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First Amendment
Category archives for: First Amendment

Denying Service to Gays and Lesbians: Right of Conscience Vigilantism Meets Stand Your Ground

| February 28, 2014

Bills in four states that would let businesses deny service to gays and lesbians on religious-freedom grounds are based on the same faulty justification of Stand Your Ground laws on self-defense grounds. In both cases, the 1st and 2nd Amendments are perverted into defenses of vigilantism rather than protection of rights.

As State Mulls Review, Christians and Atheists Agree: Keep Florida Capitol a Free Speech Zone

| January 7, 2014

The threat of a lawsuit is hovering over the state’s rejection of a satanic display, and the rotunda exhibit policy is set to undergo a staff review. But the prevailing view among those who have recently jumped at the chance to use the public floor space to express their beliefs is to simply let everyone have their say.

Before Florida Made an Ass of Christmas, Philadelphia Gave Us a Founding Nativity Scene

| December 20, 2013

The Rick Scott administration’s illiterate interpretation of the Bible and the first amendment turned the Florida Capitol rotunda into a comedy of absurd Christmas displays and discrimination, all of which could have been avoided with a reason and respect–for the holidays and the Constitution.

In Defense of Net Neutrality: How To Keep Biggest Internet Providers From Running Amok

| December 17, 2013

Without net neutrality, the Web would look a lot like cable, with the most popular content available only on certain tiers or with certain providers: Imagine AT&T as the exclusive home of Netflix and Comcast as the sole source of YouTube.

Satanists Now Want to Join Beer Pole and Nativity Scene at Florida Capitol

| December 10, 2013

The state Department of Management Services has received three more applications, including two from atheist groups and one from satanists, to put up displays after approving a banner for the Freedom From Religion Foundation and an aluminum pole — made of empty beer cans– – to mark the parody festival Festivus.

Nativity Scene in Florida Capitol Will Share Space With Beer-Can Pole Celebrating Festivus

| December 9, 2013

A nearly 6-foot-tall pole made from emptied Pabst Blue Ribbon beer cans, marking the Festivus holiday once parodied on Seinfeld, will be put up in the Florida Capitol this week as a not-so-subtle protest to the recent placement of a Christian nativity scene by the Florida Prayer Network.

Obama’s Free Press Problem: Why Reporters in the U.S. Now Need Protection

| November 29, 2013

The Obama administration has made the most concerted effort since the Nixon years to intimidate officials from talking to a reporter. Paul Steiger, Paul Steiger recipient of this year’s the Burton Benjamin Memorial award from the Committee to Protect Journalists, argues for a response.

Should Jacksonville’s Nathan Bedford Forrest High Be Named for KKK’s Grand Wizard?

| September 24, 2013

Never apologize for what? Secession? Slavery? How about white supremacy and the KKK? The fight to rename Jacksonville’s Nathan Bedford Forrest High School raises the question, argues Julie Delegal.

FDLE Lays Down Florida Capitol Garrison Rule to Avoid Repeat of Summer Protests

| September 21, 2013

Under the proposal by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, members of the public would be expected to leave the Capitol building by 5 p.m. each weekday or within 30 minutes of the end of public meetings. Capitol police could arrest for trespassing anyone who didn’t leave when they were told.

Not So Fast Missy: How a Protester Exposed an Undercover Cop

| August 21, 2013

When the author first met her four years ago, she couldn’t have known that the small-framed woman with spiky brown hair and intense eyes was anything but a fellow activist showing up for a protest in Washington, D.C. She turned out to be an undercover cop ordered to secretly spy on peaceful protesters, violate their freedom of speech and assembly, and disregard their right to privacy.

The Painting You Will Not See in Hollingsworth Gallery’s ‘Monster of Bigotry’ Show, and Why

| August 10, 2013

Constance Payne’s “Will You Take Me Seriously Now” was top be part of the new “Monster of Bigotry” show at Palm Coast’s Hollingsworth Gallery, but only if Payne agreed to have it draped, because of its explicit content. She refused, calling it censorship. Gallery owner JJ Graham defends the decision on several grounds.

Gun Rights Advocates and Church Join in Suit Against NSA as Companies Petition White House

| July 18, 2013

Sixty-three companies are asking the federal government to allow companies that receive foreign-intelligence surveillance requests to publicly discuss those requests in basic terms, while gun rights advocates have joined the Unitarian Church and the Electronic Frontier Foundation in a lawsuit against NSA spying on First Amendment grounds.

U.S. Supreme Court Will Decide Legality of Bunnell’s Government Prayers, Via Greece

| June 24, 2013

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear a case from Greece, N.Y., where government meetings are started with distinctly Christian prayers, as they are at Bunnell City Commission meetings. The case is being taken to the court by Americans United for the Separation of Church and State.

Florida Government’s DCF Looks to Religious Organizations to Recruit Foster Parents

| June 3, 2013

Looking for foster parents, DCF Director of Faith Based Development Erik Braun told child welfare professionals at a conference that Florida has 12 million residents affiliated with a Catholic or Protestant church, 1 million Jews and 400,000 to 600,000 Muslims.

Church-State Separation Be Damned: Bunnell Sponsors 3rd Prayer Day, Invoking “God’s City”

| May 2, 2013

Bunnell marked the national Day of Prayer for the third year with its own sponsored religious event, a distinctly Christian, evangelical-like service that features commissioners and the mayor offering prayers and pastors invoking Jesus’s name and god’s law above all others.

Revenge Porn: Florida Lawmakers Take National Lead in Battling Bullying’s New Virus

| April 16, 2013

In a more lurid consequence of sexting, Florida women and girls have been targeted by revenge porn–the online posting of nude images without the victim’s consent–in several documented instances, leading the Legislature to seek to criminalize the practice as a second or third-degree felony.

Florida Voter Group Argues for a Free Speech Right to Secrecy and Unregulated PACs

| April 15, 2013

The state says it is justified in requiring disclosures of information about political action committee contributions and expenditures. Plaintiffs, arguing their case before a federal appeals court Tuesday, say they should be free to express themselves on political issues without registering as a committee and filling out campaign documents.

Facebook Effect: For Workers On or Off the Job, Individual Rights Are Dead

| April 7, 2013

Employers’ presumptions on workers’ behavior on and off the job have more in common with the inquisition or police states than with the bill of rights. Transgressors are routinely humiliated, silenced, censured or fired over speech or behavior companies should have no right to police.

FAU Stomps on Academic Freedom Over Jesus Controversy as Scott Fans Fanaticism

| March 28, 2013

Florida Atlantic University Professor Deandre Poole’s assignment involving the word “Jesus” on the floor drew in a politically motivated protest from Gov. Rick Scott while the university gave in to his demand that the lesson not be taught anymore.

Friend of the Court: How Anthony Lewis Influenced the Justices He Covered

| March 27, 2013

To a remarkable degree, Anthony Lewis, who covered the Supreme Court for the New York Times, set the agenda, and established the arguments for all that was to follow during the constitutional revolution of the Earl Warren court.

In a Decision With Local Sway, Federal Court Upholds Prayers Before Government Meetings

| March 27, 2013

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which has jurisdiction over all of Florida, ruled that the Lakeland City Commission’s custom of opening meetings with a prayer was constitutional, though the court sidestepped the city’s focus on Christian prayers, and its closed door to atheists, agnostics, humanists or other non-clergy representatives.

Responding to ACLU, Manfre Restores His Own More Permissive Jail Mail Policy

| March 15, 2013

Flagler County Sheriff Jim Manfre has rescinded a policy that for the last two years, under Sheriff Don Fleming, prohibited inmates at the county jail from receiving letters at all, or writing letters longer than two pages.

ACLU Sues Sheriff Manfre Over Jail Policy Restricting Incoming Mail to Postcards

| February 21, 2013

Beginning in January 2011 under Sheriff Don Fleming, inmates at the Flagler County jail have been forbidden from receiving mail other than small postcards, or from writing letters longer than two pages. Judges have generally not endorsed the restrictions, which also apply to inmates awaiting trial, who are presumed innocent.

John Fischer’s Hate Speech

| February 10, 2013

In twice calling for a return of school prayer in the last three weeks, Flagler County School Board member John Fischer did so not from good will but out of angry resentment for “special interests” and “political correctness” that he claims are standing in the way of “our rights.” He is offensively wrong, and the school board should resist his call to prayer.

Public Schools Are No Place for Bible-Thumping–Or Any Other Thumping

| January 17, 2013

The World Changers of Florida, Inc. is giving Bibles to students at several dozen high Florida schools. It’s wrong. Students of all faiths and traditions attend public schools and they deserve to be respected. We interfere with an already stressful time by making some of them feel like outsiders.

Showing Cops the Middle Finger

| January 6, 2013

When John Swartz was arrested for flipping off a cop, he sued, and appears headed for a win–as he should: rude expression is not a crime, and the obscenity is far surpassed by that of cops exercising arbitrary authority over bruised egos.

Put God Back in Public Schools?

| January 5, 2013

If we’re going to put God back in schools, which God are we talking about? Adam Hamilton, founding pastor of a United Methodist Church, calmly argues against the notion that God has ever left the public schools, and need not be forced back in.

What’s In Your Gun Closet? In Florida, a Doctor’s Right to Ask Is Under Threat

| November 28, 2012

Should doctors be able to ask patients or patients’ parents whether they own a gun? What about health insurers, employers or health-care officials implementing the federal health law? Can they ask about gun ownership? The issue is playing out in Florida, where lawmakers want to ban doctors from asking the questions.

Crossing Out Amendment 8: Public Money Does Not Belong in Religious Schools

| October 29, 2012

Religious groups have no rights to public money when it comes to funding private schools, precisely because religious indoctrination is part and parcel of the mission of those schools, and taxpayers should not have to pay for that, argues Cary McMullen.

For Opponents of Amendment 8, “Religious Freedom” Has Never Been Under Threat

| October 15, 2012

The so-called “religious freedom” proposal to amend the Florida constitution would create a government bureaucracy to channel tax dollars to religious organizations, its opponents say, jeopardizing the very religious freedoms it claims to be protecting.

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