasonable limits” on political campaign contributions. [NPR]
  • The NCAA believes the First Amendment gives them the right to profit from using the images of the players it doesn’t pay and doesn’t educate in video games, and they want the Supreme Court to agree. [Bloomberg]
  • Several Christian groups that perform same-sex weddings, including the United Church of Christ, have sued North Carolina because the state’s marriage equality ban, enacted through both state law and the state constitution, violate their religious freedom under the First Amendment. [Wall Street Journal]
  • Defense attorneys for alleged gang leader Ronald Herron argue that his rap recordings, in which prosecutors claim he journaled his crimes, are in fact protected free speech, analogous to Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues,” and inadmissible at trial. [AP]

  • The ACLU and Columbia Legal Services are suing Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for retaliating against incarcerated immigrant hunger strikers by placing them in solitary confinement; the groups say hunger striking is expression protected under the First Amendment. [Hola Arkansas]
  • After a storm-chaser in Arkansas used a drone to take video of a tornado aftermath, a local newspaper reported that the FAA is investigating–raising questions about the agency’s potential to limit journalistic freedom. [Forbes]
  • A Kansas pastor, arrested in Jackson, Wyoming in 2011 for an anti-abortion protest, has settled a civil rights lawsuit against the state. [Caspar Star-Tribune]
  • The British High Commissioner to Zambia spoke out in defense of Zambians’ rights to free speech and assembly. [Post Zambia]
  • In a letter to the Secretary of Defense, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation expressed their objection to the U.S. Miltary’s participation in the National Day of Prayer on May 1. [MRFF]
  • As China undergoes a Jewish revival, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor used a speech in Shanghai to urge the Chinese government to afford more religious freedom to Chinese Jews. [Arutz Sheva]
  • Just over a month before state primaries, officials in one South Carolina county question the Constitutionality of a law restricting placement of political signs. [Charleston Post and Courier]
  • At Salon, activist Lauren Gazzola writes about how the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, a federal law passed in 2006 to protect agricultural business, criminalizes constitutionally protected speech.
  • In Malaysia, the former Prime Minister wrote on his popular blog that his nation’s democracy must be protected by limiting the rights to free speech, free press, and assembly. [Malaysian Digest]

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