Tag Archives: First Amendment

Accusing Trump of Crossing Constitutional Line, PEN America Sues Over Threats and Reprisals Against Free Press

“When President Trump crosses the line and threatens to use his authority to punish the media, or actually does so, it is vital for the courts to step in and affirm that such threats and reprisals are unconstitutional.”

By Jon Queally, staff writer for  Common Dreams. Published 10-16-2018

The lawsuit filed by PEN America and its partners seeks “to stop President Trump from using the machinery of government to retaliate or threaten reprisals against journalists and media outlets for coverage he dislikes.” (Image: PEN America)

Arguing that President Donald Trump has crossed the line from “verbal attacks on the press” that are protected under the his First Amendment rights into using his authority to punish journalists and media outlets he dislikes with threats of intimidation or reprisal, the literary rights group PEN America has announced a lawsuit against the president in order to bring an end to such attacks.

The lawsuit (pdf) brought in a Manhattan federal court on Tuesday—with PEN joined by the nonpartisan nonprofit Protect Democracy and the Yale Law School Media Freedom and Information Access Clinic—states that while Trump has constitutionally-protected rights and “is free to criticize the press vehemently,” the president “is not free to use the  power and authority of the United States government to punish and stifle it.”   Continue reading

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Warning of Propaganda ‘Loudspeakers’ in Every American’s Pocket, Lawsuit Aims to Stop Trump’s Unblockable Text Messages

The suit argues the presidential alert system violates “Americans’ First and Fourth Amendment rights to be free from government-compelled listening.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 10-2-2018

Photo: Gage Skidmore [CC-BY-SA 3.0] via Wikimedia Commons

With President Donald Trump set to send out the first unblockable “presidential alert” to every single U.S. resident with a cellphone on Wednesday, three New Yorkers are attemping to stop the intrusive text messages with a lawsuit arguing that the new emergency alert system “is tantamount to hijacking private property for the purpose of planting a government-controlled loudspeaker in the home and on the person of every American.”

Filed last week in the U.S. District Court in Manhattan by three New York activists—J.B. Nicholas, Kristine Rakowsky and Liane Nikitovich—the suit (pdf) claims the presidential alert system violates “Americans’ First and Fourth Amendment rights to be free from government-compelled listening, as well as warrantless, non-consensual trespass into and seizure of their cellular devices.”

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Shutting Down Free Speech in America: Government and Lobbyists Work Together to Destroy the First Amendment

By Philip Giraldi. Published 9-24-2018 by American Herald Tribune

During the past several years, there has been increased pressure coming from some in the federal government aided and abetted powerful advocacy groups in the private sector to police social and alternative media. It is a multi-pronged attack on the First Amendment which has already limited the types of information that Americans have access to, thereby narrowing policy options to suit those in power.

The process has been ostensibly driven by concerns over alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election, but it is really about who controls and limits the public’s right to know what is going on out of sight in Washington and New York City, where politics and money come together. If one is interested in the free flow of information and viewpoints that comes with the alternative media, it certainly does not look that way. Robert Parry described it as a deliberate process of “demonizing and silencing dissent that questions mainstream narratives.” Continue reading

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Free Press Advocates Alarmed by US Government’s “Terrifying” Secret Rules for Spying on Journalists

“It makes me wonder, what other rules are out there, and how have these rules been applied?”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-17-2018

Press freedom advocates have obtained and released federal government documents detailing an invasive process officials can use to spy on journalists. (Photo: ACLU)

Journalists and free press advocates are responding with alarm to newly released documents revealing the U.S. government’s secret rules for using Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court orders to spy on reporters, calling the revelations “important” and “terrifying.”

The documents—obtained and released by the Freedom of the Press Foundation and the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University through an ongoing Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit filed last November—confirm long held suspicions that federal officials can target journalists with FISA orders. Continue reading

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Anti-Pipeline Kayaktivists Hit With Felony Charges Under Louisiana’s New ALEC-Inspired Law That Criminalizes Protest

Activists battling the pipeline project say the fossil fuel company’s private security “abducted” the kayakers before they were charged by police

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-12-2018

Three kayaktivists who oppose the Bayou Bridge Pipeline in Louisiana were charged with felonies Thursday under a new state law that criminalizes peaceful protests of fossil fuel projects. (Photo: L’eau Est La Vie/Facebook)

Three kayaktivists who oppose construction of the Bayou Bridge Pipeline—the tail end of Energy Transfer Partners’ Dakota Access Pipeline—are reportedly the first people to be charged with felonies under a new Louisiana law that, like a model bill crafted by the right-wing American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), criminalizes peaceful protests of fossil fuel projects.

The collective of activists fighting against the pipeline—who have created the L’eau Est La Vie (Water Is Life) floating resistance camp—said on Twitter Thursday that three kayakers were “abducted” by the pipeline company’s private security while boating through public waterways, and then arrested. Continue reading

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‘Terrifying’: Poll Shows 43% of Republicans Think Trump Should Have Power to Shutter News Outlets for ‘Bad Behavior’

In an apparent win for the president’s hostile rhetoric, nearly half of Republicans also agree with his claim that “the news media is the enemy of the American people.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-7-2018

Screenshot: CNN

In the age of “media-bashing enthusiast” President Donald Trump—who regularly declares critical journalists and outlets “fake news” and “the enemy of the American people”—at least 43 percent of Republican respondents to a new survey said they believe “the president should have the authority to close news outlets engaged in bad behavior.”

The Ipsos poll (pdf), first reported by The Daily Beast‘s Sam Stein, also found that nearly half of Republicans agree with one of the president’s most common claims: that “the news media is the enemy of the American people.” As Stein notes, “members of the press, as well as top officials at some of the nation’s leading publications, have objected to the phrase, arguing that it is both wildly inaccurate and deeply dangerous.” Continue reading

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‘We Fully Support a Free Press, But…’: White House Suggests Reporter Harassed by Trump Rally-Goers Probably Had It Coming

“Increasingly, Trump supporters are demonstrating just how aligned they are with his view that the political press is the enemy of the people.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-1-2018

A crowd of Trump supporters heckled CNN reporter Jim Acosta at a rally in Tampa, Florida on Tuesday night. (Photo: @emilylgoodin/Twitter)

At a press briefing on Wednesday, the White House offered a defense of President Donald Trump’s implicit endorsement of anti-press vitriol that was on display at his rally in Tampa, Florida the previous evening, when several Trump supporters heckled CNN reporter Jim Acosta.

When asked whether or not it is wrong for the president’s “most vocal supporters to be menacing towards journalists,” Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders assured reporters that the president supports a free press, while appearing to suggest that Acosta and other journalists may be deserving of mistreatment. Continue reading

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Just Who Is ICE Targeting? Journalist Claims His Arrest Retaliation for Critical Reporting

At the time of his arrest while covering a protest, “I was doing my work and nothing more, like any other journalist does,” says Manuel Duran.

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-9-2018

Manual Duran, seen on the left, is arrested by police on April 3, 2018. (Photo: screengrab/YouTube)

Amid new revelations showing that Trump’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) appears to be increasing its indiscriminate arrests of undocumented immigrants—not prioritizing those with serious criminal records—one journalist in custody and facing possible deportation says in a new interview that he believes his arrest was absolutely the result of his reporting critical of the Memphis Police Department and Department of Homeland Security.

At the time of his arrest in April, “I was doing my work and nothing more, like any other journalist does,” 42-year-old Manuel Duran told The Daily Beast in Spanish. He said he believes he was apprehended “without a doubt” as a result of his reporting. Continue reading

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‘This Is Not Ok’: Guard Shoves Reporter as EPA Bars Multiple News Outlets From Water Pollution Event

“When the reporter asked to speak to an EPA public-affairs person, the security guards grabbed the reporter by the shoulders and shoved her forcibly out of the EPA building.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-22-2018

Scott Pruitt press conference. Screenshot: C-SPAN

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) blocked reporters from CNNE&E News, and the Associated Press from attending a summit about water pollution on Tuesday, and a security guard reportedly grabbed a journalist by the shoulders and “forcibly” shoved her out of the building.

“Guards barred an AP reporter from passing through a security checkpoint inside the building. When the reporter asked to speak to an EPA public-affairs person, the security guards grabbed the reporter by the shoulders and shoved her forcibly out of the EPA building,” the AP said Tuesday. Continue reading

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‘Authoritarian Impulses’: Trump Suggests Stripping Reporters’ Credentials Over ‘Negative’ Coverage

“I always thought of authoritarianism as a slick and stealthy evil, but our democracy appears to be going down via temper tantrum,” remarked one journalist

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-9-2018

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders holds a briefing. Screenshot: C-SPAN

While U.S. press freedom continues to decline, “media-bashing enthusiast” President Donald Trump reiterated his hostility toward journalists who critically cover his administration on Wednesday, provoking a new wave of warnings from reporters and and supporters of the First Amendment.

Trump suggested that all “negative” reports should be classified as “fake” and the journalists who produce those reports should have their “credentials” revoked. He tweeted:

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