Roundup: Federal appeals court upholds state’s rules on tobacco ads

Tuesday, July 18, 2000

A federal appeals court yesterday upheld most of the strict regulations on tobacco advertising imposed by Massachusetts last year, ruling they do not violate the free-speech rights of tobacco companies. Lorillard Tobacco Co., Brown and Williamson Corp., R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and Philip Morris had sued the state over health-warning label requirements and bans on outdoor advertising and advertising within 1,000 feet of schools and playgrounds. They claimed the restrictions violated their First Amendment rights and were pre-empted by federal law. But the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Congress had not intended for the Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act to stop states from imposing their own regulations and that the regulations did not violate free-speech rights because they were “proportionate to the state's purposes.” However, the court said the state attorney general would have to reformulate regulations governing cigar advertising and that the state couldn't regulate such advertising on Web sites or in national magazines. A spokesman for Philip Morris said the company was reviewing the decision and might appeal. Associated Press

Georgia: King estate, CBS settle suit over rights to famous speech

CBS News and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s estate have settled a lawsuit over the network's use of King's speeches. Under the settlement, announced July 12, CBS retains the right to use footage of King's speeches — including the famous 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech — in exchange for a cash payment. The undisclosed sum will be given as a tax-deductible contribution to the King Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta. The network also will be allowed to license its footage to others if it provides information on how purchasing parties may contact the King estate “regarding the estate's claimed intellectual property rights.” The estate had filed a lawsuit against CBS after the network began selling a 1996 video called “The 20th Century With Mike Wallace,” which had excerpted from King's famous speech in front of the Lincoln Memorial. CBS says it still proved its original claims that the speech was public property, but came to a settlement after CBS Television President Leslie Moonves met with King's wife and son, Coretta and Dexter, respectively. New York Times on the Web

District of Columbia: ACLU seeks information on FBI e-mail monitoring system

Using the Freedom of Information Act, the American Civil Liberties Union is trying to force the FBI to disclose details of the inner workings of its Carnivore system that can snoop on e-mails, officials announced July 14. Carnivore is a computer-like box that can be hooked up to the network at an Internet provider. Using special software, it scans all incoming and outgoing e-mails, capturing those of specific individuals under investigation. The FBI recently disclosed it had been using the tool to obtain e-mails of investigative subjects — but only after getting a search warrant. Civil liberty and privacy advocates have raised concerns about the tool, in part because its software scans the header information of all incoming and outgoing e-mails at the provider — regardless of whether someone is under investigation. Associated Press

California: Federal judge lets hacker back online

Kevin Mitnick, a notorious computer hacker who led the FBI on a three-year manhunt while allegedly causing millions of dollars in damage to technology companies, now has federal permission to pursue work as a computer consultant or online writer. Under terms of his 1995 plea agreement, Mitnick had been barred from any contact with computers, cellular phones or any other technology capable of online access. After his release from prison in January, his probation officer also barred him from speaking publicly or writing about technology-related issues and from taking any job that might give him access to a computer. Mitnick challenged the limitations, and a federal judge last month ruled such blanket decisions were unacceptable without consideration of the specific offers. Among the jobs approved: writing for Steven Brill's online magazine Contentville, speaking in Los Angeles on computer security, consulting on computer security and consulting for a computer-related television show. Associated Press

District of Columbia: White House expands anti-drug program to film industry

The White House drug policy chief plans to take his message to Hollywood, expanding on a program of working with the nation's TV shows to dissuade young people from taking drugs. Gen. Barry McCaffrey, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, told the House Government Reform subcommittee on criminal justice, drug policy and human resources last week that his office plans to work closely with major studios, individual writers and directors to impact film. McCaffrey's efforts involving the silver screen appeared to rely more on voluntary actions. In earlier revelations the White House Drug Office offered advertising “credits” for shows with acceptable anti-drug content messages. With the change, McCaffrey's testimony did not set off any immediate First Amendment alarm bells, said Lucy Dalglish, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. Associated Press/Freedom Forum Online staff

Wisconsin: Cover with female rapper ordered wrapped by U.S. post officeA U.S. Post Office in Milwaukee recently ordered that 40,000 copies of the latest Genre magazine be wrapped and sealed before delivery. The post office claimed that the magazine's cover, featuring female rapper 'Lil Kim in lingerie, was too obscene to be delivered without a wrapper. Jenna Perlstein, the magazine's publicist, said the magazine decided to comply with the post office because the magazines in question were to be delivered to advertisers, and it wanted to send them as soon as possible. “This is the first time in 10 years that we haven't been able to deliver the magazine,” Perlstein said. Genre sends subscribers magazines that are wrapped and sealed for their privacy, but advertisers usually receive them unwrapped. Perlstein said no one in the post office's mailing requirements department could confirm who gave the order or exactly why the decision was made. According to Undercover magazine, the post office claimed to be “protecting young people and other members of society from material that may be offensive.” Perlstein said that Genre might take legal action if the post office continually refused to deliver unwrapped magazines. The magazine doesn't plan to wrap future issues to advertisers. Freedom Forum Online staff/Undercover Magazine

Illinois: Judge refuses to dismiss lawsuit against white supremacist

Cook County Circuit Court Judge Joseph Casciato on July 6 denied a motion to dismiss a lawsuit against white supremacist Matt Hale. The suit attempts to hold Hale partly responsible for a racist shooting rampage in Illinois and Indiana last July that left two men dead and at least nine injured. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Ephraim Wolfe, a Jewish teen-ager who was shot in the leg as he walked to a synagogue in Chicago and his friend Nosson Cohen, who was shot at but not hit. The ruling will allow the family's attorneys to dig further for evidence that might support allegations that Hale ordered Benjamin Smith to shoot his victims — all Jewish, black or Asian. Glenn Greenwald, one of Hale's attorneys, has said the complaint against Hale is too vague and Hale's racist views are protected by the First Amendment. Associated Press

California: Professor may campaign against tobacco, court rules

It is not a misuse of taxpayer money for University of California-San Francisco professor of medicine Stanton Glantz to use state resources to campaign against smoking, a federal appeals court has ruled. Glantz has long campaigned against the tobacco industry and has advocated state and local bans on smoking in public buildings. Californians for Scientific Integrity, an organization allied with the tobacco industry, sued the university for misuse of taxpayer money. But the 3rd District Court of Appeal ruled for Glantz July 6, saying his campaigning was not out of line because the California Legislature had broadly directed the state to “play a leading role in promoting a smoke-free society by the year 2000.” Associated Press

Virginia: Teacher's banned-books suit dismissed

A federal lawsuit involving teacher Jeff Newton, who sued after his school's principal forced him to remove two banned-books lists from his classroom door, was dismissed June 27 after Newton resigned June 8. Given Newton's resignation, one student plaintiff's withdrawal from Spotswood High School and the remaining student plaintiffs' graduations, the issues in the case were found to be moot. All parties involved agreed to the case's dismissal without the possibility of the plaintiffs filing another lawsuit on the same claim. Freedom Forum Online staff

Wisconsin: Federal judge refuses to throw out suit by inmates

A law barring pornography from Wisconsin prisons could be ruled unconstitutional because it is broad enough to disallow even the Bible, U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb said July 12. Crabb refused to dismiss a class action lawsuit filed by prison inmates, indicating the rule against pornography may violate the First Amendment because it is not rationally related to the state's interest in security, rehabilitation and decreased harassment of female guards. A Department of Corrections committee in 1994 proposed a narrower rule which would have allowed nudity without deviant sex and written descriptions of sex in personal letters and books, but Gov. Tommy Thompson's office ordered the broader ban, Crabb wrote. Associated Press

Ohio: Judge upholds ordinance regulating sexually oriented businesses

U.S. District Court Judge Sandra Beckwith on July 14 upheld a Cincinnati ordinance requiring sexually oriented businesses to be licensed and regulating where they may locate. Beckwith ruled that the city may place certain restrictions on businesses, but found there was no basis to support the city's claim that Extasy Entertainment was promoting prostitution. The city filed its case against Extasy's owner, Greyson Currence, after an undercover officer hired Currence to perform a nude dance and secretly videotaped him. “Like it or not, however, non-obscene, expressive nude dancing is protected by the First Amendment,” Beckwith wrote. Currence had sought to overturn the ordinance, arguing that it constituted prior restraint on free speech. Associated Press

Indiana: Professors urge university president to defend coach's critic

More than 160 Indiana University professors have signed a letter asking President Myles Brand to take a stronger stand in support of free speech and academic freedom. The undated letter calls on Brand to more forcefully defend English professor Murray Sperber, who received death threats after criticizing the behavior of basketball coach Bob Knight earlier this year. The threats drove Sperber to take an unpaid leave for a year. The letter also urged Brand to grant Sperber paid leave. Sperber has publicly criticized both Knight and the university's handling of the coach throughout a recent investigation into allegations Knight choked former player Neil Reed during a 1997 practice. Associated Press

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