Tag: First Amendment

My Encounter with Gun Control Fanatics


We had been seated for only a few minutes at the Grille, the restaurant in our gated community. Suddenly I saw my husband’s eyes open, then roll, as he shook his head in disgust. He was looking behind me, and as I turned around, I saw a couple sitting down at a table for two. Standing in front of their table for all to see was a white sign with the large letters “AR IS FOR WAR.” We live in a 55+ community, so the man was no youngster. His hair was grey, as was his wife’s, and he was wearing a distinctive military cap on his head, although I couldn’t read what it said.

We called our waiter over, who is a very nice young man, and said this was not the place for a political statement. He said he couldn’t do anything, but said he would let the manager know. After several minutes, the manager didn’t appear, so my husband lost his patience and went to fetch her. She told him she didn’t realize it was a political sign. Right. Several minutes later she appeared at the table with the sign, chatted, and left. Nothing else was done.

I could see that my husband was working up a head of steam; neither of us could let go of the couple’s insistence on making what we considered to be an offensive political statement. I finally told my husband that I was going over to see what kind of statement they thought they were making. I saw that the man was a Seabee from his hat, and said my husband was a Vietnam War vet. The conversation went somewhat like this:

Richard Epstein looks at Janus v. AFSCME, a Supreme Court case out of Illinois with the potential to dramatically reduce the power of public sector unions.

Transgender Tragedy Continues


Transgender student Nicole Maines listens during a hearing before the Maine Supreme Court. A lawsuit accuses a school district of breaking a state law in 2007 when it stopped letting Nicole Maines use the girls’ bathroom and required to her use a staff bathroom after a student’s grandfather complained. Maines was born a boy.

Last week the American Civil Liberties Union sued Alabama state officials in a federal district court on behalf of three transgender individuals. The plaintiffs all suffer from gender dysphoria: Darcy Corbitt and Destiny Clark are men but want to obtain Alabama driver’s licenses that describe them as female; John Doe is female but seeks to change her driver’s license to one identifying her as male.

Richard Epstein reviews how the new film The Post portrays the Supreme Court’s free speech jurisprudence in the Pentagon Papers case.

YouTube and PragerU’s Lawsuit: The Case for Prager


I didn’t want to duplicate anything that had been was written already. It took a while but I read all the comments on Should Conservatives Sue Private Media Companies.

I think people are looking at this the wrong way. Yes, YouTube is a private company, but that isn’t the only consideration at play. Like everyone else, I don’t buy the public forum argument against viewpoint discrimination, unless there’s relevant state law in California on the matter (which was alluded to) or unless there’s evidence that YouTube is using its near monopoly in a way that unfairly stifles competition and violates antitrust law. However, the question isn’t, “did YouTube violate the First Amendment?” The First Amendment case is just one argument PragerU makes in their brief (and the question is about suing).

Trump vs. NBC


So we’re just going to jump into it. Yesterday morning, the President Tweeted the following: “With all of the Fake News coming out of NBC and the Networks, at what point is it appropriate to challenge their License? Bad for country!”

That comment was in response to an NBC news report about a July 20 meeting where the President said he wanted a 10-fold increase in the US nuclear arsenal, and everyone had to patiently explain the costs, the impracticality, and the international agreements that prevented such a thing. It was also after that meeting that Rex Tillerson allegedly called the President a “moron.” (Not only does the President dispute that report, but several other people, including Gen. Mattis, say the report is inaccurate.)

Okay, first things first, the President’s Tweets are (according to the White House) official statements by the President of the United States. Just to be clear: the President of the United States publicly threatened the broadcast license of a critical media outlet in an official statement.

The Slants Win at the Supreme Court


In January, I posted about Simon Tam and his band The Slants, which had been denied trademark protection on the grounds that the name is racially insensitive and therefore forbidden in the marketplace. This morning I see that Tam has won his case, the Court unanimously concurring but issuing two opinions, one written by Justice Alito and concurred with by the Chief Justice, Justice Thomas, and Justice Breyer; the other by Justice Kennedy who was joined by Justices Kagan, Sotomayor, and Ginsburg in a separate opinion that affirmed in part and concurred in the judgment.

From Alito’s opinion:

Perhaps the most worrisome implication of the Government’s argument concerns the system of copyright registration. If federal registration makes a trademark government speech and thus eliminates all First Amendment protection, would the registration of the copyright for a book produce a similar transformation? See 808 F.3d, at 1346 (explaining that if trademark registration amounts to government speech, “then copyright registration” which “has identical accoutrements” would “likewise amount to government speech”). The Government attempts to distinguish copyright on the ground that it is “‘the engine of free expression,’” Brief for Petitioner 47 (quoting Eldred v. Ashcroft, 537 U. S. 186, 219 (2003)), but as this case illustrates, trademarks often have an expressive content. Companies spend huge amounts to create and publicize trademarks that convey a message. It is true that the necessary brevity of trademarks limits what they can say. But powerful messages can sometimes be conveyed in just a few words. Trademarks are private, not government, speech.

Richard Epstein looks at recent on-campus controversies involving Charles Murray and Milo Yiannopoulos and examines what can be done about the increasingly hostile environment in American higher education.

FIRE’s 2017 10 Worst Colleges for Free Speech


Unfortunately, it isn’t an easy undertaking deciding which schools belong on FIRE’s “10 worst colleges for free speech” list every year. This year was no exception.

This morning, we at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) published our annual “worst of the worst” list, which can be read with detailed descriptions of each school’s misdeeds at The Huffington Post.

Mann v. National Review, Judges v. First Amendment


The assault on the First Amendment continues. On December 22, more than two years after it heard our appeal of a lower-court ruling, a sweet-time-taking three-judge panel of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals issued a ruling in the Mann v. National Review case. The case stems from this July 15, 2012 Corner post in which Mark Steyn, quoting in part from something Rand Simberg had posted on the Competitive Enterprise Institute website, laid into global-warmist Penn State prof Michael Mann’s infamous “hockey stick” graph, Mann himself, and his Penn State bosses.

On the ruling’s upside: The court tossed out Mann’s defamation claim against National Review and Rich Lowry over his August, 2012 “Get Lost” NRO piece replying to Mann’s lawsuit threat.

But that aside, in legal gobbledyegook that even John Yoo might have a hard time deciphering, the judges said the case against NR, Steyn, CEI, and Simberg could proceed to trial. Here is the ruling and here is the website for NoDoz (you might need it). It’s not difficult to see why some very initial reports of the ruling (which claimed the judges tossed the case) were wrong.

Yes, You Have Free Speech! (Except on 99.9985% of This Campus.)


georgiagwinnettcollege…And except if your expression “disturbs the peace and/or comfort of person(s).” And for only about 18 hours during the week. Otherwise … free speech! So it is at one college.

Alliance Defending Freedom sued Georgia Gwinnett College Monday on behalf of Chike Uzuegbunam, a student who sought to politely share his faith on campus. Despite jumping through several unconstitutional hoops in order to get permission to speak, Chike was nonetheless accused of “disorderly conduct.”

In July, college officials stopped Uzuegbunam from talking with fellow students about Christianity and handing out religious literature in a plaza outside the college library. After Uzuegbunam complied, campus officials informed him that GGC policies also prohibited him from speaking privately with students about his faith unless he provides three days advance notice and speaks only in one of the two small speech zones during the two to four hours a day they are open during the week.

Member Post


In the United States, we have typically had an expansive view of religious freedom.  Behind the Free Exercise and Establishment clauses of the First Amendment is a powerful argument against tyranny.  As religion presents an authority higher than the State, there is a sense of judgement on even popularly supported laws and moral principles.   Castro […]

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FIRE Releases 2017 Speech Code Report


shutterstock_238626832Today my organization, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), released our annual “Spotlight on Speech Codes” report, a rundown of the speech policies at 449 of America’s largest and most prestigious colleges and universities. The report contains both good and bad news about the state of free speech on campus.

As the Wall Street Journal reported:

Fire’s 10th annual report surveyed speech policies at 345 four-year public colleges and 104 private schools. The good news is that the share of colleges with “red-light” speech codes that substantially bar constitutionally protected speech has declined to 39.6%, a nearly 10% drop in the last year and the lowest share since 2008. Over the last nine years the number of institutions that don’t seriously threaten speech has tripled to 27. Several colleges including the University of Wisconsin have adopted policies that affirm (at least in theory) their commitment to free speech.

Richard Epstein describes the dramatic failure of the federal government’s attempts to balance anti-discrimination laws against religious liberty protections.

Member Post


  We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights; that among these rights are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.—That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just power from the consent of the […]

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Whether one is an ardent supporter of Donald Trump or whether one detests the man with every fiber of their being, as Americans some basic principals must be agreed upon by all. Starting with all must agree that the First Amendment must not be infringed. Freedom of speech must be held sacrosanct in order for […]

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