A multilingual collection of intellectual and evangelical musings
Tag: #first amendment
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
Houston v. Hill is a remarkable U.S. Supreme Court case that tackles abuses of power by police departments. The Supreme Court decided 7-2 that a Houston, Texas ordinance that was routinely used to arrest citizens for merely “arguing, talking, interfering, failing to remain quiet, refusing to remain silent, verbal abuse, cursing, verbally yelling, and talking loudly” toward a police officer.
Not only did the Supreme Court rule this type of conduct to be protected First Amendment speech, but the Supreme Court also expressed that the right to question police conduct is a fundamental distinction between democracy and dictatorship.Continue Reading
I am not saying that face coverings should be worn nor am I saying that face coverings should not be worn; I am saying that governments must not compel it. You see, while I am a stalwart libertarian, I am also a pentecostal Christian. I contend that such mandates go against my sincere religious beliefs.Continue Reading
Though already strongly suggested by Cohen v. California and Houston v. Hill, the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has now specifically recognized that a Michigan woman who flipped off a cop after receiving a traffic ticket was exercising her protected free speech pursuant to the First and Fourteenth Amendments.Continue Reading
During the Vietnam conflict/war, Paul Robert Cohen wore a (leather?) jacket bearing the words “Fuck the Draft” into the Los Angeles Municipal Court building. Upon entering an actual courtroom, however, he removed and folded his jacket over his arm. He again donned the jacket upon leaving the courtroom and a city officer thereupon arrested and charged him with violating California Penal Code § 415 which prohibited “maliciously and willfully disturb[ing] the peace or quiet of any neighborhood or person . . . by . . . offensive conduct. . . .” Continue Reading
The same First Amendment which guarantees freedom of expression and freedom of speech, also puts a qualifier on it as “the right of the people peaceably to assemble”. At first blush those words are taken to mean that citizens have the right to congregate, whether that be to exercise the First-Amendment freedoms or to seek government redress of grievances; however, those words could just as easily be read to condition all First-Amendment freedoms upon a righteous purpose Continue Reading
For the record, yes, I am a card-carrying member of the ACLU, but the more important question is “Why aren’t you, Bob?” Now this is an organization whose sole purpose is to defend the Bill of Rights, so it naturally begs the question, why would a senator, his party’s most powerful spokesman and a candidate for President, choose to reject upholding the constitution? Now if you can answer that question, folks, then you’re smarter than I am, because I didn’t understand it until a few hours ago.Continue Reading
Two days ago a man asked me why I was carrying so many papers with me. My response was not as articulate as I would have liked it to have been, so this is what I wish I had said: We are a nation built on words and the ideas which those words express, a nation that considers words the ultimate weapon. Of all the constitutional amendments, the very first one sets out to protect speech above all else. It is no accident that it is the first of all amendments nor that it is immediately followed by the protection of arms and a militia. We must speak first and fight second.
Americans might be more willing to accept goon/anno restrictions if it were applied equally to the militarization-thirsty (and qualifiedly-immune) police. The second amendment is substantively a repudiation and protection from the one law for me, another law for thee conduct of state actors. Let them lead by example by demilitarizing themselves before they ask citizens to demilitarize. Then there would truly be no need for such gear.
Marsh v. Alabama is a remarkable decision in which a Jehova’s witness attempted to distribute literature in a township operated by a private company. She was arrested and charged with trespass. The Supreme Court reasoned that even though the township existed within the property rights of a private company, “[o]wnership does not always mean absolute dominion. The more an owner, for his advantage, opens up his property for use by the public in general, the more do his rights become circumscribed by the statutory and constitutional rights of those who use it.” The U.S. Supreme Court reversed Alabama on First Amendment grounds and vacated Marsh’s state conviction. Supreme Court opinions from the era are notably concise and this one is definitely worth the read. Marsh v. Alabama
Back in the 1970s, Louisiana had a statute making it “unlawful and a breach of the peace for any person wantonly to curse or revile or to use obscene or opprobrious language toward or with reference to any member of the city police while in the actual performance of his duty.” After much procedural harangue that included affirmation by the Louisiana Supreme Court, the United States Supreme Court held that such statute “is not susceptible of application to speech, although vulgar or offensive, that is protected by the First and Fourteenth Amendments. Cohen v. California, 403 U.S. 15, 18-22 (1971); Terminiello v. Chicago, 337 U.S. 1, 4-5 (1949); Gooding v. Wilson, supra, at 520. Since [the law], as construed by the Louisiana Supreme Court, is susceptible of application to protected speech, the section is constitutionally overbroad and therefore is facially invalid.” Read the full opinion on Google Scholar.