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Occupational Speech: The New Hazard?

Since 2002 Texas-licensed veterinarian and Ph.D. Microbiologist, Dr. Ron Hines, has been helping pets and pet owners by giving online advice. Hines offered his advice for a $58 flat fee— or for free to those who could not pay— to pet owners around the world, often helping those who otherwise are without access to veterinary advice. After suffering from a debilitating injury that left him unable to practice, Hines began posting pet-care advice online. Pet owners responded by seeking advice from Hines, where he estimates he has helped more than 700 pet owners.


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No Comments | Posted by Kathryn H. Van Wie on Sun. April 14, 2013 8:52 AM
Categories: Freedom of Speech

ACA’s Contraception Mandate Likely Headed to the Supreme Court

In 2010 Congress passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). The ACA was passed in order to increase overall heath care access and preventative health care services to millions of Americans. One such preventive health care requirement is that all private employer and group sponsored health insurance plans must include all FDA approved contraception at no cost to the employee or individual.

While the ACA provides for a religious employer exception, religious for-profit employers are not exempted and must provide birth control coverage for their employees. Religious leaders and private business owners argue that the definition of a “religious employer” is too narrow and therefore limits their free exercise of religion.


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No Comments | Posted by Melanie A. Stratton Lopez on Sun. April 7, 2013 8:29 AM
Categories: Freedom of Religion

Federal Court Strikes Down National Security Letters on First Amendment Grounds

While the potential use of drones on American soil and the disputed authority of the government to indefinitely detain American citizens captured on U.S. soil have dominated the headlines and the attention of civil libertarians in recent months, the Obama administration continues other controversial domestic counter-terrorism measures that go along relatively unnoticed by the public. Last week, a Federal District Court in California gave a respite to civil liberties in the ongoing war on terror as it enjoined on First Amendment grounds the federal government’s further use of National Security Letters.


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No Comments | Posted by Anderson A. Chang on Sun. March 24, 2013 8:45 AM
Categories: Privacy

The Push for Prayer in Public Schools

After decades of removing religious influences from the public school forum, the United States has seen a surging political movement in several state legislatures attempting to bring prayer back onto school grounds. Since the landmark Supreme Court decision in Engel v. Vitale in 1962 declaring school-sponsored religious activities such as prayer unconstitutional until the Court’s more recent decision in 2000 in Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe, it seemed as if religious influence was being definitively pushed out of school activities.


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No Comments | Posted by Amanda R. Witzke (Mandy) on Sun. March 17, 2013 9:17 AM
Categories: Freedom of Religion

Liberals and Conservatives Rally Behind First Amendment Defense against Intimidation Statute

News outlets, media advocates, conservative and liberal groups, and First Amendment scholars have joined in filing an amicus brief to the Indiana Supreme Court, claiming that the state’s criminal law barring intimidation violates the First Amendment. The criminal case began with the defendant’s divorce proceedings.

When Daniel Brewington’s ex-wife filed for divorce, the court assigned two psychologists to evaluate custody options; they recommended assigning Brewington’s ex-wife sole custody and Brewington visitation rights. The Court of Appeals of Indiana stated that Brewington responded with “a torrent of abusive letters demanding that Dr. Connor release his entire file to him, withdraw the evaluation, and withdraw from the case.” He accused the doctors of “dishonest, malicious, and criminal behavior” and “unethical and criminal practices.” He also began blogging and using established Web sites to communicate messages to the same effect.


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No Comments | Posted by Howard M. Lintz (Howie) on Sun. March 3, 2013 7:43 AM
Categories: Intimidation

Celebrity Endorsed Anti–Paparazzi Bill Makes Hawaii More Attractive for High–Profile Homeowners, but Threatens First Amendment Protections

With awards season underway, the paparazzi are out in full force, trying to capture the trophy winning celebrities in their fanciest garb. However, celebrity–friendly states, most recently Hawaii, are fighting back against invasive paparazzi techniques in order to protect their famous residents. The Hawaii Senate Judiciary Committee recently passed the “Steven Tyler Act,” an anti–paparazzi bill. According to the Reporters Committee, the bill has successfully passed its first hurdle to becoming law, and it would take effect on July 1, 2013.


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No Comments | Posted by Satie R. Munn on Thu. February 28, 2013 8:46 AM
Categories: Privacy

Virginia Prosecutors Refuse to Bar Defendant Blogging

Earlier this month a Virginia judge declined to prohibit defendant Linda Cheek’s use of social media to advance her personal, professional beliefs relating to her impending trial. According to The Roanoke Times, prosecutors requested that U.S. District Judge, Glen Conrad, prevent defendant, Dr. Linda Sue Cheek, from blogging and tweeting about her legal proceedings for fear that these Internet postings could improperly influence potential jurors.


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No Comments | Posted by Candra K. Baizan on Sun. February 24, 2013 8:15 AM
Categories: Social Media

Lawyers and Advertisements

There are few Americans who would not recognize the advertisement by the class action lawyers involving Mesothelioma. In fact, at this point it is very likely that while reading over the word Mesothelioma, we instinctively pronounce it like the commercial we have all probably seen at least a half dozen times. The Supreme Court in Florida recently reached a decision that loosened the regulations on lawyers’ advertising rules.


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No Comments | Posted by Daniel N. Mullins on Sun. February 17, 2013 8:10 AM
Categories: Freedom of Speech

How Far Are We Willing To Go To Catch a Predator?

Since the advent of social media ranging from basic chat rooms to websites dedicated solely to making connections with friends and strangers, the American public has been cautioned against predators online. Parents are told to carefully monitor their children’s activity online and be wary of older cyberpredators posing as peers of their children in an attempt to become close to minors, and occasionally even solicit sexual contact. There has even been a television show entitled To Catch A Predator that chronicles undercover sting operations designed to entrap and arrest online predators by using decoys with the help of a watchdog group called Perverted Justice.


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No Comments | Posted by Catherine A. McCormick on Thu. February 14, 2013 9:27 AM
Categories: Social Media

The First Amendment Threat to Public Health

The District II Wisconsin Court of Appeals did not agree with the circuit court’s ruling that Wisconsin Statute §940.32 was a facially overbroad regulation of protected speech in violation of Gary Hemmingway’s First Amendment rights. As reported by the Wisconsin State Bar, Hemmingway was found guilty of stalking his ex-wife, Rebecca, after sending her intimidating text messages, phone calls, and e-mails. Excerpts of the communications between Hemmingway and Rebecca include him telling her “that he would love to see someone holding a gun to her and for her to be begging for her life.” He also told her that “the only way she could feel his pain would be if both her sons died at the same time.” These and other threats, coupled with Hemmingway’s prior charges of aggravated battery and negligent use of a dangerous weapon, caused Rebecca to fear for her and her sons’ lives and suffer serious emotional harm.


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No Comments | Posted by Alexandria N. Bryant on Sun. February 10, 2013 8:27 AM
Categories: Public Health
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