Category: Free Speech

“A Very Attractive Model”: China Cracks Down on Reporters and Protesters Days After Praise from the WEF Founder

No Joke: Supreme Court Case Could Take a Big Bite Out of the First Amendment

Below is my column in The Hill on what is shaping up to be a major Supreme Court term on the issues of parody and satire under the First Amendment. The Court could reframe the constitutional limits for criminal and civil liability in two cases currently on the docket, including one recently granted review. Continue reading “No Joke: Supreme Court Case Could Take a Big Bite Out of the First Amendment”

Companies Join Call to Suspend Advertising with Twitter

Twitter LogoNational Public Radio yesterday posted an article titled “Twitter has lost 50 of its top 100 advertisers since Elon Musk took over, report says.” The article relies on a report from the liberal site Media Matters for America founded by Democratic operative David Brock. The report lists companies that have publicly pulled their advertising and the article strongly suggests that it is due to the pledge of Elon Musk to restore free speech protections on the social media site. These companies are well within their free speech rights to boycott the company or suspend their support in light of possible changes on content. However, customers also have the right not to support companies that do not support their free speech rights. Continue reading “Companies Join Call to Suspend Advertising with Twitter”

Supreme Court Takes Jack Daniels Trademark Case with Major Free Speech Implications

Image from Supreme Court Petition

Recently, we saw the filing of a hilarious brief by the Onion in Novak v. City of Pharm in which an Ohio man was prosecuted for posting a parody of his local police department. Now the Court has accepted a different parody case involving Jack Daniels where the company is suing the maker of dog chew toys. The case is Jack Daniel’s Properties Inc. v. VIP Products LLC. Continue reading “Supreme Court Takes Jack Daniels Trademark Case with Major Free Speech Implications”

MSNBC Analyst Calls for Liability for Boebert and Carlson … for the Colorado Shootings

We have been discussing how attacking free speech has become an article of faith for many on the left. That includes embracing corporate censorship and recently even good old-fashioned state censorship. It includes banning books and preventing opposing voices to be heard on campuses. Now, MSNBC national security analyst Frank Figliuzzi has called for Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) and Fox News host Tucker Carlson to face civil liability for their commentary on transgender policies or controversies after the recent tragic shooting in Colorado. It is part of a growing movement in the media in favor of imposing criminal or civil liability on opposing viewpoints — a call that is tantamount to sawing the very branch upon which journalists and analysts sit. Continue reading “MSNBC Analyst Calls for Liability for Boebert and Carlson … for the Colorado Shootings”

Stern Rebuke: Auburn University Hit With Punitive Damages in Free Speech Case

Auburn University has lost a major case involving free speech after a jury ruled in favor of Prof. Michael Stern, a tenured economics professor. The jury ruled that Auburn retaliated against Stern for his public criticism of the school’s treatment of student athletes, particularly their alleged favored treatment in the College of Liberal Arts. Notably, the jury awarded punitive damages against the university, a relative rarity for juries but well deserved in this case. Continue reading “Stern Rebuke: Auburn University Hit With Punitive Damages in Free Speech Case”

Clinton-Linked Dark Money Group Targets Advertisers to Stop Musk From Restoring Free Speech Protections

In the shift of the left against free speech principles, there is no figure more actively or openly pushing for censorship than Hillary Clinton. Now, reports indicate that Clinton has unleashed her allies in the corporate world to coerce Musk to restore censorship policies or face bankruptcy. The effort of the Clinton-linked “Accountable Tech” reveals the level of panic in Democratic circles that free speech could be restored on one social media platform. The group was open about how losing control over Twitter could result in a loss of control over social media generally. For Clinton, it is an “all-hands on deck” call for censorship. She previously called upon foreign governments to crackdown on the free speech of Americans on Twitter.

Continue reading “Clinton-Linked Dark Money Group Targets Advertisers to Stop Musk From Restoring Free Speech Protections”

Clovis Community College Loses Critical Decision over Free Speech

Clovis Community College in California lost a major ruling in its effort to quash a free speech lawsuit by students censored by the school. U.S. District Judge Jennifer Thurston  granted a preliminary injunction against the college, which requires a finding of a substantial likelihood of prevailing on the merits. The college ordered the removal of flyers promoting Freedom Week in November 2021, a week in which student groups oppose socialism and support conservative causes. Continue reading “Clovis Community College Loses Critical Decision over Free Speech”

Hastings College of Law Bars the “Heckler’s Veto” in Defense of Free Speech

For years, some of us have called upon schools to impose stricter rules against students or faculty disrupting classes or events by shouting down speakers or preventing them from being heard. While some law professors and legal sites have supported such cancel tactics, the University of California Hastings College of the Law has joined those schools in barring the use of what is loosely called the “heckler’s veto.” It is now routine for protesters to prevent others from hearing opposing views and there are often allegations that some schools quietly allow the use of the heckler’s veto

Continue reading “Hastings College of Law Bars the “Heckler’s Veto” in Defense of Free Speech”

The Cuties and the “Younger” Doctrine: Netflix Prevails in Key Federal Ruling Over Controversial Movie

previously wrote a column opposing calls by GOP members for a federal investigation of Netflix and the movie “Cuties” (or Mignonnes). Now, federal Judge Michael Truncale (left) has issued a preliminary injunction in the Eastern District of Texas to stop the prosecution of the company. The move is relatively rare since the Younger abstention doctrine ordinarily shields state prosecutions from such interventions of federal courts. However, the court highlighted deep flaws in the prosecutorial case. Continue reading “The Cuties and the “Younger” Doctrine: Netflix Prevails in Key Federal Ruling Over Controversial Movie”

“Always Risky to Attack Members of Congress”: Reporter Warns Musk Not to Run Afoul of Democratic Members

Twitter LogoIn a stark warning from a reporter, Politico’s Sam Stein weighed into a dispute over the verification of a fake account for Senator Ed Markey (D., Mass.), who has demanded answers from Elon Musk. Liberals are using such verification problems to attack Musk for threatening to restore free speech protections to Twitter. When Musk mocked Markey’s letter, Stein ominously warned that it is “[a]lways risky to attack members of congress. Especially risky with Dems assured of Senate power. Curious play by Musk here. He has many interests before Congress.” For many of us, it was a chilling message coming from a reporter that you would be wise not to risk the ire of powerful politicians.

Continue reading ““Always Risky to Attack Members of Congress”: Reporter Warns Musk Not to Run Afoul of Democratic Members”

Erin Go Britain? Ireland Considers Enacting a Bill Criminalizing the Possession of Hateful Material

We recently discussed a troubling conviction in Great Britain of a man for his “toxic ideology.” Now Ireland appears ready to replicate that case a thousand fold. The proposed Criminal Justice (Incitement to Violence or Hatred and Hate Offences) Bill 2022 would criminalize the possession of material deemed hateful. It is a full frontal assault on speech and associational rights. The law would allow for sweeping authoritarian measures in defining opposing viewpoints hateful. Ireland appears to be picking up the cudgel of speech criminalization from Britain, an abusive power once used against the Irish.

Continue reading “Erin Go Britain? Ireland Considers Enacting a Bill Criminalizing the Possession of Hateful Material”

“Your Words are Violence!”: Coulter Cancelled at Cornell

This week, we saw another incident of protesters shutting down an event to prevent others from hearing opposing views. At an event with commentator and author Ann Coulter, one protester yelled “Your words are violence.” It is the latest example of how some on the left are treating free speech as harm on college campuses. Unlike many other incidents, however, Cornell has stood by the right of the student group, Network of Enlightened Women, to hold the event and pledged to hold students accountable for the cancellation of the speech.

Continue reading ““Your Words are Violence!”: Coulter Cancelled at Cornell”

“China Was Right”? A Response to Professor Jack Goldsmith

Harvard Professor Jack Goldsmith has penned a column this week contesting my characterization of his past call for limiting free speech on the Internet.  Professor Goldsmith insists that when he and Professor Andrew Woods said “China was right” about such controls, he was not advocating censorship or in any way opposing free speech. I felt that I should respond. There are views that Professor Goldsmith and I share. I regret that we are at loggerheads over free speech, but this disagreement highlights a growing divide among academics and advocates over censorship.

Continue reading ““China Was Right”? A Response to Professor Jack Goldsmith”

“Political Hackery” is No Legal Conspiracy: Vindman Lawsuit Tossed by Federal Court for Failing to State a Legal Claim

While largely lost in election day coverage, United States District Judge James Boasberg dismissed the much heralded case of retired Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman against Donald Trump Jr., Trump ally Rudy Giuliani and others for witness intimidation and retaliation. In a prior column, I criticized the lawsuit as deeply flawed. As is often the case, the media quickly moved on from the case and there is relatively far less coverage of the dismissal than the filing. Continue reading ““Political Hackery” is No Legal Conspiracy: Vindman Lawsuit Tossed by Federal Court for Failing to State a Legal Claim”

Res ipsa loquitur – The thing itself speaks