First Amendment topicsAbout the First Amendment
Court Term: 2001-2002
   Petitions Filed
  Review Granted
  Ashcroft v. ACLU
  Whether the "harmful to minors provisions" of the Child Online Protection Act violate the First Amendment.
  Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition
  Whether the provisions of the Child Pornography Prevention Act of 1996 concerning the shipment, distribution, receipt, reproduction, sale, or possession of any visual depiction that “appears to be of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct” violate the First Amendment. It also contains a similar prohibition concerning any visual depiction that is “advertised, promoted, presented, described, or distributed in such a manner that conveys the impression that the material is or contains a visual depiction of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct.
  BE&K Construction Co. v. NLRB
  Did the Court of Appeals err in holding that under Bill Johnson’s Restaurants, Inc. v. NLRB, 461 U.S. 731 (1983), the NLRB may, consistent with the First Amendment, impose liability on an employer for filing a losing retaliatory lawsuit, even if the employer could show the suit was not objectively baseless?
  Christopher v. Harbury
  Whether former Secretary of State Warren Christopher and other Clinton administration figures may be held liable for covering up or giving misleading information. (Plaintiff Jennifer Harbury filed suit in federal court, claiming (under Bivens) deprivation of her deceased husband’s Fifth Amendment due process rights, violation of her right to familial association, and interference with her right of “access to courts.”)
  City of Los Angeles v. Alameda Books
  Whether a zoning ordinance prohibiting the operation of more than one adult entertainment business at a single location, including an adult bookstore and adult arcade, is constitutionally suspect because the city did not study the negative effects of such combinations of adult businesses but rather relied on judicially approved statutory precedent from other jurisdictions. Relevant Supreme Court case, Renton v. Playtime Theatres, Inc. (1986)
  Eldred v. Ashcroft
  Whether the First Amendment or the Copyright Clause of the Constitution constrains the Congress from extending for a period of years the duration of copy- rights, both those already extant and those yet to come.
  Hope v. Pelzer
  Whether state officials sued in their individual capacities under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 are entitled to qualified immunity unless they have violated statutory or constitutional rights clearly established by a case presenting facts materially similar to those in the plaintiff s case. (2) Whether under the circumstances that must be taken as true at the summary judgment stage of this case, tying a prisoner to a hitching post violates clearly established constitutional rights for purposes of qualified immunity under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (First Amendment concern: does such qualified immunity likewise apply to civil rights actions brought for violation of First Amendment rights?)
  Operation Rescue v. NOW, Inc.
  Whether under RICO courts can go beyond damage awards and order long-term injunctions in cases brought by private parties; and whether federal anti-extortion laws apply to activities such as blocking access to abortion clinics. (Note: the Court had previously heard and ruled on a related issue (applicability of RICO) in National Organization for Women v. Scheidler (1994).
  Republican Party of Minnesota v. White
  Whether a Minnesota law restricting the kinds of statements candidates for state judicial judgeships can make violates the freedom of speech and association guarantees of the First Amendment. The Court limited its review to the constitutionality of a provision of the state’s ethics law that prohibited judicial candidates from announcing views on disputed legal or political issues.
  Scheidler v. NOW, Inc.
  (1) Did the 7th Circuit correctly hold, in acknowledged conflict with the 9th Circuit, that injunctive relief is available in a private civil action for treble damages brought under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO)? (2) Does the Hobbs Act, which makes it crime to obstruct, delay, or affect interstate commerce "by robbery or extortion," and which defines "extortion" as "the obtaining of property from another, with [the owner's] consent," when such consent is "induced by the wrongful use of actual or threatened force, violence, or fear," 18 U.S.C. §1951(b)(2), criminalize activities of political protesters who engage in sit-ins and demonstrations that obstruct public's access to a business's premises and interfere with the freedom of putative customers to obtain services offered there?
  Thomas v. Chicago Park District
  Where someone is denied a park permit to engage in protected expression, does the First Amendment require both prompt access to judicial review and prompt resolution, including prompt appellate resolution? Individual and group advocating legalization of marijuana challenge the denial of a permit to hold a demonstration in a Chicago park. Specifically, petitioners’ argue that the city’s permit procedure did not provide for timely or prompt judicial review of denials.
  Thompson v. Western States Medical Center
  In the Food and Drug Administration Modernization Act of 1997 (FDAMA), Congress enacted a limited exemption from the new drug approval (and certain other) requirements of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, for drugs compounded by pharmacists. (21 U.S.C. §353a) The question presented is whether FDAMA’s limitation of that exemption to pharmacists who do not solicit prescriptions for or advertise specific compounded drugs violates the First Amendment.
  Virginia v. Black
  Whether a state statute that prohibits the burning of a cross with the intent of intimidating any person or group of persons, impermissibly infringes upon freedom of speech and is unconstitutional on its face because it prohibits otherwise permitted speech solely on the basis of its content.
  Watchtower Bible & Tract Society v. Village of Stratton
  Petitioners challenge, on free speech and free exercise grounds, a local ordinance that requires all “canvassers, solicitors, peddlers, or hawkers” that go onto private residential properties to first register with the mayor. The ordinance applies to all such persons who go onto residential property for the purposes of “advertising, promoting, selling, and/or explaining any product, service, organization, or cause.” Petitioners argue that the ordinance is overbroad and vague. They also argued that the registration requirements ran afoul of the holding in McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Commission (1995) (protecting anonymous political speech). This case raises the question of the level of judicial scrutiny, i.e. intermediate scrutiny or strict scrutiny (re the latter: petitioners relied on Employment Division v. Smith (1990)).
  Zelman v. Simmons-Harris
  Whether Ohio’s school voucher program under which parents may use government funds to pay for parochial school tuition violates the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause. Relevant Supreme Court case: Committee for Public Education v. Nyquist (1973)
 Review Denied
  Adler v. Duval County School Board
  Whether Duval County, Florida school system’s policy allowing high school seniors to choose student “chaplains” to give inspirational addresses at graduation violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.
  American Multi-Cinema, Inc. v. City of Warrenville
  Whether a local amusement tax on movie theaters violates the First Amendment. The petitioner argued that the tax was unconstitutional because it impermissibly targeted expressive conduct for special tax treatment but excluded other activities from such taxes.
  Amway v. Procter & Gamble
  Whether economic motives in spreading false rumors are entitled to any degree of First Amendment protection. P&G had sued Amway alleging that its employees had spread old rumors about P&G and Satanism.
  Beauclair v. Gomez
  Whether retaliation by the Idaho Department of Corrections against state inmates who complained about prison conditions violated the prisoners’ First Amendment rights and whether sanctions and other remedial relief were appropriate remedies for such alleged violations.
  Beaver County, Pennsylvania v. Armour
  Whether the plaintiff’s First Amendment rights were violated when she was fired from her position as secretary to defendant Bea Schulte, then a County Commissioner of defendant Beaver County, Pennsylvania. Plaintiff Armour argued that she was terminated because of her political beliefs, and hence that her termination contravened the general rule against political patronage dismissals as established in two Supreme Court First Amendment cases.
  Besser v. Hardy
  Whether a college instructor could be dismissed for using so-called racial slurs in class as part of a discussion on hurtful communication.
  Bonnell v. Lorenzo
  Whether the right of community college students to be free of a “hostile learning environment” outweighs the free speech rights of a college professor to use obscenities in class.
  Brown v. Gilmore
  Whether a Virginia statute that mandated that public schools must begin the school day with a minute that allowed students to meditate, pray or engage in any other silent activity violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.
  Central Texas Nudists v. Travis County
  Whether a local ordinance banning adult nudity in public (a lakeside park) and in the presence of children violated the First Amendment. The ordinance banned public nudity by children under 18 as well as the display of such nudity by adults in the presence of children.
  Church of Scientology International v. Time Warner Inc.
  Whether the lower courts had erred in dismissing the petitioner’s libel lawsuit by misapplying the law to the facts of the case.
  Consumer Federation of America v. Federal Communications Commission
  Whether FCC restrictions on media cable consolidation infringe on the statutory and First Amendment rights of cable companies by, among other things, restricting their audience size.
  Daniels v. City of Arlington
  Whether the First Amendment was violated when a Texas police officer was fired for wearing a cross pin on his uniform. The officer had twice been warned about wearing a small gold cross on his collar.
  DiBari v. Bedford Central School District
  Whether an Earth Day ceremonial and educational program for elementary school children amounted to an establishment of religion in violation of the First Amendment. Action brought by Catholic parents charging that Earth Day event promoted Hinduism and voodooism.
  Giles v. University of Mississippi
  Whether Ole Miss’ policy of banning from athletic events flags with sticks violated the First Amendment. Civil rights action brought by Jimmy Giles against the university’s “stick-ban” policy.
  Great Northwest v. Argenbright
  The Montana Mining Association and various organizations successfully challenged a state campaign financing law. After the law was ruled unconstitutional, petitioners sought to invalidate an open-pit gold mine initiative on the grounds that the unconstitutional limits placed on their on campaign contributions prevented them from more forcefully opposing the proposed law.
  Kendrick v. American Amusement Machine Association
  The Supreme Court was called upon to review the constitutionality of an Indianapolis ordinance that made it illegal for any operator of five or more video-game machines in one place to allow a minor unaccompanied by a parent, guardian, or other custodian to use “an amusement machine that is harmful to minors.” The law also required appropriate warning signs and required that such machines be separated by a partition from the other machines in the location and that their viewing areas be concealed from persons who are on the other side of the partition. Operators of fewer than five games in one location are subject to all but the partitioning restriction. Monetary penalties, as well as suspension and revocation of the right to operate the machines, were specified as remedies for violations of the ordinance.
  Leggett v. United States
  Whether the Fifth Circuit erred by ruling Ms. Leggett was not protected by First Amendment privileges for journalists. When the case went to the Supreme Court, however, there was also the issue of whether the petitioner’s claims were moot in that the grand jury had no plans to re-open her case.
  LeVake v. Independent School District No. 656
  Whether the free speech and free exercise rights of a Minnesota biology teacher were violated when he was reassigned amid questions about his views on evolution. The petitioner, Rodney LeVake, filed a lawsuit against the Faribault School District. A state trial court dismissed the case.
  Metro Government of Nashville v. Deja Vu of Nashville
  Whether local governments can impose limits on nude dancing without a guarantee that court challenges of such limitations will be resolved quickly.
  Minority Media Council v. MD/DC/DE Broadcasters, et. al.
  Fifty state broadcasters associations petitioned for review of an Equal Employment Opportunity rule promulgated by the Federal Communications Commission. The Broadcasters argued that the rule violated: (1) the Administrative Procedure Act by creating an arbitrary and capricious reporting burden; and (2) the equal protection component of the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States by granting preferences to women and minorities.
  National Electrical Manufacturers Association v. Sorrell
  Case involves Vermont's 1998 mercury-labeling law that requires labels on fluorescent light bulbs, batteries and other products containing mercury to warn that they should be recycled when disposed of or treated as hazardous waste. Does such a law compel speech in violation of the First Amendment?
  Natural Parents of J.B. v. Florida Department of Children & Families
  Whether a Florida statute closing all parental rights’ hearings to the public and media, requiring instead that the case be adjudicated behind closed courthouse doors, is constitutional.
  Navrozov v. Novoye Russkoye Slovo Publishing Corporation
  Whether a Russian daily newspaper, Novoye Russkoye Slovo, libeled Lev Navrozov when it published stories portraying him as a Russian spy and former KGB agent. Did the trial court commit error when it dismissed the plaintiff’s case?
  O'Bannon v. Indiana Civil Liberties Union
  Whether plans to erect a 7-foot stone Ten Commandments publicly funded-monument on the statehouse grounds violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.
  Oregon Arena Corporation v. Lee
  State Action: Whether local street preachers could be prohibited from preaching and passing out tracts at the “commons” area around Portland’s Rose Quarter. In 1999, the preachers were subject to arrest or ejection if they stepped out of three 10-foot by 10-foot “free speech zones” in the 100,000 square-foot plaza owned by the city government and adjacent to the Rose Garden arena. The city government had allowed Oregon Arena Corporation, the private firm that manages the arena and Memorial Coliseum, to write its own “free speech” rules for the area. The four preachers argued that made it difficult for them to reach their target audience, this in violation of the First Amendment.
  Pasco v. Hopper
  Whether the town of Pasco, Washington, violated two artists’ constitutional free-expression rights when it banned the display of their nude art in the city hall. The artists then commenced a §1983 civil rights action.
  Rupp v. Phillips
  Whether the petitioner’s free-speech rights were violated when, as a public employee, he aided law enforcement even though such assistance was against his employer’s directives. Daniel Rupp was fired after secretly helping the FBI investigate an anthrax threat. Rupp is a former employee of David Phillips, the Federal Public Defender (“FPD”) in Wichita, Kansas. He brought a civil rights action against. Phillips, arguing that when Phillips terminated his employment at the Wichita FPD office, he violated Rupp’s First Amendment rights. The District Court granted summary judgment in favor of Phillips. The Court of Appeals affirmed.
  Saderup v. Comedy III Productions Inc.
  Without securing Comedy III’s consent, Gary Saderup sold lithographs and T-shirts bearing a likeness of The Three Stooges reproduced from a charcoal drawing he had made. Those lithographs and T-shirts did not constitute an advertisement, endorsement, or sponsorship of any product. Saderup’s profits from the sale of unlicensed lithographs and T-shirts bearing a likeness of The Three Stooges was $75,000. Comedy III Productions, Inc. brought an action against Saderup seeking damages and injunctive relief for violation of a California right of publicity statute and for related business torts. Saderup challenged the statute on First Amendment overbreadth grounds. The trial court denied Saderup’s claims and the California Court of Appeals affirmed the damages portion of the trial court’s ruling.
  Satellite Broadcasting & Communications Association v. FCC
  Whether the carry one, carry all rule of the Satellite Home Viewer Improvement Act violates either the First Amendment or the other constitutional rights of satellite carriers.
  Southern Christian Leadership Conference v. Louisiana
  The various constitutional challenges in this case arose when the Louisiana Supreme Court increased its restrictions on law students and law school clinics practicing law in Louisiana state courts. The state high court amended its rules after the Tulane Environmental Law Clinic led a coalition of environmental groups in contesting the construction of a plastics plant. The new rules barred students in law clinics from representing clients who were contacted initially by law clinic professors, students, or staff, for the purpose of representing the contacted person or organization. They also prohibit law student clinics from representing any community organization that does not provide burdensome and divisive documentation proving the indigence of its members.
  Tampa v. Voyeur Dorm
  Whether zoning laws written with adult movie theaters or bookstores in mind can be used to regulate a business no patrons physically visit.
  Trans Union LLC v. Federal Trade Commission
  To what extent, if any, can the FTC place restrictions under the Fair Credit Reporting Act on the use and sale of consumer information otherwise owned by credit car companies?
  Tucker v. Fischbein, et al.
  (1) Whether C. DeLores Tucker, an anti-rap activist, was a public figure and therefore had to prove actual malice in her libel action against Newsweek and Time. (2) Whether the Circuit Court erred when it ruled that the respondent, Richard Fischbein acted with malice.
  Utah v. Evans
  Whether the First Amendment, among other law, was violated when the Census Bureau declined to count Utah’s 11,176 Mormon missionaries living abroad, thus leaving the State 857 people short of the number it needed for an additional seat in the House of Representatives? (The Census Bureau did, however count military and civilian federal employees living abroad.)
  Veneklase v. City of Fargo
  Whether a Fargo anti-picketing ordinance violated the First Amendment when applied to ban anti-abortion protestors for picketing in front of private home. Petitioners were arrested under the ordinance. Thereafter, they sued the city for violating their First Amendment rights. The Fargo law was struck down in another case before the petitioners’ case came before the Supreme Court.
  Weiss v. REN Laboratories of Florida
  Whether the First Amendment was violated when a Florida man was fired after giving Bibles to his co-workers and praying with them. While the Petitioner lost his religious-harassment case before the Supreme Court when it refused to grant his certiorari petition, the Justices also denied his former employer’s request to block a trial on his employment termination. Petitioner brought his original action under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which bans on-the-job discrimination because of someone’s religion, gender or race.
  Wilkinson v. Flagner
  Whether an Ohio prison grooming regulation requiring an Orthodox Hasidic Jewish inmate to shave his beard violated his First Amendment right to free exercise of religion.
  Wilson v. Lewis
  Whether a Missouri official denied Mary Lewis of her First Amendment rights when it refused to issue her a personalized license plate that said ARYAN-1. Whether such license plates are public fora governed by First Amendment standards.
 Summary Action
  Detroit v. Lac Vieux Desert Band
  Whether the plaintiff had First Amendment standing to challenge a Detroit ordinance that awarded a preference in the development of casino gambling to two private parties. Also, whether the selection process improperly endorsed certain political activity because it gave preference to two casinos that had supported a campaign to make casinos legal in the city.
  Fox v. United States
  Whether the prohibition of any visual depiction that "appears to be of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct" in the Child Pornography Prevention Act of 1996 violates the First Amendment.
  Gainesville, Fl. v. Cannabis Action Network
  Whether City street-closing ordinance that gave officials the discretion to ban any amplified sound at public gatherings is a form of prior restraint.
  Gentala v. Tucson
  Whether petitioners’ First Amendment rights were violated when a city refused National Day of Prayer organizers’ application to the city’s civic events fund for coverage of costs for city services.
  Knights of Columbus v. Lexington, MA.
  Whether a local ban on nativity scenes and other displays on the town green violate the Religion Clauses of the First Amendment.
  Mento v. United States
  Whether the "appears to be" and the "conveys the impression" prohibitions in the Child Pornography Prevention Act of 1996 violate the First Amendment.
  Missouri Republican Party v. Connor
  Whether a state law limiting political party contributions to candidates violated the First Amendment.
  Newkirk v. United States
  Whether the "appears to be" and the "conveys the impression" prohibitions in the Child Pornography Prevention Act of 1996 violate the First Amendment.
  O’Connor v. United States
  Whether the prohibition of any visual depiction that "appears to be of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct" in the Child Pornography Prevention Act of 1996 violates the First Amendment.
  Peebles v. United States
  Whether the prohibition of any visual depiction that "appears to be of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct" in the Child Pornography Prevention Act of 1996 violates the First Amendment.
  Protestant Episcopal Church v. Mabu
  Whether a civil suit (raising questions of confidentiality) against a member of the clergy violates the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment.
  Snow v. United States
  Whether the prohibition of any visual depiction that "appears to be of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct" in the Child Pornography Prevention Act of 1996 violates the First Amendment.
  Tampico v. United States
  Whether the prohibition of any visual depiction that "appears to be of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct" in the Child Pornography Prevention Act of 1996 violates the First Amendment.
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