McCormick Foundation Civics Program
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The Latest First Amendment and Freedom News from Sources around the Country and World

The McCormick Foundation Civics Program seeks to improve access to quality civic education and engagement opportunities in Chicagoland for youth ages 12-22. For more information about our organization, click here.

Freedom in the News will not be published on Tuesday, April 17.

Click here for source abbreviations

April 10, 2012

Five Freedoms


'Annoying, Offending' Language Online Would Be Crime Under Arizona Bill Distasteful comments and online insults are a mainstay of many social networks and online comment boards, but a new bill passed in Arizona could send people who "annoy or offend" to jail for up to six months.(ABC News)

Hunger Games again on list of challenged books For the second year in a row, Suzanne Collins’ work was among the most “challenged” books, as reported yesterday by the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom. The association defines a challenge as “a formal, written complaint filed with a library or school requesting that a book or other material be restricted or removed because of its content or appropriateness.”(AP)

'Bully' downgraded to PG-13 as ratings system assailed from all sidesNow that the critically lauded, but by all accounts emotionally difficult film will be open to the teen crowd it depicts, the question is: Was the film itself a victim of “bullying” by an outmoded, out-of-touch ratings group, or is it an example of the free-market system finding the best balance between freedom of expression and protecting family values in the marketplace? (CSM)

Chicago State to faculty: Don't talk to press New policy requires administration approval for most communication; violates free speech, experts say (CT)

Board: Marine should be dismissed in Facebook case Torresala argued that Stein’s behavior repeatedly violated Pentagon policy that limits the free-speech rights of service members, and said he should be dismissed after ignoring warnings from his superiors about his postings.(AP)

Judge: Nursing student waived free-speech rights A former University of Louisville nursing student waived her rights to free speech by signing an honor code that included a non-disclosure requirement, so she can’t collect damages for being dismissed from school over a blog post, a federal judge ruled yesterday.(AP)

D.C.’s Marion Barry widely rebuked for comments about Asian business owners The D.C. Council member and former four-term mayor used the moments after learning of his Ward 8 primary win Tuesday to criticize Asian owners of businesses in his ward, suggesting that they close their “dirty shops.” His racially loaded remarks prompted a torrent of criticism Thursday and distracted from Barry’s sweeping victory in a third consecutive Democratic primary.(WP)

Op-ed: The cowardly censors at Tweed This is less about the sensitivity of children than it is about the influence of powerful political lobbies. And generally speaking, these lobbies don’t even reside in New York City. (New York Daily News)

Chicago Bartender's Racist Facebook Rant Gets Her Fired From Proof A series of controversial Facebook posts condemning African-Americans have cost the bartender at a high-end Chicago nightclub her job.(HP)

Conn. justices: Crime victims can’t restrict access to police records The Connecticut Supreme Court yesterday rejected an appeal in a case that could have allowed alleged crime victims greater say in restricting the release of police records.(AP)

2nd Circuit reinstates copyright case against YouTube A federal appeals court revived a 5-year-old copyright case against YouTube yesterday, finding that a jury might conclude that the online video service knew it was infringing rights when it allowed the distribution of videos of popular television shows and other programs.(AP)

Judge’s Ruling Allows Suit Against State Police To Go Forward For Allegedly Harassing Bikers A Norristown lawyer, who represents three members of two motorcycle clubs stopped in New Jersey by troopers who demanded they remove jackets bearing biker club colors and logos, says a federal judge’s recent decision in the case is a First Amendment victory.(CBS3)


Mike Wallace, CBS Pioneer of ‘60 Minutes,’ Dies at 93 Mike Wallace, the CBS reporter who became one of America’s best-known broadcast journalists as an interrogator of the famous and infamous on “60 Minutes,” died on Saturday. He was 93.(CBS)

Vt. high court delivers mixed public-records decisions The Vermont Supreme Court late last week granted a partial victory to the Rutland Herald in the newspaper’s effort to get access to records concerning allegations that Rutland city employees viewed pornography at work.(AP)


Tenn. governor 'probably' will sign evolution bill Tennessee, where the nation's first big legal battle over evolution was fought nearly 90 years ago, is close to enacting a law that critics deride as the "monkey bill" for once again attacking the scientific theory.(AP)


Owner Had Right to Clear Zuccotti Park, Judge Says A judge in Manhattan has ruled that Brookfield Properties, owner of the park used as an encampment by Occupy Wall Street protesters, had the right to clear them to address deteriorating conditions inside the park.(NYT)

Protesters Hold ‘Spring Training’ at Zuccotti Park As the protesters hone their tactics, the police officers who watch them and who follow the weekly marches appear to be absorbing lessons and engaging in their own preparation.(NYT)


Op-ed: Protecting Face-to-Face Protest Although virtually ignored today, a right to petition is part of the First Amendment, and the Constitution does not leave it to the government to decide who should have access to it.(NYT)

Student Freedoms


Gay Mormon students at BYU come out in Web video The video recently posted to YouTube by 22 Brigham Young University students is the first of its kind with ties to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which forbids gay sex and marriage. By posting the video, the students could face excommunication from the church and expulsion at BYU, where gay students are prohibited from touching or kissing.(AP)

Ohio school to let gay student wear T-shirt 1 day The southwest Ohio school district agreed in a conference between attorneys and the judge to let 16-year-old Maverick Couch wear the shirt bearing the message “Jesus Is Not A Homophobe’’ on April 20, according to federal court records. But Couch’s lawsuit charging that Waynesville High School and the Wayne Local School District are violating his freedom of expression rights is proceeding.(AP)

Student booted from pageant over gay marriage remark Within 24 hours, district officials sent a statement to parents saying no school rules were violated. In the letter, they admit the matter was not handled appropriately and noted that the vice principal gave a personal apology. (MSNBC)

Kansas military school denies it condoned cadet beatings, seeks dismissal of lawsuit A Kansas military boarding school that has settled nine abuse lawsuits since 2006 has asked a court to dismiss the latest one, which accuses the school of allowing and encouraging older students to discipline younger ones by beating and otherwise abusing them.(AP)


Board apologizes, editor resigns after BU paper’s ‘joke’ spurs anger The board of directors of Boston University’s independent student newspaper has apologized after an April Fools’ Day edition that made light of rape, just a few months after highly publicized sexual assault cases caused an uproar on campus.(BG)

Rutgers chastises spoof column praising Hitler that was falsely attributed to Jewish student The column “What about the good things Hitler did?” appeared last week in the satirical newspaper the Daily Medium, which is funded in part by Rutgers. The column was falsely attributed to a Jewish student writer for an independent Rutgers newspaper, the Daily Targum.(WP)

600 copies of Butler student paper dumped in trash Collegian Editor-in-Chief Hayleigh Colombo said the paper printed 2,600 copies this week, and the total loss from the theft — including printing, wages and advertising — was $653.31. (SPLC)

Police investigating newspaper theft at Ark. university More than 1,000 copies of The Forum student newspaper were stolen March 13 and 14 from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. (SPLC)


Op-ed: State lawmakers reignite school wars over religion Barred by the U.S. Supreme Court from turning the clock back to the days of state-sponsored prayers and devotional Bible reading, state legislatures are discovering creative new ways to get more religion through the schoolhouse door.(FAC)


'Dream Defenders' March To Sanford Police Dept. The students said the 40-mile walk from Daytona to Sanford symbolized the 40 days that George Zimmerman has not been arrested for shooting an unarmed teen in a claim of self-defense. (WESH)

Mpls. Police Ponder 8 P.M. Curfew After Youth Mob Attacks Kids we spoke with say they feel as if they’re being punished for something they had nothing to do with.(CBS Minnesota)

Privacy rights

Student Wins Right to Privacy Brian Fagnano just got his driver’s license and will graduate this spring and head off to college. For more than a year, he has been fighting a legal battle over his privacy rights and this week, he won. (WNEP)

Student challenging U.S. border search of electronic devices Pascal Abidor said when he tried to enter the U.S. to see his parents in May 2010, he was handcuffed and detained while border guards searched his laptop. Now he and the American Civil Liberties Union are awaiting a decision by a U.S. judge on the constitutionality of the current policy of search and seizure of electronic devices at U.S. international borders. (Toronto Sun)

The Struggle Continues

Civil rights

Prosecutor won't use grand jury in Trayvon Martin shooting case The state attorney has maintained that a grand jury is not needed to file possible criminal charges against George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer who killed the teen February 26.(CNN)

Trayvon Martin case: How 5 young black men see race and justice in US The Monitor approached, at random, five young black men in Boston, Los Angeles, Coral Gables, Fla., and Louisville, Ky., and asked them to talk about the Trayvon Martin case, race relations, hoodies, and, of course, their own life experiences. Here's what they had to say.(CSM)

Chicago’s own Trayvon-like scandal faces sentencing this week At a time when the shooting in Florida of Trayvon Martin is drawing supporters from across the country, Chicago has its own shooting scandal.(CST)

Appeals court upholds California affirmative action ban A U.S. appeals court upheld California's ban on the use of affirmative action in university admissions on Monday, reaffirming that public schools cannot base admission on race, gender or ethnicity.(Reuters)


State's tough immigration law could get changes Changes could be coming to Alabama's tough immigration law that has been challenged by the courts, churches and businesses.(AP)

Worker's rights

Union: Right-to-work violates free speech Indiana's new right-to-work law should be struck down because it infringes upon unions' free speech rights by depriving them of the dues that fund their political speech, attorneys for a union challenging the law contend, citing the U.S. Supreme Court's so-called Citizens United ruling that eased restrictions on corporate campaign spending.(AP)

Abortion and reproductive rights

Mississippi bill may force state's only abortion clinic to close The Mississippi state Senate passed a bill on Wednesday to impose new regulations on facilities providing abortions that supporters of the state's only abortion clinic said could force it to close.(Reuters)

Birth control pioneer says fight had personal cost Taunts of "baby killer" and "butcher" still echo in Bill Baird's ears, nearly five decades after he began fighting for birth control and abortion rights. Now 79, the Massachusetts man says a Georgetown University law student's recent verbal bashing on a national radio show is evidence that rights he equates with liberty and equality are in jeopardy. (AP)

Crime and punishment

Cook County to pay $1 million to settle jail lawsuit The women sued to challenge as unconstitutional the monthly practice of confining inmates to their cells from Friday afternoon until Sunday afternoon, during which time they had no access to telephones, showers or easy communication with guards. (CT)

Op-ed: Federal judge sanctions confiscation of inmate’s book Hawkins possessed the same book at other prisons and had no disciplinary record. But the court sanctioned the censorship of a widely read work on the basis of scant – if any – evidence of possible wrongdoing by the prisoner-litigant.(FAC)

Disability rights

Student Sues College to Keep Her Guinea Pig A college sophomore claims in court that Grand Valley State University discriminated against her by banning her medically prescribed assistance animal - a guinea pig - from her campus apartment. (Courthouse News)

Elections and voting

State likely to appeal redistricting ruling to Supreme Court The state is likely to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court a decision last month that found two election maps on Milwaukee's south side violated federal law, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Justice said Tuesday.(MJS)

Gay rights

Trump Won't Bar Transsexual Beauty Queen From Shot at Miss Universe Canada Title Jenna Talackova, the Canadian beauty queen, won't have to fight Donald Trump for a chance to compete for the Miss Universe Canada title after all, even though she was born a he.(ABC)

Anchorage voters reject gay rights ballot measure Anchorage voters have rejected a ballot initiative that would have protected gays from discrimination in the latest setback to a decades-long campaign to secure anti-discrimination rights for gays in Alaska's most populous city.(Reuters)

Gun rights

Court reinstates suit challenging Cook County assault weapons ban A judge was wrong to throw out the challenge, and so was the appeals court that upheld that ruling, the state’s high court said in sending the case back to the judge to hear testimony on whether assault weapons should have the same Second Amendment protection as handguns.(CST)

Lawmakers target gun laws, neighborhood watch in wake of Florida teen shooting Members of Congress are crafting new legislation, using the outcry over the shooting to push an agenda calling for everything from gun control to restrictions on neighborhood watch groups. (Fox News)

Over police objections, La. panel targets state firearms protections Opponents said the measure could open legal challenges to dozens of existing prohibitions on guns, such as those at schools, on college campuses, in churches and in the Louisiana Capitol, and could leave lawmakers unable to enact gun-free zones.(AP)

Gun law challenged in Alaska killing case A Bush-era federal law that protects gun dealers from being liable for murders committed with guns from their shops is being tested in an Alaska court case. It has led the Justice Department and gun-control activists to intervene. (McClatchy)

Privacy rights

ACLU: Police using cellphone tracking, including RPD; Reno says court approval always obtained Law enforcement agencies across the country, including the Reno Police Department, are tracking cellphone locations — sometimes without warrants — according to a report released by the American Civil Liberties Union on Wednesday.(Montgomery Advertiser)

State Supreme Court imposes limits on vehicle searches The Washington Supreme Court has limited the ability of police to search someone's car after they've been taken into custody, further extending a long tradition of affording state residents more privacy protections than are guaranteed under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.(Seattle Times)

Drug-test bill draws legal heat Opponents argue that drug testing of welfare recipients violates the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable searches. Supporters believe it will save the state money and promote personal responsibility. Both sides in Georgia appear willing to fight the issue out in court.(Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Op-ed: Aerial drones hold great promise -- and potential for abuse UAVs can be used to spot wildfires, track fleeing felons and locate missing children. And they're much cheaper to operate than helicopters, which police now rely on for aerial surveillance.(Daytona Beach News-Journal)

Property rights

After spirited debate, Naperville OKs fertility clinic The vote came after several hours of public debate. The proposal drew fire from residents who oppose the facility on moral grounds. But supporters said it would help couples struggling to conceive.(CT)

Justice and the Courts

Supreme Court

Holder answers judge, defending both judiciary and Obama health care remarks Attorney General Eric Holder affirmed Thursday that the judiciary has power to review laws of the land, in reply to a US judge who had taken umbrage at an Obama comment questioning judicial review of his health care law. Obama's remark was consistent with that principle, Holder added.(CSM)

Op-ed: Naked activism: The Supreme Court oversteps with unreasonable jail searches While a tension certainly exists between correctional officers being allowed to run jails efficiently and inmates' rights being respected, what was dismaying was how Justice Kennedy and the others in the majority were so eager to give complete deference to the arbitrary power of officials -- an eagerness at odds with the plain wording of the Fourth Amendment.(Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

This Day in History

On April 10, 1865 Confederate General Robert E. Lee addresses his army for the last time. He had surrendered to Union General Ulysses S. Grant the day before.(

Source Abbreviations:

AP: Associated Press; BBC: British Broadcasting Corporation; BG: Boston Globe; BS: Baltimore Sun; BW: Business Week; CR: Chicago Reader; CSM: Christian Science Monitor; CST: Chicago Sun-Times; CT: Chicago Tribune; DH: Daily Herald; DMN: Dallas Morning DP: Denver Post; Drudge Report; EP: Editor & Publisher; FAC: First Amendment Center; HC: Houston Chronicle; HP: Huffington Post; IHT: International Herald Tribune; LAT: Los Angeles Times; MH: Miami Herald; MJS: Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel; NW: Newsweek; NYT: New York Times; PI: Philadelphia Inquirer; PEIJ: Project for Excellence in Journalism; RCP: Real Clear Politics; SC: San Francisco Chronicle; SJR: State Journal-Register; SLPD: St. Louis Post-Dispatch; SPI: Seattle Post-Intelligencer; SPLC: Student Press Law Center; SPT: St. Petersburg Times; ST: Seattle Times; TH:; UNWP: U.S. News and World Report; USA: USA Today; WP: Washington Post; WSJ: Wall Street Journal; WT: Washington Times.
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