First Amendment topicsAbout the First Amendment
News Story
 
print this   Print

Federal judge: Man's anti-war T-shirts express 'core political speech'

By The Associated Press
08.21.08

PHOENIX — A federal judge has permanently barred Arizona from using a state law to prosecute an online merchant who sells shirts that list names of thousands of troops killed in Iraq.

U.S. District Judge Neil Wake did not strike down the 2007 law against selling products that use military casualties' names without families' permission. But he ruled yesterday that using the law to prosecute Dan Frazier would violate the Flagstaff man's First Amendment rights because his "Bush Lied — They Died" shirts are "core political speech."

"It is impossible to separate the political from the commercial aspects of that display," Wake wrote. "For example, the state argues that Frazier can sell his shirts without displaying the soldiers' names. But Frazier's product is his message, and his customers' message."

Arizona's law was enacted with little debate by the Legislature, and Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas have enacted similar laws.

A spokeswoman for Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard said Goddard's office was reviewing the ruling and did not immediately know whether it would appeal.

"I always knew the Constitution was on my side," Frazier said in a statement released by the American Civil Liberties Union.

Lee Phillips, a Flagstaff lawyer who represented Frazier on behalf of the ACLU, said it still could be possible to use the law to prosecute a person in a case without political circumstance or motivations.

Citing First Amendment concerns, Wake last September issued a preliminary injunction against enforcement of the law against Frazier while the lawsuit was pending.

The ACLU is also defending Frazier in a pending lawsuit filed against him in federal court in Tennessee by a couple whose soldier son was killed in Iraq. Robin and Michael Read of Greeneville, Tenn., have asked that their case be expanded to cover more than 4,000 casualties and seek more than $40 billion in damages.


Previous
Federal court puts hold on Ariz. law targeting anti-war T-shirts
Judge issues preliminary injunction, says shirts displaying names of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq are political speech. 09.28.07

Related

Okla. woman fights to keep son's name off anti-war T-shirts

Judy Vincent, whose Marine son died in Iraq, successfully pushed for state law restricting use of soldier's name, likeness; similar federal measure introduced. 07.25.06

Ariz. man sued for selling anti-war T-shirts

Parents of soldier killed in Iraq are seeking class-action status for lawsuit, which claims Dan Frazier has no right to profit from use of fallen troops' names without families' permission. 05.03.08

ACLU asks district to drop suspensions over memorial T-shirts
Nebraska high school officials say 23 students violated district's dress policy by wearing shirts honoring slain friend. 09.02.08

News summary page
View the latest news stories throughout the First Amendment Center Online.



Last system update: Saturday, April 24, 2010 | 01:01:30
 SEARCH  MORE
About this site
About the First Amendment
About the First Amendment Center
How to contribute
Video/RSS/podcasts
First Amendment programs
State of the First Amendment
reports

Religious liberty in public schools
First Reports
Supreme Court
Columnists
Experts
First Amendment publications
First Amendment Center history
Glossary
Freedom Singsā„¢
Events
First Amendment
Schools

Congressional Research Service reports
Guest editorials
FOI material
The First Amendment
Library

Lesson plans
freedomforum.org
Newseum
Contact us
Privacy statement
Related links