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Antigone update: Judge stays enforcement of AZ "nude image" law

Posted By Jonathan M. Kelley, Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Last Wednesday (November 26), the judge in Antigone Books v. Horne, FTRF's suit challenging Arizona's "nude image" law, entered an order staying enforcement of the law.  The order was issued based on an agreement by plaintiffs and the state, with the understanding that the state legislature will possibly be reconsidering the law in its forthcoming legislative session.

The Media Coailtion, which is coordinating the lawsuit for FTRF and fellow plaintiffs, has issued a  press release about the order.

Additional coverage:

In case you missed it, FTRF developed a fact sheet to provide a detailed explanation for our involvement in the case.

Tags:  Antigone v. Horne  censorship  litigation  Media Coalition 

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Supreme Court hands down decision in SBAL v. Driehaus: victory for FTRF!

Posted By Jonathan M. Kelley, Thursday, June 19, 2014
On Monday, a unanimous US Supreme Court handed down its opinion in SBAL v. Driehaus, a case concerning the ability to bring pre-enforcement (or facial) challenges to laws that could violate First Amendment rights. FTRF was one of several organizations to join an amicus brief filed in March by Media Coalition.

The Court held in this case that the plaintiff's threat of prosecution was "sufficiently imminent" to allow it to move forward.  It will now return to the lower courts to proceed on other issues.  A full analysis of the opinion is available on SCOTUS Blog.

In a press release, Media Coalition executive director David Horowitz said, “We are gratified that the Court today recognized the immense harm that can occur when individuals are required to put their liberty at risk in order to vindicate their free speech rights. This decision affirms the principle that a person, organization or business should not have to risk prosecution to challenge the Constitutionality of a law.”

Media Coalition noted that the Court cited Virginia v. American Booksellers Association, one of many "mini-CDA" internet content cases in which FTRF and other Media Coalition members were plaintiffs, as an example of a case in which a "reasonable fear of prosecution" provided sufficient standing to challenge a statute (that was ruled unconstitutional). 

In April, FTRF provided a rundown of oral arguments in the case.  See also our press release from March after filing the amiucs.

Tags:  litigation  Media Coalition  SBAL v Driehaus  Supreme Court 

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Overview of US Supreme Court arguments in SBAL v. Driehaus

Posted By Jonathan M. Kelley, Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Yesterday the US Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Susan B. Anthony List v. Driehaus, a case in which the Freedom to Read Foundation submitted an amicus brief in February.  The case involves the right to challenge laws, prior to their enforcement, that potential plaintiffs feel could infringe on their First Amendment rights. FTRF wrote about the case in our most recent newsletter.  Yesterday's arguments involved whether Susan B. Anthony List had standing to challenge the constitutionality of an Ohio law on "false" campaign-related speech.

Our friends at Media Coalition have compiled an excellent list of resources to help you understand the case, and the importance of FTRF's involvement:
  • Transcript of oral arguments
  • Q&A with Media Coalition Executive Director David Horowitz
  • SCOTUSBlog has a thorough overview of the oral argument, pointing out that the justices seemed more intent on questioning the constitutionality of the Ohio law than addressing the "standing" question
  • Slate's coverage
  • Wall Street Journal article on Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, whose office defended the Ohio elections commission in court even though he submitted a brief challenging the law's constitutionality, as "a representative of the people and the public interest"
  • "And lastly, the case caught the interest of satirist Andy Borowitz, who wrote on his New Yorker column, 'Supreme Court Calls Lying by Politicians an Expression of their Religion.'"
For more information on this case, visit FTRF's Current Litigation page and Media Coalition's SBAL v. Driehaus page, which includes an interactive map of where facial challenges have been brought in federal court.

Tags:  litigation  Media Coalition  SBAL v Driehaus 

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FTRF helps sponsor new Media Coalition report on video games & gun violence

Posted By Jonathan M. Kelley, Wednesday, June 26, 2013
The Media Coalition this week released a study on gun violence and new media, including video games.  "Only a Game: Why Censoring New Media Won't Stop Gun Violence" was commissioned in the wake of the 2012 Newtown massacre, as a response to the heavily promoted idea that violent video games cause gun violence.  It's conclusion: "Conclusion: A majority of Americans may believe that fictional violence leads to violence in real life. But common sense and objective research does not show it."
FTRF provided a grant to help fund this project.  We strongly encourage you to read it.  Any feedback you have is greatly appreciated!

Tags:  gun violence  Media Coalition  Only a Game  Shooting the Messenger  video games 

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The state of free speech in 2013: an excerpt

Posted By Michael A. Bamberger, Friday, January 18, 2013

In this excerpt from his front-page article from the most recent Freedom to Read Foundation News, attorney Michael A. Bamberger gives his thoughts on the state of free speech in 2013. FTRF members can read the entire article online at  FTRF News is issued quarterly to all members of the Freedom to Read Foundation and to newsletter subscribers.

The beginning of a new calendar year following both presidential and local elections is a good time for all of us engaged in the regular day-to-day protection of First Amendment rights in individual situations to step back and consider, more broadly, where we are and where attacks on free speech rights are likely to occur in 2013.

National issues

Looking back at the 2012 party platforms, it is interesting that, while the 2008 Democratic platform spoke of enabling parents to block content objectionable to them on TV and online, and of increasing enforcement resources to counter child predators on the Internet, the 2012 Democratic platform mentioned neither of these matters. The 2012 Republican platform called for vigorous enforcement of all forms of pornography and obscenity statutes, but it is notable that First Amendment issues were not central to the campaign of either candidate. Perhaps this reflects the fact that recently there has been less pressure at the federal level to pass censorial legislation. Thus, it is likely that, at the federal level, during 2013, there will not be extensions of laws directly criminalizing speech.

However the continuing unnecessary classification, as "secret,” of federal governmental speech and extensions of the scope of privacy laws also constitute restrictions on free speech. In each case there is a countervailing interest, but both classification and privacy laws can be used to limit communication and discussion of matters of public interest and concern. Those of us concerned with free speech must be alert to the dangers of such extensions.

With respect to Internet freedom, all this is complicated by the global nature of the medium. The First Amendment does not apply to those outside our borders. Governmental restrictions elsewhere in the world, particularly restrictions not obviously censorious (such as privacy restrictions, which are broader in other parts of the world including the UK and the EU), can have significant chilling effects on US-based speakers on the Internet, especially speakers who have a presence in the relevant foreign jurisdiction.


Michael Bamberger is General Counsel of the Media Coalition. Among his many cases, he served as counsel in Hudnut v. American Booksellers Association, a challenge to an overly restrictive Indianapolis anti-pornography ordinance. In 1985, the Supreme Court affirmed the lower courts’ decisions to strike down the ordinance as unconstitutional.

Bamberger was the recipient of FTRF’s Roll of Honor Award in 2012.

Tags:  2013  free speech  FTRF News  Media Coalition  Michael Bamberger 

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