Daily Media Links 11/9

November 9, 2021   •  By Tiffany Donnelly   •  
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In the News

Fox 35 Orlando (Video): Group suing Brevard County School Board over ‘trying to stifle public speaking’

By Christy Kern

A group of parents in Brevard County is suing the school board over what it is calling a violation of freedom of speech. 

The group “Moms for Liberty” filed the lawsuit Friday.

“They are trying to stifle public speaking,” Ashley Hall, chairwoman of the group, said. 

She said the Brevard County School Board has been silencing parents at school board meetings, and parents are now fighting for their First Amendment right.

The group filed the lawsuit Friday with attorneys from the Institute for Free Speech. It claims the board prevents people from speaking on certain topics at meetings, allows favorable comments about board members, but not criticisms, and has instilled fear that people speaking their minds could be fined or even arrested…

“This is for all parents. This isn’t for our side or the other side. It’s for all sides because freedom of speech doesn’t stop with one side,” Hall said.

KELOLAND News: State will allow anti-vax protest at S.D. Capitol

By Bob Mercer

The state Bureau of Administration has reversed itself and granted a permit to an anti-vaccination group that plans a protest at the South Dakota Capitol on Monday and Tuesday during the Legislature’s special sessions, a lawyer for the group said Friday.

State government’s decision made unnecessary a hearing that U.S. District Judge Roberto Lange had scheduled for Friday morning to consider whether to grant a temporary restraining order.

Alan Gura, an attorney for the Institute for Free Speech, told KELOLAND News that the lawsuit filed by Blue State Refugees against bureau officials and Governor Kristi Noem would continue.

The Republican governor’s communications director, Ian Fury, confirmed Friday that the permit was issued.

The bureau previously had cited the annual Christmas-trees display as the reason that groups aren’t allowed to hold events at the Capitol during November and December. The lawsuit seeks a change in that policy. Gura said talks are continuing.

“We resolved the issue whether the protest will take place next week,” Gura said. “The lawsuit is not dismissed. It’s going forward.”

ICYMI

Lawsuit: Ban on “Personally Directed” Criticism of School Board Members Violates the First Amendment

When Brevard Public Schools (BPS) adopted policies that many parents disagreed with, the Brevard Moms for Liberty (M4L) did what any group of Americans would do. They organized members of their community to attend public school board meetings and exercise their First Amendment rights. But instead of a fair hearing, they received a torrent of abuse and censorship.

In a lawsuit filed [Friday] morning, M4L details how the Brevard County School Board repeatedly violated their right to speak at public meetings. M4L members have been prevented from addressing specific actions or statements by Board members, prohibited from using specific words and phrases that members of the Board dislike, prevented from participating in meetings on the same terms as the Board’s allies, and threatened by Board officials with fines and penalties for speaking.

M4L is represented in the lawsuit by attorneys from the Institute for Free Speech, a nonpartisan First Amendment advocacy group that defends political speech rights, as well as David Osborne of Goldstein Law Partners, LLC…

The case is Brevard Moms for Liberty v. Brevard Public Schools in the United States District Court, Middle District of Florida, Orlando Division. To read the complaint, click here.

Victory: Blue State Refugees Rally to Proceed in South Dakota

It’s beginning to look a lot like freedom in South Dakota. The Noem administration agreed on Friday to grant a permit to the Blue State Refugees (BSR) to rally on the Capitol grounds during a special session of the Legislature on November 8 and 9. As a result, a scheduled court hearing in the case did not take place.

Meanwhile, BSR and its members hope to successfully resolve the case so that other protests and rallies on the Capitol grounds can take place during the holiday season. The Court’s order cancelling the hearing noted that BSR has a substantial likelihood of succeeding on the merits of its lawsuit.

“The State may have a significant interest in protecting its ‘Christmas at the Capitol’ tradition. Long-held government traditions such as this serve the State’s constituents and may foster civic engagement. However, a blanket restriction prohibiting any political gathering—apart from gatherings of the Legislature itself—on State Capitol grounds for two months does not appear to be narrowly tailored to any such interests,” wrote Chief Judge Roberto A. Lange.

“I am thrilled for our members that we will be able to make our voices heard. The state claims this was all a misunderstanding, but we had no choice but to go to court. We asked for this permit again and again, and the state shut us down every time until we filed our lawsuit,” said plaintiff Luke Robertson, a member of Blue State Refugees…

The case is Blue State Refugees v. Noem. To read more, click here.

FCC

Wall Street Journal: A Media Censor for the FCC?

By The Editorial Board

The White House last month hailed [FCC nominee Gigi] Sohn as “one of the nation’s leading public advocates for open, affordable, and democratic communications networks.” Translation: She favors deploying the agency’s regulatory power to shackle broadband providers and silence conservative voices.

Ms. Sohn founded the leftwing group Public Knowledge that has long sought more government control of the internet and media…

She’s also hinted at deploying the agency’s regulatory power to censor conservative media and revive a version of its mooted fairness doctrine…

Ms. Sohn seems to believe that the state is endorsing conservative speech by allowing cable companies to carry it. She also has suggested using the FCC’s power over broadcast licenses to censor conservative outlets. After Tribune Broadcasting abandoned its merger with the conservative-leaning Sinclair Broadcast Group in 2018, she declared “Today is a good day for every American who believes that diversity of voices in the media is better for our democracy” and urged the FCC to “look at whether Sinclair is qualified to be a broadcast licensee at all.”

Free Speech

Newsweek: Authors and Their ‘Progressive’ Book Publisher Sue Sen. Elizabeth Warren Over Free Speech

By Paul Bond

A progressive publishing company and the authors of a book critical of the U.S. government’s response to the coronavirus emergency have sued Sen. Elizabeth Warren for allegedly attempting to pressure Amazon.com into yanking their title, The Truth About COVID-19: Exposing the Great Reset, Lockdowns, Vaccine Passports, and the New Normal…

The lawsuit is based on a lengthy letter Warren wrote to Amazon CEO Andy Jassy accusing the company he runs of “peddling misinformation” by labeling the book a “best-seller” and allowing it to be at the top of results when consumers search for information about COVID-19…

The lawsuit filed in Seattle by Arnold & Jacobowitz cites Bantam Books v. Sullivan, a 1963 case in which the U.S. Supreme Court found that letters from lawmakers complaining of books constituted “thinly veiled threats” of repercussions, illegal “prior restraint” and the “suppression” of free speech, even if the letter’s author lacked “power to apply formal legal sanctions.” …

“If unpopular speech can be regulated, then you guys in the media are next, frankly,” [Attorney Nathan] Arnold told Newsweek. “If the First Amendment doesn’t protect political speech, it’s basically gutted, and that’s not a partisan position….” …

“What Warren did is far too close to a digital version of book burning,” Arnold said.

DOJ

Just the News: Project Veritas founder O’Keefe says FBI raid on his home ‘attack on First Amendment’

Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe says the FBI raid on his apartment is “an attack on the First Amendment by the Department of Justice.” 

O’Keefe, founder of the undercover journalism operation Project Veritas, made the comment on the Fox News Channel’s “Hannity” show on Monday, three days after FBI agents raided his New Jersey apartment in apparent connection to a federal probe into the missing diary of President Biden’s daughter, Ashley Biden…

O’Keefe also said [the FBI confiscated his phone, which] had reporters’ notes from sources unrelated to the diary story and a lot of confidential information to donors to his group…

“This is an attack on the First Amendment by the Department of Justice,” he also said.

FBI agents spent over two hours searching his apartment and that FBI agents in fact took two of his iPhones.

Tiffany Donnelly

https://www.ifs.org/author/tdonnelly/

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