first amendment

Amazon Hands Over Echo Recording Related To Murder Investigation

Amazon Hands Over Echo Recording Related To Murder Investigation

Just two weeks after Amazon filed a motion claiming that turning over information stored on an Echo speaker located inside a murder suspect’s home would be a violation of privacy, the e-commerce giant abandoned its argument after the suspect in the case consented to the release of the information. [More]

Amazon Hasn’t Turned Over Echo Recordings Related To Murder Investigation

Amazon Hasn’t Turned Over Echo Recordings Related To Murder Investigation

Nearly two months after police investigating a homicide in Arkansas served Amazon with search warrants, requesting any information that may have been stored on an Echo speaker located inside the suspect’s home. They wanted to know if the device’s “Alexa” virtual assistant had recorded any evidence of the murder, but Amazon has thus far refused to turn this information over to authorities. [More]

Adam Fagen

Supreme Court Asked To Settle Battle Over Courtroom Ban On Phones, Computers

For more than 35 years, states have been allowed to let cameras in the courtroom, but some courts have enacted full bans — not just on TV cameras and photographers but on all electronic devices, and at all times. A Michigan man thinks this is going too far, and has officially petitioned the Supreme Court to settle the matter. [More]


Is A Restriction On Credit Card Surcharges A Free Speech Violation?

When you think of First Amendment disputes, your mind probably conjures images of protestors, or investigative journalism, or maybe you think of the never-ending debate over where to draw the line between obscenity and protected forms of expression. You probably don’t immediately connect the dots between the First Amendment and a state law about credit card surcharges — but the U.S. Supreme Court has been asked to decide that very issue. [More]

Backpage Executives Seek Dismissal Of Pimping Charges

Backpage Executives Seek Dismissal Of Pimping Charges

Earlier this month, the Attorney General of California took the unusual step of charging the CEO of classifieds site Backpage and two of the company’s major shareholders with pimping and conspiracy to commit pimping. At the time, AG Kamala Harris said that Backpage was “unlawfully designed…to be the world’s top online brothel.” Now the company’s lawyers are seeking dismissal of those charges. [More]

Ryan Dearth

Court Upholds Federal Ban On Gun Sales To Medical Marijuana Cardholders

A large number of states have legalized marijuana use for medicinal purposes, even as the federal government continues to maintain that pot is as dangerous and addictive as heroin. However, even though you can’t currently be prosecuted by the feds for properly obtaining medical marijuana in a state like Nevada, your status as a confirmed marijuana user could be used to prevent you from buying a gun. [More]

Supreme Court Will Not Hear EA’s Appeal In Madden NFL Case

Supreme Court Will Not Hear EA’s Appeal In Madden NFL Case

No, the First Amendment does not give one of the world’s largest video game publishers the right to make money off the likeness of professional athletes without their permission or compensating them. Or at least the U.S. Supreme Court doesn’t want to hear anyone argue that it does. [More]


Court Says Tattooing Is Protected Speech, Mocks City For Misrepresenting “Margaritaville” Lyrics

The city of Key West, FL, has an ordinance restricting tattoo parlors in its popular Historic District, meaning anyone who wants to open a tattoo shop on the island has to do so in a designated commercial zone. But a federal appeals court has ruled that the city’s rules are too restrictive of tattoo artists’ right to free expression. It also chided Key West for not understanding the lyrics to a Jimmy Buffett song. [More]

FCC: Net Neutrality Doesn’t Violate Internet Service Providers’ First Amendment Rights

FCC: Net Neutrality Doesn’t Violate Internet Service Providers’ First Amendment Rights

About a week after the FCC narrowly voted to approve new net neutrality rules that prevent Internet service providers from deciding which types of online content get preferential or detrimental treatment, the telecom industry was ready with lawsuits. One of those plaintiffs argues that net neutrality is a restriction on ISPs’ First Amendment right to free expression, but the FCC counters that this is like trying to claim that your TV or radio have their own constitutionally protected rights to free speech. [More]

Judge: It’s Not Nice To Leave Nasty Notes On Speeding Tickets, But It’s Your Constitutional Right To Do So

Judge: It’s Not Nice To Leave Nasty Notes On Speeding Tickets, But It’s Your Constitutional Right To Do So

No one gets a speeding ticket and rushes out to pay it with glee, at least, no one who likes holding onto their money. But even if it’s pretty rude to scrawl an obscene message when paying that ticket, it’s speech that’s protected by the First Amendment. That’s according to a judge who said a man’s civil rights were violated when he was arrested for writing a nasty note on a speeding ticket in New York in 2012. [More]

(Morton Fox)

Court Rules Parking Meter “Robin Hoods” Are Protected By First Amendment

A city in New Hampshire says that its parking enforcement officers have been harassed and kept from doing their duties by a group of “Robin Hoods” who follow the officers around, not only putting coins in expired meters before cars can be ticketed, but videotaping and speaking rudely to them. Yesterday, the state’s highest court ruled that this behavior is protected by the First Amendment, but will give the city one more chance to argue for some sort of injunction to put some distance between the Robin Hoods and the officers. [More]

AT&T Will Try To Make First Amendment Case Against Net Neutrality

AT&T Will Try To Make First Amendment Case Against Net Neutrality

When you think of the Internet and First Amendment issues, your mind probably conjures up images of people being able to freely express themselves online through websites, videos, and social media. But if you’re AT&T, the First Amendment was created to give Internet service providers the authority to have some sort of editorial control over the data they carry. [More]

(James Callan)

Judge Dismisses Stalking And Harassment Charges Against Ice Cream Truck’s Rival

An icy, delicious turf war has finally come to an end, almost two years after one mobile ice cream vendor accused another frozen treats truck driver of bullying him and trying to run him out of town. A judge in upstate New York dismissed stalking and harassing charges against the snow cone truck brought by an ice cream rival back in 2013.


This is not, we repeat not, Jack White's guacamole. (photo: Morton Fox)

University Of Oklahoma Blacklisted After Publishing Jack White’s Guacamole Recipe

One of the most powerful talent representation companies in the world has decided to boycott the University of Oklahoma after a school newspaper dared to publish the rather bland details of a concert contract rider, including the rock star’s secret (not any longer) recipe for guacamole. [More]

(Alan Rappa)

Deputy Fired For Threatening To Arrest Photographer Who Took Pictures Of Police In Public

As we’ve covered before, courts have ruled time and again that police can’t force citizens to stop taking photographs of them in public so long as you don’t interfere with their work. That doesn’t stop cops from ordering people to put their cameras away, and didn’t prevent on sheriff’s deputy in Washington state from making multiple empty threats of arrest against a Seattle news photographer who took pics of a police action in public. But after an investigation by the sheriff’s office, that deputy has been dismissed for abusing his authority. [More]

When Does The First Amendment Prevent The Release Of Public Records? When It Involves Strippers

When Does The First Amendment Prevent The Release Of Public Records? When It Involves Strippers

When two rights conflict, which one is given priority? This was the question recently put before a federal court in Washington state, where a group of strippers were trying to prevent their real names and other personal information from being shared publicly even though state law seems to require that their identities be released upon request. [More]

photo: colonelchi

Yet Another Court To Hear Yelp’s Argument Against Revealing Reviewers’ Names

For more than two years, a carpet cleaning company in Virginia has been trying to compel Yelp to turn over the identities of reviewers the company accuses of posting false and defamatory information. While both a trial court and a state appeals court have told Yelp to fork over that info, the crowdsourced reviews site has not yet done so — and tomorrow it takes its case before the highest court in Virginia. [More]

An Al Jazeera TV crew being tear-gassed by authorities in Ferguson (via BoingBoing)

The Police Can’t Order You To Stop Filming Them In Public, Or Force You To Delete Pics From Phone

A good deal of the footage coming out Ferguson, Missouri, this week has been provided by non-journalists, using their phones to record and photograph events. At the same time, reports claim that police are attempting to block both ordinary citizens and journalists from documenting the situation. What these officers either don’t know or aren’t saying is that you have the legal right to photograph the police, even when they tell you not to. [More]