NEWSFLASH! 4/29-5/13

Happy Monday! Here is your latest First Amendment News!

The ACLU has filed a lawsuit against Department of Homeland Security alleging that border agents are warrantlessly searching travelers’ electronic devices in violation of their Fourth and First Amendment rights. In a motion for summary judgement, the organization claims that such searches have the potential to chill speech because people traveling to the United States “might censor themselves, knowing that a border agent might look through their phone.”

This past week the United Nations honored World Press Freedom Day, a celebration of the freedom of press and the importance of free expression. This year’s theme is “Media for Democracy: Journalism and Elections in Times of Disinformation” which focuses on the difficulty journalists face in covering political elections in a time of “fake news.”

Colorado lawmakers have passed legislation to prevent frivolous lawsuits meant to stifle individuals’ right to free speech. Specifically, the law creates an avenue for defendants to argue for the immediate dismissal of a lawsuit when it seems to be brought for the sake of restricting the defendant’s First Amendment rights.

A lawsuit brought by a family bakery in Oberlin, Ohio against Oberlin College will go to trial this month. In 2017, several African-American males were arrested for apparently attempting to steal from the small shop. In the aftermath, Oberlin College made comments about the incident, possibly alleging that the arrests, prompted by the bakery, were premised on the men’s race. The lawsuit claims that such statements were defamatory causing unwarranted backlash by the community.

Intermedia artist Darryl Lauster recently opened a new exhibition entitled “First Amendment Machine” where participants have the opportunity to exercise their First Amendment rights by allowing them to record oral statements which are then broadcasted anonymously outside of the building. 

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