First Amendment Newsflash 7/24-8/6

Welcome to First Amendment Newsflash, the First Amendment Law Review’s new bi-weekly roundup of the latest in free expression and religious freedom news and commentary. Check here every other Sunday for a new edition! Need First Amendment news in the meantime? Follow FALR on Twitter and Facebook for regular updates.

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Court News

In the case of the woman who was convicted of manslaughter for encouraging her boyfriend to commit suicide via text message, Michelle Carter was sentenced to 15 months in jail.

A federal judge issued a temporary restraining order blocking Cranston, Rhode Island’s panhandling ordinance in the First Amendment case challenging the law.

In one of many cases examining whether politicians may constitutionally block individuals from their social media accounts, a federal judge ruled that a local politician in Virginia violated the First Amendment when she blocked an individual from her Facebook page after he voiced criticism. In similar cases, the ACLU has sued the governors of Maryland and Kentucky.

The West Virginia ACLU filed an amicus brief in the case of coal giant Bob Murray suing comedian John Oliver for defamation. Among the brief’s arguments were subheadings such as, “Anyone Can Legally Say, ‘Eat Shit, Bob!’” Read Vanity Fair’s coverage here.

The Missouri Attorney General asked the court to dismiss Backpage.com’s First Amendment lawsuit against him.

A federal judge issued a preliminary injunction blocking a Kenner, La. law that prevents city employees from working on city political campaigns.

Google has filed a motion for an injunction in U.S. federal court, seeking to block a Canadian Supreme Court ruling requiring Google to take down search results for pirated products.

The Third Circuit ruled that secular organizations that oppose birth control cannot opt out of providing insurance coverage for birth control.

The Fifth Circuit reversed a lower court ruling blocking a Mississippi religious accommodations law, saying that the plaintiffs lacked standing to challenge the act. The district court had invalidated the law under the establishment clause.

 

White House News

Jeff Sessions announced that the DOJ will route more resources to pursuing and punishing leakers, raising concerns and reigniting the debate over the reporter’s privilege.

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback will be nominated as ambassador at large for religious freedom, a position within the State Department charged with promoting religious freedom globally.

 

Other News & Commentary

An Economist/YouGov poll found that 34% of Americans agree that courts should be able to fine media organizations for biased or inaccurate reporting.

A recent survey found that 95% of millennials believe religious freedom is important. In the same survey, millennials also listed the right to free speech as one of the top three most important rights.

 

That’s it for your First Amendment Newsflash July 24-Aug. 6, 2017. See you again on Aug. 20! In the meantime, don’t forget to secure your ticket to our annual symposium: Distorting the Truth: “Fake News” and Free Speech! 4.5 N.C. CLE credits available!

 

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