First Amendment

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Supreme Court sides with The Slants, rules ban on offensive names is unconstitutional

"The Supreme Court ruled Monday that a federal trademark law banning offensive names is unconstitutional, siding with a rock band whose name had been deemed racially disparaging by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office."

"In an 8-0 ruling, the court determined the law’s so-called “disparagement clause” violates the free speech clause of the First Amendment."

"The case centered on Oregon-based, Asian-American band The Slants, which was denied a trademark because its name was considered offensive. The band countered that the 70-year-old law at issue violates free-speech rights -- and Justice Samuel Alito, in the court’s opinion, agreed."

“The commercial market is well stocked with merchandise that disparages prominent figures and groups, and the line between commercial and non-commercial speech is not always clear, as this case illustrates. If affixing the commercial label permits the suppression of any speech that may lead to political or social ‘volatility,’ free speech would be endangered,” he wrote."

State legislators take steps to criminalize protests

I am bothered by protesters who engage in criminal acts to get their message across -- and jeopardize the public safety. There are plenty of public sidewalks and common areas where people can protest during ordinary business hours and during the daytime without trashing the land, causing car crashes, burning and looting buildings.

I have no problem with ordinary rallies and protests. And if people want to camp in the back country or a developed campground, that's fine too -- they just need to follow the rules, get the necessary permits, and so forth. Just because you are protesting, doesn't mean your exempt from all the other ordinary rules.

It’s obvious that tougher federal criminal penalities are needed against those who would intentionally shut down an interstate highway, railroad, or airport. The fact is illegal blockades of high-speed roads, railroads, and airports are dangerous both to motorists and blockaders, not to mention first responders and those who drive truck for a living.

Nobody doesn’t think people shouldn’t be allowed to protest. There are many public places that are available for protests, without putting human life at risk. Those places may not be as dramatic or get the news coverage sought out by protesters, but they protect the public safety.

I’m all for people getting out and expressing their views. Like most people, I have a problem with some of our president’s choices. But don’t cause innocent moms and dads who are just trying to get home to their children to be held up unnecessarily, don’t cause crashes, don’t block truckers just trying to feed their families, and don’t keep firefighters from getting to fires.

It’s just common decency.

Supreme Court Rejects Contraceptives Mandate for Some Corporations

Supreme Court Rejects Contraceptives Mandate for Some Corporations

The Supreme Court simply overturned a Health and Human Services regulation on what is a "preventive care" based on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).

Congress can fix this by simply making clear in the law what "preventive care" are required under Affordable Care Act, as the RFRA only applies to regulations of the government and not new laws. Laws can not legally bind the future actions of congress.

Nothing in decision prevents congress from requiring employers to provide contraception. Congress still has that power, as only congress can modify existing laws like RFRA.

http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/13pdf/13-354_olp1.pdf

Supreme Court Strikes Down Aggregate Limits on Federal Campaign Contributions

Supreme Court Strikes Down Aggregate Limits on Federal Campaign Contributions

A lot of people are concerned about the role of money in politics. I am not one of them.

The reality is people are under-informed about politics. It's really hard to get information on the issues of day. Many people don't even know what day to get out to vote, or who the candidates are. The more voter contact and information out there -- the better.

To ensure a full discussion of issues, we should offer public matching contributions to those who want to participate in the system, along with having publicly funded television and radio stations, and good websites on government affairs. I think that would offset people's concerns about the debate being one-sided.