Free Speech First Amendment

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Trade secrets law in the Internet age

How do you maintain a trade secret in the Internet age? As in the punch line to an old joke, “VERY CAREFULLY.”...more

Judge Issues Nationwide Injunction on DOL Persuader Rule

A Texas federal judge issued a nationwide preliminary injunction this week barring the Department of Labor (DOL) from enforcing its Persuader Rule, which was set to take effect on July 1, 2016. This is the second federal...more

What’s Going On With The Mann v. National Review Appeal?

In November 2014, this intrepid blogger trooped down to the DC Court of Appeals to watch the Mann v. National Review oral argument. In my post, I wrote that the panel was likely to conclude that the denial of an anti-SLAPP...more

Texas Judge Blocks DOL 'Persuader' Rule With Temporary Injunction

Opponents of the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) controversial “Persuader” Rule received their first major victory yesterday from United States Senior Judge Sam R. Cummings in the U.S. District Court for the Northern...more

DOL's 'Persuader' Rule Blocked By Texas Judge

A Department of Labor rule requiring employers to disclose when they hire lawyers and consultants during union organization campaigns has been at least temporarily put on hold. On June 27, 2016, a federal district court...more

Don’t Mess With Texas: Lubbock District Court Judge Issues Preliminary Injunction Blocking DOL’s Changes to the “Persuader” Rule

Employers and trade associations breathed a collective sigh of relief today after Lubbock District Court Judge Sam R. Cummings entered a nationwide injunction preventing the DOL from enforcing its changes to the “persuader”...more

Federal District Court in Texas Blocks New DOL Persuader Rule

Last week, we reported that a federal district court in Minnesota determined that the new Department of Labor (DOL) persuader rule likely is unenforceable because it conflicts with the Labor Management Reporting and...more

Texas District Court Issues Nationwide Injunction Blocking the Department of Labor’s Persuader Rule

On June 27, 2016, the District Court for the Northern District of Texas issued a nationwide injunction enjoining the Department of Labor’s (DOL) Persuader Rule, 81 Fed. Reg. 15924.  In reaching this conclusion, the court...more

North Carolina Cyberbullying statute struck down as unconstitutional

On February 9, 2012, Robert Bishop was arrested and charged with one count of cyberbullying under the North Carolina Cyberbullying statute, which states that it is “unlawful for any person to use a computer or computer...more

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

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