First Amendment Facebook

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

Teacher Fired Over Racist Facebook Post

In the age of social media, many people post their opinions on sites, such as Facebook, without carefully considering the possible consequences and resulting backlash. For example, Karen Fitzgibbons, a teacher at the Frenship...more

Can Employee Display a Confederate Flag on Facebook as Free Speech? Or Can Employer Take Action?

There’s been lots of talk lately about the Confederate flag and its symbolism in the aftermath of the Charleston shootings. But I wondered: How has this flag come up in the context of employment discrimination cases?...more

Supreme Court Requires Proof of Criminal Intent Even If Facebook Threats Are Obvious to a Reasonable Person

On June 1, 2015, in Elonis v. United States, ____ U.S. ___ (2015) (Docket #13-983), a case involving statements made on the Criminal Defendant/Petitioner’s Facebook page, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed the Third Circuit’s...more

SEE YOU IN COURT – June 2015

Last year, Mal Content ran for the Nutmeg Board of Education on a platform of constituent service, with advertisements promising, “Tell me your problems, and I will find you solutions.” Despite Mal’s grand promises, he was...more

Supreme Court Update: Elonis V. United States (13-983), Taylor V. Barkes (14-939) And Bank Of America V. Caulkett (13-1421)

The Court handed down four opinions and a summary reversal to kick off the busiest month of the term. This update will cover Elonis v. United States (13-983), the much anticipated "Facebook threats" case, along with Taylor v....more

SCOTUS rules Facebook posts not threatening without intent

The Supreme Court of the United States of America (SCOTUS) ruled on June 1, 2015, that violent Facebook posts of a husband about killing his wife with a mortar launcher and blowing up FBI agents cannot be considered...more

How Does the Supreme Court’s Recent Facebook Decision Impact Schools?

In a recent decision, Elonis v. United States, the U.S. Supreme Court held that in order to convict a man for alleged threats made against his wife on Facebook, the prosecutor must show some level of intent. It was not enough...more

Crying Over (Virtual) Spilled Milk: ACLU Sues School District For Firing Employee Who Posted Vegan Beliefs Online

A recent lawsuit out of Ohio brings a local flare to what has otherwise become a relatively common story. We’ve all heard of teachers being disciplined or dismissed for posting something thoughtless online that led to...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

What’s in a Like?

In the pre-Facebook era, the word “like” was primarily a verb (and an interjection sprinkled throughout valley girls’ conversations). Although you could have likes and dislikes in the sense of preferences, you could not give...more

Internet Free-Speech and the Push Towards Unmasking Online Anonymity

Internet heavyweights including Google, Facebook, and Twitter are backing the popular business review site Yelp in a Virginia Supreme Court case that has gained country-wide attention as having the potential to significantly...more

Status Updates - October 2014 #5

..Big Brother isn’t just watching. A single mother in upstate New York was surprised to find that she had a Facebook page in her name, complete with photos of her, her son, and her niece. She hadn’t actually set up the page....more

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

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

Facebook: Fireable Offense or Free Speech?

The interplay between an employee’s postings on Facebook and the impact of those postings on his or her employment status is an evolving area of the law. Just last month, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of...more

Two Circuits Address the First Amendment Status of Facebook Activity

Two recent U.S. appellate court decisions have clarified the extent to which the First Amendment protects the social media activities of government employees. In Gresham v. City of Atlanta, the Court of Appeals for the...more

Disputed Facebook Post Can Justify a Firing And Is Not Pretextual

As this blog illustrated recently, sentiments posted on Facebook, if sufficiently vulgar or offensive, can cause a person to lose his job. The Seventh Circuit recently issued a decision analyzing whether a profane and...more

First Amendment Does Not Prevent State From Firing Employee For Derogatory Facebook Comments

Though the First Amendment affords greater free speech protections for government employees relative to those in the private sector, the speakers do not have carte blanche to insult or deride whomever they see fit. Rather,...more

Is the "Like" Button Becoming a Constitutionally Protected Activity?

On September 18, 2013, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that an employee's act of clicking the "Like" button on Facebook constitutes speech protected by the First Amendment. This ruling signals an extension of...more

Public Employees’ Facebook “Like” Is The Internet Equivalent Of A Political Yard Sign

The courts are taking steps to protect communications made via social media; e.g., Ehling v. Monmouth-Ocean Hospital Service Corp., No. 2:11-cv-03305 (D.N.J. Aug 20, 2013) (holding that private Facebook posts are protected...more

The First Amendment Goes Digital – Clicking “Like” on Facebook is Speech

With around 1.15 billion members, Facebook is a massive, global forum for communicating with friends and the world. For many users, it often feels as if their news feeds are clogged with vapid comments about the weather, meal...more

What's in a "Like"? Precedent-Setting Case Poses New Risk for Employers

The ubiquitous thumbs-up icon in Facebook has gained new prominence for private employers. In a case of first impression, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit held that an employee fired for "liking" the campaign...more

Facebook “Like” Is Protected First Amendment Speech

I don’t often make predictions on legal outcomes, so when I do and I get it right, it’s worth sharing. In May, we talked about whether “liking” a candidate would constitute protected speech under the First Amendment. A...more

Court Finds the Simple Click of a Facebook “Like” Button Is Protected Speech

Last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled that Facebook “likes” are a form of speech entitled to First Amendment protection. While this ruling has no direct impact on private employers in New York, the...more

Are Facebook “Likes” Protected By The First Amendment?

The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has ruled that clicking the “like” button on a Facebook page is a form of free speech protected by the First Amendment. The case, Bland v. Roberts, was filed by...more

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