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Roundup: S.C. high court throws out ban on video gambling advertising


One month after video gambling became illegal, the state Supreme Court has thrown out a state law banning advertising of the games. The court yesterday ruled in favor of Video Gaming Consultants Inc., which had challenged the law after one of its casinos was cited in 1995 for violating the law. Jackpot Video Games, in Garden City, was cited in July 1995 for having one sign that read: "STOP HERE TRY OUR POKER VIDEO GAMES" and two signs that read "JACKPOT VIDEO GAMES." A second citation was issued two months later when the "JACKPOT VIDEO GAMES" signs remained. The company sued, saying the law violated its right to free speech. It also noted that the signs referred to in the second citation mentioned only the casino's name. An administrative law and Circuit Court judge both upheld the citations, saying a law banning advertisement of video gambling machines was legal. But the state Supreme Court unanimously said the lower courts erred in finding that the law was constitutional. To justify prior restraint of advertising speech, the state must prove some tangible benefit from the regulation, the court said. While the state had a compelling interest in reducing gambling, the court said, the state never proved that the advertising ban would reduce gambling. Associated Press

California: Napster seeks compromise with recording industry

After winning a temporary stay of a judge's order to shut down, Napster Inc. will try this week to resolve its problems with the Recording Industry Association of America. Napster CEO Hank Barry said the company believed that recording artists "should be compensated" and that Napster wanted to discuss various business options with the recording industry. He noted that radio stations played music for free but paid license fees to music publishers. also recently reached an agreement with EMI to use the company's music on the service, which allows CD owners to listen to their music from any Web-connected computer. Last week, Napster urged protesters to write letters to record labels and lawmakers and to buy music from artists who have supported Napster, including Limp Bizkit, Chuck D and the Ben Folds Five. Before the stay, more than 75,000 people had signed an electronic petition vowing not to buy music unless the RIAA dropped its lawsuit. That would cost the industry more than $1 million if each refused to buy just one $15 CD. Oral arguments in the lawsuit are expected in September. USA TODAY, Associated Press

Indiana: Federal judge bars Ten Commandments monument

A federal judge on July 28 issued a temporary injunction barring Indiana from erecting a Ten Commandments monument on the Statehouse lawn. The Indiana Civil Liberties Union sued to block the monument, saying it violates the Constitution by representing the endorsement and establishment of religion by the state. The state has not decided whether to appeal, said Cheryl Reed, a spokeswoman for Gov. Frank O'Bannon. A new Indiana law that went into effect July 1 allows schools and other government units to post the Ten Commandments if they are displayed with other historical documents. The Statehouse monument would include inscriptions of the Bill of Rights and the preamble to the Indiana Constitution in addition to the Ten Commandments. A trial date has not been set. Associated Press

Louisiana: Lawsuit challenges 'Choose Life' plates

Louisiana's new anti-abortion license plates were challenged in federal court yesterday as an unconstitutional attempt to break the wall between church and state. The tags, recently approved by the Legislature, carry the words "Choose Life" and have a picture of a baby wrapped in a blanket carried by a pelican, instead of a stork. The pelican is the state bird. Bill Rittenberg, attorney for the two New Orleanians who sued, said he would ask for a temporary injunction on the licenses while the case is on trial. Russell Henderson and Doreen Keeler sued because they objected to the use of tax money for administration of anti-abortion plates. The money generated by the plates will go to organizations that provide counseling for expectant mothers. The bill authorizing the plates stipulates that none of the money may go to an organization that offers counseling or referrals to abortion clinics. Because the money is specifically barred from abortion clinics, the plates are also being challenged as a violation of the First Amendment guarantee of freedom of speech. Associated Press

Texas: State can bar Ford from selling cars on Web, federal judge rules

A U.S. district judge says that Ford Motor Co. cannot sell vehicles over the Internet in Texas and that state regulators did not violate Ford's constitutional rights when they cracked down on the company's use of a Web site to sell used cars. Ford had argued that Texas violated the First Amendment and "commerce clause" of the Constitution by trying to regulate the use of the Internet. In the 15-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks rejected Ford's arguments that state laws prohibiting an automaker from selling direct to consumers did not apply to the Ford Web site. Sparks said that using the Internet did not make legal sales activity that was outlawed through other mediums. Ford filed the lawsuit last year after officials in the Texas Department of Transportation's Motor Vehicle Division started legal action over the Internet site. Sparks, in the written opinion released last week, did not rule on the merits of the state's case against Ford, merely that the state's legal action did not violate the Constitution. Associated Press

Texas: Attorney general's office rules park board violated open-records act

Galveston's Park Board of Trustees violated the Texas Open Records Act when it denied a newspaper's request to release documents about the distribution of beach user fees, the office of Texas Attorney General John Cornyn has ruled. On March 9, The Galveston County Daily News had sought release of the documents, which played a significant role in the board's decision to settle a lawsuit against Bettah Beach, which is contracted by the board to manage R.A. Apffel Park. The newspaper claimed the park board was intentionally circumventing the open-records law by denying their request. John Greytok, special assistant attorney general for litigation, agreed and said the board further violated the act by not immediately turning over documents that were clearly public, namely depositions taken in the case. Associated Press

Massachusetts: Suit claims city violated First Amendment by not issuing permit

Douglas Antreassian, a man who wants to give hearse tours of Salem's macabre landmarks has sued the City Council, claiming its failure to issue him a permit is killing his business. The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Boston, names all 11 members of the Salem City Council, charging its refusal to issue him a license amounts to censorship and violation of his First Amendment rights. It seeks an injunction forcing the council to act on his current license application. Antreassian only needs a vehicle-for-hire license from the council, and his Mass Hysteria Haunted Hearse Tours would be ready to roll. Antreassian plans to bring visitors to the site of the Salem Witch Trials and other more recent haunts. But councilors have not granted the license, denying it in May and then referring a compromise application to the council's committee on ordinances, licenses and legal affairs. The full council does not meet again until September. That, Antreassian claims in his lawsuit, has already cost him $30,000 in lost business. Associated Press

Massachusetts: Renowned First Amendment attorney dies

Bruce Ennis, one of the most respected First Amendment attorneys in the country, died of pneumonia on July 29 in a hospital in Boston. Ennis, 60, had been fighting a long battle with leukemia and had been spending time at his summer home in Boston. A partner in the Washington, D.C., office of Jenner & Block, Ennis was involved with hundreds of cases dealing with the First Amendment, media and communications law. In 1997, he successfully argued Reno v. ACLU before the Supreme Court. In that case, the high court struck down provisions of the Communications Decency Act of 1996, which barred "indecent" communications on the Internet. "The First Amendment couldn't have asked for a better champion," said Paul McMasters, First Amendment ombudsman for The Freedom Forum. "Every lawyer and free-speech advocate I know looked to Bruce as the exemplar of legal skill and commitment." Ennis served as director of the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, as well as director of the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights. He also chaired the Mental Health Law Project. Freedom Forum Online staff

Lawyer: Louisiana's 'Choose Life' license plates are unconstitutional
Attorney asks federal judge to temporarily block state from issuing plates pending trial. 08.24.00


Federal court halts W.Va. ban on video lottery ads

Judge says state's restrictions infringe upon business owners' 'right to speak and impedes the public's ability to engage in informed political discourse.' 10.03.07

4th Circuit revives W.Va. video-lottery ad restrictions

Unanimous panel finds federal judge erred in declaring that rules infringe on lottery parlors' free-speech rights. 01.14.09

Gambling ads

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