freedom of speech

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Judge in '0INK' Case: Plate Rules Make No Sense

Indiana court orders state to clarify guidelines

(Newser) - Quick, which of these license plates was approved and which rejected in Indiana: HATER or HATERS? You probably couldn't tell, and that, along with a host of other similar seemingly random discrepancies, led a judge to yesterday declare the state's system for approving personalized plates unconstitutional, the Indy ... More »

Second Judge: It's OK to Flash Headlights to Warn of Cops

He, too, says it's protected under freedom of speech

(Newser) - Score another one for drivers trying to help other drivers avoid a speeding ticket. A judge in Oregon's Jackson County this week tossed out a $260 ticket given to a trucker who flashed his headlights to warn a UPS driver about a nearby sheriff's deputy. Judge Joseph Carter... More »

Michigan: We're Protecting Kids From 'WAR SUX' Plate

State defends rejection of personalized license plate

(Newser) - Michigan rejected a Washtenaw County man's request for a personalized license plate reading "WAR SUX," and the state says it's all about protecting the children. David DeVarti, with the help of the ACLU, sued over the rejection, accusing officials of violating the First Amendment, but lawyers... More »

KKK to Hold Rally at Gettysburg

And people are really not happy about it

(Newser) - The Ku Klux Klan has been granted a permit to hold a rally at the Gettysburg battlefield next month and the opposition has come out swinging. The Maryland-based chapter will hold an event near Meade's Headquarters Oct. 5. As one man, whose great-great-great-grandfather was in the Battle of Gettysburg,... More »

Judge Gives Blessing to Cheerleaders' Bible Banners

...but only if school district approves

(Newser) - Gimme a "V" for "VICTORY!" The Kountze High School cheerleading squad can display their Bible-thumping banners at games—assuming the school district allows it—State District Judge Steven Thomas ruled yesterday. Thomas concluded that putting Christian messages on banners at public school sporting events didn't constitute... More »

Author Insults Thai King, Editor Gets 10-Year Sentence

Author has since fled to Cambodia

(Newser) - A Thai magazine editor was today sentenced to 10 years in prison for insulting the king. If that sounds extreme, consider this: Somyot Pruksakasemsuk didn't actually write the insults, he just published them. (The author has since fled to Cambodia.) And they didn't appear in articles of... More »

Russia Moves to Ban 'Homosexual Propaganda'

In a bid to clamp down on Western values

(Newser) - Kissing his boyfriend during a protest in front of Russia's parliament earned Pavel Samburov 30 hours of detention on a charge of "hooliganism." But if a bill that comes up for a vote later this month becomes law, such a kiss could be deemed illegal "homosexual... More »

Georgia Sued for Banning 'GAYGUY' Vanity Plate

James Cyrus Gilbert wants to force state to OK plate

(Newser) - Apparently, Georgia wants people to drive straight. Two free-speech lawyers have filed a lawsuit against the commissioner of the state's Department of Driver Services, after the department rejected a series of vanity plates including "4GAYLIB," "GAYPWR," and "GAYGUY," the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. "... More »

Judge Lets Cheerleaders Keep Bible Banners

... at least until the lawsuit in June

(Newser) - The Kountze High School cheerleaders in Texas will be able to cheer on their teams with a little biblical inspiration at least through the end of this school year. A judge today said their Christian banners can stay until the matter is decided in a June lawsuit, reports the AP... More »

Texas Judge Might Sack Bible Verses at School Football Games

Is God a football fan?

(Newser) - A judge will decide today if cheerleaders at a Texas public high school can continue to hang banners featuring Bible verses at football games. District officials told the pep girls at Kountze High School to cut it out after they hung banners saying things like, "If God is for... More »

Lawsuit: Let Me Preach on Bourbon Street at Night

New Orleans currently forbids it

(Newser) - A street preacher is challenging an ordinance in New Orleans that restricts religious or political speech on the city's famous, raucous Bourbon Street after dark. In his federal lawsuit, New Orleans pastor Paul Gros claimed the city's "aggressive solicitation" ordinance sets unconstitutional limits on free speech. Gros... More »

Ai Weiwei: China Will Never Beat Internet

Censorship only builds pressure in Internet age, warns famous artist

(Newser) - Authoritarian societies are all about propaganda and control, but the Internet has destroyed both of those pillars, writes the famous Chinese artist Ai Weiwei in the Guardian . Unlike Russia's glasnost, China never really opened ideologically to the West, only practically. Then came the Internet, and thanks to blogs and... More »

Should Fake Military Boasts Be a Crime?

They currently can be, and the Supreme Court will weigh in on the subject

(Newser) - Since 2006, lying about military valor—claiming to have received a prestigious medal, for instance—could result in prosecution. But that could change after this Wednesday, when the Supreme Court reviews the Stolen Valor Act. Proponents of the law, which include the Obama administration, say it prevents fraud. Such liars... More »

Virginia School Board Sued Over Ten Commandments

Civil liberties groups want plaque removed from hallway

(Newser) - Dispatches from the church-and-state front:
  • Ten Commandments: Civil liberties groups have sued the school board in Giles County, Virginia, demanding that a Ten Commandments plaque be removed from a high school hallway. The board says it's simply part of a display of historical documents, including the Declaration of Independence,
... More »

Judge: It's OK to Whine About Work on Facebook

NLRB orders nonprofit to reinstate five fired employees

(Newser) - A potentially big win for those who like to carp about their jobs on Facebook: The National Labor Relations Board has ordered a Buffalo nonprofit to reinstate five workers who got fired for doing just that, reports Inc . They get back pay to boot. One catch: If you do want... More »

Syria Charges Hundreds With ‘Maligning the State’

Hundreds face three-year stints in jail

(Newser) - Hundreds of the Syrians rounded up in recent days have been charged with “maligning the prestige of the state,” an offense punishable by a three-year prison term, a human rights group tells Reuters . “Mass arrests are continuing across Syria in another violation of human rights and international... More »

Gloating Westboro Vows to Quadruple Protests

Anti-gay extremists hail Supreme Court decision

(Newser) - The Westboro Baptist Church reacted to its Supreme Court victory yesterday with its usual amount of tact and good grace. Gloating leaders of the Kansas-based extremist church vowed to quadruple the number of protests at military funerals now that the court has ruled such demonstrations are protected under the First... More »

Supreme Court: Westboro Protests Protected

Pickets might be 'outrageous,' but covered by 1st Amendment

(Newser) - John Roberts' Supreme Court ruled 8-1 today that the controversial Westboro Baptist Church pickets outside military funerals might be "outrageous," but they're also protected under the First Amendment. The ruling upholds a reversal of a lower court's $5 million award to a dead Marine's father, who sued Westboro... More »

Pennsylvania Cops Now Let You Swear All You Want

Cops will no longer issue tickets for naughty words

(Newser) - Say it with me, foul-mouthed Pennsylvanians: Hot damn! It is officially no longer a crime to utter choice four-letter words in the presence of state police. They've agreed to stop citing the public for cursing as part of a settlement yesterday of a federal free-speech lawsuit. That suit stems from... More »

Assange Could Face Espionage Act Charges

Ecuador, meanwhile, offers WikiLeaks founder residency

(Newser) - The US government is trying to pin Julian Assange and his WikiLeaks cohorts with charges under the Espionage Act—a 1917 law that predated various Supreme Court cases expanding First Amendment protections. The FBI is examining everyone who came into possession of the State Department cables that leaked yesterday, sources... More »

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