|The Latest First Amendment and Freedom News from Sources around the Country and World|
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February 14, 2012
Nicki Minaj's 'Exorcism': Catholic League Blasts Artist's Grammys Performance Minaj showed up on the red carpet with a man dressed like the Pope and, when she took the stage, she levitated, spoke in tongues and acted possessed. (HP)
Bill aims to censor Arizona teachers' speech A group of Republican state lawmakers is backing legislation that would require teachers to limit their speech to words that comply with Federal Communications Commission regulations on what can be said on TV or radio. The FCC regulations limit obscene, indecent and profane speech. (Arizona Republic)
Baltimore police: Public can record officers City police released a department policy telling officers that members of the public have the right to record officers carrying out their duties. The Feb. 10 release came just ahead of today’s scheduled hearing on a lawsuit over the issue. (AP)
Schultz wants to reject 'offensive' business names Some at the Capitol say giving the secretary of state that power treads a First Amendment line. (Des Moines Register)
Company asks dismissal of Confederate flag case Married and the father of four young children, Webber was fired last March after refusing bus company orders to take down the flag, cover it, or park some distance away from school property.(AP)
States slowly opening courts to cameras All 50 have declared themselves willing to open up some court business to cameras, although the levels of openness vary from state to state.(Stateline.org)
CNN suspends Roland Martin for anti-gay tweets The CNN commentator and former Chicago radio host offended gays with a series of Twitter remarks during Sunday's game, and the news network announced his suspension Wednesday. (CT)
Madonna Calls M.I.A.’s Super Bowl Stunt ‘Out of Place,’ ‘Irrelevant’ Madonna called into “On Air with Ryan Seacrest” today to publicly share her thoughts on the controversy. (ABC)
M.I.A.'s Middle Finger Could Be Expensive for NBC The network made a late attempt to blur it out, but the middle finger of Super Bowl halftime performer M.I.A. appeared crystal clear before some 110 million viewers last night and NBC and its affiliates could pay a hefty fine. (Atlantic Wire)
Op-ed: Marvel Comics’ Troubling Origins Story
If Mitt Romney is right, and corporations are people, perhaps Marvel/Disney has the capacity to feel shame.(Slate)
Breastfeeding moms hold Facebook nurse-in protest
Mothers angry at the way Facebook has taken down photos of women breastfeeding their children staged nurse-in demonstrations Monday at the company's new Menlo Park headquarters and satellite offices around the world.
McDonalds pulls ad after pit bull owner outrage The ad said eating a Chicken McBite was less risky than petting a stray pit bull, shaving your head, naming your son Sue or giving friends your Facebook password. It enraged pit bull owners and their supporters. (AP)
Op-ed: Rise of Online Organizing Makes Internet Crowd a Must-Win Constituency The Internet not only narrows the participation gap between young and old, it lends a powerful platform to a typically quiet constituency -- we've grabbed the bullhorn and, all of a sudden, our agenda is beginning to resonate. (HP)
Demoted Portland policeman sues city and officials McLerran alleges that his First Amendment right of free speech as a public employee to criticize public officials was violated and that three councilmen maliciously defamed him, or made public statements that placed him in a false light. He could receive up to $8 million in damages, according to the 24-page lawsuits filed in January at the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee in Nashville. (Tennessean)
1 Chicago cop sues another over alleged Facebook defamation A Chicago Police captain is suing a fellow officer for allegedly posting defamatory comments about him on Facebook, according to a lawsuit filed Thursday afternoon in Circuit Court of Cook County. (CT)
Mich. judge: Team reviewing Detroit finances must meet publicly A state-appointed review team analyzing the city of Detroit’s finances should meet publicly, a judge has ruled, a legal setback for Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration that may leave the review team’s process in limbo. (AP)
Embalmer takes speech case to Mass. high court After his comments were published in The Boston Phoenix, the state board that licenses funeral directors and embalmers revoked his license. Now Schoeller is challenging that punishment before the highest court in Massachusetts, arguing the revocation violates his constitutional right to free speech. (AP)
Conviction on racial-slur charge reversed in Ohio A Dayton, Ohio, woman who uttered racial slurs at a mailman after he sprayed repellent on her dog had her ethnic-intimidation conviction overturned by a divided state appeals court.(FAC)Press
Biden says press freedom is critical to government A government can’t function fairly and transparently without freedom of the press or expression, Vice President Joe Biden told an Ohio newspaper trade group yesterday. (AP)Religion
Obama announces contraception compromise President Barack Obama announced a compromise Friday in the dispute over whether to require full contraception insurance coverage for female employees at religiously affiliated institutions. (CNN)
Obama Decision on Contraceptives Won't Stop Legislative Push Blunt plans to continue to push for legislation to force an up-or-down vote in Congress on the entire rule, which only grants limited religious exemptions to churches on requirements that employers provide contraceptives.(UNWP)
Op-ed: Will contraception-rule change relieve religious conscience? It has been observed that because religious-affiliated entities take government money, they should comply with government mandates. But religious institutions use federal funds to provide services in which they believe, which are part of their religious mission. (FAC)
Bloomberg Defends Schools’ Ouster of Worship Services
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg on Monday strongly defended his administration’s decision to ban churches from holding services in public schools, pushing back against criticism from some religious leaders and elected officials.
Kylie Bisutti left lingerie modeling because it didn't mesh with her Christian values The California native, now 21, said that in the wake of baring her body as an Angel, she was also hosting parties, posing for men’s magazines, and craving more and more attention. But she was not feeling good about herself. (Fox)
Religious license plates for sale in SC; group who sued over ‘I Believe’ plates says these OK A federal judge ruled in 2009 that “I Believe” tags that legislators created with a state law violated the First Amendment ban on establishment of religion by government. These new tags were not created by a state law.(AP)
Are Church Confessions Safe? Court To Hear Arguments In a case that could set national precedent, the three-judge Michigan Court of Appeals panel plans to hear arguments Thursday about whether a pastor’s testimony related to a possible confession in a child sexual assault case may be used in court. (CBS Detroit)
Op-ed: Supreme Court was right to side with Mennonites In this case, state and county regulations tolerate wear and tear on roads from heavy trucks and emergency vehicles equipped with tire chains and studs. An exception also should be made for Mennonite farmers who otherwise face a difficult choice between following the law of their state or the law of their church. (Des Moines Register)Assembly
Chicago to pay $6.2 million to settle suit over 2003 protest The city of Chicago has hammered out a $6.2 million settlement over a class-action lawsuit that had accused police of unlawfully arresting more than 700 people during a 2003 Iraq war demonstration, attorneys announced yesterday. (AP)
New York to pay $15 million in wrongful loitering arrests New York City has agreed to pay a total of $15 million in compensation to some 22,000 people who were illegally arrested or issued citations over three decades under loitering laws long ago ruled unconstitutional, according to a class-action settlement. (Reuters)
With same-sex marriage victories on their side, gay rights advocates picket Holy Name The sidewalk outside the downtown church is popular territory for protests, but some participants said they felt special hope because of victories in two other states and the introduction of the same-sex marriage bill in Springfield on Wednesday.(CT)Petition
Amish man’s letters sway Ky. lawmakers on buggy issue The simple, heart-felt letters of an old-fashioned Amish man are being credited for the Senate’s quick passage of a bill that would allow Kentucky’s Amish residents to use reflective tape on their horse-drawn buggies instead of the bright orange triangular signs that they object to on religious grounds. (AP)
City sticker design yanked, but not without pain As controversy swirled, Chicago City Clerk Susana Mendoza weighed concerns from some quarters that gang signs adorned the new city sticker against the feelings of a 15-year-old boy who said winning the contest to design the decal was the best thing that ever happened to him. (CT)
Virginia school district considers cross-dressing ban for students The Suffolk Board of Education plans to take up the issue at a meeting Thursday night, amid criticism that such a ban would violate students' First Amendment rights. The proposal explicitly bans clothing "not in keeping with a student's gender," distracts others from the educational process or poses health concerns. (Fox)
Arlington High School lifts ban on school dances
With new rules about inappropriate dancing in place and the promise of more breathalyzers to weed out students who have been drinking, Arlington High School is lifting a moratorium on school dances put in place last fall.
Denver student could face jail time for attempted Mitt Romney "glitter bomb"
A 20-year-old college student faces up to a year in prison after police say he tried to throw glitter on Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney as the candidate greeted supporters in Denver following Colorado's caucuses on Tuesday.
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