NEWSFLASH! 6/24-7/8

A California lawmaker has introduced a bill prohibiting a person or entity from “knowingly or recklessly distributing deceptive audio or visual media of [a political candidate] with the intent to injure the candidate’s reputation or to deceive a voter into voting for or against the candidate.” The proposed law comes in response to the increased proliferation of doctored videos (see this, for example) on social media that are edited in ways to disparage those who are featured. First Amendment advocates have quickly responded, arguing that the bill does more harm than good—that it has the potential to dissuade social media users from sharing any political content at all. The arguments over such legislation are largely representative of a broader national conversation about the intersection of the First Amendment and social media.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a district court ruling that barred the city of Everett, Washington from imposing a dress code on coffee shops that employ “bikini baristas.” The state is home to many drive-thru coffee shops that employ women who wear lingerie, thongs, and nipple pasties while serving coffee to mobile customers. When the Everett city council attempted to restrict the businesses by requiring a more conservative dress code, employees sued alleging that the dress code restricted their First Amendment right to free expression. Now that the Ninth Circuit has upheld the city’s dress code, bikini baristas across the state could be subject to similar, locally-mandated dress codes.

Having received a $1 million donation, the University of Virginia School of Law has decided to reopen the school’s First Amendment Clinic. The yearlong clinic allows law students to “work closely with Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press lawyers on timely and vital matters involving free speech and press freedom.” The Reporters Committee is a nonprofit organization that provide legal services to journalists and, under its lawyers’ supervision, students will have the opportunity to play a vital part in providing those services.

Starting on July 1st, Virginia bars and restaurants could begin advertising Happy Hours and any specific times and days for reduced prices for alcoholic drinks. New legislation repealed a previous ban on advertising Happy Hours, specifically their featured prices for drink specials. The previous restriction was presumably justified on the premise that it would reduce alcohol consumption and impaired driver. However, as one columnist noted, “[the repeal of this law] is, at its core, a First Amendment victory. It is about the government finally recognizing that grown-ups can handle hearing the truth, at least when it comes to how we choose to de-stress after work.”

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