Daily Media Links 7/29

July 29, 2022   •  By Tiffany Donnelly   •  
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We’re Hiring!

Senior Attorney – Institute for Free Speech – Washington, DC or Virtual Office

The Institute for Free Speech is hiring a Senior Attorney with a minimum of seven years of experience. The location for this position is either at our Washington, D.C. office or remotely anywhere in the United States.

This is a rare opportunity to work with a growing team to litigate a long-term legal strategy directed toward the protection of Constitutional rights. We challenge laws, practices, and policies that infringe upon First Amendment freedoms, such as speech codes that censor parents at school board meetings, laws restricting people’s ability to give and receive campaign contributions, and any intrusion into people’s private political associations. You would work to hold censors accountable; and to secure legal precedents clearing away a thicket of laws, regulations, and practices that suppress speech about government and candidates for political office, threaten citizens’ privacy if they speak or join groups, and impose heavy burdens on political activity.

In the News

Washington Examiner: ‘Mama Bears’ fight back after school board quiets attempts to expose explicit library books

By Katelynn Richardson

When Alison Hair began to read an excerpt from a sexually explicit book found in her child’s school library at the local school board meeting, she was abruptly cut off.

“We have other people that are younger in this and I, we understand your point,” said Forsyth County Schools Board of Education Chairman Wesley McCall at the Feb. 15 meeting.

“My son’s a minor, and this book that you all have copies of is in my son’s middle school,” Hair replied before being told her time was up.

She was cut off again trying to read on March 15 and notified via a letter from McCall on March 17 that she was banned from future meetings. Board policy prohibits “profane, rude, defamatory remarks and personal attacks.” Hair and Cindy Martin, another Georgia mother and the chairwoman of the group “Mama Bears of Forsyth County,” are now suing the board for violating their First Amendment rights.

NewsBreak: Parent group sues Forsyth County Schools claiming constitutional rights violated

By Justine Lookenott

Represented by the Institute for Free Speech (IFS), the plaintiffs include Mama Bears of Forsyth County members Alison Hair and Cindy Martin (the group’s chairwoman)…

“We just want to use our three minutes of speaking time to show the Board what’s in the books they are making available to our kids,” Martin said. “The only way to judge these books is to read them. By stopping us from doing that, the Board is trying to protect themselves from disgrace and prevent other parents from being informed about these highly sexualized books in our schools. If the contents are deemed too ‘profane’ and ‘inappropriate’ to read at a school board meeting then just maybe the school system should not be providing them to children in the first place.”


Government Technology: As Midterms Loom, Congress Fears Domestic Disinformation

By Jule Pattison-Gordon

Federal lawmakers are looking to learn more about combating mis- and disinformation as midterm elections approach. Domestic sources have emerged as the greatest perpetrators of falsehoods, said several witnesses during a July 27 House hearing.

“ISD research suggests domestic disinformation targets Americans at a higher volume and frequency than foreign campaigns,” testified Jiore Craig, head of digital integrity at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD), a think tank that analyzes extremism.

Politico: DOJ official pressed on targeting of Supreme Court justices

By Josh Gerstein

The Justice Department’s top national security official indicated at a House hearing Thursday that prosecutors haven’t taken action against liberal activists seeking and posting information about the activities of Supreme Court justices and their families because such speech is protected by the First Amendment.

Free Expression

Unsafe (Video): Nadine Strossen on ‘HATE: Why We Should Resist it With Free Speech, Not Censorship’

Ann Coulter and Nadine Strossen

The longtime head of the ACLU keeps having to tell liberals about the 1st Amendment.

National Review: I Remember the ACLU

By Kevin D. Williamson

At times like this, it would be a very fine thing to have an ACLU that was a civil-liberties-and-free-speech organization rather than an ACLU that is a free-speech-sometimes–except-if-we-don’t-like-it-in-which-case-you’re-on-your-own organization. Having real principles makes coalition-building easier. The ACLU may still make the occasional political stretch, but the organization seems to have lost its way.

Online Speech Platforms

Knight Institute: Institute’s Abdo Discusses Social Media Common Carrier Model on Public Knowledge’s Twitter Spaces

During a July 26 episode of a Twitter Spaces series sponsored by Public Knowledge, Knight Institute Litigation Director Alex Abdo addressed the question of whether social media companies are the new common carriers. Listen to Abdo and the full episode of “In the Know with Chris Lewis” below.

Newsweek: YouTube’s Vague ‘Misinformation’ Guidelines Have Become a Political Problem

By James Lynch

YouTube’s misinformation guidelines are coming in for some long overdue criticism in light of a few recent episodes that exposed just how ridiculous they are. A few weeks ago, a video put out by the bipartisan January 6 Committee was pulled from the platform because it included former President Donald Trump telling falsehoods about the election. These violated the platform’s “election integrity policy,” according to a YouTube spokesperson, even though the former president’s comments were being shown in order to rebut them. “We enforce our policies equally for everyone,” the spokesperson told the New York Times.

A similarly Kaftkaesque situation happened in March, this time to The Hill’s YouTube show “Rising.” The channel was suspended for seven days for violating the platform’s rules around election misinformation after the hosts had played a clip of Donald Trump saying the election was rigged—in order to immediately refute it.

Candidates and Campaigns

Breitbart: Democrat Rep. Cindy Axne Attacks Lawmakers on Accepting PAC Money After Breaking Own Pledge

By Jacob Bliss

Rep. Cindy Axne, Iowa’s lone congressional Democrat, attacks her colleagues in the House who take money from corporations and PACs despite previously breaking her own pledge not to take PAC money.

Wall Street Journal: Where Do Trump’s Donations Go?

By Karl Rove

What will Donald Trump do with his campaign cash?

The States

People United for Privacy: Privacy Protected for More Americans as New Hampshire Enacts Donor Privacy Law

On July 25, 2022, New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu (R) signed Senate Bill 302 into law, establishing the “Personal Privacy Protection Act” (PPPA). Introduced with eight bipartisan co-sponsors, the Prime Sponsor of the legislation, Senator Regina Birdsell (R) was a strong champion of the measure. The passage of this law in New Hampshire marks the fourth victory for donor privacy in the states this year, after KansasVirginia, and Missouri, and the 14th state overall…

Senate Bill 302 received bipartisan support in both chambers of the New Hampshire General Court. The final version of the bill passed both chambers by voice vote. The legislation was supported at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing by nonprofit causes across the spectrum, including People United for Privacy, ACLU of New Hampshire, Americans for Prosperity – New Hampshire, National Federation of Independent Businesses, New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, and Philanthropy Roundtable.

Reason (Volokh Conspiracy): UNC Chapel Hill Student Gov’t Cuts Off Funding & Contracting to Anyone Who “Advocates” for Limits on Abortion

By Eugene Volokh

The student government president’s executive order provides, among other things,

“That it shall be prohibited for the Undergraduate Student Government Executive Branch to contract or expend funds to any individual, business, or organization which actively advocates to further limit by law access to reproductive healthcare, including, though not limited to, contraception and induced abortions.”

This seems to me a clear violation of the First Amendment:

  1. Under Board of Regents v. Southworth (2000), public university student government are generally subject to the same First Amendment limits imposed on public entities more generally.
  2. When it comes to generally available student group funding, Southworth and Rosenberger v. Rector (1995) make clear that the government can’t discriminate based on the student group’s viewpoint.
  3. And when it comes to contracting, Board of Comm’rs v. Umbehr (1996) holds that the government generally can’t discriminate based on contractors’ ideological expression, either.

ACLU of VA: Peter Vlaming V. West Point School Board et al. (Amicus)

The ACLU of Virginia joined the ACLU in filing an amicus curiae, or friend of the court, brief before the Supreme Court of Virginia in the case of Vlaming v. West Point School Board, arguing that public schoolteacher Peter Vlaming does not have an unfettered right to exercise free speech in the classroom when doing so results in discrimination against transgender students.

Bucks County Courier Times: Central Bucks approves library policy some view as book ban

By Chris Ullery

Despite objections from teachers, parents and staff, and a legal threat from ACLU over free speech concerns, Central Bucks School District will move ahead with a controversial library policy giving residents the ability to challenge books available in schools.

A 6-3 school board vote Tuesday night enacted Library Policy 109.2. Opponents say the policy is a de facto book ban for materials related to the LGBTQ community and people of color, while supporters say it ensures access to age-appropriate material that falls in line with the district’s educational goals.

Montgomery Advertiser: Secretary of State: Federal groups supporting Alabama candidates must register with state

By Brian Lyman

The Secretary of State’s office said in a statement Tuesday that federal organizations contributing to state campaigns will have to file campaign finance reports with the state.

The move, which Secretary of State John Merrill said Tuesday would include dark money groups, comes after years of controversy over the scope and application of Alabama’s ban on transfers of money between political action committees (PACs).

Tiffany Donnelly

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