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

Ruling in First Amendment Suit Strikes Down Charlottesville Panhandling Ordinance

My office off of Charlottesville’s downtown mall provides me with a great view of each day’s activities in this lively pedestrian space. On any given day, I can see the street musicians, vendors, or the blindfolded...more

Celebrity SLAPP’d in Los Angeles: Lawsuit arising from American Idol Negotiations Reinstated

California has an anti-SLAPP law that protects defendants from lawsuits brought to chill their First Amendment rights. When the anti-SLAPP law applies, a defendant can obtain a fast dismissal at the early stage of the...more

Free Speech & Pharmaceutical Promotion — U.S. ex rel. Solis v. Millennium Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Off-label prescription drug use — using drugs to treat ailments not indicated on FDA-approved labeling — is among the thorniest legal issues facing the pharmaceutical sector. On one hand, off-label prescriptions are lawful...more

Spiritual Director Doesn't Have a Prayer When it Comes to Her Discrimination and Termination Claims

Religious employers can rejoice once again, as yet another court upholds the ministerial exception and dismisses an employee's discrimination and termination claims....more

Illinois Supreme Court Debates Anonymity of Internet Poster

In the closing days of its January term, the Illinois Supreme Court heard oral argument in Hadley v. Subscriber Doe. Hadley poses the question of whether the defendant is entitled to quash the plaintiff’s subpoena seeking to...more

Texas Federal Court Rejects Challenge to ‘No Credit Card Surcharge’ Law

A federal district court in Texas has dismissed a lawsuit brought by several merchants challenging the constitutionality of a state law that prohibits merchants from imposing a surcharge on credit card purchases. In Rowell v....more

Governor Rauner Issues Order Eliminating Fair Share Fees

Yesterday, Governor Bruce Rauner signed Executive Order 15-13 eliminating “fair share” fees paid by state employees who choose not to join a union. At the same time, Rauner filed a complaint in federal court seeking a...more

"Courts Parse First Amendment Protections for Anonymous Critics Online"

The Supreme Court has long recognized that the freedom of speech enshrined in the First Amendment extends to anonymous speech, noting that “persecuted groups and sects … throughout history have been able to criticize...more

D.C. Circuit Upholds FTC Ruling on Deceptive Advertising; Rejects First Amendment Challenge

In a much-awaited decision on Friday, January 30, the D.C. Circuit upheld the Federal Trade Commission’s decision that pomegranate juice maker POM Wonderful LLC engaged in false or misleading advertising by claiming its...more

Facebook Post Lands Teacher in Hot Water

On January 18, 2015, two South Hills High School teachers were arrested for allegedly having sexual relations with students at the beach. According to the Orange County Sherriff’s Department, one of the teachers, Melody...more

FTC Ignores the First Amendment with $9 Million Fine Against Weight Loss Supplement Company

On January 26, the manufacturer of a green coffee bean extract (GCBE) agreed to pay the Federal Trade Commission $9 million to settle charges brought by the FTC that the manufacturer deceptively advertised weight loss...more

No Representation Without Substantiation? What POM Wonderful v. FTC Means for Consumer Class Actions

POM Wonderful vs. FTC in DC Court of AppealsIn this first post of a two-part series, we take a closer look at last Friday’s decision in POM Wonderful v. FTC by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, which has...more

Federal Court Strikes Florida Lawyer Advertising Rules

Finding that "naked paternalism" will not justify "protecting the public from truthful information," a Florida federal court held that two Florida Bar rules restricting attorney advertising violate the First Amendment to the...more

Appeals Court upholds FTC order enjoining POM Wonderful claims – with modifications

In a much anticipated opinion, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia upheld the vast majority of a Federal Trade Commission order enjoining pomegranate juice maker POM Wonderful from advertising that its products...more

Illinois Amends Eavesdropping Statute in Response to Recent Court Decisions

On March 20, 2014, the Illinois Supreme Court held that significant portions of the Illinois eavesdropping statute, 720 ILCS 5/14-1 et seq., (the Statute) violated the First Amendment. In People v. Clark, 2014 IL 115776, and...more

Speakers Only: Governmental Entities Must be Engaged in “Communicative Activity” to Qualify for Anti-SLAPP Protection

On January 22, the Washington Supreme Court decided Henne v. City of Yakima, its first decision interpreting Washington’s anti-SLAPP statute (SLAPP is short for Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation). This case has...more

USA: Ninth Circuit Rejects EA’s “Incidental Use” Defense in Madden-Related Right of Publicity Suit

On January 6, 2015, the Ninth Circuit decided that Electronic Arts Inc.’s (“EA”) unauthorized use of former NFL players’ likeness as avatars in the Madden NFL video game series does not qualify for First Amendment protection....more

State of the GMO Union

Just how hot is GMO-labeling legislation? On Jan. 6, 2015, a Republican state senator introduced just such a bill - in Indiana, the nation’s breadbasket. Still, federal legislation on both sides of the issue has stalled, the...more

Free Speech: Paris Mayor Off-Message by Threatening Fox News Suit

The scene of the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris ten days later. I returned from Paris on Tuesday after a short vacation.  As a bit of a news junky, it was admittedly an exciting time to be there.  When I arrived on Friday, we...more

Wiccan Prisoner Seeking 14 Feet of Rope, Combustible Oils, and Candles Loses First Amendment, RLUIPA, and Equal Protection...

Ronald Reiske, a Wiccan prisoner incarcerated in a Connecticut prison, thought it reasonable that the correctional facility provide him with the necessary materials and equipment to practice his Wiccan religion – including 14...more

Can Public Schools Ban “I Can’t Breathe” T-Shirts?

Citing safety concerns, Fort Bragg High School, a public high school located in Mendocino County CA, decided on December 26, 2014 to ban athletes from wearing t-shirts with the slogan “I Can’t Breathe” – the words uttered by...more

First Amendment Protects Use of Third-Party’s Trademark in Video Game

Mil-Spec Monkey, Inc. v. Activision Blizzard, Inc. et al. - Confirming that video games, including customizable multi-player games, qualify as expressive works entitled to First Amendment protection, a California...more

Status Updates - January 2015 #2

Poster’s remorse. It’s official – as of Jan 1, social media sites accessible in California had to begin allowing users younger than 18 “to remove, or to request and obtain removal of” posts they regret. The legislation, known...more

Valencia v. Universal City Studios LLC

USDC, N.D. Georgia, December 18, 2014 - District court dismisses all claims of hip-hop dancer Honey Rockwell, who alleged that films Honey and Honey 2 violated her privacy rights and trademark rights, holding that some...more

Kennesaw, Georgia Back in the News: Suffa Dawat Center Files “Preventative” Lawsuit

In December, we reported that Kennesaw, Georgia’s City Council reversed its initial decision to deny an Islamic place of worship and education center in a retail shopping plaza.  Despite the approval, the applicant, Suffa...more

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