Posts Tagged ‘First Amendment’

It’s time to stand up for your rights to free speech and open government

Thursday, August 16th, 2018

Florida Bulldog rarely publishes opinion, but today we stand publicly with thousands of reporters, editors and others who bring you the news to remind you – our readers – of the crucial work done by journalists on your behalf.
The post It’s time to stand up for your rights to free speech and open government appeared first on Florida Bulldog.

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It’s time to stand up for your rights to free speech and open government

Thursday, August 16th, 2018

Florida Bulldog rarely publishes opinion, but today we stand publicly with thousands of reporters, editors and others who bring you the news to remind you – our readers – of the crucial work done by journalists on your behalf.
The post It’s time to stand up for your rights to free speech and open government appeared first on Florida Bulldog.

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First Amendment claims seen as Rx for drug makers, headache for consumers

Saturday, October 14th, 2017

By Paul Raeburn
FairWarning
Off-label promotion has long been considered a serious white-collar crime. The FDA has fined drug companies billions of dollars for off-label violations. The aim: to prevent them from overstating the benefits and understating the risks of their products, a practice known as misbranding – and one that sometimes leads to patients getting drugs that prove harmful or even deadly.
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Far right uses Fla. stand-your-ground law to recruit for white supremacist rally at UF

Thursday, October 5th, 2017

By Noreen Marcus
FloridaBulldog.org
After lengthy negotiations, white supremacist Richard Spencer will speak at the university’s Phillips Center for the Performing Arts on Oct. 19. The date, finalized this week, was reported by a counter-protest group that is organizing online and acknowledged by Spencer’s lawyer.
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State Sen. Lauren Book seeks restraining order to silence protester

Tuesday, August 15th, 2017

By Francisco Alvarado
FloridaBulldog.org
As Broward State Sen. Lauren Book prepares for her annual walk to raise awareness about child sex abuse, she wants to make sure one of her harshest critics is nowhere near her.
On July 26, Sen. Book filed a petition in Broward Circuit Court seeking a restraining order against Derek Logue, a 40-year-old Ohio man convicted of sexually assaulting an 11-year-old girl in 2001. Logue today is an advocate for registered sex offenders.
The post State Sen. Lauren Book seeks restraining order to silence protester appeared first on Florida Bulldog.

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First Amendment Under Attack in Federal Court

Thursday, June 22nd, 2017

Originally Posted 15 June 2017

 
 

First Amendment Under Attack in Federal Court

The First Amendment is under attack by the government in federal court. Matt Akins of Citizens For Justice filed a lawsuit against the Columbia Missouri Police Department claiming retaliation for filming police officers and reporting on their activities. Judge Nanette Laughrey of the U.S. Court for the Western District of Missouri granted summary judgment to the City of Columbia and police officers named in Akins’ suit, ruling “Neither the public nor the media has a First Amendment right to videotape, photograph, or make audio recordings of government proceedings that are by law open to the public.” The judge’s ruling came in response to a long line of incidents involving alleged false arrests, wrongful seizures, a CPD Wanted Poster for Akins depicting Akins as an armed criminal, using one of the false arrests that were sealed by law and deprivations of Akins’ property and police threats to retaliate against his employers.
Oral arguments were made on June 8, 2017, hearing in federal appellate court in St. Louis, Missouri. Arguments centered on two First Amendment issues involving Akins and his “Media Militia.” In the summer of 2011, Akins attempted to film an activist filing a misconduct complaint against a Columbia Police Officer in the department’s public lobby. In response, a uniformed member of the Columbia Police Department ordered Akins to cease filming. The second issue revolved around Citizens For Justice videos Akins posted on the department’s Facebook page depicting officers in a negative light which were later deleted by the department during a debate about the Citizens Police Review Board’s oversight authority.
A panel of the 8th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals Judges (Melloy, Loken, and Murphy) seemed skeptical of the rights established by the First Amendment during questioning at oral arguments on June 08,

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Homestead PD Still Doesn’t Know Photography Is Not A Crime

Thursday, June 15th, 2017

Homestead Police Department (HPD), in South Florida, has myriad problems respecting the First Amendment. I went to HPD this week to serve some officers in a civil rights suit, the story was covered earlier. While entering I discovered that HPD still has not learned that photography is not a crime.
I covered HPD officer John Frank, last year, him initially claiming that I could not take his picture. He quickly backed down once I started recording the video below. HPD adopting a policy such as shown in the sign above makes it understandable that some of their officers would fail to realize that photography is not a crime.
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WixzsV0H-A8?feature=oembed&w=620&h=349] However, HPD officers such as Tony Sincore realize that it is our right to record them and to record within the station. The below video was taken by another local victim of HPD abuse.
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QeZ5Ioy1ZSc?feature=oembed&w=620&h=349] Photography Is Not A Crime, is not only our name as an organization, it’s the law. It is also part and parcel of our First Amendment right as Americans to gather information on governmental affairs. First, I will address briefly herein the legal issues of video recording with sound which is legally equivalent to audio recording. Then I will cover photography which is legally equivalent to video without sound.
The Florida wire tap statute, FSS. 934.03, makes it illegal to intercept an “oral communication”, i.e. voices, without the consent of all parties. In this way video recordings having audio and/or audio recordings could be a crime, in some cases. Yet, the definition, FSS. 934.02, of “oral communication”, excludes conversations having no expectation of privacy, see also State v. Inciarano. Additionally, what can be plainly seen or overheard in public is covered by the plain view doctrine.
Katz v. United States establishes that no person in the publicly accessible lobby of the police department would have an expectation of privacy. Further, it must be noted that Constitutional rights, such as privacy, protect citizens from

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Florence Snyder: Ain’t no Sunshine where Scott’s gone

Tuesday, March 14th, 2017

Just in time for Sunshine Week, Tampa Bay Times environmental reporter Craig Pittman reminds us how focused, how ruthless, how relentless Gov. Rick Scott’s flacks are in their taxpayer-financed efforts to keep information out of the hands of taxpayers.
Florida’s Ministries of Disinformation have been around since the Chiles administration, but “paranoia about the press” has ramped up significantly on Scott’s watch. Here’s how Connie Bersok, who devoted 30 years of her life to protecting Florida’s fragile wetlands, described current events at Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to Pittman and Times researcher Caryn Baird:
“When I first started, if the press called, you could talk to the press, you just had to document it for your boss. Then it became: You had to get permission first, but you could still talk.
“Then it became: The press office would approve of anyone talking with a reporter, but they had to be on the line.
“And now that’s changed to: ‘You do not talk to the press.’ As a result, a lot of the information that’s expressed to the press wasn’t much information at all.”
Bersok’s now retired and able to exercise her First Amendment rights on behalf of former colleagues who don’t dare violate the government gag order for fear of joining the hundreds of DEP employees who have been disappeared since Scott took office.
Purges are always drenched in lies, especially when the purges are aimed at nationally respected professionals with decades of dedicated public service. It’s an uphill battle keeping the air fresh and the water clean in the face of relentless pressure to build high-rises and strip malls in places that God did not mean for people to live.
It’s impossible when the scientists and planners are subject to being fired with no notice and for no reason, and no amount of Florida sunshine and

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The Grimm truth about Alberto Carvalho’s assault on WLRN

Monday, February 27th, 2017

Friends of the First Amendment have their hands full with the War in the White House Pressroom.
That may explain why Miami-Dade School Superintendent Alberto (Rico Suave) Carvalho thought his attempted hostile takeover of the highly respected and ferociously independent WLRN newsroom might pass unnoticed.
Thankfully, fans of the free press have taken notice, and are rallying to the support of the high-quality journalism this public radio station produces with a small staff and a tight budget.
The Miami school system has owned WLRN’s broadcast license since before Carvalho was born, and has heretofore had the wisdom not to interfere with its editors and reporters.
If Carvalho gets his way, they’ll be reporting to his head flack and serving up mass quantities of happy talk about Carvalho, if they know what’s good for ’em.
The Miami Herald’s veteran columnist, Fred Grimm, explains that “Reporters who’ve dealt with the notoriously prickly Miami-Dade School District … [learned] Carvalho and company can hardly abide critical stories [such as the recent] series of stories exploring problems with the school district’s alternative school for suspended students.”
Grimm and many other Miami citizens and taxpayers have found a lot to admire in Carvalho’s stewardship of the county’s public schools. That could change irrevocably if Carvalho persists in his Putin-like effort to annex WLRN.
The post The Grimm truth about Alberto Carvalho’s assault on WLRN appeared first on Florida Politics.

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Small dairy farmer seeks First Amendment protection from state regulators

Thursday, February 2nd, 2017

Five years ago, the Florida Department of Agriculture turned its regulatory power on a small third-generation dairy farm in the Panhandle’s Calhoun County, population 14,462.

The Ocheesee Creamery, as it’s known, was caught being a little too honest.
FIRST AMENDMENT: Mary Lou Wesselhoeft, owner of the Ocheesee Creamery, was told by state regulators that she must inject additives into her all-natural skim milk or call it “imitation milk.”
Mary Lou Wesselhoeft, owner, was selling all-natural pasteurized skim milk — whole milk with the cream skimmed off — and labeling it exactly what it was: skim milk.
But in a strange twist with First Amendment implications, the state said Wesselhoeft was misrepresenting her product. After a decade without complaints or confusion, newly enforced regulations required artificially injected additives — something Ocheese Creamery had never done and wasn’t about to start doing.
As a result, the department issued an ultimatum: either stop selling skim milk or label it “imitation milk.”
Wesselhoeft, whose website header includes the Bible verse, “The hills shall flow with milk, Joel 3:18,” opted to stop selling her locally popular item rather than comply with a condition she believes is dishonest.

But not without a fight.
In March 2016, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida ruled in favor of the Department of Agriculture.
The First Amendment’s protection of free speech extends to commercial speech, the court said, adding that while Wesselhoeft’s label is literally true, the department has the authority to establish a “standard of identity.”
On Jan. 24, the Institute for Justice, a public interest law firm, argued her case before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit Court in Jacksonville. The firm has represented Wesselhoeft since 2014.
“The state has turned the dictionary on its head,” managing attorney Justin Pearson told Watchdog.org.
“The state admits that Ocheesee Creamery skim milk consists entirely of pure

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Kathy Castor is right calling ‘extreme vetting’ order immoral, un-American

Monday, January 30th, 2017

It might be easy to dismiss the harsh comments by U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor of Tampa regarding President Donald Trump’s controversial executive order that called for “extreme vetting” of potential refugees from seven Muslim nations.
As Mitch Perry reported Sunday on SaintPetersBlog, Castor said, “President Trump’s executive order targeting and banning legal permanent residents and refugees from war-torn areas is illegal, immoral and un-American.  It has made us less safe.  If the president wants to empower jihadists, this is the way to do it.”
I would expect nothing less from Castor. She is reliably liberal. She is from the opposition party, and Trump’s action is right in the Democrats’ you-were-warned wheelhouse. And she was a staunch supporter of Hillary Clinton.
There is something else to keep in mind, though. In my dealings with Castor, I have found her concern for all people to be genuine and deep. She also is extremely smart and usually says exactly what she believes.
I don’t think she was just trying to make political hay here. I think she was trying to make an important point before this deeply divided nation drives off the edge of the cliff and careens into the abyss.
Did I say divided?
For all the notoriety about President Trump’s Twitter habits, his Facebook page is what raised my eyebrows Monday morning.
His statement explaining the executive order had more than 574,000 reactions – most of which appeared to be positive. The statement also had been shared with other Facebook users more than 213,000 times. And he is doing exactly what he promised to do if elected. More than a few people have said they find that refreshing.
There appeared to be thousands of comments under the statement – I didn’t have time to count them all – and most of them (but not all) were supportive of the

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Donald Trump’s idea of ‘presidential’ diverges from past presidents

Wednesday, November 30th, 2016

Donald Trump, that most unconventional of presidential candidates, last spring pledged that he would act perfectly presidential when the time was right.
“I will be so presidential that you’ll call me and you’ll say, ‘Donald, you have to stop that, it’s too much,’” he promised during a March television interview.
Less than two months from Inauguration Day, there are growing signs that Trump’s idea of what’s presidential may never sync up with past norms — to the delight of some and dismay of others.
The president-elect has kept up his habit of sending unfiltered tweets, directly challenged the First Amendment right to burn the flag and selected a flame-throwing outsider for a top adviser. He’s shown no hesitation to traffic in unsubstantiated rumors, has mixed dealings in business and government, and has flouted diplomatic conventions to make his own suggestion for who should be Britain’s ambassador to the U.S., a job that happens to already be filled. He’s picked numerous fights with individual journalists, disregarded past practices on press access and dabbled in the name-calling that was commonplace during his candidacy.
Trump’s search for Cabinet nominees has played out like a reality TV show, with a number of candidates engaged in unabashed self-promotion while their assets and liabilities are publicly debated by members of the president-elect’s own transition team. (It’s normally a hush-hush process until the unveiling of an appointee). Trump’s tweet that “Fidel Castro is dead!” had none of the diplomatic subtleties normally associated with such an international development.
Is all of this, then, the “new normal” for what to expect from a Trump administration or a reflection of the growing pains associated with any presidential transition?
President Barack Obama, who knows a thing or two about making the big leap to the Oval Office, has expressed hope that the weight of the office will

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Donald Trump rejects ‘phony’ polls, insists ‘we are winning’

Tuesday, October 25th, 2016

A defiant Donald Trump blamed his campaign struggles on “phony polls” from the “disgusting” media on Monday, fighting to energize his most loyal supporters as his path to the presidency shrinks.
With just 14 days until the election, the Republican nominee campaigned in battleground Florida as his team conceded publicly as well as privately that crucial Pennsylvania may be slipping away to Democrat Hillary Clinton. That would leave him only a razor-thin pathway to the 270 electoral votes needed to win the White House on Nov. 8.
Despite continued difficulties with women and minorities, Trump refuses to soften his message in the campaign’s final days to broaden his coalition. Yet he offered an optimistic front in the midst of a three-day tour through Florida as thousands began voting there in person.
“I believe we’re actually winning,” Trump declared during a roundtable discussion with farmers gathered next to a local pumpkin patch.
A day after suggesting the First Amendment to the Constitution may give journalists too much freedom, he insisted that the media are promoting biased polls to discourage his supporters from voting.
“The media isn’t just against me. They’re against all of you,” Trump told cheering supporters later in St. Augustine. “They’re against what we represent.”
In more bad news for Trump, a new poll shows young voters turning to Clinton now that the race has settled down to two main candidates. Clinton now leads among likely voters 18 to 30 years in age by 60 percent to 19 percent, according to a new GenForward survey.
Young black voters already were solidly in her corner, and now young whites are moving her way, according to the survey by the Black Youth Project at the University of Chicago with the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.
With Trump on the defensive, Democrat Clinton worked to slam the door

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For Hillary Clinton, election likely to be won or lost in October

Thursday, October 6th, 2016

Each night, Hillary Clinton‘s data experts head to a conference room on the 11th floor of her Brooklyn headquarters, to start counting votes.
The sessions in the “early voter boiler room,” as it’s been dubbed by campaign aides, stretch into the early hours of the morning. The team pores over turnout patterns in states where advance voting is already underway, projects how many votes Clinton and Republican Donald Trump have already received, and updates crucial targeting lists of the voters she still needs.
For Clinton, October is when she’s likely to win or lose the election, not Nov. 8. By the third week of this month, Clinton’s campaign hopes to have a solid enough sample of the early vote to know whether the Democrat is on track to win the White House.
“Many battleground states are already voting so every day is Election Day,” said Matt Dover, Clinton’s voter analytics director.
In several competitive states, including North Carolina, Iowa, Colorado, Florida and Nevada, at least 45 percent of the total vote is expected to come in early. Initial metrics show good news for Clinton in North Carolina, a must-win state for Trump. There are modestly positive signs for the Republican in Iowa, but that’s a state the Democrat can likely afford to lose.
The Republican National Committee, which oversees early voting and turnout operations for Trump, is also encouraging supporters to take advantage of opportunities to cast ballots before Nov. 8. The party has significantly stepped up its analytics and voter-targeting operations since being outmatched by Democrats in the past two presidential elections, but the 2016 race is the first test of its strength in a national election.
Despite improvements, the RNC system was always intended to be a complement to whatever operations the eventual GOP nominee brought to the table. Trump arrived in the general

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Julie Delegal: The NRA has gone all the way down the rabbit hole

Wednesday, October 14th, 2015

Rights, even those guaranteed by the constitution, are never absolute.
Free speech rights don’t protect us from libel or slander, for example. They don’t protect us from yelling “fire” in a crowded theater. But so far, no one is challenging the NRA for its abuse of the First Amendment: spreading misinformation about guns in America.
The biggest deception that NRA-brainwashed America has swallowed hook, line and sinker is that having more guns around makes us safer. This past Monday, on WJCT’s “First Coast Connect” radio show, Jacksonville lawyer and NRA spokesman Cord Byrd spread that mendacity yet again.
But science tells us the opposite of what Byrd and the NRA are saying.
More permissive gun laws directly correlate with higher instances of violent crime. Don’t take my word for it. Read Christopher Ingraham’s article  about the Stanford study in the The Washington Post:
“The totality of the evidence based on educated judgments about the best statistical models suggests that right-to-carry laws are associated with substantially higher rates” of aggravated assault, robbery, rape and murder, Stanford law professor John Donohue said in an interview with the Stanford Report.
The Stanford study sounds the death knell on the now-discredited Lott and Mustard study from 1997 – the one that NRA shills would like to keep peddling. The new study belies the standard NRA shtick: “If those people had only been armed, they would have been able to take down the shooter at (fill in the blank.)”
In case you’re having trouble filling in the blank, your choices are growing. The NRA is talking about movie-goers in Aurora, Colorado; late-night studiers in the Florida State University library; elementary schoolchildren and their teachers in Newtown, Connecticut; community college students in Oregon; the Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal church in Charleston, South Carolina; and the list goes on and on.
“Silly victims,” the NRA all but

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Texas Police Captain Wrongly Arrests Mom for Saying “Dick” When Coaching Kids Sports, Department Admits Fault on FB

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2015

The sports our children play often generate passion among parents.
Few places exemplify the parent/child bond through sports like Texas, but now the police have stepped in and penalized a 32-year-old suburban wife and  mother named Jessica Curs in a town just south of Dallas called Alvarado.
Alvarado Police Department Captain Gary Melson
Alvarado Police Captain Gary Melson, the second-highest ranking member of the department, believed his rank gave him the authority to censor free speech in a public fora.
So the Texas police captain arrested Curs for saying “Dick” in public while coaching a basketball game between 9-year-olds in a public school gym – an allegation that Curs and the game’s referee deny ever took place.
But even if she had said the word “dick” in public, she still would not have broken the law, making the arrest a blatant form of censorship – an act that his own department admitted to earlier today in a long and winding statement on its Facebook page with the dramatic headline:
*warning, language may not be suitable for everyone*
Indeed, in Texas, the use of free speech or expressive behavior in public, and especially near the sensitive ears of cops, is a leading indicator of one’s likelihood to being arrested as you can see from another PINAC story this week in Texas.
In its statement, Alvarado police claimed they had probable cause to arrest Curs because she yelled the word, “dick” very loudly leading to an uproar from the crowd.
Curs screamed out a profanity, namely using the word “dick”, in front of bleachers full of parents and kids.
This action caused numerous parents to rise to their feet and began confronting Curs, complaining, and demanding action from APD Capt. Melson. Capt. Melson approached Curs and instructed her to step outside the area of play to deescalate the situation. This is where the matter could have been resolved

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Los Angeles Paramedics Encroached on My Rights; Violated Their Own Policy

Monday, September 14th, 2015

On March 12, 2015, in a letter address to “All Officers, Emergency Operations”, Los Angeles Fire Department Chief Deputy, M.D. Rueda, notified LAFD staff members that people have the right to record/photograph them as well as patients receiving medical treatment.
That memo went ignored a few months later by two members of Station 29 (including one captain) who took it upon themselves to encroach on my First Amendment rights, harass me and falsely tell me that I was violating HIPAA law because I exercised my constitutional right to take pictures on a public street.
The federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act protects the privacy of medical records in most circumstances, but has been routinely abused by paramedics ordering citizens to stop recording in public when treating citizens in full view of the public eye.
Rueda’s advisory stated:
In a public setting, anyone is legally allowed to photograph and/or record our members at work.
And continued:

There are no laws to speak of that prevent the public from filming LAFD activities, including EMS responses, so long as the person recording the event is on their own or public property…

Rueda also addressed the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) — which was embarrassingly misspelled HIPPA in his directive — and confirmed that the law doesn’t apply to people taking pictures on a public street.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA), which we honor and are bound, has no provision to preclude filming by the public.
So based on the Rueda’s March 12 email, you would think that members of the Los Angeles Fire Department would be well aware of a person’s right to take pictures in public space and respect that right.
But none of that mattered on June 13 when I was photographing a friend whom I’ve known for more than five years who had had also given me permission

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