First Amendment Free Speech

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

Private Bankrolling of Defamation and Privacy Suits

The New York Times recently reported that famed Silicon Valley investor and PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel has been secretly bankrolling “Hulk Hogan’s” (real name Terry Bollea) invasion of privacy suit against Gawker Media....more

Supreme Court Extends Public Sector Employees' First Amendment Rights

A public sector employee may now have a First Amendment and 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claim even where the public sector employee has not engaged in protected First Amendment political activity. This may be the case if a public...more

Cooling hot political buttons

During every political campaign, I am reminded of the notion that if we speak about our co-workers or subordinates in the manner in which the American voter speaks about political candidates, we should expect some remediation...more

TCPA Under Scrutiny in Court and by Senate

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and a 2015 omnibus Declaratory Ruling and Order (2015 Order) interpreting the TCPA issued by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) have recently faced additional challenges...more

School Restriction on Decorating Graduation Cap Upheld

It is graduation season and issues concerning graduation conduct and dress come to the forefront during this time of the year. A recent decision by the United States District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma...more

Amarin Pharma Comes Out on Top in Federal Case Involving Freedom of Speech

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) received another blow to its ability to regulate pharmaceutical product marketing that was dealt via a court order stating it is not in the agency’s purview to control promotional...more

Misread Signs: U.S. Supreme Court Finds Employer’s Mistaken Belief about Employee Supports Retaliation Claim

Is it still retaliation if your boss fired you for something you didn’t actually do? In Heffernan v. City of Paterson, New Jersey, the U.S. Supreme Court said yes—your boss’s mistake does not get him off the hook for the...more

Convicted Felon’s Defamation Suit Triggers Multiple Anti-SLAPP Motions

In late March, David Pitts filed suit against two local television stations (Channels 4 and 7), their parent companies, and Patch Media, which runs hyperlocal websites. According to the Superior Court Complaint, Pitts was...more

Demotion Based on Mistaken Belief Deprives Public Employee of Constitutional Rights

U.S. Supreme Court Decision in Case Involving Political Campaigning Accusations - A government agency violated the constitutional rights of an employee who was demoted based on the mistaken belief that he violated the...more

Is It Too Risky to SLAPP Back?

Your client got hit with a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP) suit, i.e., a suit with a cause of action based on your client’s act in furtherance of a the constitutional right of petition or free speech in...more

But I Didn’t Mean To! U.S. Supreme Court Says Employer Intentions Govern in First Amendment Retaliation Case

For government employers, disciplining and terminating employees can be especially difficult. Not only does the public employer face the same challenges in complying with the standard alphabet soup of employment laws that...more

Employment Practices Newsletter - May 2016

Department of Labor's Persuader Rule Convinces No One - The Department of Labor's controversial Final Rule on Persuader Reporting became effective April 25, 2016. The Rule significantly strengthens a union's rights under...more

Public Employer May Not Retaliate Against Employee Based on Perception that He Engaged in Political Activity

On Tuesday the U.S. Supreme Court held that a public employee could sue his employer for retaliation where the employer demoted him for engaging in constitutionally-protected political activity, even though the employer was...more

Supreme Court: Government Employer’s Incorrect Belief About Employee’s Activity Matters in First Amendment Analysis

A government employer can violate an employee’s constitutional rights by acting based on incorrect information that, if true, would violate the U.S. Constitution, even though the employee was not actually exercising his or...more

Of Slants, Skins And Signs: The March To The Supreme Court

This week saw developments in the two cases challenging the application of Section 2(a) of the Lanham Act to their registration: In re Tam and Blackhorse v. Pro Football, Inc....more

Paul Watler Speaks: Texas Supreme Court Opinions Firm Up Anti-SLAPP Rights For Online Journalists

Online journalists and scholars from the Americas and around the globe recently gathered at the University of Texas at Austin to assess the state of internet-based journalism. The keynote address of the 16th annual...more

Perception Is Everything: Supreme Court Expands First Amendment Protections for Public Employees

In a decision that may expand the "zone of interest" protected by the First Amendment via 42 U.S.C. §1983, the Supreme Court in Heffernan v. City of Paterson, strengthened free speech rights for public employees by holding a...more

Controversy on Controversy: Developments in First Amendment Doctrine Respecting Compelled Commercial Disclosures

The First Amendment is well known as a limit on state power to restrain speech. Attempts to censor a newspaper, film, or video game, or to limit discussion in a public forum, are subject to the most exacting — and often...more

The Slants and the Future of Disparaging Trademarks

Trademark and copyright law are in a constant struggle with the right of free expression guaranteed under the First Amendment of the US Constitution. This is unavoidable. Copyright laws were enacted to protect authors of...more

Pro Football Calls SCOTUS Audible

As we noted here last week, the Director of the USPTO filed a petition for writ of certiorari to the U.S. Supreme Court requesting that it review the Federal Circuit’s en banc decision, In re Tam. That decision held Section...more

In re Tam Redux: The PTO seeks Certiorari

On April 20, 2016, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“PTO”) filed a petition for a writ of certiorari to the Federal Circuit seeking Supreme Court review of that Court’s decision in In re Tam, 117 USPQ2d 1001...more

Anti-SLAPP Statute Raised in Planned Parenthood Protest Lawsuit

The DC anti-SLAPP statute has been invoked in a Superior Court lawsuit in which plaintiffs arguing that students need to be free from disruptions in the school environment are facing off against anti-abortion protestors....more

USPTO to SCOTUS: SOS on the Lanham Act ASAP

On April 20, 2016, the USPTO made it official: It formally requested the U.S. Supreme Court to review the en banc Federal Circuit decision that held Section 2(a) of the Lanham Act violated the First Amendment. At issue...more

Blake Shelton Says Magazine Wrong About Rehab & Survives Anti-SLAPP Motion

Last year, country music superstar Blake Shelton filed suit in federal court against the creators and publishers of In Touch Weekly, bringing claims of libel per se and false light invasion of privacy after the magazine...more

Another Successful First Amendment Challenge to the Prohibition of Off-Label Promotion for FDA-Approved Drugs: Part Two

The Free Speech Clause notched another victory in the latest and, perhaps, final chapter of the lawsuit between the FDA and Amarin Pharma, Inc. concerning off-label marketing of an FDA-approved drug. On March 8, 2016, the FDA...more

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