Free Speech Wins (Again) at the Supreme Court
David French writes:
… Given existing First Amendment jurisprudence, there would have been a constitutional earthquake if SCOTUS hadn’t ruled for Tam. The Court has long held that the Constitution protects all but the narrowest categories of speech. Yet time and again, governments (including colleges) have tried to regulate “offensive” speech. Time and again, SCOTUS has defended free expression. Today was no exception. Writing for a unanimous Court, Justice Alito noted that the Patent and Trademark Office was essentially arguing that “the Government has an interest in preventing speech expressing ideas that offend.” His response was decisive:
[A]s we have explained, that idea strikes at the heart of the First Amendment. Speech that demeans on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, age, disability, or any other similar ground is hateful; but the proudest boast of our free speech jurisprudence is that we protect the freedom to express “the thought that we hate.”
Quick, someone alert the snowflakes shouting down speeches on campus or rushing stages in New York. There is no constitutional exception for so-called “hate speech.”
Indeed, governments are under an obligation to protect controversial expression. Every justice agrees. The ruling is worth celebrating, but when law and culture diverge, culture tends to win. The law protects free speech as strongly as it ever has. The culture, however … (read more)
Source: National Review
In two First Amendment rulings released this week, the justices argue they’re saving would-be censors from themselves.
Matt Ford reports: The U.S. Supreme Court handed down two notable victories for free-speech advocates on Monday as it nears the end of its current term. The two First Amendment cases came to the Court from starkly different circumstances, but the justices emphasized a similar theme in both rulings: Beware what the free-speech restrictions of today could be used to justify tomorrow.
In the first case, Matal v. Tam, the Court sided with an Asian-American rock band in Oregon named The Slants in a dispute with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The PTO had denied band member Simon Tam’s application to register the group’s name as a trademark, citing a provision in federal law that prohibits the office from recognizing those that “disparage” or “bring … into contempt or disrepute” any “persons, living or dead.” Read the rest of this entry »
Robert Wilde reports: Amid calls for resignation after conflict of interest allegations involving Oregon Democratic Governor John Kitzhaber and his fiancée and First Lady Cylvia Hayes, on Friday the state’s longest serving chief executive resigned.
The beleaguered governor said that he broke no laws, but would step down effective Wednesday February 18. “Nonetheless, I understand that I have become a liability to the very institutions and policies to which I have dedicated my career and, indeed, my entire adult life,” he said.
On Thursday, Kitzhaber had ordered that thousands of his emails be destroyed. USA Today reported that the “Governor’s office wants anything that is in the email account [Kitzhaber’s account] removed from archive,” wrote Tracy Osburn, a field technician in the DAS Technology Support Center. The email was obtained by Willamette Week and 101.9 KINK/FM News 101 KXL.
A Department of Administrative Services spokesman confirmed the report that the governor’s office had asked that the governor’s personal emails be deleted from the archives. However, according to an AP story, the agency said it could not do that.
Both Oregon Senate President Peter Courtney and House Speaker Tina Kotek had asked Kitzhaber to resign. Friday morning Courtney told ABC News that Kitzhaber “was upset… He was defiant. He’s struggling.”
Kitzhaber and Hayes first came under scrutiny in 2011 when the Oregon Department of Justice investigated a clean energy consulting contract awarded to Hayes for $60,000 under the Oregon Department of Energy, even though her firm, 3E Strategies, was the last in the bid for grant money. The investigation questioned whether favoritism played a role in Hayes getting the contract, KGW News reported.
Hayes was eventually cleared of any wrongdoing. Read the rest of this entry »