Daily Media Links 5/26

May 26, 2022   •  By Tiffany Donnelly   •  
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The Courts

Reuters: Univ. of Houston’s anti-discrimination policy chills free speech – judge

By Nate Raymond

A federal judge has blocked the University of Houston from reinstating an anti-discrimination policy that subjected students to discipline for harassment, agreeing with a conservative group that it wrongly chilled free speech.

Friday’s ruling by U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes in Houston marked the latest victory for Speech First, a nonprofit that has sued various schools over what it says are campus speech restrictions under the guise of anti-harassment policies.

Bloomberg Law: ‘Non-Lawyer Legal Help’ Are No Longer Banned Words in New York

By Roy Strom

A federal judge in Manhattan this week ruled a non-profit can train regular people to provide free help for New Yorkers filling out responses to debt collection lawsuits…

Licensing requirements targeting professionals do not automatically evade scrutiny under First Amendment arguments, [Judge Paul Crotty] said in a 33-page opinion and order, citing a series of Supreme Court rulings.

“There are special categories of pure speech that government can regulate without scrutiny,” Crotty wrote. “But legal advice does not appear to be one of them.”

Free Expression

Wall Street Journal: Princeton Fed Me to the Cancel Culture Mob

By Joshua Katz

Nearly two years ago, I wrote in these pages, “I survived cancellation at Princeton.” I was wrong. The university where I taught for nearly a quarter of a century, and which promoted me to the tenured ranks in 2006, has revoked my tenure and dismissed me. Whoever you are and whatever your beliefs, this should terrify you.

The Atlantic: The Doom Spiral of Pernicious Polarization

By Yascha Mounk

Soothsayers of doom are in demand for a reason. American partisan polarization has, without a doubt, reached a perilous level…

We urgently need visionary leaders and institutional reforms that can lower the stakes of political competition. Imagining what a depolarization of American politics would look like is not too difficult. The only problem is that America’s political partisans may already hate one another too much to take the steps necessary to avoid catastrophe.

Wall Street Journal: Companies Flunk Free Speech

By Jeremy Tedesco and Robert Netzly

That’s why our firms, Alliance Defending Freedom, a First Amendment advocate at the Supreme Court, and Inspire Insight, a Christian financial technology firm that informs investment decisions, created the Viewpoint Diversity Score Business Index. The annual Business Index gauges U.S. corporations’ respect for religious and ideological diversity in the market, workplace, and public square…

The results of our inaugural Business Index reveal that there is much work to be done.

Donor Privacy

“Overton Window” Podcast (Mackinac Center): ‘Transparency is for government and privacy is for people’

By James M. Hohman

Some people think that citizens ought to be told about anyone who donates to policy and political organizations. Others think that the only use for this information is to harass political opponents. Heather Lauer is the executive director of People United for Privacy and firmly thinks that disclosure rules are being abused to silence opponents. She’s gotten a dozen states to adopt donor privacy laws. I spoke with her for the Overton Window podcast.

Lauer boils it down to a simple message. “Transparency is for government and privacy is for people,” she says.

Cherokee Nation

KFOR: Measure to prohibit ‘dark money’ in tribal politics signed into Cherokee law

By K. Querry-Thompson

A measure that reforms the tribe’s election code, which included strong provisions to prevent dark money from coming into tribal elections, has been signed into Cherokee law…

Under the reforms, any ‘person or entity’ involved in making independent expenditures is subject to criminal sanctions, including up to two years imprisonment and a $5,000 fine and civil penalties of up to $500,000.

In 2019, the Cherokee Nation Election Commission and Cherokee Nation courts found that Principal Chief candidate David Walkingstick had coordinated with a non-Cherokee special interest group to raise an undisclosed amount of money.

Officials say there was no public disclosure by Walkingstick or the group, which is a violation of the tribe’s campaign donation disclosure laws.

As a result, Walkingstick was declared ineligible.

The States

JDSupra: Connecticut Governor Signs Law Prohibiting Employer-Employee “Captive Audience” Communications

By Patricia Reilly and Emily McDonough Souza (Murtha Cullina)

On May 17, 2022, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont signed into law the so-called “captive audience” bill (Senate Bill 163), which prohibits employers from requiring their employees to (a) attend employer-sponsored meetings that have a primary purpose of communicating the employer’s opinion concerning religious or political matters, or (b) listen to speech or view communications that have a primary purpose of communicating the employer’s opinion regarding religious or political matters. The law goes into effect on July 1, 2022.

Center Square: Milwaukee school counselor under state investigation for opposition to transgender ideology

By Benjamin Yount

An elementary school counselor from Milwaukee is refusing to resign or change her mind about gender identity, even after the state opened an investigation that could cost her her job.

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction sent Marissa Darlingh a letter on April 29, explaining that she was under investigation for what she said at a rally in Madison just six days before.

WCVB: Charge dropped against man who heckled Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins during press conference

By Matt Reed

A man accused of heckling then-District Attorney Rachael Rollins during a press conference in Boston last year appeared before a judge Wednesday.

Joao DePina was charged with intimidation of a witness from an incident in November, during which he shouted and interrupted Rollins during an update about Boston Police Department officers who were shot during a standoff…

Rollins was named as the witness being intimated because of three separate open cases against DePina.

Judge Carol-Ann Fraser dismissed the charge, saying “there exists no probable cause or references, direct or indirect, to the defendant’s pending criminal cases. The defendant’s speech is within the First Amendment’s protective reach.”

“This was core political speech, and a citizen is going to be facing jail time for engaging in political speech? There’s just nothing about that that doesn’t rub me the wrong way, and it should rub anybody the wrong way,” defense attorney Marc Randazza said.

Tiffany Donnelly

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