Tag Archives: First Amendment

A Terrifying Chapter in Austin and a First Amendment Battle at the Supreme Court

Townhall Review — March 24, 2018

Mike Gallagher talks about the Austin, TX bombing as well as this week’s shooting incident at a Great Mills, Maryland school that was minimized by a fast-acting, courageous officer. Veteran FBI profiler James Fitzgerald, goes inside the mind of the Austin bomber, just like he did with Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber, who he helped stop. Michael Medved invites ADF President Michael Farris to share the latest on an important Supreme Court case with huge First Amendment implications. Julianne Benzel sits in with Dennis Prager to share about how her suggestion of having students protest abortion backfired. Larry Elder turns to Jesse Lee Peterson, a South Los Angeles community leader, author and radio host to talk about Louis Farrakhan, the leader of the Nation of Islam, and his recent racial taunts against whites and Jews. Hugh Hewitt invites Jon Erwin, producer of “I Can Only Imagine” to share about his experience making the faith-based movie.

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David Davenport: Balancing Religious Rights With Health Care


This is David Davenport of the Hoover Institution for Townhall.com.

Public policy is full of difficult dilemmas, tough cases where there are strong interests on both sides.  Such dilemmas are not usually solved as much as they are managed.

That’s why two federal departments recently expanded the rights of religious employers.  During the Obama years, the federal government had required religious employers to provide birth control coverage in their health insurance plans even when contrary to their religious beliefs.  And the government had limited the rights of religious employers to hire or favor people who shared their beliefs.

This action properly swings the pendulum back in favor of religious rights, which are protected by the First Amendment.  Civil rights are also constitutionally protected, which is what creates the tension.  In the end, both rights are powerful, but neither is absolute.

A liberal president pushes too far in one direction and a conservative administration appropriately pushes back.  Ultimately, the Supreme Court may well have to decide how to manage this difficult dilemma.

I’m David Davenport.

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David Davenport: Not All Free Speech Is Constitutionally Protected


NFL players kneeling to protest the national anthem isn’t going away. Two owners say their players must stand; now the Commissioner wants a rule requiring all NFL players to stand. Vice President Pence famously walked out on the protest.

But here’s one thing you should know that many don’t: Even though the phrase free speech is thrown around, the players have no constitutionally protected right to protest the anthem.

The First Amendment prohibits the government from limiting free speech, not a football team. In fact, sports teams are businesses and their leagues may regulate all kinds of things, from tucking in your shirt to what patches you wear. If there is any legal angle here, it is a matter of labor negotiations between the players’ union and management or the League. But it’s not a matter of constitutional law under the First Amendment.

Sadly our society knows so little about the Constitution, but this teachable moment is about free speech.

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Owen Strachan: The Fight for Free Speech Comes to Berkeley

double standard, parental, generosity and respect. Vice President Pence

Godzilla has landed.

Ben Shapiro spoke Thursday night at the University of California-Berkeley. Prior to the young conservative’s talk on free speech, local press noted that the university had added major concrete fortifications to handle protestors. In addition, 76 campus faculty members signed a letter urging students to sit out Berkeley’s “Free Speech Week” and stay home. Responding to press coverage, Shapiro compared the reaction to his talk as one befitting Godzilla. In truth, Godzilla might have proved less scary than a thoughtful voice promoting the free exchange of ideas.

Irony abounds in Berkeley. Violent leftists associated with Antifa do their darndest to supposedly oppose violence. Faculty members who demand that their views be heard show no such fairness to others.

But, some students today are still thinking for themselves. They’re seeing tolerance play out that is no tolerance at all. Perhaps the next generation is not lost.

Let’s engage them. Let’s make the case for sound principles and permanent things.

We’ll talk to anyone—even Godzilla.

For more information, check out this article.

Shapiro: When Police Can Enforce The Law, Antifa Is Powerless And Other Things I Learned At Berkeley

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David Davenport: Free Speech Under Threat


This summer, Commentary magazine published a forum on the question: Is free speech under threat in the United States?

Ironically, in a country where the Constitution and the courts carefully protect free speech, many people do not feel free to speak freely. Why? Because of a smothering blanket of political correctness that starts in our colleges and permeates our society.

Speakers with points of view that differ from the liberal orthodoxy are not welcome on many campuses, and in some cases have been subject to threats and violence. Students are supposed to be protected from so-called trigger words and microaggressions in the classroom. So much for free speech and the open debate of competing ideas.

The problem is that the First Amendment protects free speech from limitations by government, but the big challenges to free speech come from our culture and our campuses. It will take a strong fight to protect free speech, which is clearly under threat.

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Hugh Hewitt: Charlottesville Violence and the Legal Consequences

U.S. Senate

All law students taking a First Amendment course, or even a constitutional law survey course, learn the rule of Brandenburg v. Ohio, a case that grew out of a 1964 KKK rally near Cincinnati.

Brandenburg provides “that the constitutional guarantees of free speech and free press do not permit a State to forbid or proscribe advocacy of using force or of law violation except where such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.”

I celebrate Brandenburg when I teach it each year. The speech at the core of that case was every bit as odious as that used by the bigots in Charlottesville this weekend. But those bigots in 1964 lacked the present ability to incite violence. Those in Charlottesville had that ability to incite violence, and they used it.

Now three are dead, including two state troopers. Others are severely injured. The investigation should be careful and professional but also resolute. Lots of people should be charged if they contributed to the mayhem that led to these deaths.

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Michael Medved: Double Standards In The War Between White House And Media


For all his vast power, the President of the United States is always at a structural disadvantage in a “war” with the media. The First Amendment protects press rights to criticize the government, and everyone expects such criticism. But if government—or the president, as head of government—strikes back by assailing media, there’s an uneasy hint of bullying or oppression.

President Trump isn’t exceptional in generating media hostility, but Barack Obama was exceptional in avoiding such scrutiny for eight years. What’s more, there’s a double standard on defining victory in battles between the administration and the press. CNN would celebrate if it ever won 20 percent of the available viewing audience, but presidential approval ratings of just 20 percent would undermine chances for legislative and re-election success.

A president can’t win by exclusively catering to his most enthusiastic base, but a cable news operation can’t lose if it solely rallies its hard-core fans.

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