Tag Archives: First Amendment

‘A Win for Civil Rights’: Federal Judge Blocks Florida GOP’s Anti-Protest Law

The court’s decision, said a coalition of civil rights groups, “serves as a powerful reminder that such unjust and unconstitutional efforts cannot stand.”

By Kenny Stancil, staff writer for Common Dreams.  Puvlished 9-10-2021

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

Civil liberties and racial justice advocates are celebrating after a federal judge ruled Thursday that Florida’s anti-protest law is unconstitutional and therefore unenforceable.

In his 90-page decision (pdf) granting civil rights groups’ request for a preliminary injunction, U.S. District Judge Mark Walker said the law—passed by Florida’s GOP-controlled House and Senate and signed in April by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis in response to demonstrations against police violence and racial injustice—violates rights to free speech and peaceful assembly as well as due process protections. Continue reading

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Feds Targeted BLM Activists to Foil Racial Justice Protests: Report

“The federalization of protest-related charges was a deliberate and cynical effort to target and discourage those who protested in defense of Black lives.”

By Kenny Stancil, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-19-2021

George Floyd protest in Philadelphia 6-1-2020. Photo: Joe Piette/flickr/CC

As Black Lives Matter protests grew across the U.S. following the police murders of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, so did the federal government’s persecution of activists who marched in support of racial justice.

That’s according to a new report released Wednesday by the Movement for Black Lives (M4BL) and the Creating Law Enforcement Accountability & Responsibility (CLEAR) clinic at the City University of New York School of Law. Continue reading

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Washington Post Publisher Says Biden DOJ ‘Intensified’ Trump-Era Attacks on Press Freedom

“The egregious acts by the outgoing Trump Justice Department, and the apparent doubling down on them during the Biden administration, should alarm all Americans, regardless of political persuasion.”

By Kenny Stancil, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-7-2021

The entrance to the Washington Post on 15th street Northwest DC. Photo: Dion Hinchcliffe/flickr/CC

In an opinion piece, the Washington Post‘s publisher on Sunday accused President Joe Biden’s Justice Department of exacerbating the Trump administration’s assault on press freedom and called for a “full accounting” of the Biden DOJ’s recent practices in order to prevent such a “brazen infringement of the First Amendment rights of all Americans” from happening again.

Recent reporting revealed that during the last days of then-President Donald Trump’s term, DOJ officials authorized subpoenas to secretly obtain the phone and email records of reporters at the PostCNN, and the New York Times. In the wake of the revelations, Biden last month condemned the unconstitutional actions taken by his predecessor’s Justice Department and vowed that his administration would protect the rights of journalists and, by extension, those of the public. Continue reading

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‘Racist, Unconstitutional, and Anti-Democratic’: Florida Senate Passes GOP Anti-Protest Bill

“This bill is a disgrace to our state.”

By Kenny Stancil, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-16-2021

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

After Florida’s Senate Republicans on Thursday passed an undemocratic anti-protest bill—expected to be signed into law by its chief proponent, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, as early as next week—the state’s ACLU chapter condemned GOP lawmakers for “aiming to shut down political speech they disagree with in a direct attack on the First Amendment and at the cost of Black and Brown people.”

House Bill 1 “is racist, unconstitutional, and anti-democratic, plain and simple,” Micah Kubic, executive director of the ACLU of Florida, said in a statement. Continue reading

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What public school students are allowed to say on social media may be about to change

Student speech in public schools has less protection than speech by adults in the community at large. Noam Galai/Getty Images

Scott F. Johnson, Concord Law School

After a high school cheerleader in Pennsylvania dropped a series of F-bombs about her school in a Snapchat post over a weekend in the spring of 2017, she was suspended from the cheerleading team and sued the school district, claiming the suspension violated her First Amendment rights.

Social media has an ever-growing presence in students’ daily lives. As a result, schools are increasingly faced with the question of whether they can discipline students for remarks made online about school or school officials. The answer is not entirely clear because of different court decisions in different judicial districts.

The United States Supreme Court agreed in January to hear the Pennsylvania school’s district’s case, and its decision may provide some clarity on the issue. Continue reading

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Utah Lawmakers Accused of Seeking to Legalize Drivers Running Over Street Protesters

“Legislators are considering a bill that would let drivers off the hook for mowing down protesters.”

By Kenny Stancil, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 11-19-2020

Critics of the Utah bill fear that it might lead to an increase in deadly car attacks on protesters, as happened in Charlottesville, Virginia on August 12, 2017. Photo: Billy Baldwin/Twitter

Utah lawmakers are being condemned this week for advancing a bill with provisions penalizing demonstrators who obstruct traffic during a “riot” while absolving any driver who injures or kills a protester, as long as the motorist was fleeing in fear of their life, which critics denounced as an attempt to legalize running people over.

John Hawkins, the Republican lawmaker who introduced the bill that the state legislature will consider during its upcoming general session, claimed that he doesn’t “think that purposefully using your vehicle to cause bodily injury is a normal situation that falls into this bill.” Continue reading

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FCC Head and Internet’s Most Hated Man Ajit Pai Just Vowed to Kill First Amendment Rights Online

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has vowed to reinterpret Section 230 of the Communications Act on President Trump’s orders in a move that threatens to curb what’s left of Americans’ first amendment rights online.

By Raul Diego.  Published 10-16-2020 by MintPress News

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai speaking at the 2018 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). Photo: Gage Skidmore/flickr/CC

Citing “censorship outcry” from the three branches of government, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced yesterday via tweet the agency’s intention to move forward with regulation of social media by looking to modify Section 230 of the Communications Act, which protects the likes of Facebook and Twitter from the parts of the U.S. code that opens publishers to legal challenges over the content posted to their platforms, which inevitably puts content creators, themselves, in the cross hairs of the legal system without the benefit of their first amendment rights.  Continue reading

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Civil Rights Groups Sue NC City Over Law That ‘Effectively Bans Any Protest’

Ordinance in city of Graham “sends a clear message that racist monuments are valued more highly than Black lives and our constitutional rights.”

-By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published -7-3-2020

Gather to Demand Justice rally in Graham, NC Photo: Anthony Crider/flickr/CC

Civil rights groups on Friday filed a lawsuit against Alamance County and the city of Graham, North Carolina, after officials issued a new ordinance last week announcing the police department would not be issuing protest permits during the city’s current state of emergency.

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the ACLU, and a local law firm filed the lawsuit and a temporary restraining order on behalf of Alamance County NAACP and eight individuals who were planning to protest at the Alamance County Courthouse in the center of Graham. Continue reading

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1,250 Former DOJ Officials Demand Investigation Into Barr’s Involvement in Violently Dispersing Demonstrators Near White House

“None of us would ever have considered directing or engaging in such actions to be consistent with our oaths to support and defend the Constitution.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-10-2020

Screenshot: WUSA9

More than 1,250 former Department of Justice employees on Wednesday called on the department’s inspector general to open an investigation into reports that Attorney General William Barr personally ordered the tear-gassing of protesters in Washington, D.C. on June 1.

The former employees wrote that Inspector General Michael Horowitz must get to the bottom of Barr’s involvement in the dispersing of the crowd, which was part of the nationwide uprising against racial injustice following the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. Continue reading

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To Provide Safety and Solidarity, DC Residents Open Doors to Protesting Teens Cornered by Police Crackdown

“I hope that they go out there today, peacefully as they did yesterday, and not blink,” said Rahul Dubey, who sheltered dozens of people, “because our country needs them.”

By Eoin Higgins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-2-2020

Rahul Dubey, a Washington, DC resident who sheltered dozens of protesters in his home overnight, salutes neighbors and onlookers from his front door Tuesday morning. (Photo: kikivonfreaki/Twitter)

In a show of solidarity applauded as the kind of empathy and mutual aid needed in the face of brutal police crackdown, city residents in Washington, D.C. on Monday night opened their doors to protesters—mostly teenagers—fleeing police, keeping the demonstrators safe until curfew lifted Tuesday morning despite efforts from law enforcement to make arrests.

“I hope that my 13-year-old son grows up to be just as amazing as they are,” Rahul Dubey, who sheltered around 70 demonstrators in his home overnight, told WJLA. Continue reading

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