NEWSFLASH! 8/5-9/2

Another semester has begun, we have a new writing staff, and we’re excited to bring you the latest First Amendment scholarship!

Here are some recent First Amendment headlines:

In 2017, former Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin sued the New York Times for defamation after the newspaper published an editorial suggesting that actions taken by Palin’s political action campaign influenced an Arizona mass shooting. The suit was quickly dismissed by a federal district court citing insufficient evidence. Last month, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the lower court’s decision and ruled that there was a plausible defamation claim. While the appellate judges noted the high burden Palin faces in successfully proving her claim, they stressed that, procedurally speaking, Palin alleged a sufficient case to move forward to the discovery phase.

A Vietnam War veteran recently filed a lawsuit in federal court alleging that a Veterans Affairs medical center violated the Establishment Clause by prominently displaying a Bible at a table honoring missing soldiers and POWs. The Bible once belonged to a World War II soldier. The lawsuit argues that, by including the book on the table, the table excludes those who do not adhere to Christian beliefs or organized religion generally. Vice President Mike Pence recently weighed in on the topic stating, “We will always respect the freedom of religion of every veteran of every faith….And my message to the New Hampshire VA hospital is this: ‘The Bible stays.’”

In the ongoing debates over Confederate monuments, Norfolk, Virginia is the latest city attempting to remove its own Civil War statute. The city filed a federal lawsuit challenging a Virginia law that disallows local officials from relocating the monument to a cemetery. The lawsuit, in part, argues that the erection of the statute was a form of free speech and thus its removal is equally free speech. Statute defenders have sued the city invoking the law in dispute.

Brian Karem, a columnist for Playboy magazine, lost his White House press credentials earlier this summer when he and a White House aide had a verbal confrontation in the Rose Garden. This week a federal judge blocked the White House’s revocation and ordered it to return credentials to Karem. In response to the decision, Karem tweeted “God bless the Constitution, free speech, due process and @BoutrousTed and his great legal team.”

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