“It All Meant Something. Until It Didn’t”: A Response To Rep. Anna Eshoo

I testified yesterday on possible private and public limitations on free speech and the free press, including a letter from Democratic members pressing companies to remove Fox News and networks from cable.  Democratic members sent the letter to AT&T, Verizon, Roku, Amazon, Apple, Comcast, Charter, DISH, Cox, Altice, Hulu and Google’s parent company, Alphabet. During the hearing, House Democrat Anna Eshoo (D., Cal.) insisted that she was only “asking questions” and then reframed the objections to the letter as whether the letter itself was a violation of the First Amendment. It seemed like the line from A Hologram for the King: “It all meant something. Until it didn’t.”

Given the limited opportunity to respond to Rep. Eshoo in the hearing, I wanted to respond. Continue reading ““It All Meant Something. Until It Didn’t”: A Response To Rep. Anna Eshoo”

St. Joseph’s University Professor Suspended For Criticism Of Reparations On Social Media

We have been discussing disciplinary measures taken against faculty who engage in the public debate over social and political issues ranging from the Black Lives Matter movement to police misconduct to systemic racism in society. Now Professor Gregory Manco, a math professor at St. Joseph’s University, has been suspended after he made arguments opposing reparations on twitter. Few media outlets beyond conservative sites like The College Fix are covering the controversy but it raises serious questions over the curtailment of free speech for both faculty and students in expressing opposing views in our ongoing national debate over social, economic, political, and legal reforms.

Continue reading “St. Joseph’s University Professor Suspended For Criticism Of Reparations On Social Media”

Turley Testifies On Free Speech and The Free Press In House Hearing

I have the honor of testifying this afternoon before the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. The hearing will address calls for public and private regulation of speech, including the recent letter from Democratic members asking why Fox News and other networks should be allowed on cable news. The hearing entitled “Fanning The Flames: Disinformation and Extremism In The Media” will be held at 12:30. My testimony is below.

Continue reading “Turley Testifies On Free Speech and The Free Press In House Hearing”

Portman’s Principled Stand: A Response To The Cincinnati Enquirer

Below is my column in the Cincinnati Enquirer in response to a column criticizing Sen. Rob Portman for his vote to acquit former President Donald Trump in his second impeachment trial. Portman (who recently announced that he will not run for reelection) is one of the most thoughtful and decent figures in Congress. James Freeman Clarke once said “A politician thinks of the next election; a statesman of the next generation. A politician looks for the success of his party; a statesman for that of his country.” I have spoken with Sen. Portman on constitutional and legal issues for years and he always epitomized what Clarke meant about a true statesman.  His decision not to seek reelection was a blow for the Senate as someone who was eager to work with the other party on finding solutions to our growing national problems. That is why I felt I had to respond to a recent column by Opinion Editor Kevin Aldridge. I have no doubt about Aldridge’s good-faith disagreement with the verdict. However, we need to reach a place where we can disagree on such issues without questioning each other’s integrity or honesty. To that end, I want to thank the Cincinnati Enquirer (and Mr. Aldridge) for having the integrity of running my column.  This is the essence of dialogue and we may find that what divides us is not nearly as great as what unites us as citizens.

 

Here is the column: Continue reading “Portman’s Principled Stand: A Response To The Cincinnati Enquirer”

Looney Tunes: Supreme Leader Issues Fatwa To Require Cartoon Women To Wear Hijabs

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei reportedly issued a fatwa to deal with a rising threat against the stability and morality of the Islamic Republic: all cartoon and animated women must wear hijabs. It is not clear if Khamenei will also create a cartoon version of Iran’s thuggish morality police, the Gasht-e Ershad, to pursue such “women” in the virtual streets of cartoons. Continue reading “Looney Tunes: Supreme Leader Issues Fatwa To Require Cartoon Women To Wear Hijabs”

Chicago Faces 135% Increase In Carjackings . . . So Legislator Seeks To Ban “Grand Theft Auto”

My home city of Chicago continues to reel from soaring crime rates. Among the categories of increasing crime is a 135% spike in carjackings.  One would think that the legislators would be focused on better policing and other programs. Rep. Marcus Evans Jr. (D, Chicago) however wants to ban video games like “Grand Theft Auto” which depict “motor vehicle theft with a driver or passenger present.” While it would not likely make a dent in carjackings, it would curtail free speech and individual choice. Continue reading “Chicago Faces 135% Increase In Carjackings . . . So Legislator Seeks To Ban “Grand Theft Auto””

“A Date Which Will Live In Infamy”: The Other Scandal From The Capitol Riot

Below is my column in the Hill on the lingering questions over decisions made in Congress before the Capitol riot on January 6th.  The analogy to Pearl Harbor drawn by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer may be more telling than intended.

Here is the column:

Continue reading ““A Date Which Will Live In Infamy”: The Other Scandal From The Capitol Riot”

On Thin Ice? De Blasio Reverses Closures of Trump-Operated Ice Skating Rinks

We recently discussed the legal and political implications of the effort by Mayor Bill de Blasio to close Trump-operated rinks and golf facilities. While the city lawyers were developing viable rationales for closing the Wollman Park and Lasker Rinks, de Blasio staff went out of its way to make clear that the effort was political retaliation against Trump. De Blasio’s spokesperson proudly announced that “Trump has been impeached from operating the ice rink.”  Now, de Blasio has reversed his decision after backlash over a petty move that would not only cut off ice skating early for residents but throw employees out of jobs weeks early.  The question is how the reversal will impact other legal efforts targeting the Trump Organization. Continue reading “On Thin Ice? De Blasio Reverses Closures of Trump-Operated Ice Skating Rinks”

“The Dirty Dozen”: University of British Columbia Professor Fired After Doxxing Students Who Dropped Her Class

We often follow controversies at universities over free speech and academic freedom issues, but few are quite so bizarre as the case of Dr. Amie Wolf. Wolf was fired after a period of paid administrative leave due to her attacks on 12 students who transferred out of her Indigenous Education in Canada course. Wolf has since lashed out at the university and other professors, including a vulgar diatribe.  She is vowing to challenge the action of the university which she insists is due to her refusal to “assimilate to the institution’s norms” as “an academic who identifies as female Indigenous.”  While I am certainly no expert on Canadian law, that would seem highly difficult on these facts if pursued as a legal action. (Perhaps some of our Canadian academics or lawyers could contribute on such claims). Continue reading ““The Dirty Dozen”: University of British Columbia Professor Fired After Doxxing Students Who Dropped Her Class”

“Trump Has Been Impeached From Operating The Ice Rink”: De Blasio’s Cancelation of Trump Concession Contracts Raises Questions Of Political Retaliation

Mayor Bill di Blasio has ordered the closure of the two ice rinks in Central Park, the Wollman Park and Lasker Rink. The mayor’s staff clearly wanted to the reason for the closure to be clear and public. Various groups have pushed for the city to cut all ties with the Trump organization and the city moved against the organization last month on the contracts. De Blasio’s spokesperson announced that “Trump has been impeached from operating the ice rink.” That statement might not be welcomed by city lawyers since it suggests that the closures were an exercise of selective bias against a company for political purposes. Despite the unpopularity of Trump in New York, the use of city contracts for raw political retaliation should be unacceptable to most citizens (particularly when the cost is borne not just by the public but more importantly employees who were laid off early).  The spokesperson’s words could now be the focus of litigation over any losses by the Trump Organization. Continue reading ““Trump Has Been Impeached From Operating The Ice Rink”: De Blasio’s Cancelation of Trump Concession Contracts Raises Questions Of Political Retaliation”

Nunes Defamation Case Against CNN Dismissed On Procedural Challenge

 

The $435 million defamation lawsuit brought against CNN by Devin Nunes (R., CA), has been dismissed but not on a determination of truth or the merits. The decision was based on a technical or procedural omission by Nunes, but the jurisdictional question was an impressive combination of standards in three different jurisdictions. United States District Judge Laura Taylor Swain issued a ruling in New York to apply Virginia’s choice of law standard that in turn applied California’s defamation laws. It was a cascading deconstruction of the lawsuit.  Nunes ultimately lost due to a failure to demand a retraction with 20 days and then a failure to properly plead special damages in light of that jurisdictional finding.

Continue reading “Nunes Defamation Case Against CNN Dismissed On Procedural Challenge”

“A Desire That They Suffered Until Their Last Breath”: Alabama Professor Under Fire For Hateful Comments Following Rush Limbaugh’s Death

Professor Sarah Parcak of the University of Alabama-Birmingham has been a lightning rod of controversy, particularly on conservative news sites, for her calls for banning books and “how to” instructions on toppling public art like obelisks in violent protests. She is now under fire for saying that she hoped that conservative figures like the recently deceased radio commentator Rush Limbaugh “suffered until their last breath.” She has since taken her Twitter account private to bar general access, but some are calling for her to be fired. As will come as little surprise to many on this free speech site, I strongly oppose such calls even though I find Parcak’s extremist and unhinged views reprehensible. Continue reading ““A Desire That They Suffered Until Their Last Breath”: Alabama Professor Under Fire For Hateful Comments Following Rush Limbaugh’s Death”

Want To Prosecute Trump? It Will Require Proof Not Politics For A Viable Case

Below is my column in USA Today on the calls for criminal charges against former president Donald Trump and what is still missing from viable prosecutions.  In the meantime, civil lawsuits have been filed including one by Rep. Bennie Thompson alleging that Trump and others incited the riot on January 6th. Those civil lawsuits have the advantage a lower standard of proof than criminal prosecutions. If some cases can be sustained past motions to dismiss, they would also allow for discovery though those fights could draw out the litigation. However, Democrats may also be laying the foundation for Trump to claim vindication in defeating such cases in courts. Despite the assurance of the same legal experts of a strong case for prosecution, made-for-television cases do poorly in actual courts of law. What makes for good politics does not always make for good cases. However, bad cases can make for some really bad politics.

Here is the column:

Continue reading “Want To Prosecute Trump? It Will Require Proof Not Politics For A Viable Case”

The Unpardoning Option? Duquesne President Issues Controversial Conditions For The Reinstatement Of Professor Who Used N-Word In Class

We just discussed the case of a John Marshall law professor who was suspended after using the censored version of the “n-word” on an exam. Now, another widely reported case has been resolved involving a professor who used the word in a class addressing such offensive terms. However, the restatement by Duquesne President Ken Gormley has a curious but signature touch: it may be rescinded if Professor Gary Shank ever engages in similar conduct. (It is reminiscent of Gormley’s earlier position that President Joe Biden could “unpardon” former president Donald Trump). The reinstatement however still does not resolve questions of academic freedom and indeed magnifies such concerns with its punitive elements. Continue reading “The Unpardoning Option? Duquesne President Issues Controversial Conditions For The Reinstatement Of Professor Who Used N-Word In Class”

Fired High School Coach Sues Massachusetts School In Free Speech Lawsuit

There have been a variety of reported conflicts in school districts over curriculum changes and materials addressing racism, including the recent controversy in New York where white families were asked to chose between such “white identities” as “white supremacist” and “white traitor.” Such controversies make for poor lawsuits since they reflect policy, curricula, or programmatic choices of a given district. It becomes a legal matter when a district punishes parents for objecting to such material. That is part of the allegations raised in a recently filed lawsuit by the conservative group Judicial Watch. It is representing fired high school football coach Dave Flynn who alleges that he was terminated by the Dedham High School after raising objections as a parent over the course material in his daughter’s World Geography and Ancient History class. While I have not seen the school’s answer, the lawsuit highlights troubling allegations over how the district handled the matter and allegedly retaliated against Flynn. Continue reading “Fired High School Coach Sues Massachusetts School In Free Speech Lawsuit”