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First Amendment 2001

First Amendment 2002

First Amendment 2003



First Amendment Cases — 2002

Below are archived updates on cases involving the First Amendment that did not reach the Supreme Court as of their original posting date.

Voters Not High On Easing Drug Laws

The American electorate drew the line on softening our nation’s drug laws after voters in three states overwhelmingly rejected ballot measures designed to either legalize or ease penalties for personal possession or use of certain drugs, including marijuana.  The votes came just a week after the battle for medical marijuana scored an important victory in the courts[more]

Federal Judge Rules Beef Checkoff is 'Government Speech'

Abandoning the notion that the beef checkoff is a “self-help” program, the Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion and Research Board and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) have temporarily staved off one of a number of challenges to the beef checkoff by persuading a federal court that the program is, in fact, “government speech.”...[more]

Pork: The Other Unconstitutional Checkoff

A federal judge in Michigan declared another of the nation’s agricultural commodity promotion programs unconstitutional in an order issued October 25.  The order struck down portions of the federal Pork Production, Research and Consumer Education Act of 1985, which created the pork checkoff program authorizing the collection of mandatory assessments on pork producers that pay for generic advertising, such as the campaign touting “Pork: The Other White Meat.”…[more]

"Take Me Out to the Courthouse":
Opening Day of the Supreme Court’s October Term, 2002

The United States Supreme Court opened its new term on Monday with the traditional call of "Oyez, Oyez, Oyez" as all the spectators rose. But for more than 1,000 cases with certiorari petitions pending, it was a day of plunges as the Court announced its first list of cases turned down for appeal following its three-month summer break...[more]

Seventh Circuit Adds New Constitutional Requirement
for Student Fees

After six years of litigation, including four trips to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and one trip to the U.S. Supreme Court, the University of Wisconsin-Madison has finally gotten a pass from the courts. In a ruling last week, the Seventh Circuit upheld the University’s mandatory student activity fee explaining that "numerous limits on the student government’s discretion for awarding funds" coupled with a "comprehensive appeals process," both added after previous constitutional rulings, "sufficiently limit the University’s discretion so as to satisfy the requirements of the First Amendment."...[more]

A Tale of Two Towns:
The Constitutionality of Local Ordinances

This is a tale of two towns. One is the City of Westover, located in West Virginia; the other is the Village of Stratton, in Ohio, just one-quarter mile from the border of West Virginia. Westover has a population of approximately 4,200 people; the Village of Stratton boasts 297 residents. Westover is on the west banks of the Monongahela River; the Village of Stratton is nestled against the Ohio River.
Each town has a Mayor who recently got a lesson in First Amendment jurisprudenc...[more]

Muzzling Corporate Speech

It’s open season on Corporate America. Somewhere between the tech stock bubble bursting and the first Enron executive testifying, an army of special interest groups, anti-globalization ideologues and trial lawyers awakened to the smell of opportunity, and sprang into action...[more]

Following the Bouncing (and Deflating) Ball
in the Discovery Phase of Campaign Finance Litigation

You need look no further than the federal lawsuit challenging the new campaign finance law for an example of a plaintiff –the party seeking redress – being victimized over and over again by the very litigation process that is the only avenue for plaintiff relief. That case (in which the Center for Individual Freedom is a plaintiff) exemplifies the growing and disturbing trend in litigation of parties imposing burdensome and absurd discovery requests, all in an effort to harass the other parties and pervert the issues...[more]

The Indelible Right of Free Expression

The list of artists whose work has been banned is a long one. Ronald P. White has joined that list. It was 1999 when this South Carolina artist last created a work of art in his home state, and that creation was videotaped and broadcast to a local television audience. While most artists would bask in the glow of such exposure, White’s led to his arrest and conviction for merely having performed his craft...[more]

Extra! Extra! Kansas City Newspaper Convicted of Criminal Defamation

"Is gossip that [Carol] Marinovich lives in Johnson County true?" It is not, and the politically-charged question posed by The New Observer, a free, periodically published Kansas City, Kansas newspaper, could land the paper’s publisher and editor behind bars...[more]

Keeping an Eye on Your Tail End
The Continuing Controversy over Specialty License Plates

In some quarters, the back ends of motor vehicles are the back ends getting attention. In Florida, an Italian-American couple is undertaking a legal challenge to get back from the Department of Motor Vehicles their confiscated "two dagos" personalized license plate, which they paid for and have had for several years. Some guardian of sensitivity found the plate offensive and filed a complaint...[more]

Harassment Law Chills Free Speech

The Michigan Court of Appeals recently heard arguments to determine whether Michigan's sexual harassment law violates the First Amendment. The law fails the constitutional test in a number of respects...[more]

VMI’s Battle Over Religion Marches On

On January 24, 2002, a federal judge ruled that Virginia Military Institute’s (VMI) non-denominational dinnertime prayer is unconstitutional because it violates separation of church and state principles...[more]

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First Amendment: 2001 •  2002 • 2003