Tag Archives: First Amendment

Donating to help women get abortions is a First Amendment right – protected by Supreme Court precedent

An abortion provider in San Antonio had to turn patients away after the June 24, 2022, Supreme Court ruling.
Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Lucinda M. Finley, University at Buffalo

Several Texas abortion funds – which are charities that help people who can’t afford to get an abortion pay for their travel, lodging and medical bills – paused disbursements on June 24, 2022, after the Supreme Court ruled that Americans have no constitutional right to the procedure.

The Lilith, Equal Access, Frontera and other funds said they were taking this step to assess the legal consequences of the court’s ruling in Texas, which already had some of the nation’s strictest abortion laws. Abortion funds in some other states, including Oklahoma, were also reportedly halting their work. Continue reading

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Privacy isn’t in the Constitution – but it’s everywhere in constitutional law

Who’s allowed to watch what you do and say?
Shannon Fagan/The Image Bank via Getty Images

Scott Skinner-Thompson, University of Colorado Boulder

Almost all American adults – including parents, medical patients and people who are sexually active – regularly exercise their right to privacy, even if they don’t know it.

Privacy is not specifically mentioned in the U.S. Constitution. But for half a century, the Supreme Court has recognized it as an outgrowth of protections for individual liberty. As I have studied in my research on constitutional privacy rights, this implied right to privacy is the source of many of the nation’s most cherished, contentious and commonly used rights – including the right to have an abortion – until the court’s June 24, 2022, ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson. Continue reading

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Rights Advocates Decry ‘Very Frightening’ Court Ruling Upholding Anti-BDS Law

“This is not just about boycotts,” said one critic. “This is opening the door to strip away First Amendment rights of all Americans.”

By Julia Conley  Published 6-23-2022 by Common Dreams

Image: Al-Haq

A federal court ruling allowing Arkansas to penalize government contractors that support boycotts of the Israeli government was decried as “dangerous” and a threat to First Amendment rights on Wednesday, as civil liberties defenders vowed to appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that an Arkansas law does not violate Americans’ constitutional rights by requiring state contractors with contracts of $1,000 or more to reduce their fees by 20% if they refuse to sign a pledge saying they won’t support the Boycott, Divest, and Sanction movement (BDS). Continue reading

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Supreme Court Ruling Turns Separation of Church and State Into ‘Constitutional Violation,’ Warns Sotomayor

“We are witnessing one of the most extreme Supreme Courts in modern history rewrite the most basic social commitments of our society,” said the head of one of the nation’s largest teachers unions.

By Julia Conley  Published 6-21-2022 by Common Dreams

United States Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor speaking to attendees at the John P. Frank Memorial Lecture at Gammage Auditorium at Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona. in 2017. Photo: Gage Skidmore/flickr/CC

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor on Tuesday warned that the court’s right-wing majority had further eroded the nation’s bedrock laws separating church and government when it ruled that Maine must include religious schools in a state-run tuition program.

“Today, the court leads us to a place where separation of church and state becomes a constitutional violation,” wrote Sotomayor in the minority’s dissent of the 6-3 decision. Continue reading

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Progressives Vow to Fight as DeSantis Signs Bill Banning Protests at Florida Homes

“H.B. 1571 builds on the unconstitutional foundations of the anti-protest bill last year,” said one activist, “and only reaffirms our will to make sure our voices are heard in order to create a brighter future for the people of our state.”

By Brett Wilkins  Published 5-17-2022 by Common Dreams

George Floyd protests in Miami, Florida on June 6, 2020. Photo: Mike Shaheen/Wikimedia Commons/CC

Critics are calling a new Florida law unconstitutional following Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’ signing of H.B. 1571, which bans protests outside homes, on Monday.

The new law, which has drawn comparisons to a separate statute effectively allowing the killing or wounding of protesters, makes “picketing or protesting” outside private residences a second-degree misdemeanor crime punishable by as many as 60 days behind bars, up to a $500 fine, and six months’ probation. Continue reading

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EU Enacts Landmark Social Media Law to End Self-Regulation by Big Tech

“As the U.S. agonizes over misinformation and hate speech on social media and the harm it does to democracy,” said one journalist, the European Union passed the Digital Services Act “to tackle the problem.”

By Kenny Stancil  Published 4-23-2022 by Common Dreams

Photo: Jason Howie/flickr/CC

The European Union on Saturday passed a landmark law that seeks to reduce social media’s harmful effects by requiring Big Tech corporations to quash disinformation and illicit content on their platforms or else face multibillion-dollar fines.

The Digital Services Act (DSA) would compel Facebook, YouTube, TikTok, Twitter, and other platforms “to set up new policies and procedures to remove flagged hate speech, terrorist propaganda, and other material defined as illegal by countries within the European Union,” the New York Times reported. Continue reading

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1,100+ Banned Books Across 26 States: Report Shows ‘Shocking’ Censorship

“What is happening in this country in terms of banning books in schools is unparalleled in its frequency, intensity, and success,” said the director of PEN America’s Free Expression and Education program.

By Jake Johnson  Published 4-8-2022 by Common Dreams

Photo: Enokson/flickr/CC

A report published Thursday by the free expression group PEN America details an “alarming” and unprecedented surge in book banning across the United States, with 86 school districts in 26 states prohibiting more than 1,100 titles in classrooms and libraries over just the past eight months.

Titled Banned in the USA, the report finds that districts representing 2,899 schools with a combined enrollment of more than 2 million students banned 1,145 unique book titles by 874 different authors, 198 illustrators, and nine translators between July 1, 2021 and March 31, 2022. Continue reading

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SCOTUS is about to decide whether a public school football coach can pray on the field

When is a prayer after a public-school game constitutional?
TerryJ/iStock via Getty Images Plus

Charles J. Russo, University of Dayton

The Supreme Court has consistently banned school-sponsored prayer in public K-12 schools, whether at the start of the school day, during graduation ceremonies or before football games. Under the Equal Access Act, the Supreme Court has affirmed that students may organize prayer and Bible study clubs during non-instructional hours. Even so, school staff and outside adults may not actively participate.

Lower courts have mostly forbidden public school teachers from openly praying in the workplace, even if students are not involved. Yet the Supreme Court has not directly addressed such a case – until now. Continue reading

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Crackdown in the statehouse: Lawmakers edge out press access

The Iowa Senate Chamber. Photo: Miles530 /Public Domain

By Parker Higgins   Published 2-4-2022 by Freedom of the Press Foundation

In a growing number of state legislatures across the country, journalists are facing new rules and proposed legislation that breaks with traditions of public access to legislators. These moves are a troubling development in the increasingly rocky relationship between government officials and the press that covers them, and should be rolled back and opposed wherever possible.

Two recent shifts were highlighted in this month’s U.S. Press Freedom Tracker newsletter. In the Iowa and Kansas senates — both controlled by Republicans — legislators announced that journalists would no longer be allowed on the floor, and instead moved to a public gallery. In each case, lawmakers cited practical concerns and downplayed the First Amendment implications, but the effect has been to diminish the ability for journalists to effectively cover legislative action. Continue reading

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Ted Cruz’s Pro-Corruption Case Gets Supreme Court Review

According to one legal expert, “The statute challenged in Cruz is a matter of common sense: the corruption risk inherent in post-election payments effectively made to candidates themselves is obvious and acute.”

By Andrea Germanos.  Pubished 1-19-2022 by Common Dreams

Senator Ted Cruz speaking with attendees at the 2019 Teen Student Action Summi. Phoyp: Gage Skidmore/flickr/CC

The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments Wednesday in a case brought by Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas that’s been described as “the latest attempt to dismantle federal campaign finance rules.”

At issue in the case—Federal Election Commission (FEC) v. Ted Cruz for Senate—is the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, also known as the McCain-Feingold Act, and a $260,000 loan Cruz made to his Senate reelection campaign just ahead of the 2018 election. Continue reading

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