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Archive for the ‘First Amendment’ Category

Filed Under ‘R’

Posted by MEC on July 10, 2009

File this under ‘R’ for ‘Render unto Caesar’.

A federal appeals court has ruled that pharmacists have to do the job they were hired for and don’t get to pick and choose which prescriptions they fill based on their personal opinions.

Specifically, pharmacists can’t refuse to dispense the Plan B pill, even if they believe that contraception = abortion = killing innocent preborn babies.

The right to freely exercise one’s religion “does not relieve an individual of the obligation to comply with a valid and neutral law of general applicability,” the 9th Circuit panel wrote.

The plaintiffs in the case argued that being required to dispense the Plan B pill violated their First Amendment right to “free exercise of religion”. The counterargument is that imposing their religious beliefs on the pharmacy’s customers violated the customers’ First Amendment right to freedom from other people’s religious rules. By upholding the customers’ rights, the Court upheld the “original intent” of the First Amendment to protect us from having religious authority imposed upon us.

Posted in First Amendment | 2 Comments »

The principle of tenure upheld

Posted by Charles II on April 3, 2009

You gotta love American juries. They often seem to find a way to do exactly the right thing. Ward Churchill was vindicated in his suit alleging wrongful dismissal by the University of Colorado.. but they only gave him $1 in damages. Governor Bill Owens said, probably correctly, that: “I think the $1 in damages accurately reflects the jury’s appreciation for Ward Churchill’s warm and endearing personality.” A later hearing will decide whether he gets damages for future salary lost.

As I understood it from DemocracyNow, CU will also pay his attorney’s fees.

* The principle of tenure was upheld
* The kangaroo process by which Churchill’s tenure was abrogated was repudiated
* Ward Churchill’s obnoxious views were given no quarter.
Well, four quarters, but no more.

Today is a good day.
Added: Conservative professor David Deming had an excellent take on this:

The pretext given for his dismissal was academic misconduct. But the real reason was that Professor Churchill wrote some things that offended people.

His termination was a violation of the academic freedom guaranteed to faculty by CU and the U.S. Constitution.

We embrace free speech for pragmatic reasons. Without criticism, human knowledge cannot increase…

I doubt if many CU faculty members could withstand having their entire body of work scrutinized by a Star Chamber with a magnifying lens.

Suppose I publicly criticize the local police department, and their officers subsequently start following me all over town, ticketing me for minor violations that they normally would ignore.

Am I being punished for breaking the law — or for exercising my right of free speech?

Also, since this may not be clear to some, academic freedom derives its substance really only from tenure. The contract of an untenured professor may not be renewed with no explanation given. But when someone has tenure, there has to be due process for depriving someone of employment. Due process alone is a powerful deterrent to those who want to do wrong.

Which is why the right hates it so much.
Added: Apparently the jury was not trying to punish Churchill by the small award. A juror spoke out:

As for the $1 damage award, Newell said jurors simply listened to Churchill and his attorney.

“They made a strong point they didn’t want any money from it and so we just went with that so we just took them on their word for it,” Newell said.

Also, the trial made it clear that the firing was occasioned not because of Churchill’s dodgy scholarship but because Governor Owens didn’t like Churchill’s opinions:

Betsy Hoffman, who was president of the university at the time, had testified that Owens pressured her to fire Churchill and said he would “unleash my plan” when she told him she couldn’t.

In his testimony, Owens denied threatening the university.

(via Praeter Necessitatum)

Posted in First Amendment | 3 Comments »

Irritating All The Right People

Posted by Phoenix Woman on January 6, 2009

Barack Obama’s pick to head the CIA, Leon Panetta, is foursquare against torture — and yes, he considers waterboarding to be torture. Check it out.

Furthermore, he’s irritating all the right people: Jell-O Jay Rockefeller, Jane Harman, Dianne Feinstein, all of whom are complicit in backing Bush’s wars and his wiretappings and his other assaults on decency. I like it.

UPDATE: Better yet, Panetta is pleasing at least some of the right people. Here’s Rush Holt, one of the good guys on FISA, on the Panetta pick (h/t Selise):

(Washington, D.C.) – U.S. Rep. Rush Holt (NJ-12), Chair of the Select Intelligence Oversight Panel since 2007 and a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence today issued the following statement on President-Elect Barack Obama’s expected nomination of Leon Panetta to serve as Director of the CIA.

“Having served in Congress in the wake of Watergate and the domestic surveillance abuses that surfaced during the 1970s, Mr. Panetta understands how a democratic government should operate. He also demonstrated skill in running the Office of Management and Budget and as Chief of Staff under President Clinton. We need the CIA to collect reliable, actionable intelligence in ways that respect American values and honor the Constitution. Mr. Panetta’s background and reputation indicate he would serve the intelligence community, the President, and the country well.”

And here’s former CIA officer Robert Baer:

Leon Panetta may not have an intelligence background, but his appointment as CIA director shows that Barack Obama understands the CIA’s problems. As the former White House chief of staff, Clinton Administration budget director and an eight-term California congressman, Panetta knows his way around Washington better than most people, and that kind of knowledge is exactly what the CIA needs right now.

To show that Panetta’s deeds have been known to match up with his nice words, Rick Perlstein provides the story of how Panetta, then a youngish moderate Republican serving as the civil rights chief of the Health, Education and Welfare Department, staged a mutiny against Richard Nixon’s racist Southern Strategy and resigned rather than be complicit in Nixon’s and the GOP’s deeds.

Dang. I’m liking this pick more and more.

If things were different, Dianne Feinstein would be standing trial for complicity in war crimes. I think she might need to be gently reminded of that, don’t you?

415-393-0707 (fax: 0710)
202-224-3841 (TTYD: 2501; fax: 228-3954)

Posted in Constitution, First Amendment, FISA, torture, tutu-less Democrats | 6 Comments »

A Star Wars Moment

Posted by MEC on February 21, 2008

“The more you tighten your grip, Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers.”

The executives at Swiss-based Bank Julius Baer got US District Court Judge Jeffrey White, a Bush appointee, to order the shutdown of Wikileaks, the web site through which whistleblowers could disseminate information they think the public needs to know, because it contained documents the bank wants to suppress.

In response, a kazillion or so mirror sites went up outside the judge’s jurisdiction. The documents are available all over the world, and there’s been loads of publicity for the information Julius Baer wanted hushed up.

I guess the Julius Baer executives and Judge White haven’t heard of the Law of Unintended Consequences, either.

David Ardia, director of the Citizen Media Law Project at Harvard University, said the situation had “gone 180 degrees wrong for the bank”.

“What this is done is, it’s really struck a chord for publishers, both online and offline,” Ardia said. “If a federal judge in California can, on the arguments of one party, order that an entire website be taken down, that’s a very scary proposition. What if these documents weren’t on Wikileaks [but] they were on YouTube, MySpace or Facebook?”

Posted in distributed reporting and research, First Amendment, Internet, Law of Unintended Consequences, wrong way to go about it | 4 Comments »

Chris Dodd and FISA

Posted by Phoenix Woman on January 24, 2008

Yes, it’s happening again.

Posted in Bush, Bush Family Evil Empire, BushCo malfeasance, Busheviks, Congress, First Amendment | 1 Comment »

Reid Hears The Base’s Roar, Pulls FISA/Telco Immunity Bill

Posted by Phoenix Woman on December 18, 2007


Check it out.  Reid’ll probably bring it back after the recess, but we will (with Chris Dodd leading the way) just shout it down again. (Really, we don’t need the current “temporary” bill anyway — let it lapse.)

The base has been pissed at the leadership for months.  This is an example of what the base can do for the leadership when they stand up against Bush. 

Here are the number of calls and e-mails that went to Congress just via Dodd’s site; lots more went out via DFA and DailyKos and FDL and Eschaton and Salon, to name just the ones off the top of my head. 

11,300+ people emailed the Senators (16,000 people visited the page, a 75% follow through rate)…

506,000+ emails were sent to the Senate…

5,700+ comments were submitted through the website (350+ were posted on Twitter) in 7 hours…

135+ people joined the Facebook group since 11am…

340 people reported the phone calls they made to the Senate…

Quite simply, between Chris Dodd‘s leadership and your activism, we were able to stop retroactive immunity today. The fight will continue next month, but with support like this I am confident that we can resume this fight and move towards victory.

Posted in Chris Dodd, civil rights, Congress, Constitution, Constitutional crisis, Democrats with spines, fearmongering, First Amendment | Comments Off on Reid Hears The Base’s Roar, Pulls FISA/Telco Immunity Bill

The Terrorists Have Won

Posted by MEC on December 4, 2007

A Wisconsin teacher has been arrested for, basically, being sarcastic to rightwingers.

The terrorists have succeeded in frightening people so much that they can’t distinguish between irony and a real threat, and they have encouraged law enforcement officials to punish free speech and thereby suppress freedom of thought.

And by terrorists, I don’t mean the al Qaida bogeyman.

Posted in abuse of power, First Amendment, rightwing moral cripples, wrong way to go about it | 2 Comments »

Justice Department Thought Police

Posted by MEC on October 24, 2007

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Reported in The Memory Hole:

The Justice Department tipped its hand in its ongoing legal war with the ACLU over the Patriot Act. Because the matter is so sensitive, the Justice Dept is allowed to black out those passages in the ACLU’s court filings that it feels should not be publicly released.

Ostensibly, they would use their powers of censorship only to remove material that truly could jeopardize US operations. But in reality, what did they do? They blacked out a quotation from a Supreme Court decision:

“The danger to political dissent is acute where the Government attempts to act under so vague a concept as the power to protect ‘domestic security.’ Given the difficulty of defining the domestic security interest, the danger of abuse in acting to protect that interest becomes apparent.”

This isn’t an absurdity. It’s an alarming indication of the mindset of the people who are supposedly protecting not just the American people, but our system of government. They see a “threat to national security” in a statement defending political dissent. They treat the highest judicial authority in our government as a threat. They treat a fundamental principle of our democracy as a threat.

And they have the arrogance to think no one will notice what they’re doing.

Posted in abuse of power, ACLU, anti-truth, BushCo malfeasance, Constitutional crisis, Department of Injustice, DoJ, First Amendment, PATRIOT Act | 5 Comments »

Christy Speaks.

Posted by Phoenix Woman on October 9, 2007

You do.

The Constitution you save will be your own.

Glenn Greenwald has more.  (Short version:  House bill good, Senate bill bad.  And don’t forget the magic words:  “Primary Challengers”.)

Posted in 2008, abuse of power, ACLU, Congress, Constitution, Constitutional crisis, Democrats, Democrats with spines, First Amendment | 1 Comment »

Tutu No, Coulter Yes?!?

Posted by Phoenix Woman on October 5, 2007

I’m sure you’ve all heard by now that pressure from a small right-wing group (which deliberately confuses criticism of Israeli policies with anti-Semitism)  not only cowed the University of St. Thomas into axing a planned visit by Desmond Tutu, but also caused the demotion of a faculty member who protested the axing. (Meanwhile, Ann Coulter came to speak there a couple years ago and the same people who axed Tutu were either silent or cheering.)

Jewish Voice for Peace (h/t to AlterNet) is asking concerned citizens to contact the Tommies and ask them to let Bishop Tutu speak — and to reinstate Professor Cris Toffolo, who had opposed the censoring of Bishop Tutu and who was then punished for her opposition, as the chair of St. Thomas’ Justice and Peace Studies program. It’s the right thing to do.

Posted in ACLU, First Amendment, Minnesota, peace, speaking truth to power, WTF? | Comments Off on Tutu No, Coulter Yes?!?

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