The second amendment has become a badge and bumper sticker, a shield for gun activists and scripture for much of the American right. But like other cherished texts, it is not as clear as many make it out to be. The amendment reads: “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” For most of the republic’s lifespan, from 1791 to 2008, those commas and clauses were debated by attorneys and senators, slave owners and freedmen, judges, Black Panthers, governors and lobbyists. For some, the militia was key; for others the right that shall not be infringed; for yet others, the question of states versus the federal government. For the most part, the supreme court stayed out it. Sandy Hook mom: 'For Christ's sake, why be so defeatist?' Read more “Americans have been thinking about the second amendment as an individual right for generations,” … [Read more...] about The right to bear arms: what does the second amendment really mean?
Last week, Donald Trump said any “son of a bitch” who kneeled during the anthem should be “fired”. The president’s comments drew a widespread response among NFL teams with players dropping to their knee during the anthem. Even the Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, a staunch supporter of Trump, took the knee albeit not during the anthem. We asked what you think about the protests. Here are some of your responses. Kellie Johnson, 45, Minnesota: When I joined the military I took an oath to defend freedom of expression As a former member of the US military, I took an oath to defend the constitution which includes freedom of expression. They aren’t kneeling for fun, it’s a protest. It would be nice if people would stop focusing on the anthem and instead focus on the reason for the protest; America has some serious race issues and we need to deal with them. But it’s hard and some people can’t face hard things. What’s sad is that … [Read more...] about ‘I was upset at first. Then I thought about the first amendment’: readers on NFL protests
Organizers of a week-long far-right festival planned for the University of California, Berkeley called off the event on Saturday, less than 24 hours before it was due to start and amid suggestions the event may have been little more than a student stunt. The far right is losing its ability to speak freely online. Should the left defend it? Read more The cancellation of Free Speech Week, which had been due to feature rightwing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos and other speakers, was announced by campus spokesman Dan Mogulof. Mogulof said in a statement that staff had been preparing for the event for eight weeks. It was, he said, “extremely unfortunate” that the cancellation “was made at the last minute, even as the university was in the process of spending significant sums of money and preparing for substantial disruption of campus life in order to provide the needed security for these events”. Since Donald Trump’s victory in the 2016 … [Read more...] about Far-right ‘Free Speech Week’ at Berkeley collapses in recrimination and discord
Germany is bracing itself for a watershed moment in its postwar history, with an overtly nationalist party is set to emphatically enter the country’s parliament for the first time in almost six decades. Rightwing populist Alternative für Deutschland has strengthened its upward trajectory in the last week before the vote, with two polls published on Friday showing the party on third place. Founded just four years ago as an anti-euro force, the AfD is polling on between 11% and 13%, with Angela Merkel’s conservative bloc and the Social Democrats dropping percentage points while the Left party slipped into fourth place. How Germany's Russian minority could boost far right Read more According to polls by respected institutes INSA and Enmid on Friday, Merkel’s CDU/CSU alliance was on between 34% to 36% and the SPD on between 21% and 22%. Die Linke was polling at between 10% and 11%, the pro-business Liberal Democrats on 9% and the Greens had crept … [Read more...] about Germany faces first far-right party in parliament since 1960s
Nearly a quarter of Americans do not believe or do not know if Muslims and atheists are granted the same constitutional rights as other citizens, according to a new poll. Of those surveyed by the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Public Policy Centre, 22 per cent did not believe or did not know if Muslims in the US had First Amendment rights. The First Amendment states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” As a result Congress is banned from passing laws that discriminate against people of specific religious faiths. But when around 1,000 American adults were asked whether they thought it was accurate to say their Muslim countrymen have the same rights as other … [Read more...] about Millions of Americans do not believe Muslims and atheists have First Amendment rights
Matthew Prince had the power to kill the white supremacist hate site the Daily Stormer for years, but he didn’t choose to pull the trigger until 16 August. That’s when the chief executive of website security company Cloudflare “woke up … in a bad mood and decided to kick them off the Internet”, as he told his employees in an internal email. Without Cloudflare’s protection, the Daily Stormer was forced to retreat to the darknet, where it is inaccessible to the majority of internet users. Cloudflare is just one of many internet companies that cleaned house amid a wave of public outrage following a deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville. Critics charge that technology platforms have enabled a disparate network of racist extremists to seek one another out, raise funds, and plan and execute such rallies. But unlike consumer facing companies such as Facebook, YouTube, PayPal and Discord, and even as liberal voices – including the Guardian … [Read more...] about The far right is losing its ability to speak freely online. Should the left defend it?
Matthew Prince had the power to kill the white supremacist hate site the Daily Stormer for years, but he didn’t choose to pull the trigger until 16 August. That’s when the chief executive of website security company Cloudflare “woke up … in a bad mood and decided to kick them off the Internet”, as he told his employees in an internal email. Without Cloudflare’s protection, the Daily Stormer was forced to retreat to the darknet, where it is inaccessible to the majority of internet users. Cloudflare is just one of many internet companies that cleaned house amid a wave of public outrage following a deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville. Critics charge that technology platforms have enabled a disparate network of racist extremists to seek one another out, raise funds, and plan and execute such rallies. But unlike consumer facing companies such as Facebook, YouTube, PayPal and Discord, and even as liberal voices – including the Guardian … [Read more...] about The right is losing its ability to speak freely online. Should the left defend it?
Organisers of a free speech rally in Boston on Saturday are warning far-Right groups to stay away amid growing fears of a repeat of the violent clashes that led to the death of a protester in Virginia last weekend. The national director of the Ku Klux Klan has said members are expected to turn out for the event, due to start on Boston common at midday. And police, already preparing for the presence of thousands of counter-protesters, said they were stepping up their vigilance in the wake of Thursday’s terrorist attack in Barcelona. The result is a city preparing for the worst. John Medlar, of Boston Free Speech which is organising the rally, said he was as shocked and horrified as anyone else at the violence in Charlottesville when white supremacist groups protested the removal of Confederate statutes commemorating the Civil War. White supremacists stand behind their shields at a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 12, … [Read more...] about Boston free speech rally organisers say they fear far-Right groups could repeat violence of Charlottesville
A leading civil rights group in the United States is suing Washington, DC’s public transportation company after the organisation rejected advertisements featuring the First Amendment — the portion of the US Constitution that establishes freedom of speech in America. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed the lawsuit after the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) deemed its ad featuring the text of the First Amendment in three languages to be “controversial”. Three other advertisements from separate interests were also represented as a part of the lawsuit. “This case highlights the consequences of the government’s attempt to suppress all controversial speech on public transit property,” Arthur Spitzer, the legal director for the ACLU in Washington, said. “The First Amendment protects the speech of everyone from discriminatory government censorship, whether you agree with the message or not. The ACLU’s ad … [Read more...] about DC Metro sued after rejecting an advertisement reprinting the First Amendment
A group of Twitter users is suing US President Donald Trump for blocking them on the social media platform – a move that they claim is unconstitutional.On Tuesday (10 July), the group filed a lawsuit demanding that they be unblocked by Trump on the grounds that his Twitter account is a public forum they have a First Amendment right to access.The group, represented by the Knight First Amendment Institute, includes people who were blocked by Trump on Twitter after criticising or mocking him, according to the New York Times.They include Rebecca Buckwalter who replied to a Trump tweet on 6 June with: "To be fair you didn't win the White House: Russia won it for you".The case, which also lists Trump's press secretary Sean Spicer and social media director Dan Scavino as co-defendants, has raised important questions about how the Constitution should be interpreted in the era of social media."The @realDonaldTrump account is a kind of digital town hall in which the president and his aides … [Read more...] about Twitter users sue Donald Trump for blocking them, citing First Amendment
By Lawrence Hurley | WASHINGTON WASHINGTON Churches and other religious entities cannot be flatly denied public money even in states where constitutions explicitly ban such funding, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Monday in a major religious rights case that narrows the separation of church and state.The justices, in a 7-2 ruling, sided with Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Missouri, which sued after being denied access to a state grant program that helps nonprofit groups buy rubber playground surfaces made from recycled tires.Conservative Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for the court's majority, said that "the exclusion of Trinity Lutheran from a public benefit for which it is otherwise qualified, solely because it is a church, is odious to our Constitution" and "cannot stand."Missouri's constitution prohibits "any church, sect or denomination of religion" or clergy member from receiving state money, language that goes further than the U.S. Constitution's … [Read more...] about U.S. top court backs church in major religious rights case
There are around three million Muslims in the United States. It’s not as many as the 54 million that Americans estimated there to be in a 2016 Ipsos Mori survey. But still, there are quite a lot of people in the US for whom Ramadan is a big deal – and for whom Eid, the festival which brings Islam’s holy month to a close, is an important and joyful celebration. Presumably that’s why for the last two decades White House administrations have thought it might be a rather positive gesture to host a dinner to mark the religious holiday. Indeed, on the occasion of the first such dinner, the then-First Lady Hillary Clinton remarked that it was “historic and overdue”. In the years after Bill Clinton’s presidency, Presidents Bush and Obama both continued the tradition, breaking the Ramadan fast with prominent American Muslims either for Eid or at an iftar (a post-sunset meal during the period of observance) in a gesture of solidarity and respect. But … [Read more...] about Trump insulted America’s first amendment by cancelling Eid celebrations
Amazon has argued that the voice of Alexa, the artificial intelligence assistant used in its range of Echo speakers, has First Amendment rights. The company is fighting an order to hand over recordings from an Amazon Echo used by James Andrew Bates, who is on trial for allegedly murdering his friend Victor Collins in Arkansas in November 2015. Amazon has filed a 90-page document, which is available to read on Forbes, contesting the warrant demanding the audio covering the 48-hour period from 21-22 November 2015. The firm has handed over subscriber information and purchase history, but claims that both Echo users’ voice commands and Alexa’s responses are protected as free speech. “Once the Echo device detects the wake word, the Alexa Voice Service endeavors to respond to any ensuing voice communications detected in the user’s home,” the document reads. “Accordingly, searching Alexa’s recordings is not the same as searching a drawer, a pocket, … [Read more...] about Amazon argues AI assistant Alexa has free speech rights in murder trial
Donald Trump’s looming presidential inauguration will surely bring anxiety—and unprecedented change, both in the U.S. and abroad. But it doesn’t have to signal the end of a progressive, inclusive America. As Obama said in his final remarks in front of thousands in Chicago Tuesday night, it’s also time to “embrace the joyous task” of fighting for a better, more just country. “It falls to each of us to be those anxious, jealous guardians of our democracy,” he said. If you’re a young person, you’re in a prime position to do something. You and your peers make up one-third of the electorate—it’s time to flex that power, and we’re here to help guide you. The first—and perhaps more important—thing you should do is contact your local representatives . Let them know which issues are most important to you, and what positions you’d like them to take. Do this personally, let them literally … [Read more...] about How to protect your First Amendment rights under Trump
Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes told Business Insider's Henry Blodget on Tuesday that the "real threat" to the First Amendment did not come from President-elect Donald Trump during the campaign, but rather from the Democratic Party. Bewkes' remarks came during Business Insider's annual IGNITION conference, during which he was asked about Trump's frequent campaign threats to open up libel laws. Trump has also set his sights on Bewkes own media property, CNN, which he consistently ridiculed along the campaign trail and has continued to do even after Election Day. "Do you worry about that at all?" Blodget asked. Bewkes said he didn't "think that's a serious thing," adding that "we should all worry" if someone were seeking to change the First Amendment. He suggested that came from the Democratic Party, which "had a campaign plank to change the First Amendment, and they were doing it in the guise of campaign finance reform." "And that was worrying me more," Bewkes continued. "Because … [Read more...] about TIME WARNER CEO: The ‘real threat’ to the First Amendment came from Democrats, not Trump
Andy Sellars is the First Amendment Scholar at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University and a staff attorney with the Digital Media Law Project. The sentence facing Bradley Manning, following years of detention in inhuman conditions, highlights a difficult truth about American freedom of speech: we have little idea how to handle whistleblowers, and thus have left them unprotected. The majority of speech protection in the United States is recognized through the First Amendment to the US Constitution. This doctrine, however, has yet to recognize any right of government employees to disclose sensitive information to the public. Instead, as Geoffrey Stone (Professor of Law at Chicago Law School - the ed.) has observed, our attempts to reconcile the validity of some government secrets with the right of the public to receive information have resulted in a system of dual absolutism. Under current law, the government is given wide latitude to secret away information … [Read more...] about Extend First Amendment to whistleblowers
Dr. Laura Schlessinger chose her words more carefully this time. The longtime AM radio fixture says that she will pull the plug on The Dr. Laura Program at the end of the year, a week after repeatedly using the N-word while taking a call on the air from a black woman who wanted to discuss her interracial marriage. She made the announcement during an appearance on Larry King Live. Here's her rationale: "My contract is up for my radio show at the end of the year and I've made the decision not to do radio anymore," Schlessinger told King, who also happens to be on his way out this year (for less incendiary reasons). "The reason is I want to regain my First Amendment rights. I want to be able to say what's on my mind and in my heart and what I think is helpful and useful without somebody getting angry, some special interest group deciding this is the time to silence a voice of dissent and attack affiliates, attack sponsors. I'm sort of done with that." She's not retiring or quitting, she … [Read more...] about Dr. Laura Ending Her Radio Show to “Regain First Amendment Rights”
It's a free country, right? That's what ABC's attorneys have to say, anyway, about the racial-discrimination suit filed in April against the network and producers of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, which charged that the hit road-to-romance shows unfairly leave anyone who isn't white out of the mix. MORE: Bachelorette Recap: Love Is a Climb and Wild Ride for Emily Maynard! "Television casting decisions are protected by the First Amendment," counsel for ABC and the shows' producers argue in court documents filed June 1 stating their intent to file a motion to both dismiss the case and request a change of venue. The defendants maintain that lawsuit should be transferred from U.S. District Court in Tennessee to Los Angeles, because all 23 seasons of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette were completely cast there—and that's where "virtually all of the material witnesses" are. Warner Horizon Television previously stated that the suit was without merit and that both shows have … [Read more...] about ABC Responds to Bachelor Discrimination Claim: Casting Is Protected by the First Amendment
Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images, Courtesy of A&E David Hester can't stop the wars from raging. A judge has refused to issue an injunction preventing A&E from engaging in business as usual when it comes to the hit series Storage Wars, a blow against the lawsuit Hester filed against the network in which he claimed that the show he used to feature prominently on is rigged. Interfering with the show's production would violate the network's First Amendment rights, ruled L.A. Superior Court Judge Michael Johnson, who also dismissed Hester's charge of unfair business practices, according to TheWrap.com. Storage Wars auction house owner Mark Balelo's suicide confirmed "It is well settled that television broadcast involves free speech, as well as production activities that advance or assist in the creation of a television program," the judge said. Hester sued A&E in December, alleging that he was fired after blowing the whistle on the show's habit of planting valuables and other … [Read more...] about Storage Wars Victory: Suing Ex-Star David Hester Is No Match for First Amendment
The National Guard may be in Ferguson, but it's keeping its distance from streets filled with protesters. Meanwhile, police try to enforce restrictions to get a handle on a situation that has flared since Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, was fatally shot by a police officer. Enforcing restrictions appears to include reining in reporters. Over the past week, several journalists were hindered from researching events in Ferguson, and some were detained. A Getty photographer was arrested while covering the demonstrations and later released. A "Washington Post" and a "Huffington Post" reporter were also arrested, and an Al Jazeera camera team reported police intentionally fired tear gas at them. In the most recent case, two German reporters were handcuffed, arrested and detained for three hours on Monday after allegedly failing to follow police instructions to keep moving on an empty street. The reporters were trying to get photos of a gas station set on fire and looted last … [Read more...] about Police in Ferguson are violating the First Amendment, legal expert says