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CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
January 17, 2014 | By Maura Dolan
SAN FRANCISCO -- A federal appeals court unanimously overturned a defamation award against a blogger Friday, ruling that 1st Amendment protections for traditional news media extend to individuals posting on the Web. “The protections of the 1st Amendment do not turn on whether the defendant was a trained journalist, formally affiliated with traditional news entities,”  Judge Andrew D. Hurwitz wrote for a three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit...
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NATIONAL
April 18, 2014 | By David G. Savage
WASHINGTON - This spring marks the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court's decision in New York Times vs. Sullivan, its most important pronouncement on the freedom of the press, but the ruling has not won the acceptance of Justice Antonin Scalia. “It was wrong,” he said Thursday evening at the National Press Club in a joint appearance with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. “I think the Framers would have been appalled. … It was revising the Constitution.” The 9-0 ruling handed down in March 1964 threw out a libel suit brought by police commissioner L.B. Sullivan from Montgomery, Ala. He claimed he had been defamed by a paid ad in the New York Times, even though it did not mention him by name.
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OPINION
April 14, 2013
Re "Facing jail time for doing her job," Opinion, April 9 Judith Miller sees a "travesty of justice" in forcing a reporter to divulge the identity of a confidential source who leaked information pertinent to a criminal trial. The real travesty would be if a single journalist affected an accused's right to a fair trial. Reporters have no business deciding the significance of information covered by a judge's gag order, as the Fox News journalist did in this case by reporting leaked material in the trial of accused Colorado movie theater shooter James Holmes.
NATIONAL
April 15, 2014 | By David G. Savage
WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court next week will consider for the first time whether states may enforce laws that make it a crime to knowingly publish false statements about political candidates. The justices will hear an antiabortion group's free-speech challenge to an Ohio law that was invoked in 2010 by then-Rep. Steve Driehaus, a Democrat. He had voted for President Obama's healthcare law and was facing a tough race for reelection. The antiabortion group Susan B. Anthony List launched a campaign to unseat Driehaus, preparing to run billboard ads saying, "Shame on Steve Driehaus!
OPINION
March 28, 2011
Someone who boasts of a military honor he didn't receive is contemptible, but is he a criminal? Congress thought so when it enacted the Stolen Valor Act, which provided for fines or prison time for anyone who "falsely represents himself or herself, verbally or in writing, to have been awarded any decoration or medal authorized by Congress for the armed forces of the United States. " But the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has taken the wiser view, concluding that such misrepresentation, however offensive, is protected by the 1st Amendment.
BUSINESS
May 5, 2012 | By Michelle Maltais
Before you click that "like" button in Facebook, you should know that a judge in federal court asserted that this is not protected under the 1st Amendment. In what boils down to a wrongful termination case (Bland vs. Roberts) brought before the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, four former employees of a sheriff up for reelection claimed that they were fired after, among other things, he discovered that they "liked" his opponent's campaign page on Facebook.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
June 19, 2013 | By Richard Winton
Scary monsters adorning the outside of singer Chris Brown's Hollywood Hills home are his personal art and he isn't about to give up his 1st Amendment right to expression because of a city citation, his attorney said. Mark Geragos, the singer's attorney, has filed an appeal with the city of Los Angeles over a citation he received after his neighbors complained about the 8-feet-tall neon figures with bulging eyes and fangs on the walls of his designer home. The enforcement citation was issued last month over "unpermitted and excessive signage" on his home on leafy, narrow Rinconia Drive.
OPINION
August 15, 2010
The photograph that accompanies this editorial depicts Alberd Tersargyan, who is accused of killing a Los Angeles couple, their 8-year-old daughter and a fourth victim, a prostitute shot dead on Sunset Boulevard. His likeness has been publicly circulated by the Los Angeles Police Department, has been seen by countless television viewers and is widely available to anyone conducting the simplest Internet search. His image is no secret, and it is uncontested that his status as a criminal defendant gives him no right or power to prevent it from being viewed publicly.
OPINION
June 17, 2010
UC Irvine officials recently recommended a one-year suspension for the Muslim Student Union, the group that appears to have been behind the disruption of a speech by Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren on the campus in February. It's an apt punishment for what was clearly an inappropriate protest, although it will satisfy neither conservative politicians such as Assemblyman Chuck DeVore (R-Irvine), who wrote a letter to the university's chancellor urging that the group be permanently banned, nor defenders of the Muslim group, who think the students were only exercising their free-speech rights.
NATIONAL
March 1, 2012 | By Richard Simon
A Virginia congressman is seeking the removal of a subway station ad that tells President Obama to "go to hell. "   The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority says the ad for a movie critical of the Obama-backed healthcare overhaul  is protected by the 1st Amendment guarantee of free speech. But Democratic Rep. Jim Moran says the ad is disrespectful of the president. The ad for the movie "Sick and Sicker," produced by Logan Darrow Clements, says: "Barack Obama wants politicians and bureaucrats to control America's entire medical system.
OPINION
April 3, 2014 | By The Times editorial board
If you drive down Buckeye Road at the southern edge of Lima, Ohio, you'll pass an industrial complex where General Dynamics makes armored vehicles for the U.S. military. But if you stop and take a photograph, you just might find yourself detained by military police, have your camera confiscated and your digital photos deleted. Which is exactly what happened to two staffers for the Toledo Blade newspaper on Friday, in an unacceptable violation of the 1st Amendment and common sense. According to the Blade, staff writer Tyrel Linkhorn and photographer Jetta Fraser had just covered a news event at another Lima-area factory and decided to take photos of other businesses for future use, a common media practice.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 2, 2014 | By Robin Abcarian
Money won. Doesn't it always? It was not a big surprise that the Supreme Court's 5-4 decision toda y striking down certain limits on federal campaign contributions was divided along partisan lines. Conservative justices sided with the idea that money equals speech, and that speech should be limited as little as possible. (Justice Clarence Thomas said there should be no limits at all.) Money, argued the losing liberal minority, drowns out other, equally protected political speech.
OPINION
March 11, 2014
Re "Guns in the modern world," Letters, March 6 It's an interesting position to suggest the 2nd Amendment should only protect the right to bear the arms in use when the Bill of Rights was ratified in 1791. Following this logic, the protections provided by the 1st Amendment must be similarly restricted to the technology of the time. Speech using radio or television or a blogger's commentary on the Internet would not be protected by the 1st Amendment, since "what they had in mind" were quill pens, hand presses and unamplified voices.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
February 26, 2014 | By Maura Dolan, This post has been updated, as indicated below.
SAN FRANCISCO -- A federal appeals court Wednesday ordered Google to remove from the Internet all copies of an anti-Muslim film that forced an actress from her home because of threats on her life. In a 2-1 decision, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said a trial judge erred when he refused to grant an injunction ordering the removal of the film, “Innnocence of Muslims,” from YouTube, which is owned by Google. The film sparked worldwide violent protests. "While answering a casting call for a low-budget amateur film doesn't often lead to stardom, it also rarely turns an aspiring actress into the subject of a fatwa,” 9th Circuit Chief Judge Alex Kozinski wrote.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
February 23, 2014 | Emily Alpert Reyes
Two men who were repeatedly kicked out of Los Angeles City Council meetings for violating public comment rules won part of a free-speech lawsuit against the city last year. But a jury recently awarded them only a few dollars for their trouble. The meager awards are the latest turn in a long-running case that pitted the Venice Beach performers against council rules banning "personal, impertinent, unduly repetitive, slanderous or profane remarks. " Like many government bodies across the country, the council has often wrestled with how to regulate public comments and keep meetings orderly.
OPINION
January 31, 2014 | By The Times editorial board
A California law that prohibits therapists from trying to change the sexual orientation of children and adolescents survived another legal challenge this week. The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals announced that an earlier decision by a three-judge panel upholding the law wouldn't be reconsidered by a larger group of 11 judges. That was the correct decision. But a judge who believes the law should be reconsidered on free-speech grounds raised an important question in his dissenting opinion.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
March 1, 1999
The 1st Amendment was meant to be used, not abused. CARL ROBERTS Simi Valley
NATIONAL
January 20, 2014 | By David G. Savage
The Supreme Court will hear a 1st Amendment case this week involving Chicago-area in-home care providers that could end up dealing a major blow to public-sector labor unions. Illinois, California, Maryland, Connecticut and other states have long used Medicaid funds to pay salaries for in-home care workers to assist disabled adults who otherwise might have to be put in state institutions. The jobs were poorly paid and turnover was high. Over the last decade, more than 20,000 of these workers in Illinois voted to organize and won wage increases by joining the Service Employees International Union.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
January 17, 2014 | By Maura Dolan
SAN FRANCISCO - A federal appeals court unanimously overturned a defamation award against a blogger Friday, ruling that 1st Amendment protections for traditional news media extend to individuals posting on the Web. "The protections of the 1st Amendment do not turn on whether the defendant was a trained journalist, formally affiliated with traditional news entities," Judge Andrew D. Hurwitz wrote for a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court...
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