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OPINION
December 12, 2012
Re "Appeals court puts 1st Amendment over public health," Column, Dec. 7 Thanks for the column about the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals' troubling decision on off-label uses of prescription drugs. The Supreme Court has been heading toward this decision for years. Before the 1970s, "commercial speech" was considered outside the scope of the 1st Amendment. That was then. In the coming year, a Supreme Court focused on abstract ideas rather than actual experience may decide not only that drug makers can advertise wholly untested uses of their products but also that the federal government cannot restrict tobacco advertising.
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OPINION
April 24, 2014
Re "Lying is free speech too," Editorial, April 20 As a free-speech advocate, I would probably agree with your editorial opposing the criminalization of false political speech if politics was a level playing field. Unfortunately, it isn't. Imagine if the anti-abortion Susan B. Anthony List - with millions of dollars contributed by corporate ideologues - was able to purchase massive amounts of television and newspaper advertising falsely accusing a candidate of voting for "taxpayer-funded abortions.
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OPINION
April 10, 2014
Re "Mozilla CEO resigns after Prop. 8 outcry," April 4 If former Mozilla Chief Executive Brandon Eich had made a contribution - however long ago - to, say, an anti-Semitic group or even one of the organizations trying to sell the message that a woman's place is in the home after all (in short, any cause that seeks to infringe on the civil liberties or equality of any specific social group), we wouldn't be having this conversation. Why is it, among all the other "antis," anti-gay attitudes are somehow singularly defended as expressions of free speech?
OPINION
April 20, 2014 | By The Times editorial board
Does the 1st Amendment allow states to make it a criminal offense to disseminate false statements about a political candidate? Should citizens who fear that their free speech will be chilled by such a law be permitted to challenge it even if they aren't in danger of imminent prosecution? Only the second question will be argued before the Supreme Court on Tuesday, but it is inextricably linked to the first one. If the court rules that the Susan B. Anthony List, an antiabortion group, may not challenge Ohio's criminalization of false political speech, that law and similar ones in other states will remain on the books.
OPINION
July 3, 2012
Re " Free speech -- even for liars ," Editorial, July 1 When the writers of the Constitution included the right to free speech, they had in mind protecting political and religious statements. They did not intend to include pornography, hatred and especially lying by public officials. Claiming to be a war hero when you are not is an insult to all of us who have served in the military. Shame on the "appointed" Supreme Court members who were wrong in overturning a just verdict by a lower court and ruling against a law passed by the "elected representatives" of the people, and shame on The Times for supporting them.
OPINION
March 9, 2012 | By Jonathan Turley
The recent exchange between an atheist and a judge in a small courtroom in rural Pennsylvania could have come out of a Dickens novel. Magisterial District Judge Mark Martin was hearing a case in which an irate Muslim stood accused of attacking an atheist, Ernest Perce, because he was wearing a "Zombie Mohammed" costume on Halloween. Although the judge had "no doubt that the incident occurred," he dismissed the charge of criminal harassment against the Muslim and proceeded to browbeat Perce.
OPINION
April 21, 2010
A nearly unanimous Supreme Court on Tuesday delivered a resounding reaffirmation of the importance of free speech in a case arising from the sordid "sport" of dogfighting. As is often true in 1st Amendment cases, the victor in this decision is an unsympathetic figure. Robert Stevens, a Virginia pit bull breeder, advertised videos portraying dogfights, as well as an "instructional video" on using pit bulls to hunt boar. Stevens was sentenced to 37 months in prison for violating a federal law criminalizing the creation, possession or sale of a "depiction of animal cruelty."
OPINION
September 28, 2009
An increasing sensitivity to the suffering of animals has been reflected both in public attitudes and in the law. Michael Vick's involvement in an illegal dogfighting ring provoked appropriate public outrage and resulted in a 19-month prison stay for the football star. Movie credits assure the audience that "no animals were harmed in the making of this film." Greater protection for animals is an important objective, but, as with other desirable goals, it can be pursued overzealously and at the cost of constitutional rights.
OPINION
December 28, 2013
Re "'Duck' and a free society," Opinion, Dec. 24 Like many conservatives chiming in on the "Duck Dynasty" controversy, Jonah Goldberg appears to hold a fundamental misunderstanding of free speech: It is the freedom to say what you want without fear of government persecution, which is different from freedom from criticism. "Duck Dynasty" patriarch Phil Robertson exercised his free-speech rights when he uttered offensive comments about gay men and women. His critics then used their free-speech rights.
OPINION
October 20, 2011
This newspaper ardently supports the right to free speech, even when that speech is controversial, hateful or ignorant. But no right is absolute, and Patricia McAllister, a substitute teacher with the Los Angeles Unified School District, crossed a line with her anti-Semitic comment at Occupy Los Angeles. "The Zionist Jews who are running these big banks and the Federal Reserve … need to be run out of this country," she said in the taped interview with Reason TVthat then went viral on YouTube.
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
April 10, 2014
Re "Mozilla CEO resigns after Prop. 8 outcry," April 4 If former Mozilla Chief Executive Brandon Eich had made a contribution - however long ago - to, say, an anti-Semitic group or even one of the organizations trying to sell the message that a woman's place is in the home after all (in short, any cause that seeks to infringe on the civil liberties or equality of any specific social group), we wouldn't be having this conversation. Why is it, among all the other "antis," anti-gay attitudes are somehow singularly defended as expressions of free speech?
WORLD
March 22, 2014 | By Barbara Demick
BEIJING - Michelle Obama strayed into taboo territory during a speech Saturday at China's Peking University in which she called the rights of free speech and worship "the birthright of every person on this planet. " The first lady dropped her remarks toward the end of an otherwise uncontroversial speech to Chinese and U.S. students about overseas exchange programs. "We respect the uniqueness of other cultures and societies," Obama said with a caveat nodding to Beijing's frequent protestations that Westerners don't understand their system.
NEWS
February 24, 2014 | By Kerry Cavanaugh
If you ever been to a Los Angeles City Council meeting, you'll remember them. They're the gadflies who fill out speaker cards to opine as many agenda items as possible, usually as an excuse to rail against whatever injustice they feel the city has imposed on them. They're obnoxious time wasters who infuriate those who want the council meetings to move more efficiently. Yet time and time again, a court has, rightly, side with the gadflies and ruled the City Council has violated the 1st Amendment by cutting off or ejecting two particular activists from meetings.
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.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
February 14, 2014 | By Maura Dolan
SAN FRANCISCO -- Requiring public school students to wear polo shirts emblazoned with such messages as “Tomorrow's Leaders” potentially infringes on their rights to free speech, a unanimous federal appeals court decided Friday. A three-judge panel of the U.S. 9 th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a district judge's dismissal of a lawsuit by parents of two elementary school children whose uniform contained the leadership message. The court said the uniform policy must be justified under a stringent legal test that is difficult to meet.
OPINION
June 22, 2010
Disregarding the dictionary as well as the Constitution, the Supreme Court ruled Monday that advising foreign terrorist groups to pursue their objectives peacefully amounts to "material support" of their violent activities. The 6-3 ruling blurs a distinction that Congress needs to sharpen in the interest of free speech. The ruling is a defeat for two groups of activists that want to engage in so-called peace building. One is a collection of organizations supportive of the humanitarian and political activities of Tamil separatists in Sri Lanka.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
February 14, 2014 | By Maura Dolan
SAN FRANCISCO - A public elementary school decided in 2011 to require students to wear a uniform with the school's motto, "Tomorrow's Leaders," emblazoned in small letters on the shirts around a gopher, the campus mascot. One parent objected to the uniforms and eventually sued, contending they violated the 1st Amendment's guarantee of free speech. In a unanimous ruling Friday, a three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit largely agreed with her. The panel said the words "Tomorrow's Leaders" potentially violated students' right to free speech and the uniform policy must go unless the school district can justify it under a legal standard that is difficult to meet.
ENTERTAINMENT
February 13, 2014 | By Hector Tobar
After a long legal battle, Penguin Books India has agreed to remove a book about Hinduism from circulation in India, and to destroy all copies of book in the country, a decision that drew immediate criticism from writers and literary groups around the world. The Hindu nationalist group Shiksha Bachao Andolan filed a civil suit against Penguin Books India in 2011, claiming that Wendy Doniger's “The Hindus: An Alternative History,”  disparaged Hinduism and was guilty of  “deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings.”  Doniger, a professor of religion at the University of Chicago, said in a statement released by PEN Delhi that she lamented her publisher's decision to settle the suit with the group.
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