First Amendment

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits the government from making laws respecting the establishment of religion, prohibiting the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech... more +
The First Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits the government from making laws respecting the establishment of religion, prohibiting the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech or the press, preventing citizens from peacefully assembling, or interfering with citizens' ability to petition the government for redress of their grievances. The First Amendment is one of the most sacred aspects of the American legal tradition and has spawned a vast body of jurisprudence and commentary. less -
News & Analysis as of

Social Media Freedom of Expression Cases Pit the Public Against Public Officials

In perhaps the next battleground for government and education, citizens who comment on social media sites are facing off with local government officials public and school administrators who find their online expression...more

New Decision Bodes Well for SEC in Conflict Minerals Case

In April 2014, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia held the SEC’s conflict minerals rule and statute embodied in Dodd-Frank violate the First Amendment to the extent the statute and rule require...more

Rooting Out Conflict Minerals

If your company manufactures consumer electronics, avionics, or any product incorporating even trace amounts of gold, coltan, cassiterite, or wolframite— including their derivatives, tantalum, tin, and tungsten—you may need...more

Public Sector Unions Take a Hit in Recent Supreme Court Decision

The United States Supreme Court recently held in Harris v. Quinn that the First Amendment protects certain "quasi-public" employees from being forced to pay fees to a public sector labor union that they don't support. While...more

Dealing with the Dangers of Online Reviewing

Law tries to find the line between protecting speech and punishing defamation - Online review websites, such as Yelp or Angie’s List, have become a common forum for griping. They give a voice to past customers to...more

Californians To Vote On Stripping Common Cause Of Its First Amendment Rights

I recently wrote about SB 1272 (Lieu) which calls a special election for this November 4 at which California voters will be able to cast an advisory vote on whether the U.S. Constitution should be amended to overturn the U.S....more

First Amendment Protects Public Employees Who Give Truthful, Sworn Testimony Outside The Scope Of Their Ordinary Job Duties From...

In Lane v. Franks, et al, Edward Lane was discharged as a program director at a state college after testifying in a criminal, public corruption case against an Alabama State Representative. Lane had previously discharged the...more

Message Board Post Highly Critical of Company is Opinion and Thus Not Defamatory

An essential defense to a defamation claim is "pure opinion." In other words, if the defendant can show that the statements alleged to be defamatory are opinions protected under the relevant free speech laws, the defamation...more

Supreme Court Invalidates Union Fee Requirements Imposed on Homecare Employees

On June 30, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected Illinois law that required homecare providers for Medicaid recipients to pay fees to a union. In Harris v. Quinn, the Court held that compulsory union agency fees imposed on...more

Supreme Court To Hear Sign-Ordinance Case

On July 1, 2014, the Supreme Court granted cert in Reed v. Town of Gilbert, a case in which the Ninth Circuit upheld the Town of Gilbert’s sign ordinance against a First-Amendment challenge. The case could directly impact...more

Defeating “Libel Tourism” under Mississippi law and the SPEECH Act

In Trout Point Lodge, Ltd. v. Handshoe, 729 F.3d 481 (5th Cir. 2013), the Fifth Circuit became the first appellate court in the country to interpret the Securing the Protection of Our Enduring and Established Constitutional...more

Bullying: Slowly But Surely, the Law Recognizes an Age-Old Problem

How far is too far when it comes to protecting your child from an alleged school bully? A mother in Santa Rosa, California may very well have pushed the limits of good parenting in attempts to protect her daughter earlier...more

Editorial: High Court Is Swinging Pendulum Back On 4th Amendment

Fourth Amendment law is anything but static. If one surveys the jurisprudential landscape over the last 50 years, there are three amendments that the U.S. Supreme Court cannot leave alone: the First, the Fourth and the Fifth....more

A History Of Massachusetts Anti-SLAPP Legislation As A Vehicle For Protecting First Amendment Petitioning Activity From...

Before the passage of anti-SLAPP legislation, citizens engaged in First Amendment petitioning activity often found themselves the targets of retaliatory lawsuits. For example, a group of neighbors might speak out at a local...more

UPDATE: Supreme Court Denies Certiorari For Challenge to Regulation of Speech on Public Broadcast Stations

Two weeks ago, we speculated that the Court would grant certiorari in Minority Television Project, Inc. v. Federal Communications Commission (9th Cir. 2013) 736 F.3d 1192 (en banc) (lead opn. of McKeown, J.). In the case, a...more

Legal Updates for Government Entities Covering May and June 2014

Arizona Court of Appeals (heading) Immunity under A.R.S. § 12-820.03 Glazer v. State of Arizona, --P.3d--, 2014 WL949114 (Ariz.App. 2014) This case arises out of a cross-over crash on I-10 south of...more

Status Updates - July 2014 #2

..The New York Court of Appeals has struck down that state’s “cyberbullying” law in a 5-2 decision, finding that it is overly broad and chills First Amendment-protected speech. The case arose when a 15-year-old boy pleaded...more

Harris v. Quinn Decision May Set Stage for Further Rulings Limiting Public Unions

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court decided Harris v. Quinn. As readers of my June 10 posting will recall, the plaintiffs in that case objected on First Amendment grounds to being required to contribute public union dues as a...more

Protecting High Profile Reputations - Brownstein's $19 Million Verdict Stands After Appeal

In the modern age of the Internet where “news”—whether or not it’s true—spreads worldwide in an instant, high-profile corporate and individual reputations are under attack every day from business adversaries, disgruntled...more

Supreme Court Issues Decision In Harris V.Quinn: Abood Survives, But For How Long?

On Monday, the United States Supreme Court issued its anxiously anticipated decision in Harris v. Quinn, a case brought by Illinois home health aides challenging the requirement in a collective bargaining agreement that they...more

U.S. Supreme Court Finds Sworn Testimony Outside Scope of Regular Job Duties Entitled to First Amendment Protection

While the labor and employment law world is abuzz after the decisions in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby and Harris v. Quinn (cases this Blog will cover in the coming days), the United States Supreme Court also issued a decision...more

Agency Fees Can’t Be Required for Illinois Rehab Personal Assistants, SCOTUS Rules

The State of Illinois cannot require Rehabilitation Program “personal assistants” (PAs) who decide not to join a union, to pay compulsory union dues, commonly known as “agency fees,” the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Harris v....more

Radical Shift Coming In Public Sector Agency Fees

On Monday, the Supreme Court took a swipe at public sector compulsory unionism. In doing so, the Court took a slice out of decades of Supreme Court jurisprudence and suggested a future re-thinking of agency fees in the public...more

Supreme Court Rejects Labor’s Mandatory Dues Collection Initiative in Favor of Workers’ First Amendment Rights

Yesterday, the Supreme Court of the United States held that the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution prohibits a public-employee union from collecting an agency fee from home-care workers who do not want to join or...more

Supreme Court Decides Harris v. Quinn

On June 30, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court decided Harris v. Quinn, No. 11-681, holding that the First Amendment does not permit a state to compel public employees to subsidize speech on matters of public concern by a union...more

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