On June 25, 1982, the Supreme Court announced their decision regarding the authority of school boards to censor materials in school libraries in Board of Education v. Pico. Now, on the 40th anniversary of their landmark decision, we are seeing an unprecedented wave of challenges. What happened with the Pico decision? And will it help us now?
The First Amendment (to the United States Constitution) is often referenced in today’s society, but without being prompted can you name all five freedoms that are protected? This was part of a survey administered for The First Amendment: Where America Stands, a project from the Freedom Forum. Freedom Forum, as an organization, strives to raise awareness of First Amendment freedoms through education, advocacy, and action. This project surveyed over 3,000 Americans in summer 2020, asking them more than 200 questions to provide a detailed analysis of how people differ on the relevance of the five freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment.
On Wednesday, June 23, 2021, the Supreme Court ruled 8-1 in favor of Brandi Levy and public school students’ speech rights, in the case Mahoney School Board v. Brandi Levy. In 2017, Levy, then a 14 year old high school student in Pennsylvania, tried out for her school’s varsity cheering squad. After not making the team, she vented her frustrations in a Snapchat video, where she flipped off the camera and dropped a few swearwords. The school, after seeing the video, subsequently suspended her from the junior varsity cheer squad, saying that her video and its message violated the cheerleading code of conduct. After failing to come to a resolution with the school, Levy and her parents sued, arguing that punishing her for off campus speech violated Levy’s First Amendment rights.
The Poet X and its perceived challenge to the Establishment Clause is called into question by a North Carolina couple seeking to shield their son from “negative” depictions of Catholicism in fiction provided by the local public school system.
Ultimately, while there may be arguments about the wisdom of these stay-at-home orders, and perhaps other constitutional arguments to be made, I don’t think the argument that they violate the right to assembly or the right to religion is particularly persuasive. Let’s cross our fingers that these social distancing measures work, and we can all go back to “normal” soon, making this debate a distant memory.
Untold numbers of Americans likely had their personal communications snagged in yet another FISA surveillance dragnet. So, where is the media coverage to inform corrective action and public oversight?
I certainly see the importance of sunshine laws like FOIA, but I also like that Bohannon’s original idea focused on celebrating the First Amendment, which has perhaps lost some of the focus.
The Freedom of Information Act, an invaluable tool for democracy, is under attack. New Interior Department regulations are targeting those who use it the most–journalists, academics, researchers and more. Furthermore, the shutdown is compounding the issue and allowing the possibly-illegal and definitely-unethical change to happen unnoticed.
Today, December 15, 2018, we celebrate the 227th anniversary of the ratification of the Bill of Rights. President Franklin D. Roosevelt established the Bill of Rights Day on this day in 1941 to honor and observe the preservation of our individual rights.
Like a good proportion of the country, I have been doing my best to catch bits and pieces of the Senate hearings regarding the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump’s nominee to the US Supreme Court. When I sat down to write this blog I wondered, what impact might Kavanaugh’s confirmation have on intellectual freedom issues?