Last week, a federal court in New York affirmed the First Amendment right to criticize police using profane language. In the case, Barboza v. D’Agata, the federal court in the Southern District of New York addressed a case in which an individual received a speeding ticket in the town of Liberty, New York. He agreed to pay the ticket by mail, but first decided to make his feelings clear by crossing out the town’s name “Liberty” and writing “Tyranny” on the ticket, and then writing, in all capital letters, “FUCK YOUR SHITTY TOWN BITCHES.” He then sent in his payment with this special personalized message.
EUGENE, OR: On Friday July 24, 2015, the Assistant City Attorney of Eugene dismissed a criminal case that he filed and prosecuted against Hedin Brugh, a long-time SLEEPS activist who advocated for unhoused people.
Last week, a federal court in Montana dismissed a charge against a citizen journalist attempting to observe and document the government roundup of wild buffalo outside Yellowstone National Park.
Last week, federal courts issued two decisions affirming the right of citizens to record police under the First Amendment.
Last week was a busy week for privacy and free speech advocates. In New York, a federal appeals court issued a decision finding that the National Security Agency’s (NSA) telephone metadata collection program is illegal. In California, a federal court issued a preliminary injunction against a San Diego jail policy allowing “postcards only” for inmates. In Washington D.C., a federal court held that conducting invasive, forensic searches of laptops seized at airports is illegal.
Last week, a federal court in Pennsylvania struck down a state law aimed at restricting the free speech rights of prisoners. In Mumia Abu Jamal v. Kane, the court addressed a new state law in Pennsylvania called the “Revictimization Relief Act,” which attempted to stop accused or convicted criminals from publicly expressing viewpoints that might offend the alleged victims of their crimes. The court found the law unconstitutional because it had an unlawful purpose, was vaguely executed, and was patently overbroad in its scope.