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First Amendment 2001

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First Amendment 2003



First Amendment Cases — 2003

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

Pork: The Other Checkoff Victory

Members of the Campaign for Family Farms ("CFF") and many other independent hog farmers are as happy as pigs in …, well, you know what we mean. This week, a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit upheld a lower court ruling that the national pork checkoff program is unconstitutional because the payment of the mandatory assessments violates the First Amendment rights of pork producers by compelling them to subsidize speech with which they do not agree...[more]

Supreme Court to Hear Pledge of Allegiance Case

The U.S. Supreme Court granted review Tuesday in the case challenging the constitutionality of including the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance. The Court will review a ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit that found the addition of the words "under God" transformed the Pledge from being a secular statement of patriotism into a violation of the First Amendment right against government establishment of religion...[more]

Enacting McCain-Feingold By ‘Buying Time’

As the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court draft the decision that will determine the constitutional fate of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (BCRA), also known as McCain Feingold, they probably won’t be relying on two studies commissioned and circulated by "reformers" as unbiased scholarly evidence of the law’s constitutionality. Indeed, the rigors of the BCRA litigation have exposed that the two studies – commissioned, conducted, and published by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law (Brennan Center) and submitted to and relied upon by members of Congress when passing BCRA – were little more than misinformation fed to our elected representatives with the goal of enacting McCain-Feingold at any cost...[more]

Nike: Just Settling for Silence

After five years of vigorously arguing that corporations possess the same full First Amendment rights as individuals when it comes to speaking on matters of public concern, Nike signed away its free speech protections – as well as those of corporations nationwide – when, on Friday, it settled a landmark case brought against the company by anti-business activist Marc Kasky...[more]

The Second Monday in September

It won’t be a quiet recess day at the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday. Instead, this year on September 8th, the halls will be bustling with attorneys, reporters, and interested Court watchers, and the justices will have already returned to our nation’s capital ready to emerge from behind the curtains for their first sitting this fall. Monday, if you don’t already know, is the day the Court will hear four full hours of arguments in the most important political speech case to be decided by the Court in more than a quarter century – namely the consolidated constitutional challenges to the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (BCRA), popularly known as McCain-Feingold...[more]

Beef Checkoff: It’s What’s Unconstitutional

A federal appellate court ruled unanimously Tuesday that the federal beef checkoff program violates the First Amendment rights of American beef farmers and cattle ranchers by compelling them to pay for generic advertising with which they disagree...[more]

Nike v. Kasky:  The Supreme Court Won’t Just Do It

The five-letter word of the day for Nike, Inc. is “rerun.”  That’s because, in just nine words (“The writ of certiorari is dismissed as improvidently granted”), the United States Supreme Court effectively told Nike that it would see it again at least three years from now, after the California Supreme Court takes another look at the seminal commercial speech case of Nike v. Kasky...[more]

A High School International Affairs Program Crosses the Line to Propagandizing

“Learn today . . . Lead tomorrow”.  That is the public relations campaign motto adopted this year by the Michigan School Public Relations Association, the Michigan Department of Education and the Michigan Education Association.  A good motto in principle, but a terrible one in practice if the public school students are learning lessons that undermine American values and leadership...[more]

McCain-Feingold’s High Court Opening Act

Back on March 25, when the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Federal Election Commission v. Beaumont, No. 02-403, High Court watchers and campaign finance wonks took notice not because they thought the decision would dramatically alter the landscape of federal campaign finance law, but because of the much anticipated headline act still waiting in the wings — namely, the constitutional challenges to the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA), popularly known as McCain-Feingold...[more]

Eighth Circuit Rules First Amendment Protects Video Games

A federal appeals court Tuesday struck down an ordinance enacted by St. Louis County, Mo., that made it unlawful to sell, rent, or make available graphically violent videogames to minors without parental consent on the grounds that such a law abridged the freedom of expression protected by the U.S. Constitution...[more]

See You Later Alligator: Another Checkoff Fund Ruled Unconstitutional

Well, now we can say we’ve heard it all! Remarkably, some government bureaucrat convinced Louisiana’s legislature and Department of Wildlife and Fisheries that the State needed to impose mandatory assessments to support generic advertising for alligator products.  With a bite being taken out of its profits, Pelts & Skins, LLC, a luxury skin company, challenged the assessments...[more]

Three-Judge Panel Blocks Its Own Campaign Finance Ruling, Supreme Court Will Decide McCain-Feingold’s Fate

The Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA) is once again the “law of the land” in its entirety thanks to the same federal court that struck down and upheld portions of the law in a ruling that took the three judges four separate opinions and 1575 pages to explain.  The stay issued Monday means that the decision of the three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia will be suspended until the Supreme Court rules on the constitutionality of McCain-Feingold, likely to be as late as next fall or winter...[more]

The Bijudicial Campaign Reform Act of 2003

Late last Friday, a specially appointed panel of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia issued its ruling in the consolidated constitutional challenges brought against the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, popularly known as McCain-Feingold...[more]

First Amendment Issues Surround Term’s Last Day of Arguments

The First Amendment dominated at the U.S. Supreme Court Wednesday as the justices heard the last scheduled arguments of the current term. In the courtroom, the justices heard the case of Virginia v. Hicks, No. 02-371, which raises the issue whether a policy of Richmond, Virginia, making the streets and sidewalks around a crime-ridden public housing project off-limits to non-residents infringes upon the First Amendment rights of those who may wish to use such a traditionally public space for speech, demonstrations, and leafleting...[more]

Justice, Not Magic, Returns Harry Potter Series to Library Bookshelves

With the wave of a gavel and not a magic wand, Chief Judge Jimm Larry Hendren of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas granted a family’s request to remove access restrictions and place the Harry Potter series back on library bookshelves available to readers of all ages...[more]

What Do Harry Potter, Captain Underpants and Huck Finn Have in Common?

Still three months away from the scheduled release of the fifth in the best-selling series by J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter is back in the news and topping the charts.  But this time it’s not The New York Times Bestseller List or the weekend box office numbers.  According to the American Library Association’s (ALA) Office for Intellectual Freedom, Harry Potter tops the list of books most challenged in 2002...[more]

9th Circuit Upholds Pledge Decision

Solidifying its reputation as a “runaway train of liberal activism,” the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit last week refused to reconsider its controversial decision over the Pledge of Allegiance...[more]

A New Ninth Circuit in the New Year?

It appears that the Ninth Circuit’s New Year’s resolution is to decrease the number of rulings overturned by the United States Supreme Court.  Only two months into the New Year, the traditionally rogue Ninth Circuit has issued two opinions in the campaign finance arena that are remarkably deferential to Supreme Court precedent and leanings...[more]

Grape Expectations: Federal Appeals Court Rules Table Grape Check-Off Unconstitutional

Since 1996, grapes grown for wine production have produced bottles aged to perfection, while others have shriveled into raisins.  At the same time, a federal lawsuit over table grapes has wound its way through the courts like a vine...[more]

Supreme Court to Decide Whether Nike Can Just Do It

The United States Supreme Court last Friday granted Nike’s petition to review Nike, Inc. v. Kasky, a seminal commercial speech case with broad implications for corporations across America...[more]

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