Tag Archives: First Amendment

Rights Groups To Sue as Louisiana Requires Ten Commandments Displayed in Classrooms

“Our public schools are not Sunday schools,” the groups said, “and students of all faiths, or no faith, should feel welcome in them.”

By Edward Carver. Published 6-19-2024 by Common Dreams

Louisiana Gov. Jeff Landry. Photo:gov.louisiana.gov

Rights groups expressed outrage and promised legal action on Wednesday as Louisiana became the only state to require that the Ten Commandments be displayed in public classrooms.

The law requires all public classrooms, from kindergarten to university-level, to display the commandments in “large, easily readable font” by the start of 2025. Republican Gov. Jeff Landry signed House Bill 71 into law Wednesday after declaring recently that he “could not wait to be sued.”

Continue reading
Share Button

Educators Celebrate as Judge Strikes Down New Hampshire ‘Banned Concepts’ Law

One advocate said the federal judge “correctly decided that educators have the constitutional right to teach honest, accurate lessons and wasn’t dragged into the clutches of the extreme right.”

By Brett Wilkins. Published 5-28-2024 by Common Dreams

A middle school class. Photo: woodleywonderworks//flickr/CC

Education and free speech advocates cheered Tuesday’s federal court ruling striking down New Hampshire’s classroom censorship law, one of several so-called “white discomfort” bills passed in Republican-controlled states in recent years.

U.S. District Judge Paul J. Barbadoro’s 50-page ruling says that the New England state’s so-called “banned concepts” law is “unconstitutionally vague” and contains “viewpoint-based restrictions on speech that do not provide either fair warning to educators of what they prohibit or sufficient standards for law enforcement to prevent arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement.”

Continue reading
Share Button

TikTok Sues US Government Over ‘Unconstitutional’ Potential Ban

One expert said legislators’ admissions “that the ban was motivated by a desire to suppress content about the Israel-Gaza conflict will make the law especially difficult for the government to defend,” said one First Amendment expert.

By Julia Conley. Published 5-7-2024 by Common Dreams

Creators, lawmakers oppose ban of TikTok at Capitol rally on Mar 22, 2023. Screenshot: NBC News via YouTube

A top First Amendment expert on Tuesday said TikTok has a strong case against the U.S. government as the social media platform filed a federal lawsuit against a potential ban—particularly since proponents of the law have admitted it is aimed at blocking Americans’ access to news out of Gaza.

The platform filed the lawsuit against U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit nearly two weeks after President Joe Biden signed the Protecting Americans From Foreign Adversaries Act into law as part of a larger foreign aid package.

Continue reading
Share Button

Amid Spying Fight, House Passes Fourth Amendment Is Not For Sale Act

“As FANFSA and the 702 reauthorization move to the Senate, lawmakers in that chamber need to take a stand for the rights of people in the United States,” said one advocate.

By Jessica Corbett. Published 4-17-2024 by Common Dreams

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Fourth Amendment Is Not For Sale Act on April 17, 2024. Image: PickPik

While applauding the U.S. House of Representatives’ bipartisan passage of a bill to ensure that “law enforcement and intelligence agencies can’t do an end-run around the Constitution by buying information from data brokers” on Wednesday, privacy advocates highlighted that Congress is trying to extend and expand a long-abused government spying program.

The House voted 219-199 for Fourth Amendment Is Not For Sale Act (FANFSA), which won support from 96 Democrats and 123 Republicans, including the lead sponsor, Rep. Warren Davidson (R-Ohio). Named for the constitutional amendment that protects against unreasonable searches and seizures, H.R. 4639 would close what campaigners call the data broker loophole.

Continue reading
Share Button

‘Ed Scare’ Deepens​ as 4,000+ Books Banned in First Half of School Year

“The bans we’re seeing are broad, harsh, and pernicious—and they’re undermining the education of millions of students across the country,” said one lead author of a new PEN America report.

By Brett Wilkins Published 4-16-2024 by Common Dreams

Photo: nataliesap/flickr/CC

U.S. school districts banned more books during the first half of the current academic year than during the entire last scholastic year, a report published Tuesday revealed.

PEN America recorded 4,349 book bans across 52 school districts in 23 states during the fall 2023 semester, more than double the 1,841 titles that were prohibited during the spring term and more than the 3,362 volumes reported banned nationwide during the entire previous academic year.

Continue reading
Share Button

Google Slammed for ‘Playing Games With California’s Democracy’ by Blocking News

“This is an extraordinarily inappropriate time for Google to experiment with which voters might or might not see news about elected officials and candidates for office.”

By Jessica Corbett. Published 4-13-2024 by Common Dreams

Google_headquarters. Photo: Anthony Quintano/flickr/CC

California reporters and union leaders are calling out Google for blocking news content for some users amid consideration of a landmark proposal that would make tech giants pay media outlets for links they share—which some experts warn won’t solve the journalism industry’s financial problems.

To prepare for potential passage of the California Journalism Preservation Act (CJPA), Google is “beginning a short-term test for a small percentage of California users,” Jaffer Zaidi, the tech giant’s VP for global news partnerships, explained in a Friday blog post.

Continue reading
Share Button

Alabama Republicans Try to ‘Criminalize Librarians Simply for Doing Their Jobs’

“Not only is this wrong, it’s also unconstitutional. You are not protecting children; you are protecting extremists who are trying to dismantle the very foundations of my country.”

By Jessica Corbett. Published 4-3-2024 by Common Dreams.

Banned Books Week installation on the second floor of Kennedy Library at Cal Poly on Monday, September 24, 2018. Photo: Kennedy Library/flickr/CC

The Alabama Library Association and other critics on Wednesday called out the state’s Republican policymakers for pushing a new bill that opponents warn will unfairly jail librarians and have a chilling impact on collections.

House Bill 385, introduced Tuesday by state Rep. Arnold Mooney (R-43) and 30 other legislators, says that “under existing law, certain obscenity laws do not apply to public libraries, public school libraries, college libraries, or university libraries, or the employees or agents of any such libraries.”

Continue reading
Share Button

‘Disturbing’: Intel Chair Used Schumer Protests to Push Warrantless Spying

“If any lawmakers were still on the fence and waiting for a smoking gun, THIS IS IT,” said one advocate of reforming Section 702.

By Jessica Corbett. Published 3-12-2024 by Common Dreams

Jewish opponents of Israel’s genocidal war on the Gaza Strip protested outside the Brooklyn residence of U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on October 13, 2023. (Photo: Jewish Voice for Peace NYC/X)

Privacy advocates issued fresh calls for changes to a historically abused U.S. spying program on Tuesday after Wired reported that a top Republican congressman privately tried using peaceful protests as proof of the need to block long-demanded reforms.

“If you care about the First Amendment, please stop everything and read this Wired article,” Elizabeth Goitein, senior director of the Brennan Center for Justice’s Liberty & National Security Program, said on social media, sharing the piece.

Continue reading
Share Button

‘Dangerous’: Pelosi Calls for FBI to Investigate Cease-Fire Supporters

“She is calling for effectively more surveillance and potential criminalization of protestors by suggesting (falsely) that they have foreign links,” said one critic.

By Julia Conley Published 128-2024 by Common Dreams

Photo: Gage Skidmore/flickr/CC

As The New York Times reported Sunday that more than 1,000 Black American pastors have joined the widespread call for a cease-fire in Gaza, U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi suggested the demand was “Putin’s message” and said the FBI should investigate groups that are speaking out about Biden’s pro-Israel policies.

On CNN, the former House speaker, a California Democrat, told Dana Bash that the “call for a cease-fire is [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s message” and said she thinks some of the protests that have erupted across the U.S. since October to demand the U.S. push for an end to Israel’s killing of civilians in Gaza “are connected to Russia.”

Continue reading
Share Button

‘No, This Is Not a Parody’: Florida School District Bans Dictionaries Under DeSantis Law

Webster’s Dictionary & Thesaurus and The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank are among the books that the Escambia County School District has yanked from library shelves.

By Jake Johnson Published 1-10-2024 by Common Dreams

A photo of a Florida K-8 school’s dumpster, filled to the brim with history and civics textbooks. As part of a new policy, schools must destroy all material not allowed by the state government. Photo: Yamasztuka/Wikimedia Commons/CC

Dictionaries and encyclopedias are among the more than 2,800 books that a Florida school district has pulled from library shelves in an effort to comply with a law that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed last year.

Judd Legum, author of the Popular Information newsletter, reported Wednesday that the Escambia County School District said the books that have been banned pending further investigation “may violate H.B. 1069,” which “gives residents the right to demand the removal of any library book that ‘depicts or describes sexual conduct,’ as defined under Florida law, whether or not the book is pornographic.”

Continue reading
Share Button