NEWSFLASH! 10/3-10/28

Welcome back to FALR’s Newsflash! Check out these latest First Amendment headlines:

Aela Mansmann, a teenage student living in Maine, was suspended from her high school after she posted a sticky note in one of her school’s bathrooms stating, “THERE’S A RAPIST IN OUR SCHOOL AND YOU KNOW WHO IT IS.” Arguing that the note constituted a form of bullying, the school’s administration suspended Mansmann for three days. The teenager’s parents, with help from the ACLU, promptly filed a lawsuit, claiming that the note constituted “First Amendment-protected speech meant to call attention to sexual assault at the school and to hold the school administration accountable for keeping students safe.” This week, a Maine district court ruled that Mansmann’s note was indeed protected speech and thus her suspension was unconstitutional.

Late last year, the National Park Service announced proposals to require would-be protestors to pay fees when protesting near the White House, on the national mall, and on other government owned property in Washington D.C. The proposed regulations were quickly decried by First Amendment activists, arguing that they were an attempt to stifle increased protest movements against the Trump Administration. This week, amid continued criticism, the Park Service announced its plan to nix its plan. In a released statement, the agency noted that the “intent of the proposed revisions was to maintain the public’s opportunity to hold special events and right to demonstrate while outlining clear parameters that protect the iconic landmarks, views and grounds for use and enjoyment of citizens and visitors from around the globe.”

Facebook founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, has come under fire lately from members of Congress and Facebook employees for the website’s controversial policy of refusing to regulate political ads. Specifically, the policy allows politicians to advertise on Facebook even if such advertisements contain false claims. Zuckerberg, citing First Amendment protections, responded to critics at a recent talk given at Georgetown University: “We’re at another cross-roads. We can continue to stand for free expression, understanding its messiness, but believing that the long journey towards greater progress requires confronting ideas that challenge us. Or we can decide the cost is simply too great. I’m here today because I believe we must continue to stand for free expression.”

Comedian and actor, Dave Chappelle, was recently honored with the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. The award comes on the heels of recent criticism of the comedian for his controversial views of Michael Jackson accusers and his jokes concerning transgender people. Prior to receiving the award, Chappelle remarked in an NPR interview, “It’s the best part of the First Amendment to me that I’m able to express myself this way and make a viable living doing it.” Further defending himself, Chappelle recently quipped, “The First Amendment is first for a reason. Second Amendment is just in case the first one doesn’t work out.”

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