A recent story in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution describes 14-year-old Alexandria Boston as “a slender, rough-and-tumble sort of girl” who looked forward to her middle school’s annual field day activities.
Alexandria Boston, 14, shown above in an April photo by the Associated Press, has filed suit against the creators of a Facebook page she claims libeled her.
But last year was different. Instead of letting loose a little at the balloon toss, Alexandria found herself the target of cruel taunts. Two of her classmates had created a fake Facebook page for Alexandria that was anything but friendly.
The fraudulent page distorted Alexandria’s face to make her look like a puffy freak. It suggested she liked sex, smoking pot and spoke a language called “Retardish.” Alexandria’s cyber-bullies then posted a racist video and obscene comments on other’s pages in her name.
As the Supreme Court begins its second day of oral arguments on the national health-care law, I’m reflecting back to Holmes’ famous dissent in Lochner v. New York.
The majority in that infamous decision ruled that a constitutional “right to contract” kept the government from passing maximum-hour laws. Holmes disagreed and his dissent today is considered a classic statement of judicial deference to elected officials. It deserves to be read and reread by those who would have the Supreme Court play politics instead of applying the law: Continue reading
Hard cases, observed Oliver Wendell Holmes, make bad law.
With all due respect for the eminent jurist, I think he had it backward. Often, it’s good laws that make hard cases. Continue reading
Conventional wisdom is that it’s always risky to read too much into what side individual justices appear to take in oral arguments before the Supreme Court.
The justices can push the side they disagree with in hopes of spotting holes in arguments. Or, they can push the lawyers on the side they plan to agree with harder, hoping for insights in how to refine their own arguments.
Still, it appeared Wednesday that most of the justices seemed troubled by the idea that the federal Stolen Valor Act, which makes it a crime to falsely claim to have received a Medal of Honor, could lead to a dangerous slippery slope. Here’s the AP report on yesterday’s arguments by reporter Mark Sherman:
A Loyola law professor sent me a copy of a blog post on Alvarez, the “right to lie” case the Supreme Court is hearing arguments on today.
Prof. Aaron Caplan writes that he hoped for a good classroom debate on the case, in which a politician was prosecuted for having lied about receiving a Medal of Honor. While students agreed the lie was despicable, they thought allowing the government to punish such lies even worse.
Since I agree with Prof. Caplan, I am happy to link to his blog here. But even if I didn’t, I’d be happy to link to his post because like the professor, I value a good argument.
So send me your legal clips, questions and claims, and let’s have a good old-fashioned legal debate before the court of public opinion.
So where in the Constitution does it talk about GPS tracking?
Well, it doesn’t. But that didn’t stop the nine members of the U.S. Supreme Court from unanimously ruling recently that the practice raises serious constitutional concerns.
Decided in late January, the case of Jones v. United States is remarkable not only because it is the court’s first ruling on privacy in a digital age, but because the justices can’t agree on why they ruled the way they did. The case, to me, also illustrates the problems of applying the plain language of a two-century-old document to modern controversies.
A group of local citizens plans to mark the anniversary of Citizens United with a protest on the Gettysburg square noon Saturday. This column originally ran The Evening Sun in December 2010. Please see previous entry on Citizens United as well.
Freedom of the press, the old saying goes, belongs to those that own one.
But it’s never been a principle of First Amendment law that those with more money are legally entitled to more speech than the rest of us.
At least not quite yet.
That seems to be the course the U.S. Supreme Court is taking, though. Last week, the justices agreed to hear a challenge to Arizona’s Clean Elections Law, which gives public money to candidates who swear off private fundraising.
The voters of Arizona, disgusted with elections bought and paid for by special interests, approved this law. It requires candidates to get $5 pledges to show some public support. And the public money they get comes from surcharges on civil and criminal penalties, so tax dollars aren’t spent.
To encourage candidates to take the public-funding high road, the law also provides more money to those whose opponents have raised more money on their own. And that doesn’t sit well with the conservatives on the Supreme Court, who are considering if those matching funds “deter” the speech of those with more money to spend.
A group of local citizens plans to mark the anniversary of Citizens United with a protest on the Gettysburg square noon Saturday. I wrote this column Jan. 30, 2010, shortly after the Citizens United decision, and stand by it, with a couple of caveats discussed here.
There’s been a lot of left-wing hand wringing over the Supreme Court decision a few days ago that struck down restrictions on corporate campaign financing.
“With a single, disastrous 5-to-4 ruling, the Supreme Court has thrust politics back to the robber-baron era of the 19th century,” opined The New York Times in an editorial. “If a member of Congress tries to stand up to a wealthy special interest, its lobbyists can credibly threaten: We’ll spend whatever it takes to defeat you.”
Gee, I hate to break it to the Times, but that seems like pretty much the way things already are. The dirty dollars of lobbyists have already corrupted our republic beyond all recognition.
Does a police K-9′s sniff outside a house give officers the right to get a search warrant for illegal drugs, or is the sniff itself an unconstitutional search?
Florida’s highest court has said Franky the drug dog’s super nose crosses constitutional lines. But the state wants that decision overturned and the Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case.
A federal judge in Maryland recently ruled the First Amendment protects your right to defame religious leaders, to predict and wish for their violent deaths.
At least as long as you say so online, thousands of times, and to who knows how many thousands of people.
Just goes to show you what can happen when judges cloak their arguments in the rich fabric of colonial history. Sometimes their opinions end up cut from whole cloth.
There’s not a lot of constitutional case law out there on online free speech. So the experts are saying Judge Roger Titus’ ruling in U.S. v. Cassidy could have lasting impact. Titus dismissed federal charges against a man who allegedly authored thousands of blog and Twitter posts, some seemingly libelous, others perhaps threatening, and many downright disturbing, aimed mostly at Brooklyn-born Buddhist leader Alyce Zeoli.