News & Resources

Why the NFL and ABC Are Free to Squelch the Free Speech of Football Players and Roseanne

Roseanne’s racist tweet. Kneeling football players. These recent events have caused people on both the right and left to express concerns about freedom of speech and expression in the United States. But these concerns are based on a misunderstanding. The truth is neither case invokes protections against denying free speech rights. That’s because the U.S. Constitution’s guarantees limit the government, not private individuals or institutions. It is virtually impossible for the NFL or the ABC […]

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Mr. President, Unblock Your Twitter Account

A single tweet from President Trump is often fodder for an entire news cycle. It can completely change the national conversation and take over the public discourse. But what if the Tweeter-in-Chief blocks you from his conversations because you disagree with his ideas? When President Trump started to block the accounts of his critics, it sparked a controversy – and multiple lawsuits. Many of those blocked users felt their First Amendment rights were being violated. […]

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Calling Someone a Drunkard Is Libel – Unless It’s True

Making public statements —written or verbal—about someone’s professional or personal conduct is risky business. I wrote about some of the dangers in a recent post. The news media know the law. They must have facts to back up reports about a person’s conduct, performance, competency, health, or morals, so they work to avoid rank speculation and rumor. But today, the risk goes beyond the traditional news media. With the internet, everyone has an available printing […]

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Trade Secret Exemption from Public Records Unchanged

In an earlier post, I discussed public records legislation that would have removed the trade secrets exemption for businesses contracting with state agencies. But HB 459 died in the process during the 2018 session that ended in March, along with three other pieces of legislation related to this issue: HB-461, SB-958, and SB-956. So, the law remains that certain public records are exempt from public disclosure if they contain trade secrets. The genesis of at […]

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Prior Restraint – Tried but Never Affirmed

The Bill of Rights enshrines the rights to free speech and free press in our Constitution. Yet since the beginning of our republic, various compartments of our government have tried (and always failed) to impose prior restraint on those rights by invoking court power to stop the publication or broadcast of unwanted news. While there is potential for the government’s lawful exercise of that power against our free press, no court in the land has […]

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The Risk of Public Statements about Someone’s Behavior

With apologies to my academic friends: it is sometimes said that arguments in academia are especially vehement because the stakes are so low. However, from the perspective of Florida community college professor Isabel Del Pino-Allen, the stakes in her defamation lawsuit against a fellow professor are very high: her employment and reputation. Del Pino-Allen sued Juan Santelises for slander after the fellow professor allegedly made numerous false, malicious, and defamatory claims to the administration of […]

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