First Five Newsletter: June 27, 2019

First Five

Freedom Forum Institute releases annual State of the First Amendment Survey, the Bladensburg Peace Cross, FUCT clothing line and more.

First Five Column

Gene Policinski analyzes the results of this year’s State of the First Amendment Survey, which found that 71 percent of respondents can name at least one First Amendment freedom, up from 60 percent in 2018. Read the column. A plain text version is available for publishers here.

News

On Monday, the Supreme Court ruled that a federal law which prohibited the registration of trademarks considered “immoral” or “scandalous” infringes upon the First Amendment. The case concerned Los Angeles artist Erik Brunetti, who sued the government for declining to register the trademark for his clothing line, FUCT.

Technology

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) recently proposed a bill directed at Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which protects big tech firms from liability for third-party speech made on their platforms. Hawley’s legislation would eliminate this immunity unless companies present an external audit demonstrating their algorithms and methods of content moderation are politically neutral.

Law

The Supreme Court ruled to allow the Bladensburg Peace Cross, a 40-foot World War I memorial in Maryland, to continue to stand on public land after an atheist nonprofit known as the American Humanist Association argued that the cross’s location represents state religious endorsement, violating the First Amendment.

Scholarship

A recent report from RAND Corporation on the evolution of news during the past 30 years suggests that journalism has become more subjective across all platforms.

Commentary

In a piece for The Washington Post, Jonathan Friedman and Soraya Ferdman of PEN America argue that legislation enacted in several states, most recently Alabama and Texas, aiming to promote free expression on college campuses, would actually harm free speech by limiting dissent.


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