First Amendment Newsflash 7/10-23

Welcome to First Amendment Newsflash, the First Amendment Law Review’s 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.


Supreme Court News

A petition for writ of certiorari has been filed in Ingersoll v. Arlene’s Flowers, the case of the Washington State florist who refused to arrange flowers for a same-sex wedding, citing religious freedom and free expression.


Other Court News

A federal judge has blocked Milwaukee’s permit requirements for augmented reality games while a First Amendment suit on the matter is pending.

The ACLU of Rhode Island has sued the City of Cranston, RI, over the town’s panhandling ordinance, which the ACLU says violates the First Amendment. Meanwhile, Columbus, OH has stopped enforcing its panhandling ordinances in order to avoid First Amendment violations.

In another panhandling case, the City of Slidell, LA has decided not to appeal a June district court ruling declaring its panhandling ordinance unconstitutional.

Facebook is arguing in federal court against a court order blocking the company from informing users when law enforcement execute search warrants to view their online information.

A federal district court struck down a California town’s sign ordinance, which allowed special provisions for new businesses and certain holidays, citing Town of Gilbert. Read The Washington Posts’ analysis here.

The Fourth Circuit, sitting en banc, held that prayers before Rowan County, NC Board of Commissioners meetings were unconstitutionally coercive, reversing the ruling of the three-judge panel and upholding the district court’s opinion. Read WRAL’s analysis here.

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NC’s Campus Free Speech Act Disappoints Speakers by Furthering Status Quo

NCLegislature.jpgBy Lindsie Trego; Symposium Editor (Vol. 16)

The North Carolina legislature passed the Campus Free Speech Act last week, and the bill is now awaiting the governor’s approval. The Act is loosely based on a model bill made by the Goldwater Institute, a Libertarian think tank, and it follows similar bills passed by Colorado, Utah, Virginia, and Tennessee this year.

The trend of Campus Free Speech bills has captured lawmakers’ attention–especially the attention of Republicans– in the wake of sometimes violent campus protests such as those that occurred at Mizzou in 2016 and at Berkeley in February of this year, and also following what advocacy organizations have called a crisis of “disinvitations” of speakers. The Goldwater model bill seeks to address these concerns by (1) requiring campuses to implement policies that affirm the importance of free speech, including striking former speech-restrictive policies; (2) prohibiting disinvitation of speakers; (3) declaring outdoor areas of campus to be public forums, in which free speech enjoys the greatest protection; (4) creating a scheme of disciplinary sanctions for those who “interfere” with others’ free speech rights; (5) requiring free speech policies to be introduced to students at freshman orientation; and (6) establishing a committee to study threats to free speech on campus.

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First Amendment Newsflash 6/11-25

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.



Supreme Court News

In Matal v. Tam (formerly Lee v. Tam), the Supreme Court held 8-0 that the disparagement clause of the Lanham Act violates the First Amendment. The Court found that trademarks do not constitute government speech. Four justices applied the Central Hudson test, while the other four justices argued that strict scrutiny was the appropriate standard. The decision is seen as reaffirming that there is no hate speech exception to the First Amendment. Read The Washington Post’s analysis here.

In Packingham v. North Carolina, the Supreme Court held 8-0 that a N.C. statute preventing registered sex offenders from using social media violates the First Amendment. The majority opinion proclaims the internet to be “the most important place[] . . . for the exchange of views.” Read SCOTUSblog’s analysis here.

Cert was denied in a case from the Second Circuit challenging mass arrests of protesters (Garcia v. Bloomberg), leaving a circuit split on the issue.

The government filed its opposition brief in Elonis II. At issue in this case, back up on cert from the Third Circuit, is whether the trial court’s omission of the mens rea element from jury instructions was harmless error. Read Elonis’ brief here. For a refresher on Elonis I, check out FALR blog posts here and here.

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