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.

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May 1, 2012

Five Freedoms


Chicago police won't enforce eavesdropping law during NATO summit, city says Chicago's corporation counsel said Friday that police "do not intend to enforce" the state's controversial eavesdropping law during next month's NATO summit, the city's first public acknowledgment of the logistical difficulty and potential legal pitfalls of trying to bar people from recording police officers. (CT)

Marine Sgt. Gary Stein Gets 'Other Than Honorable' Discharge Over Anti-Obama Facebook Comment A conservative Marine who started an armed forces tea party Web page has been given an "other than honorable" discharge for misconduct after declaring on Facebook, "Screw Obama. I will not follow all orders from him."(ABC)

Marine sergeant discharged for criticizing Obama: Was that fair? The other-than-honorable discharge given to Marine Sgt. Gary Stein for writing “Screw Obama” and other criticisms of the president on Facebook means he will lose all of his military privileges, including access to military health care and education benefits, as well as the right to shop in the tax-free grocery and department stores on base.(CSM)

Bradley Manning judge won't toss WikiLeaks case A military judge refused on Wednesday to throw out the case against an Army private accused of providing reams of sensitive documents to WikiLeaks in the biggest leak of government secrets in U.S. history. (AP)

Occupy protester's tweets fair game for prosecutors: judge An Occupy Wall Street protester has lost his bid to quash a subpoena seeking his Twitter records from last fall, when he was arrested during a mass protest on the Brooklyn Bridge.(Reuters)

Musicians make shift to survive piracy Panelists expressed hope that even amid the welter of high-tech ways to obtain music without paying for it, the music world is indeed adjusting, if not without pain.(FAC)

U.S. ban sought on cell phone use while driving U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood called on Thursday for a federal law to ban talking on a cell phone or texting while driving any type of vehicle on any road in the country. (Reuters)

Federal judge rejects request to release bin Laden photos A federal judge yesterday denied a request to release photos and video taken of Osama bin Laden during and after a raid in Pakistan in which the terrorist leader was killed by U.S. commandos last year.(AP)

Op-ed:The law gives us the right to free speech, but we take it away from ourselves Unfortunately, expressing one's opinion, even in a single, fleeting statement, can these days result in a punishment far worse than legal prosecution. This is the practical application of "judging" — to condemn a person as a whole based on one trait — and we are thoroughly guilty of it. (Minnesota Public Radio)

Devilish DMV Revokes Virginia Man’s F.Osama License Plate A Virginia man says his Osama bin Laden-inspired license plates are being taken away by the Department of Motor Vehicles for being offensive. But he says the DMV’s new plates are even worse.(ABC)

Iowa lawmakers OK sunshine-law overhaul The Iowa Senate unanimously approved an overhaul of the state’s open-meetings and -records law yesterday in a plan designed to offer greater public access to government.(AP)

Op-ed: The real criminals in the Tarek Mehanna case An American Muslim punished for his political views delivers an extraordinary statement in court. (Salon)

FCC requires TV stations to post rate info online The Federal Communications Commission voted today to require broadcast TV stations to post online the advertising rates they charge political candidates and advocacy groups.(AP)

Op-ed: Facebook 'Likes' Could Get You Fired, and Legal Options are a Challenge Facebook "likes" can possibly get you fired, and if you take your employer to court over the punishment you may have an uphill legal battle.(PC World)

Op-ed: Obama has mixed First Amendment record In its fourth year in office, the Obama administration has a mixed record on issues involving the First Amendment.(FAC)

Iowa to issue ‘Choose Life’ license plates Iowa joined a growing list of states to approve a “Choose Life” license plate after the transportation department determined the message didn’t violate content criteria.(AP)

Ill. high court expands courtroom-cameras experiment The chief justice of the Illinois Supreme Court has announced another expansion of the state’s experiment with cameras in the courtrooms, saying it appeared to be working well in the circuit courts where it already is being tried.(AP)

La. bill would keep online predators off social media With thousands of convicted sexual offenders living in neighborhoods across Louisiana and about one-third of them branded child predators, Rep. Ledricka Thierry, D-Opelousas, is trying again to build a fire wall of sorts that would keep child predators from using computers to recruit young victims.(TownTalk)

Adult film producer convicted in obscenity trial An adult film producer was convicted Friday of violating federal obscenity laws by selling movies depicting bestiality and extreme fetishes.(AP)

Warren puts funeral protest plan on books A Detroit suburb has put its own version of a ban on protests at funerals on the books.(AP)


Judge dismisses libel suit filed against Times Publishing by Jeff Greene Palm Beach billionaire Jeff Greene's libel suit against Times Publishing Co., publisher of the Tampa Bay Times, was dismissed by a judge on Monday.(Tampa Bay Times)


Islam Claims Blocked in Tenn. Trial Over Mosque Plaintiffs in a civil trial trying to block a proposed mosque in Tennessee on procedural grounds were largely blocked Wednesday in trying to raise claims that Islam is not a real religion and that its followers are violent.(AP)

R.I. city may not fight to keep war-memorial cross The Wisconsin group challenging the constitutionality of a cross on a war memorial in Rhode Island says it expects to prevail without the type of long legal battle that unfolded over a prayer banner ordered removed this year from a public high school.(AP)

Teacher fired after having in vitro fertilization sues Catholic school An Indiana teacher who says she was fired from a Roman Catholic school for using in vitro fertilization to try to get pregnant is suing in a case that could set up a legal showdown over reproductive and religious rights.(AP)

Appeals court reinstates TTU lawsuit A lawsuit against Tennessee Technological University was reinstated Monday as a three-judge panel in the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of a Christian Evangelist speaker who claims his first amendment rights were violated by the university's policy on non-affiliated speakers. (Herald-Citizen)

Settlement clears way for cross to return to Mojave A veterans group can restore a memorial cross in the Mojave Desert under a court settlement that ends a decade-old legal battle, the National Park Service said yesterday.(AP)

Amnesty says veil bans rob Muslims of jobs, education Bans on full-face veils in France and Belgium and a failure by other European countries to stop employers from enforcing informal dress codes means Muslim women are being denied jobs and education, Amnesty International said on Tuesday. (Reuters)


Judge acquits protesters arrested after Occupy Philly eviction Thirty-one Occupy Philadelphia protesters arrested after the eviction of their City Hall encampment were acquitted on all charges April 26, a ruling the group celebrated as a victory for free-speech rights.(AP)

Protesters at party conventions could be armed The thousands of protesters expected at the Democratic and Republican national conventions can come armed with a lot more than signs and slogans: State law in Florida and North Carolina allows concealed weapons, including guns.(AP)

Student Freedoms


Cyberbullying victims fight back with lawsuits As states consider or pass cyberbullying laws in reaction to high-profile cases around the country, attorneys and experts say many of the laws aren’t strong enough, and lawsuits such as this one are bound to become more commonplace.(AP)

3 girls: Those weren’t threats, we were joking ;-) Three eighth-graders who say they were expelled after joking on Facebook about which of their classmates they would like to kill asked a federal judge yesterday to order the district to allow them to return to school.(AP)


Student Photojournalist Beaten and Arrested While Taking Photos of Police in Public Temple University student Ian Van Kuyk, junior film and media arts major, was arrested by Philadelphia police last month after he took photos of a routine police traffic stop in front of his apartment building for his photojournalism course.(HP)


Student dressed as Jesus earns atheist scholarship The Spring Hill student was not disciplined for his action back in January, but Summit High Principal Charles Farmer did advise him that if the costume caused distraction during the day he would have to remove it. Shott voluntarily removed his robes and sash, a costume that included a hammer and nail.(Tennessean)

The Struggle Continues


Democrats plan to force vote on Arizona immigration law if it’s upheld by court Senate Democrats are making plans to force a floor vote on legislation that would invalidate Arizona’s controversial immigration statute if the Supreme Court upholds the law this summer.(WP)

Abortion and reproductive rights

Oklahoma Supreme Court rejects embryo 'personhood' measure The high court rules unanimously that a proposed state constitutional amendment that would define a fertilized human egg as a person violates U.S. Supreme Court precedent.(AP)

Elections and voting

Op-ed: Why the GOP's future could depend on Romney's ability to connect with young people If the Republicans lose the youth vote by a landslide margin in two consecutive presidential elections, they should worry that the party is losing a whole generation for the long term. (Fox News)

Gay rights

Critics cite moral, legal concerns The proposal to add sexual orientation and gender identity to Springfield’s non-discrimination ordinances hasn’t gone to a public hearing yet, but a few local residents already are voicing their opposition.(Springfield News Leader)

Gun rights

Court Revives Challenge to Assault Weapon Ban Three Illinois gun owners can continue fighting an assault weapons ban they claim is unconstitutional, the state Supreme Court ruled. (Courthouse News Service)

Privacy rights

Md. authorities stop post-arrest DNA collection Maryland authorities have stopped collecting DNA samples from suspects arrested on violent crime and burglary charges after the state's highest court ruled the crime-fighting tool that has helped solve dozens of cold cases unconstitutional.(BS)

Property rights

Wellesley's lawyer defends St. James deed restrictions The deed restrictions would prevent the town for 90 years from turning what is currently a closed Catholic church into an embryonic stem cell research facility; a facility where abortions, assisted suicide or euthanasia occur; or a professional counseling facility where abortion, assisted suicide or euthanasia are advocated.(BG)

Justice and the Courts

Supreme Court

Ray of hope for imprisoned ex-Gov. Ryan after high court tells lower court reexamine appeal The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday ordered a lower court to again look at former Illinois Gov. George Ryan’s bid to overturn his corruption convictions, offering the imprisoned Republican a chance, however slim, at a new trial.(AP)

US top court to follow up on immigration lawyer case The U.S. Supreme Court agreed on Monday to decide how broadly to apply its two-year old ruling that immigrants have a constitutional right to effective assistance of counsel and must be told about possible deportation stemming from a guilty plea. (Reuters)

U.S. Supreme Court refuses to shield Baca from inmate lawsuit The nation's high court turns down an appeal from L.A. County lawyers, who argued that the sheriff could not be held personally liable for the stabbing of an inmate at Men's Central Jail in 2006. (LAT)

This Day in History

On May 1, 1969 in a speech on the floor of the Senate, George Aiken  senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, urges the Nixon administration to begin an immediate "orderly withdrawal" of U.S. forces from South Vietnam. The speech was widely regarded as the end of the self-imposed moratorium on criticism that senators had been following since the Nixon administration took office.(

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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