‘Must reads’ 2004: Best of the First Amendment Center Online

Monday, December 20, 2004

In the editors’ view, here are the most important items posted on the First Amendment Center Online in 2004:


Advocates find little to cheer in free-speech victory
By Tony Mauro 'I don't know that they fixed anything,' First Amendment lawyer says of ruling in City of Littleton v. Z.J. Gifts. 6.8.04

California atheist fails in quest to topple Pledge
By Tony Mauro High court leaves door open for future challenges, but at least four justices would likely uphold phrase 'under God.' 6.15.04

Net-porn law relied too heavily on content restrictions, Court holds
By Tony Mauro But Justice Kennedy doesn’t rule out that Child Online Protection Act could be found constitutional if someone can show it's least-restrictive way to protect kids online. 6.30.04

Court concludes 2003-04 First Amendment docket
By First Amendment Center Online staff The U.S. Supreme Court has finished its most recent term, ruling on the Pledge of Allegiance, campaign finance, public funding of theological degrees and a number of other important First Amendment-related cases. 7.1.04

2003-04 Wrapup: First Amendment plays second fiddle this term
By Tony Mauro In several cases, high court’s desire to duck or dither about dispute overwhelmed First Amendment objections raised. 7.13.04

Recent trends go against free speech: The free-speech record of the Rehnquist II Court
By Ronald K.L. Collins Since 1994, a moderate record overall on free-expression cases — except in last two terms. 9.4.04

2004-05 Preview: Justices’ choices surprise some court-watchers
By Tony Mauro High court was expected by many to avoid disputes over Ten Commandments displays, prisoners’ religious rights. 10.13.04


Patriot Act
By David L. Hudson Jr. The USA Patriot Act has become the lightning rod for controversy in a post-Sept. 11 world in which the country struggles to find the proper balance between national security and individual liberty. 5.25.04

Privacy & newsgathering
By David L. Hudson Jr. Perhaps the greatest clash involving freedom speech has been the continuing collision between freedom of the press and the right to privacy. Many First Amendment advocates view this clash as the greatest threat to First Amendment freedoms. The press has been targeted for its intrusive newsgathering techniques and for publishing information about people's private lives. 9.14.04

Political yard signs
By David L. Hudson Jr. Many people like to express their support for a political candidate with a yard sign. Sometimes this form of freedom of expression conflicts with a city law banning or limiting the time in which political signs may be displayed. The question becomes whether such city laws infringe upon citizens’ and perhaps the candidates’ First Amendment rights. 9.27.04

Post-9/11 information access
By Michael Roffe After the horrific events of Sept. 11, the executive and administrative branches of government instituted a series of actions and policies to control access to information, institutions and events deemed vital to the nation’s security. 10.1.04

Speaking at public meetings
By David L. Hudson Jr. A citizen feels strongly about an issue in the community. He or she attends a city council meeting to voice those concerns. Unfortunately, the powers that be prohibit the citizen from addressing the controversial topic. Have the citizen’s First Amendment rights been violated? 10.20.04

Fan profanity
By Howard M. Wasserman Many free-speech controversies, especially on college campuses, are grounded in concerns for civility, politeness and good taste. They also tend to follow the same path and end the same way. A government entity regulates speech in an effort to elevate discourse, limit the profane and protect public and personal sensitivities; courts strike down the regulations as violating the First Amendment freedom of speech; and we end up right where we started. 9.10.04


The Silencing of Student Voices
By David L. Hudson Jr. Preserving Free Speech in America's Schools. 3.29.04

Wartime riskiest for free speech, scholar says
By Ronald K.L. Collins Interview with Geoffrey Stone, author of new book, Perilous Times, on free speech in wartime. 11.5.04


Jailed for speech: Criminal libel is an old — and bad — idea
By Ken Paulson Poking fun at Colorado prof by doctoring his photo to look like KISS member is pure satire — it doesn't warrant confiscation of The Howling Pig newsletter publisher's computer. 1.18.04

The Pledge at the Court: Is 'under God' religious?
By Charles C. Haynes Supreme Court in a tough spot: Government should not promote or endorse religion, but ruling against the phrase would provoke mass outrage. 3.28.04

Supreme Court places a premium on privacy
By Ken Paulson The Favish ruling reflects shifting legal landscape concerning privacy, access to information. 4.1.04

When campus newspapers become lightning rods
By Charles C. Haynes Controversial cartoons, coverage lapses can turn student press into targets of rage at public universities — but administrators must resist temptation to shut papers down. 5.16.04

Lemon plaintiff, out of limelight, still tracks church-state issues
By David L. Hudson Jr. Alton Lemon reflects on his role in Lemon v. Kurtzman, 1971 Supreme Court case that created a legal test for determining whether government is too involved in religion. 5.19.04

Religion hasn't been 'kicked out' of schools
By Charles C. Haynes In fact, over past decade it has kicked back in — so let's stop unfairly demonizing public schools. 5.23.04

High court narrowly avoids clean sweep against free speech
By Paul K. McMasters Decision not to let Net-porn law go into effect is lone, limited victory for free expression this term. 7.4.04

Why the rash of restraints against the news?
By Gene Policinski Believers in free press sounding alarms on recent court moves against journalists. 8.20.04

A government thumb on the remote control
By Paul K. McMasters Do you really want the feds telling you what you can and cannot hear or watch on the airwaves? 8.29.04

Burning the Bill of Rights to save the flag
By Paul K. McMasters It's a uniquely American right to speak through our flag, and uniquely un-American to try to ban or punish symbolic political speech — as the Senate looks poised to do. 9.10.04

Campaign discourse on a downhill plunge
By Paul K. McMasters These days, candidates avoid confronting the irresponsibility, untruthfulness or unfairness of those speaking on their behalf. 9.26.04

Politics from the pulpit: free speech or partisan danger?
By Charles C. Haynes American churches getting conflicting advice about what constitutes impermissible political preaching. 10.03.04

2 state court rulings squash right to know
By Douglas Lee Pennsylvania Supreme Court limits news media’s ability to report matters that might be false, defamatory. 11.16.04

Bates participants reflect on landmark case
By David L. Hudson Jr. A look back at the seminal Supreme Court case that established First Amendment protection for attorney ads. 11.18.04

Testing freedom: a year in the life of the First Amendment
By Paul K. McMasters A look back at developments over the past year as we celebrate the 213th birthday of the First Amendment. 12.12.04