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.
I was reminded of the convoluted mish-mash that First Amendment law has become (thanks, in large measure, to courts not taking seriously the First Amendment's admonition that the legislature "shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press") after I read Geoff Edgers' article in yesterday's Boston Globe
By James F. Tierney
In the August 15, 2007 Boston Phoenix, Harvey described the criminal case against Powers Fasteners as a likely form of extortion, in which Attorney General Martha Coakley's motive in pursuing the company was to extort civil settlements from it and, more importantly, other companies -- such as contractor Bechtel -- with enough money to buy their way out.
It is all too true that when it
comes to questions of constitutional rights, the devil (or the angel, as the
case may be) can be in the details. This seems the case with the new Boston
Police Department initiative that would allow police officers to visit homes
where they receive a tip that a minor might have hidden a gun, or where the
parent suspects such and is willing to ask for police intervention.
By James F. Tierney
Two weeks ago, Harvey Silverglate blogged about a federal Magistrate Judge, Wayne Brazil, who overturned a “civility code” at San Francisco State University on the grounds that it targeted speech and expression that falls under the protection of the First Amendment. (The case was brought by the officers of SFSU's College Republicans, who were investigated under the civility code when students complained they had insulted Muslims by stepping on the Hamas and Hezbollah flags -- which contain the word “Allah” in Arabic script -- during an anti-terrorism rally.