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Court Cases & Decisions

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1 Court Cases & Decisions
Alexis Porta, Chelsea Glover, Deshaun Delgado, Christian Mackie, Keyton Craig

2 Ashcroft vs. ACLU (2004) How It Started…
Congress passed the Child Online Protection Act (COPA) to prevent minors from accessing pornography online. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and online publishers sued in federal court to prevent enforcement of the act, arguing that it violated the Free Speech clause of the First Amendment. The District Court agreed. On appeal, a Third Circuit Court of Appeals panel affirmed, holding that because the act used "community standards" to decide which material was harmful to minors, it would prohibit material that was felt offensive in the most "puritanical" communities from being displayed in more "tolerant" ones. On appeal, the Supreme Court ruled that the "community standards" provision alone did not make the act unconstitutional and sent the case back to the Third Circuit for further evaluation. christian Ashcroft vs. ACLU

3 Continued… The Third Circuit again prohibited implementation of the act, holding that it was likely to fail the "strict scrutiny" test because it was not narrowly tailored - that is, it prevented online publishers from publishing some material that adults had a right to access - and because it did not use the least restrictive means possible to protect children (the court found that blocking software installed on home computers by parents would do as good a job without preventing free speech). For similar reasons, the panel found that the act was unconstitutionally "overbroad" - that is, it applied to too much protected material. Ashcroft vs. ACLU

4 Ask Yourself….. Is the Child Online Protection Act's requirement that online publishers prevent children from accessing "material that is harmful to minors" likely to violate the First Amendment by restricting too much protected speech and using a method that is not the least restrictive one available? Christian Ashcroft vs. ACLU

5 Ashcroft vs. ACLU Tuesday, June 29,2004, In an interesting 5-to-4 vote, with Justices Kennedy, Stevens, Souter, Thomas and Ginsburg on one side and Chief Justice Rehnquist and Justices Scalia, Breyer and O'Connor on the other, the Court found that Congress had not yet met its burden to show that the COPA requirements were more effective than other methods of preventing minors. Justice Anthony Kennedy, in the majority opinion, wrote that the district court's injunction "was not an abuse of discretion, because on this record there are a number of plausible, less restrictive alternatives to the statute." The majority also emphasized that barring the statute's enforcement during the trial would be less harmful than allowing it, because allowing it would be likely to prevent online publishers from publishing certain material. christian

6 Bethel School vs. Fraser(1986) How it started…
At a school assembly of approximately 600 high school students, Matthew Fraser made a speech nominating a fellow student for elective office. In his speech, Fraser used what some observers believed was a graphic sexual metaphor to promote the candidacy of his friend. As part of its disciplinary code, Bethel High School enforced a rule prohibiting conduct which "substantially interferes with the educational process including the use of obscene, profane language or gestures." Fraser was suspended from school for two days. Chirstian background brandenburg vs. ohio

7 Ask Yourself… Does the First Amendment prevent a school district from disciplining a high school student for giving a lewd speech at a high school assembly? Christian question

8 Bethel School vs. Fraser
Monday, July 7, 1986, in a 7-2 Bethel District vote, The Court found that it was appropriate for the school to prohibit the use of vulgar and offensive language. Chief Justice Burger distinguished between political speech which the Court previously had protected in Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District (1969) and the supposed sexual content of Fraser's message at the assembly. Burger concluded that the First Amendment did not prohibit schools from prohibiting vulgar and lewd speech since such discourse was inconsistent with the "fundamental values of public school education." christian decision

9 Brandenburg vs. Ohio (1969) How It Started…
Brandenburg, a leader in the Ku Klux Klan, made a speech at a Klan rally and was later convicted under an Ohio criminal syndicalism law. The law made illegal advocating "crime, sabotage, violence, or unlawful methods of terrorism as a means of accomplishing industrial or political reform," as well as assembling "with any society, group, or assemblage of persons formed to teach or advocate the doctrines of criminal syndicalism." Papi background

10 Ask Yourself… Did Ohio's criminal syndicalism law, prohibiting public speech that advocates various illegal activities, violate Brandenburg's right to free speech as protected by the First and Fourteenth Amendments? Papi- bethel school district question

11 Brandenburg vs. Ohio Monday, June 9, 1969, In a 8-0 vote The Court's Per Curiam opinion held that the Ohio law violated Brandenburg's right to free speech. The Court used a two-pronged test to evaluate speech acts: (1) speech can be prohibited if it is "directed at inciting or producing imminent lawless action" and (2) it is "likely to incite or produce such action." The criminal syndicalism act made illegal the advocacy and teaching of doctrines while ignoring whether or not that advocacy and teaching would actually incite imminent lawless action. The failure to make this distinction rendered the law overly broad and in violation of the Constitution. Papi- decision

12 Buckley vs. Valeo (1976) How It Started…
In the wake of the Watergate affair, Congress attempted to ferret out corruption in political campaigns by restricting financial contributions to candidates. Among other things, the law set limits on the amount of money an individual could contribute to a single campaign and it required reporting of contributions above a certain threshold amount. The Federal Election Commission was created to enforce the statute.

13 Ask Yourself… Did the limits placed on electoral expenditures by the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, and related provisions of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954, violate the First Amendment's freedom of speech and association clauses?

14 Buckley vs. Valeo Friday, January 30, 1976, 7-1 Buckley wins, the Court arrived at two important conclusions. First, it held that restrictions on individual contributions to political campaigns and candidates did not violate the First Amendment since the limitations of the FECA enhance the "integrity of our system of representative democracy" by guarding against unscrupulous practices. But the Court found that governmental restriction of independent expenditures in campaigns, the limitation on expenditures by candidates from their own personal or family resources, and the limitation on total campaign expenditures did violate the First Amendment. Since these practices do not necessarily enhance the potential for corruption that individual contributions to candidates do, the Court found that restricting them did not serve a government interest great enough to warrant a curtailment on free speech and association. Corrina

15 Chaplinsky vs. New Hampshire (1942) How it started…
Chaplinsky, a Jehovah's Witness, made several statements denouncing organized religion while distributing religious literature on a public street. Several citizens complained to the city marshal that Chaplinsky's message was offensive. The marshal informed the citizens that Chaplinsky was lawfully engaged but warned Chaplinsky that the crowd was getting restless. A disturbance subsequently occurred, and an officer on duty proceeded to escort Chaplinsky, without placing him under arrest, to the police station. En route, they encountered the city marshal, whereupon Chaplinsky proclaimed, "You are a God damned racketeer" and "a damned fascist." For these words, Chaplinsky was convicted of violating a New Hampshire statute prohibiting the use of offensive or annoying words when addressing another person in public. Claiming that the statute placed an unreasonable restraint on free speech, Chaplinsky appealed his conviction.

16 Ask Yourself… Does the application of the statute violate Chaplinsky's freedom of speech protected by the First Amendment?

17 Chaplinsky vs. New Hampshire
In March 9, 1942, a unanimous vote, the Court noted that freedom of speech, which is protected by the First Amendment from infringement by Congress, is a fundamental personal right and liberty protected by the Fourteenth Amendment from invasion by state action (Lovell v. Griffin, 303 U.S. 444, 450). However, the Court was faced with the issue of whether the New Hampshire statute, which proscribed certain speech, in fact violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments. chelsea

18 Citizens United vs. FEC (2010) How It Started…
Citizens United sought an injunction against the Federal Election Commission in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia to prevent the application of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA) to its film Hillary: The Movie. The Movie expressed opinions about whether Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton would make a good president. In an attempt to regulate "big money" campaign contributions, the BCRA applies a variety of restrictions to "electioneering communications." Section 203 of the BCRA prevents corporations or labor unions from funding such communication from their general treasuries. Sections 201 and 311 require the disclosure of donors to such communication and a disclaimer when the communication is not authorized by the candidate it intends to support.

19 Ask Yourself… Should a feature length documentary about a candidate for political office be treated like the advertisements at issue in McConnell and therefore be subject to regulation under the BCRA?

20 Citizens United vs. FEC (2010)
In a 5–4 decision, the Court held that portions of BCRA §203 violated the First Amendment. It held that the First Amendment prohibits the government from restricting political independent expenditures by corporations, associations, or labor unions. Ruled in favor of Citizens United. The case did not involve the federal ban on direct contributions from corporations or unions to candidate campaigns or political parties, which remain illegal in races for federal office. Chelsea

21 FEC vs. Wisconsin Right to Life (2007) How It Started…
Wisconsin Right to Life (WRTL), a nonprofit political advocacy corporation, ran three advertisements encouraging viewers to contact two U.S. Senators and tell them to oppose filibusters of judicial nominees. WRTL intended to keep running the ads through the 2004 election, but the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (BCRA) prohibits corporate funds from being used for certain political advertisements in the 60-day period prior to an election. WRTL sued the FEC, claiming that the BCRA was unconstitutional as applied to the advertisements. In 2006, the Supreme Court let the "as applied" challenge proceed In McConnell v. Federal Election Commission, the Court had upheld Congress's power to regulate "express advocacy" ads that support or oppose political candidates, but WRTL claimed that its ads were "issue ads" rather than express advocacy. WRTL also argued that the government lacked a compelling interest sufficient to override the corporation's First Amendment free speech interest. The FEC countered that WRTL's ads were "sham issue ads," which refrain from explicitly endorsing or opposing a candidate but are intended to affect an election.

22 Continued… A three-judge District Court agreed with WRTL's arguments and ruled the BCRA unconstitutional as applied to the ads. The court refused the FEC's request that it inquire into the intent and likely effect of the ads, because those determinations would be impractical and would have a chilling effect on protected speech. Analyzing only the explicit content of the ads, the court found them to be legitimate issue ads and not express advocacy or sham issue ads. The court also held that the government's justification for banning express advocacy ads by corporations - the need to reduce political corruption and public cynicism - did not apply to ads that do not endorse or oppose a candidate. Therefore, the court ruled that the government lacked a compelling interest to justify the burden on WRTL's First Amendment rights.

23 Ask Yourself… Is the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act's ban on the use of corporate treasury funds for political advertisements in the 60 days before an election unconstitutional as applied to advertisements that do not explicitly endorse or oppose a candidate?

24 FEC vs. Wisconsin Right to Life
Monday, June 25, 2007, y a 5-4 vote the Court ruled that BCRA's limitations on political advertising were unconstitutional as they applied to issue ads like WRTL's. Chief Justice John Roberts's majority opinion held that the ads were genuine issue ads, not express political advocacy or its functional equivalent (which Congress can concededly regulate). The Court held that McConnell v. FEC did not establish the test that any ad intended to influence an election and having that effect is express advocacy. Such a test would be open-ended and burdensome, would lead to bizarre results, and would "unquestionably chill a substantial amount of political speech." Instead, the Court adopted the test that "an ad is the functional equivalent of express advocacy only if the ad is susceptible of no reasonable interpretation other than as an appeal to vote for or against a specific candidate.” Alexis

25 Gitlow vs. New York (1925) How It Started…
Gitlow, a socialist, was arrested for distributing copies of a "left-wing manifesto" that called for the establishment of socialism through strikes and class action of any form. Gitlow was convicted under a state criminal anarchy law, which punished advocating the overthrow of the government by force. At his trial, Gitlow argued that since there was no resulting action flowing from the manifesto's publication, the statute penalized utterences without propensity to incitement of concrete action. The New York courts had decided that anyone who advocated the doctrine of violent revolution violated the law.

26 Ask Yourself… In the case Gilton v New York it's a lot like the allegations put against Edward Snowden for treason, do you believe it violates the first amendment to arrest them for copy wright information?

27 Gitlow vs. New York Does the First Amendment apply to the states? Yes, by virtue of the liberty protected by due process that no state shall deny (14th Amendment). On the merits, a state may forbid both speech and publication if they have a tendency to result in action dangerous to public security, even though such utterances create no clear and present danger. The rationale of the majority has sometimes been called the "dangerous tendency" test. The legislature may decide that an entire class of speech is so dangerous that it should be prohibited. Those legislative decisions will be upheld if not unreasonable, and the defendant will be punished even if her speech created no danger at all. corrina

28 Hazlewood Vs. Kuhlmeier(1988) How it Started…
The Spectrum, the school-sponsored newspaper of Hazelwood East High School, was written and edited by students. In May 1983, Robert E. Reynolds, the school principal, received the pages proofs for the May 13 issue. Reynolds found two of the articles in the issue to be inappropriate, and ordered that the pages on which the articles appeared be withheld from publication. Cathy Kuhlmeier and two other former Hazelwood East students brought the case to court

29 Ask Yourself… Did the principal's deletion of the articles violate the students' rights under the First Amendment?

30 Hazlewood Vs. Kuhlmeier
On Wednesday, January 13, 1988 a 5-to-3 decision, the Court held that the First Amendment did not require schools to affirmatively promote particular types of student speech. The Court held that schools must be able to set high standards for student speech disseminated under their auspices, and that schools retained the right to refuse to sponsor speech that was "inconsistent with 'the shared values of a civilized social order.'" Educators did not offend the First Amendment by exercising editorial control over the content of student speech so long as their actions were "reasonably related to legitimate pedagogical concerns." The actions of principal Reynolds, the Court held, met this test. keyton

31 Hustler Magazine vs. Falwell (1988) How it Started…
A lead story in the November 1983 issue of Hustler Magazine featured a "parody" of an advertisement, modeled after an actual ad campaign, claiming that Falwell, a Fundamentalist minister and political leader, had a drunken incestuous relationship with his mother in an outhouse. Falwell sued to recover damages for libel, invasion of privacy, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Falwell won a jury verdict on the emotional distress claim and was awarded a total of $150,000 in damages. Hustler Magazine appealed.

32 Ask Yourself… Does the First Amendment's freedom of speech protection extend to the making of patently offensive statements about public figures, resulting perhaps in their suffering emotional distress?

33 Hustler Magazine vs. Falwell
Wednesday, February 24, 1988, 8-0 vote, the Court held that public figures, such as Jerry Falwell, may not recover for the intentional infliction of emotional distress without showing that the offending publication contained a false statement of fact which was made with "actual malice." The Court added that the interest of protecting free speech, under the First Amendment, surpassed the state's interest in protecting public figures from patently offensive speech, so long as such speech could not reasonably be construed to state actual facts about its subject. papi

34 McConnell vs. FEC (2003) How It Started…
In early 2002, a many years-long effort by Senators John McCain and Russell Feingold to reform the way that money is raised for- -and spent during-- political campaigns culminated in the passage of the Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act of (the so-called McCain-Feingold bill). Its key provisions were a) a ban on unrestricted ("soft money") donations made directly to political parties (often by corporations, unions, or well-healed individuals) and on the solicitation of those donations by elected officials; b) limits on the advertising that unions, corporations, and non-profit organizations can engage in up to 60 days prior to an election; and c) restrictions on political parties' use of their funds for advertising on behalf of candidates (in the form of "issue ads" or "coordinated expenditures").

35 Continued… The campaign finance reform bill contained an unusual provision providing for an early federal trial and a direct appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States, by- passing the typical federal judicial process. In May a special three-judge panel struck down portions of the Campaign Finance Reform Act's ban on soft-money donations but upheld some of the Act's restrictions on the kind of advertising that parties can engage in. The ruling was stayed until the Supreme Court could hear and decide the resulting appeals.

36 Ask Yourself… Does the "soft money" ban of the Campaign Finance Reform Act of 2002 exceed Congress's authority to regulate elections under Article 1, Section 4 of the United States Constitution and/or violate the First Amendment's protection of the freedom to speak? Do regulations of the source, content, or timing of political advertising in the Campaign Finance Reform Act of 2002 violate the First Amendment's free speech clause?

37 McConnell vs. FEC On Wednesday, December 10, 2003, With a few exceptions, the Court answered "no" to both questions in a 5-to-4 decision written by Justices Sandra Day O'Connor and John Paul Stevens. Because the regulations dealt mostly with soft-money contributions that were used to register voters and increase attendance at the polls, not with campaign expenditures (which are more explicitly a statement of political values and therefore deserve more protection), the Court held that the restriction on free speech was minimal. It then found that the restriction was justified by the government's legitimate interest in preventing "both the actual corruption threatened by large financial contributions and... the appearance of corruption" that might result from those contributions. keyton

38 Continued… In response to challenges that the law was too broad and unnecessarily regulated conduct that had not been shown to cause corruption (such as advertisements paid for by corporations or unions), the Court found that such regulation was necessary to prevent the groups from circumventing the law. Justices O'Connor and Stevens wrote that "money, like water, will always find an outlet" and that the government was therefore justified in taking steps to prevent schemes developed to get around the contribution limits. The Court also rejected the argument that Congress had exceeded its authority to regulate elections under Article I, Section 4 of the Constitution. The Court found that the law only affected state elections in which federal candidates were involved and also that it did not prevent states from creating separate election laws for state and local elections.

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