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  • March 05, 2008
    By James Tierney

    The Boston Globe reported this morning that although Attorney General Michael Mukasey will still speak at this year's Boston College Law School commencement, the school has decided that it would nonetheless "deny Mukasey the Founder's Medal," which celebrates "traditions of professionalism, scholarship, and service which the Law School seeks to instill in its students."

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  • March 03, 2008
    By Harvey Silverglate

    Writing for the Los Angeles Times (and carried in the Boston Globe), the usually very informative David Savage is a perfect example of the aggravating and puzzling trend whereby newspapers, ranging from national to regional, fail to report adequately on certain stories because stylistic conventions lead them to self-censor

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  • February 14, 2008
    By Wendy Kaminer
    By Wendy Kaminer,

    Is the animosity of civil libertarians toward Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia, “misguided,” as Harvey suggests below? Not hardly; and it is not simply based on Scalia’s opposition to gay rights and reproductive choice, as Harvey implies. While I agree that Scalia's recent remarks about torture are not grounds for impeachment, I don't suspect him of being a closet civil libertarian.

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  • February 01, 2008
    By James Tierney
    A few days ago we blogged about the motions hearing for Commonwealth v. Glik, the case in which a local lawyer was charged with wiretapping (among other charges) for videotaping Boston police making an arrest. (The op-ed Harvey and I wrote about the case, for the Massachusetts Lawyer's Weekly, is available here.) After hearing arguments, Justice Mark Summerville of the Boston Municipal Court took the motion under advisement and said he would decide the motion within a week's time.

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  • February 01, 2008
    By Harvey Silverglate

    The New York Times reported this morning that its Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and author, James Risen, was subpoenaed by a federal grand jury sitting in Alexandria, Virginia, which seeks the reporter’s sources for a chapter of his 2006 book, State of War. The grand jury seems most concerned about information that was in one of the book's chapters, but which had not previously been reported in the Times' earlier reporting of the super-secret NSA warrantless wiretapping program.

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  • January 30, 2008
    By Wendy Kaminer
    By Wendy Kaminer

    Last year, high school senior Heidi Zamecnik sued her school for prohibiting her from wearing a t-shirt expressing her preference for heterosexuality. “BE HAPPY, NOT GAY,” her shirt read. According to the complaint in her case (filed by the Alliance Defense Fund,) the Dean of Students pulled her out of the lunchroom, complained that the message on her shirt was offensive, and prohibited her from wearing it in school.

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  • January 21, 2008
    By Wendy Kaminer
    By Wendy Kaminer

    Last year, Governor Patrick signed a law mandating expanded no speech and no loitering zones around the entrances to abortion clinics; members of the general public are now prohibited from approaching within 35 feet of clinics unless they're entering or exiting or simply passing by. Last week, the Alliance Defense Fund, (ADF) a conservative advocacy group, challenged this law in federal district court, arguing that it’s vague and vests too much discretion in police officers, encouraging discriminatory enforcement, and that it privatizes a public sidewalk and public forum, banning peaceful anti-abortion protests where they are most likely to matter.

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  • January 18, 2008
    By Wendy Kaminer
    By Wendy Kaminer

    It's foolish to seek logic in appeals to religious faith, especially those made while campaigning, but I can’t help interrogating Fred Thompson’s refrain that our "basic rights come from God and not from any government." What exactly does this imply – that if Christians are denied the right to proselytize, they should pray for the right to be restored instead of petitioning their government? When people are fired or not hired on the basis of race, religion, or sex, should they turn to their spiritual leaders for help instead of their lawyers?



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  • January 14, 2008
    By Wendy Kaminer
    By Wendy Kaminer

    My mother believed firmly in civility: “If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything,” she plaintively advised; but even she didn’t take this maxim literally. My mother was smarter and more tolerant of dissent than a lot of college administrators today, who seem to regard graciousness as the highest educational value.

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  • January 08, 2008
    By James Tierney

    NBC reports that a group of abortion protesters disrupted a Barack Obama rally in New Hampshire. Though the police came to usher the protesters out, Obama’s response seems to suggest that he understands the old notion of disagreeing with you but fighting for your right to say it:

    “Let me just say this though. Some people got organized to do that [protest].

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  • December 19, 2007
    By Harvey Silverglate

    By James F. Tierney

    In a story we missed when it first broke a month ago, a federal appellate court upheld a Texas school's decision to suspend the high school sophomore for writing a violent fictional short story that school administrators interpreted to be a "terroristic threat." According to the Student Press Law Center, the Fifth Circuit decision "relied heavily on Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito's opinion" in the "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" case that came down this summer -- Morse v.

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  • December 14, 2007
    By Harvey Silverglate

    By James F. Tierney

    You may have heard about the Pennsylvania woman who was charged with disorderly conduct for "loudly cursing at her overflowing toilet," which a neighbor -- an off-duty police officer, no less -- heard. The Boston Globe reports that the judge threw out the charges against her because her speech was "protected speech pursuant to the First Amendment."

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  • December 06, 2007
    By Harvey Silverglate

    By Harvey Silverglate

    Sometimes, as Sigmund Freud put it, a cigar is just a cigar. And, likewise, sometimes words in the Constitution actually mean what they say. Much brainpower, however, has been expended trying to argue that the First Amendment, which admonishes that “Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press” [emphasis added], actually doesn’t mean what it appears to say.

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  • December 05, 2007
    By Wendy Kaminer
    By Wendy Kaminer

    Governor Patrick’s decision to abort the removal of banners and flags from highway overpasses, following protests by people anxious to announce their support and concern for the troops, provides an interesting opportunity to test his and our commitment to free speech. If he does not eventually order the signs removed, he will effectively declare that the overpasses are public forums on which anyone can post any message, however provocative or arguably offensive (so long as it isn’t legally obscene or otherwise unprotected by the First Amendment.

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  • December 03, 2007
    By Wendy Kaminer
    By Wendy Kaminer

    Not surprisingly, right and left wing partisans share a penchant for censorship: each side has a de facto list of taboo subjects and ideas, discussions of which expose people to formal and informal punishments. Consider these two cases:

    On the right: The Texas Education Agency’s director of science, Christine Castillo Comer, was forced to resign last month because she forwarded an email from the National Center for Science Education about a talk on evolution and creationism.



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