Tag Archives: First Amendment

Citing Orwell, Judge Blocks ‘Positively Dystopian’ Censorship Law Backed by DeSantis

The federal judge lambasted Florida officials’ argument that “professors enjoy ‘academic freedom’ so long as they express only those viewpoints of which the state approves.”

By Jake Johnson  Published 11-17-2022 by Common Dreams

Governor Ron DeSantis speaking with attendees at the 2021 Student Action Summit hosted by Turning Point USA at the Tampa Convention Center in Tampa, Florida. Photo: Gage Skidmore/flickr/CC

In an order that begins by quoting the famous opening line of George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984, a federal judge on Thursday blocked key provisions of a Florida censorship law that aimed to restrict how state university professors teach race, gender, and U.S. history.

“‘It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen,’ and the powers in charge of Florida’s public university system have declared the state has unfettered authority to muzzle its professors in the name of ‘freedom,'” Judge Mark Walker of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida, an Obama appointee, wrote in his scathing decision, which temporarily halts enforcement of parts of the law championed by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis—a possible 2024 presidential candidate. Continue reading

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Trump Reportedly Seeking Tips for Imprisoning Journalists If Reelected in 2024

“We’ve become used to this sort of thing from him, but we shouldn’t,” said one critic of the former president.

By Jessica Corbett  Published 11-8-2022 by Common Dreams

Photo: Gage Skidmore/flickr/CC

Amid speculation that former U.S. President Donald Trump will announce his 2024 run next week, Rolling Stone reported Tuesday that the Republican leader has sought advice about how he could ramp up his war with the news media by jailing journalists if he regains control of the White House.

Trump’s first presidential campaign and four years in office featured constant attacks on reporters, outlets, and the industry in general, from his frequent declarations of “fake news” to going after journalists for reporting on leaked information. Continue reading

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The Supreme Court is back in session, with new controversial cases that stand to change many Americans’ lives – here’s what to expect

The Supreme Court is set to start its latest term on Oct. 3, 2022.
Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images

 

Morgan Marietta, UMass Lowell

Following a dramatic year of controversial rulings, the Supreme Court begins hearing new cases on Oct. 3, 2022, with a full agenda.

The court overturned abortion rights and expanded gun rights in June 2022 as the new conservative supermajority began to exert its influence.

Some of the court’s most important upcoming cases focus on the future of affirmative action, equal treatment of LGBTQ people, and the control of election laws. The court will hear the cases in the fall and then likely issue rulings in spring 2023. Continue reading

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Majority of Republican Voters Say US Should Be Declared a ‘Christian Nation’

More than 60% of GOP voters supported codifying Christian nationalism even as they said the U.S. Constitution does not support such a declaration.

By Julia Conley  Published 9-21-2022 by Common Dreams

Far-right Republican lawmakers who have recently invoked Christian nationalist messages appear to be representing a growing portion of their voter base, according to a new poll released Wednesday showing that a sizable majority of Republicans believe the U.S. should be declared a “Christian nation.”

As Professors Stella Rouse and Shibley Telhami of the University of Maryland wrote at Politico, the school’s critical issues poll found that while a majority of Republican voters agree that such a declaration would be unconstitutional, most also believe that the U.S. should be officially known as Christian. Continue reading

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‘Heed This Warning’: 2,500+ Book Bans Threaten US Schools and Democracy

“More books banned. More districts. More states. More students losing access to literature. ‘More’ is the operative word for this report on school book bans,” says author PEN America.

By Brett Wilkins  Published 9-19-2022 by Common Dreams

As Banned Books Week began Monday in the United States, a leading advocacy group published an updated report warning of a surge in right-wing efforts to censor and ban titles—many of them related to the struggles of marginalized peoples—in American schools.

“More books banned. More districts. More states. More students losing access to literature. ‘More’ is the operative word for this report on school book bans,” begins the update to PEN America’s Banned in the USA: Rising School Book Bans Threaten Free Expression and Students’ First Amendment Rights, which was published in April and covered the first nine months of the 2021-22 scholastic year. Continue reading

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Bad Day for DeSantis as ‘Stop WOKE Act’ Hit With Injunction, Lawsuit

“If Florida truly believes we live in a post-racial society, then let it make its case,” a federal judge wrote in blocking part of the controversial law. “But it cannot win the argument by muzzling its opponents.”

By Brett Wilkins  Published 8-18-2022 by Common Dreams

Governor Ron DeSantis speaking with attendees at the 2021 Student Action Summit hosted by Turning Point USA at the Tampa Convention Center in Tampa, Florida. Photo: Gage Skidmore/flickr/CC

Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and his Stop WOKE Act suffered a two-punch blow Thursday as a federal judge blocked parts of the controversial law and a coalition of civil liberties groups filed a lawsuit against what they are calling “racially motivated censorship.”

U.S. District Judge Mark Walker, an appointee of former President Barack Obama, issued a preliminary injunction against portions of the Stop the Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees Act, also called the Individual Freedom Act, saying it violates First Amendment free speech protections and the 14th Amendment’s Due Process Clause. Continue reading

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What the US can learn from apartheid-era book bans in South Africa

Books are often targeted when they are sympathetic to the oppressed.
Eskay Lim / EyeEm via Getty Images

Helen Kapstein, John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Beloved.” “The Hate U Give.” “Maus.” “Burger’s Daughter.”

Each of these books has been banned at some point in time, but one stands out. Instead of being banned in 21st-century America, Nadine Gordimer’s “Burger’s Daughter” was banned in 20th century South Africa during apartheid, that country’s period of official white supremacist rule.

So why include it in this list? Despite the decades and distance between bans on this book and the others, the rise in attempts to ban and censor books in America in 2022 looks an awful lot like what South African censors did during apartheid. I make this observation as a scholar who specializes in studying literature to better understand the intersections of race, oppression and resistance. Continue reading

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US Lawmakers Want to Bar Using Espionage Act to Target Journalists

“When one journalist is prosecuted for doing his or her job, that’s a threat to all journalists,” said Rep. Ro Khanna.

By Kenny Stancil  Published 7-27-2022 by Common Dreams

A trio of congressional lawmakers reintroduced the Espionage Reform Act on Wednesday to prevent reporters from being prosecuted for publishing classified information—a common journalistic practice used to expose government wrongdoing.

Unveiled by Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), and Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), the measure aims to narrow the scope of the 105-year-old Espionage Act and similar laws enacted during the First World War—ostensibly to protect the United States from spies but, according to critics, to criminalize anti-war dissent, resulting in the imprisonment of nearly a thousand people, including leading socialist Eugene Debs. Continue reading

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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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