First Amendment Newsflash 1/8-1/21

Welcome to First Amendment Newsflash, the First Amendment Law Review’s bi-weekly roundup of the latest in free expression and religious freedom news and commentary. Check here every other Sunday for a new edition! Need First Amendment news in the meantime? Follow FALR on Twitter and Facebook for regular updates.



Federal Court News

Parties in a federal lawsuit that accused a Louisiana police officer of violating a woman’s First Amendment rights by grabbing her cellphone and deleting a photo she took of the officer reached a settlement that includes officer training on the public’s First Amendment right to photograph police performing their duties.

The Ninth Circuit dismissed a sex worker advocacy group’s lawsuit claiming that prostitution should be a First Amendment-protected form of commercial speech.

The Justice Department backs Archdiocese of Washington in its court appeal to have its Christmas fundraising ads displayed on Washington, D.C. public transportation.

A man, whose 1989 Supreme Court case granted First Amendment protection for flag burning, sued the City of Cleveland and others for their roles in his arrest after he tried to burn a flag at the Republican national Convention in 2016.

A federal court ruled that Republicans in North Carolina unconstitutionally violated voters’ First Amendment rights by gerrymandering congressional districts in 2016 to ensure Republican victory.

Federal court reject’s terminated Louisiana State University professor’s First Amendment suit against the university, stating that there is no meaningful connection between her vulgar and sexually explicit language and her training future elementary school teachers.

The Second Circuit applied the First Amendment to grant a right for a food truck vendor to use an ethnic slur in branding for his company.

The Ninth Circuit rules California law that prohibited merchants from imposing surcharges on credit card purchases violated the First Amendment right to free speech by restricting how vendors could communicate that an additional amount is charged for credit card purchases.


State Court News

A Virginia man asks the Virginia Supreme Court to overturn his six month jail conviction for hanging a black-faced dummy by a noose in his front yard to intimidate neighbors, arguing his First Amendment free speech rights were violated.


Federal Regulations

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ civil rights division will now provide protection for health-care workers who refuse to provide services that run counter to their moral or religious convictions.


Other News

The University of Alabama expelled a freshman after her racial rants went viral on social media.

Michigan State University will allow white nationalist Richard Spencer to speak on campus, after settling a First Amendment lawsuit brought by a Spencer supporter.

A U.S. Energy Department photographer is seeking whistleblower protection after the department placed him on administrative leave for releasing a photo of the Secretary of Energy hugging a coal baron.

A Louisiana teacher is contemplating a lawsuit after she was forcefully ejected and handcuffed in a video-recorded arrest for questioning her superintendent’s pay raise.

Iowa State University will pay $150,000 to two student leaders of a pro-marijuana advocacy group for unconstitutionally banning the student group’s T-shirts.

New Jersey prisons announced that it will now make  “The New Jim Crow,” a best-selling book on mass incarceration and racial disparity, available to inmates after civil rights groups challenged a previous ban of the book in two state prisons.

Trump announced his “Fake News Awards” while two Republican lawmakers and several Democrats criticized the president’s attacks on a free press.


That’s it for your First Amendment Newsflash January 8-January 21, 2018. We will see you back for more First Amendment news on February 4!

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