This page is being initiated on May 26, 2014.
Contents (with summaries. Issues which the following cases decide. See below these Contents for more details):
1. The right to film police
2. The right to pray in Jesus’ name
3. The words “Under God” may be spoken by school children saying the Pledge of Allegiance.
4. Freedom of press victory.
5. Texas Appeal Court reverses trial court conviction of street preachers arrested for crossing a police line. Texas Court of Criminal Appeals reverses Texas Appeal Court and reinstates convictions. United States Supreme Court denied cert.
6. U.S. S. Ct. rules 9-0 in striking down a Massachusetts law creating 35 foot buffer zones around abortion clinics, another great victory for free speech.
7. Supreme Court ruling in the Hobby Lobby case.
8. HSLDA files and wins fourth amendment federal suit where police forced their way in to house without a warrant.
9. Life Legal Defense Fund files 1983 action in case where judge trashed First Amendment to endorse police harassment of pro-life advocates.
10. Notre Dame v. Burwell, U.S. Supreme Court, No. 14-392. The U.S. Supreme Court revived the University of Notre Dame’s religious objections to the requirement for contraception coverage under President Barack Obama’s healthcare law, throwing out a lower court decision in favor of the federal government.
11. Anthony D. Elonis v. United States of America, Supreme Court, June 1, 2015. Ruling in a case that will significantly impact expression on Facebook, Twitter and other social networks, a near-unanimous U.S. Supreme Court declared that threats made over the Internet are protected unless they are malevolent or reckless.
12. In OBERGEFELL ET AL. v. HODGES, DIRECTOR, OHIO DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH, ET AL (June 26, 2015) The Supreme Court, under the leadership of the God of this world, rebels against the highest authority by allegedly legalizing same-sex marriage. See The Sodomite Agenda, Religious Organizations, And Government Tyranny for more on this.
13. Bible Believers v. Wayne County, Michigan (October 28, 2015, U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals)(The court restates protection of even loathsome speech and tells the police that it is their duty to protect the speaker and the speech.)
14. Rock band ‘The Slants’ takes on Supreme Court (011617). This article introduced an important free speech issue. On June 15, 2017, all 8 judges sided came out in favor of free speech, even though the speech might be deemed offensive. The justices ruled that the 71-year-old trademark law barring disparaging terms infringes free speech rights.
15. States must allow same-sex married couples to be listed as father, mother on birth certificate, Supreme Court rules on June 26, 2017.
Posts covering various other legal issues:
- Reasonable Suspicion: Police Must Possess A Sufficient Level Of Knowledge With Specific And Articulable Facts In Order To Conduct A Stop And Frisk
- Your Identity Is Not Private As A Matter Of Law: Identity Is Not Suppressible Under The Fourth Amendment
- Pat-Down Searches and the Search Incident to Arrest Doctrine
- Like Greta Garbo said, “I Want To Be Alone…And The Police Should Leave Me That Way”: Your Constitutional Right To Be Left Alone.
- Allowing Police To Search Your Home: How Far Can They Go?
- The New York Court of Appeals puts another nail in the coffin of the Fourth Amendment: Police Officers’ Mistaken Understanding Of The Law Justifies The Stop.
1. The right to film police during routine traffic stops and in other settings and qualified immunity of police in such a case, United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, May 23, 2013. CARLA GERICKE, Plaintiff, Appellee, v. GREGORY C. BEGIN, WEARE POLICE CHIEF, IN HIS INDIVIDUAL AND OFFICIAL CAPACITIES; JAMES J. CARNEY, LIEUTENANT, WEARE POLICE DEPARTMENT, IN HIS INDIVIDUAL AND OFFICIAL CAPACITIES; JOSEPH KELLEY, SERGEANT, WEARE POLICE DEPARTMENT, IN HIS INDIVIDUAL AND OFFICIAL CAPACITIES; BRANDON MONTPLAISIR, POLICE OFFICER, WEARE POLICE DEPARTMENT, IN HIS INDIVIDUAL AND OFFICIAL CAPACITIES, Defendants, Appellants.
2. The Supreme Court says the First Amendment clearly protects the right to pray in “Jesus’ name”, May 5, 2014. TOWN OF GREECE, NEW YORK v. GALLOWAY ET AL., No. 12-696. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that it’s OK for pastors to pray “in Jesus’ name” at city council meetings. Five opinions were written in Greece v. Galloway, with three supporting opinions and two opposing.
Justice Kennedy wrote for the majority (joined by Roberts and Alito), ruling: “The town of Greece does not violate the First Amendment by opening its meetings with prayer that comports with our tradition, and does not coerce participation by nonadherents.” “To hold that invocations must be nonsectarian would force the legislatures that sponsor prayers and the courts that are asked to decide these cases to act as supervisors and censors of religious speech,” Kennedy wrote. [Read all the opinions here.]
A concurring opinion by Justices Thomas and Scalia went further, declaring the government does not coerce others to pray simply by allowing freedom of speech. They argued a ‘coercion’ test would be satisfied “only if a local government had actually compelled people to be followers of one faith, such as requiring people to go to religious services or to pay taxes to pay for religious institutions,” reports SCOTUS blog.
The four liberal justices tried but failed to ban Jesus prayers, but complained nonetheless.
Justice Kagan wrote for the minority: “even in a partly legislative body, [citizens] should not confront government-sponsored worship that divides them along religious lines.” Kagan was predictably joined by Sotomayor and Ginsburg. Justice Breyer wrote his own dissenting opinion.
Justice Alito corrected the facts in Kagan’s dissent in a fifth opinion, saying “when complaints were received, the town made it clear that it would permit any interested residents, including nonbelievers, to provide an invocation, and the town has never refused a request to offer an invocation.”
Article: “Opinion analysis: Prayers get a new blessing,” by Lyle Denniston, May 5, 2014.
3. The state Supreme Court of Massachusetts dismissed an atheist lawsuit and declared the words “Under God” may be spoken by school children saying the Pledge of Allegiance. The unanimous Court rejected the American Humanist Association’s argument that recitation of the Pledge discriminates against atheist schoolchildren,” reports Becket Fund. Stating that recitation of the Pledge is completely optional, the Court ruled that no child must be silenced from reaffirming timeless American ideals because others disagree. Chief Justice Roderick Ireland, writing for the unanimous court, stated “Here there is no discriminatory classification for purposes of art. 106 — no differing treatment of any class or classes of students based on their sex, race, color, creed, or national origin. All students are treated alike.” Read about the case which has links to briefs and other documents and articles at the following link: The Pledge of Allegiance Cases. Listen to a PIJN report on this and other matters by clicking the blue link.
4. Renna v. County of Union: “In a victory for the First Amendment, especially as it relates to freedom of the press, a federal court has ruled in favor of a political activist’s right to display a county government seal in the background of her public access television show. Rejecting Union County’s claim that activist Tina Renna was infringing on trademark protections associated with the seal, U.S. District Court Judge Kevin McNulty asserted that Renna’s use of the seal is protected by the First Amendment and that the County’s infringement claims were a baseless attempt to impede her free expression in the pursuit of increased government transparency.” See article “First Amendment Victory: Federal Court Rules in Favor of Rutherford Institute Lawsuit Over Citizen Activist’s Right to Display Union County Seal on TV Show.”
5. Click the following to go to article from June 13, 2014: “VICTORY: Texas Court Affirms First Amendment Rights of Street Preachers Arrested for Engaging in Sidewalk Protest and Crossing a Police Line.” Click the following to go to the Texas Court of Appeals opinion: Faust v. Texas (The Texas Second District Court of Appeals held: “Having sustained Appellants’ issue, we reverse the trial court’s judgment and render a judgment of acquittal.”). The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals reversed: “For the reasons discussed herein, we hold that Section 38.15(a)(1) was not unconstitutionally applied to appellants. Therefore, we reverse the decision of the Second Court of Appeals, and we order that the trial court judgments be reinstated.” Click here to go to the PDF of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals opinion. Cert was denied by the U.S. Supreme Court: FAUST v. TEXAS, No. 16-203. 137 S.Ct. 620 (2017) Joey Darrell FAUST and Ramon Marroquin, petitioners, v. TEXAS. Supreme Court of United States. January 9, 2017. Petition for writ of certiorari to the Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas denied.
6. MCCULLEN ET AL. v. COAKLEY, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF MASSACHUSETTS, ET AL. struck down a state law creating 35 foot buffer zones around abortion clinics. This case, which was handed down on June 26, 2014, repeated basic and long-standing Supreme Court jurisprudence concerning speech in the public forum. Some excerpts from the case follow (be sure to read the entire case – click to the above link to go directly to the case):
Held: The Massachusetts Act violates the First Amendment. Pp. 8–30. (a) By its very terms, the Act restricts access to “public way[s]” and “sidewalk[s],” places that have traditionally been open for speech activities and that the Court has accordingly labeled “traditional public fora,” Pleasant Grove City v. Summum, 555 U. S. 460, 469. The government’s ability to regulate speech in such locations is “very limited.” United States v. Grace, 461 U. S. 171, 177. “[E]ven in a public forum,” however, “the government may impose reasonable restrictions on the time, place, or manner of protected speech, provided the restrictions ‘are justified without reference to the content of the regulated speech, that they are narrowly tailored to serve a significant governmental interest, and that they leave open ample alternative channels for communication of the information,’ ” Ward, supra, at 791. Pp. 8–10….
(1) The buffer zones serve the Commonwealth’s legitimate interests in maintaining public safety on streets and sidewalks and in preserving access to adjacent reproductive healthcare facilities. See Schenck v. Pro-Choice Network of Western N. Y., 519 U. S. 357, 376. At the same time, however, they impose serious burdens on petitioners’ speech, depriving them of their two primary methods of communicating with arriving patients: close, personal conversations and distribution of literature. Those forms of expression have historically been closely associated with the transmission of ideas. While the Act may allow petitioners to “protest” outside the buffer zones, petitioners are not protestors; they seek not merely to express their opposition to abortion, but to engage in personal, caring, consensual conversations with women about various alternatives. It is thus no answer to say that petitioners can still be seen and heard by women within the buffer zones. If all that the women can see and hear are vociferous opponents of abortion, then the buffer zones have effectively stifled petitioners’ message. Pp. 19–23.
(2) The buffer zones burden substantially more speech than necessary to achieve the Commonwealth’s asserted interests. Subsection (e) of the Act already prohibits deliberate obstruction of clinic entrances. Massachusetts could also enact legislation similar to the federal Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act of 1994, 18 U. S. C. §248(a)(1), which imposes criminal and civil sanctions for obstructing, intimidating, or interfering with persons obtaining or providing reproductive health services. Obstruction of clinic driveways can readily be addressed through existing local traffic ordinances. While the Commonwealth contends that individuals can inadvertently obstruct access to clinics simply by gathering in large numbers, that problem could be addressed through a law requiring crowds blocking a clinic entrance to disperse for a limited period when ordered to do so by the police. In any event, crowding appears to be a problem onlyat the Boston clinic, and even there, only on Saturday mornings.
It is no accident that public streets and sidewalks have developed as venues for the exchange of ideas. Even today, they remain one of the few places where a speaker can be confident that he is not simply preaching to the choir. With respect to other means of communication, an individual confronted with an uncomfortable message can always turn the page, change the channel, or leave the Web site. Not so on public streets and sidewalks. There, a listener often encounters speech he might otherwise tune out. In light of the First Amendment’s purpose “to preserve an uninhibited marketplace of ideas in which truth will ultimately prevail,” FCC v. League of Women Voters of Cal., 468 U. S. 364, 377 (1984) (internal quotation marks omitted), this aspect of traditional public fora is a virtue, not a vice. In short, traditional public fora are areas that have historically been open to the public for speech activities. Thus, even though the Act says nothing about speech on its face, there is no doubt—and respondents do not dispute—that it restricts access to traditional public fora and is therefore subject to First Amendment scrutiny. See Brief for Respondents 26 (although “[b]y its terms, the Act regulates only conduct,” it “incidentally regulates the place and time of protected speech”).
In short, traditional public fora are areas that have historically been open to the public for speech activities. Thus, even though the Act says nothing about speech on its face, there is no doubt—and respondents do not dispute—that it restricts access to traditional public fora and is therefore subject to First Amendment scrutiny. See Brief for Respondents 26 (although “[b]y its terms, the Act regulates only conduct,” it “incidentally regulates the place and time of protected speech”). Consistent with the traditionally open character of public streets and sidewalks, we have held that the government’s ability to restrict speech in such locations is “very limited.” Grace, supra, at 177. In particular, the guiding First Amendment principle that the “government has no power to restrict expression because of its message, its ideas, its subject matter, or its content” applies with full force in a traditional public forum. Police Dept. of Chicago v. Mosley, 408 U. S. 92, 95 (1972). As a general rule, in such a forum the government may not “selectively . . . shield the public from some kinds of speech on the ground that they are more offensive than others.” Erznoznik v. Jacksonville, 422 U. S. 205, 209 (1975).
Links to a couple of articles dealing with the McCullen v. Oakley
Supreme Court strikes down abortion clinic buffer zone, June 26, 2014, Richard Wolf, USA Today
Supreme Court, 9-0, nixes 35 foot ‘buffer zone’ at abortion clinic, June 26, 2014, Warren Richey, The Christian Science Monitor
Give And Take, Supreme Court Style (070314)(Analysis of Mcullen)
Life Legal Defense Foundation website (updates on cases dealing with abortion including suits against officials for violations of civil rights)
7. BURWELL, SECRETARY OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, ET AL. v. HOBBY LOBBY STORES, INC., ET AL decided June 30, 2014. In a 5-to-4 decision, ruled that the government could not force religious owners of Hobby Lobby and other closely-held, for-profit corporations to provide contraceptives that offend their religious faith to employees.
Jerald Finney agrees with the analysis in the following article: Here’s Why Hobby Lobby’s Victory Is No Victory At All
8. HSLDA files and wins fourth amendment federal suit where police forced their way in to house without a warrant.
10. Notre Dame v. Burwell, U.S. Supreme Court, No. 14-392. The U.S. Supreme Court revived the University of Notre Dame’s religious objections to the requirement for contraception coverage under President Barack Obama’s healthcare law, throwing out a lower court decision in favor of the federal government. See Scotusblog for links to briefs, etc.
11. Anthony D. Elonis v. United States of America, 575 U.S. ____ (2015). Ruling in a case that will significantly impact expression on Facebook, Twitter and other social networks, a near-unanimous U.S. Supreme Court declared in this June 1, 2015 opinion, that threats made over the Internet are protected unless they are malevolent or reckless. See Scotusblog for links to amicus briefs, etc.
12. In OBERGEFELL ET AL. v. HODGES, DIRECTOR, OHIO DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH, ET AL (June 26, 2015) (Click to go directly to PDF of the opinion), the Supreme Court, under the leadership of the God of this world (See, Satan orchestrates the world system), has rebelled against the Highest authority, God, in allegedly legalizing marriage between two people of the same sex. Please realize that two people of the same sex cannot marry, no matter what the Supreme Court says. This is explained in other articles on this website (See below; see also, for example, The Hierarchy of Law as it relates to sodomy and sodomite marriage, Laws Protecting New Testament Churches in America: Read Them for Yourself, and Jerald Finney’s lecture on the Hierarchy of Law.).
13. Article: Anti-Muslim Slurs Get Legal Protection (102915); Link to the opinion: Bible Believers v. Wayne County, Michigan out of the Sixth Circuit on October 28, 2015. The court stated, among other things:
“Diversity, in viewpoints and among cultures, is not always easy. An inability or a general unwillingness to understand new or different points of view may breed fear, distrust and even loathing,” the justices wrote. “But … the First Amendment demands that we tolerate the viewpoints of others with whom we may disagree.”
The Sixth Circuit stressed that the First Amendment “envelops all manner of speech, even when that speech is loathsome in its intolerance, designed to cause offense, and, as a result of such offense, arouses violent retaliation.”
Attorney Robert Muise of the American Freedom Law Center, who argued the case on behalf of the Bible Believers, applauded the decision, saying it was “solidly on the side of free speech.”
“If this went the other way, it would incentivize violence as a legitimate response to free speech, and that is wrong in our country,” Muise said. “Any freedom-loving American enjoys protections of the First Amendment.”
The lawsuit was filed against Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon and two deputies, who had argued that they had a right to protect the public from violence on the night of the festival, noting the Bible Believers had caused problems in the past. According to court documents, Bible Believers attended the Dearborn festival the year before and things got ugly: The evangelicals spewed hate messages; fights broke out; the Bible Believers were evicted.
The mayor of Minneapolis does not know the law. See “MINNEAPOLIS INSTALLS SHARIAH HOTLINE FOR ‘HATE SPEECH’ SNITCHES“(062217).
Stone Throwing Muslims Bloody Christians In Michigan; 6th Circuit To Rehear 2012 Dearborne Case: A Free-Speech Start! (Articles). The 2012 case was originally dismissed by the 6th Circuit which has agreed to rehear the case.
14. Rock band ‘The Slants’ takes on Supreme Court (011617). This article introduced an important free speech issue. On June 15, 2017, all 8 judges sided came out in favor of free speech, even though the speech might be deemed offensive. The justices ruled that the 71-year-old trademark law barring disparaging terms infringes free speech rights. See, e.g., Opinion: At Supreme Court, the Slants Are ‘Fighting for More Than a Band Name’; Justices side with Portland rock band The Slants in trademark dispute; google, e.g., “oriental rock group slant” for more articles and info.
The PDF of the Supreme Court opinion, can be accessed by clicking the following link: MATAL, INTERIM DIRECTOR, UNITED STATES PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE v. TAM
The Supreme Court stated, among other things: “Simon Tam, lead singer of the rock group “The Slants,” chose this moniker in order to “reclaim” the term and drain its denigrating force as a derogatory term for Asian persons. Tam sought federal registration of the mark “THE SLANTS.” The Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) denied the application under a Lanham Act provision prohibiting the registration of trademarks that may “disparage . . . or bring . . . into contemp[t] or disrepute” any “persons, living or dead.” 15 U. S. C. §1052(a). Tam contested the denial of registration through the administrative appeals process, to no avail. He then took the case to federal court, where the en banc Federal Circuit ultimately found the disparagement clause facially unconstitutional under theFirst Amendment’s Free Speech Clause.
Held: The judgment is affirmed. “
15. Article: States must allow same-sex married couples to be listed as father, mother on birth certificate, Supreme Court rules on June 26, 2017. TheSupreme Court case overturned the holding of the Arkansas Supreme Court. On December 8, 2016, the Arkansas Supreme Court [official website] on Thursday overturned [opinion, PDF] a ruling that allowed all married same-sex couples to get the names of both spouses on their child’s birth certificate.
Two female same-sex couples petitioned the Supreme Court to review their case, which fought the Arkansas Department of Health’s issuance of birth certificates bearing only the birth mother’s name and not the female spouse. The health department’s decision adhered to a provision of Arkansas law, which was rejected by a trial court but kept in place by Arkansas Supreme Court.
On Monday, the high court reversed and remanded the Arkansas high court’s judgment in a per curiam opinion, meaning it was delivered on behalf of the entire court rather than signed by an individual justice writing the opinion. Justice Neil Gorsuch, however, issued a blistering dissent of the Supreme Court’s decision that Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito both joined.