- PRO BONO OPPORTUNITY
FIRE (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education) is seeking
attorneys to work pro bono on free speech cases involving colleges
1. The first case concerns Dartmouth. Last year, a fraternity
was kicked off campus for "publishing" a supposedly sexist flier.
The most interesting thing about this case is that the flier was
found in the fraternity's garbage by a student and had to be pieced
back together in order to make the charges. We have local counsel
in New Hampshire willing to do the actual filing, but we need
an attorney or a law firm to handle the litigation. Both the fraternity
alumni association and fraternity members have agreed to participate
if we can find them pro bono counsel. Dartmouth may have violated
its own free speech policies by kicking these students off campus.
2. FIRE is also putting together a
project to challenge speech codes on college campuses. FIRE is
investigating campus speech codes and would like to be ready to
file challenges on behalf of interested students as violations
are identified. To pursue this strategy, FIRE is looking for attorneys
to indicate their interest in handling such a case on a pro bono
basis, preferably in the Third Circuit. Although a number of campuses
of done away with formal speech codes, they continue to censor
unpopular speech with "harassment codes" which forbade things
like "offensive values," "gestures," "innuendos," or "insensitive
remarks," "opinions," or "attitudes." These kinds of codes are
lethal to speech on campus and FIRE plans to mount a facial constitutional
challenge against a public college in the Third Circuit that has
a particularly bad harassment code. FIRE has chosen the Third
Circuit because there is an favorable precedent in that Circuit.
If you are interested in serving as pro bono in either the Dartmouth
case or on the speech code project, contact Greg Lukianoff, FIRE's
Director of Legal and Public Advocacy (Greg Lukianoff [email@example.com])
- The issue of military recruitment on college campuses has surfaced
once again. Click HERE
to read three letters that address this issue as it pertains to
Yale Law School.
- Senator Mitch McConnell filed suit on Monday challenging the
constitutionality of the Bipartisan
Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (BCRA). In his fourteen-count complaint,
Sen. McConnell alleges that
various provisions of the BCRA, including a provision barring
or severely limiting issue advocacy close to an election and a
provision barring so-called "soft money," violate the
First Amendment rights of free speech and free association, the
equal protection component of the Due Process Clause of the Fifth
Amendment, and the Tenth Amendment and constitutional principles
of federalism, which protect state and local election processes
from federal intrusion. Senator
McConnell's legal team is led by former Solicitor General Kenneth
W. Starr and noted First Amendment lawyer Floyd Abrams. To read
the complaint, click here.
- Updated First
Amendment and Election Law Docket Report
- On March 20, 2002, James Bopp Jr., General Counsel for the James
Madison Center for Free Speech, will testify before the Federal
Election Commission regarding its proposed regulations concerning
Internet campaign activity. The proposed regulations would limit
the First Amendment rights of individuals and corporations to
express their political views on the Internet.
The regulations, 11 C.F.R. 117.1 - 117.3, attempt to clarify
the application of the Federal Election Campaign Act to a variety
of Internet campaign activities. Specifically, the Commission
explains that a majority of individual Internet campaign activity
is free from regulation. Likewise, the proposed regulations
would add provisions detailing how corporations and labor organizations
may use hyperlinks and Internet endorsements of candidates without
the communication being regulated as a contribution, expenditure,
or being prohibited entirely.
- CIR Moves to Dismiss Boys Town's Attempt to Silence DC Community
CIR moved this month to dismiss a lawsuit intended to silence
a Washington, DC neighborhood group's opposition to a local
housing project for troubled youth. The group, Southeast Citizens
for Smart Development (SCSD), opposes plans by Nebraska-based
Boys Town to build the project in Washington's southeast sector.
SCSD is concerned about putting troubled teenagers into a neighborhood
with open-air drug markets and five fatal shootings in recent
months. The group also questions the excessive cost to taxpayers
of the project, which is financed by both the federal and District
governments. After SCSD circulated petitions, publicly criticized
the housing project, and lobbied local officials to oppose it,
Boys Town responded with a lawsuit against SCSD and two of its
leaders. District officials and the City itself were also named
as defendants, but are not represented by CIR. The suit charges
that the various defendants violated the federal "Fair
Housing Act's prohibitions against discrimination on the basis
of race and handicap," because many of the youths expected
to live in the project will be minorities with mental or emotional
disabilities. Never mind that Boys Town failed to cite any evidence
that bias underlies opposition to the housing project. In fact,
SCSD's leadership and membership includes minorities. In the
motion to dismiss, CIR and its co-counsel, the local chapter
of the ACLU, argue that SCSD's opposition to the Boys Town project
is protected by the First Amendment's guarantee of free speech
and the right to petition. Boys Town, apparently realizing that
its lawsuit is at odds with the First Amendment, has amended
its complaint to focus on a single accusation against SCSD,
namely that the group violated the Fair Housing Act by bringing
a "sham" appeal of the City's issuance of building
permits for the project. CIR is confident that its First Amendment
defense will succeed, given CIR's successful use of the First
Amendment argument in two similar cases. For example, in White
v. Lee, CIR represented three Berkeley, California residents
in a suit against federal HUD officials who harassed the three
for peacefully opposing a housing project. In a precedent-setting
victory, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled
in White that a lawsuit which is not objectively baseless is
fully protected by the First Amendment.
CONTACT: Center for Individual Rights, 1233 20th Street, NW,
Suite 300, Washington, D.C. 20036, 202/833-8400, http://www.cir-usa.org.
- Judicial Speech Codes: Supreme Court Review of Republican
Party of Minnesota v. Kelly
The United States Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on March
26, 2002 on a constitutional challenge to a Minnesota Code of
Judicial Conduct provision that prohibits judicial candidates
from expressing "views on disputed legal or political issues."
The Federalist Society will hold a panel discussion on this case
on Monday, March 4. Click HERE
for further details.
- From the James Madison Center: In Beaumont
v. FEC, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth
Circuit held a federal ban on corporate contributions to candidates
was unconstitutional as applied to not-for-profit ideological
corporations, such as Plaintiff North Carolina Right to Life.
In the 1986 case of FEC v. Massachusetts Citizens for Life
("MCFL"), the United States Supreme Court had held
that not-for-profit ideological corporations like MCFL posed no
threat of the corruption of the electoral system that justified
limits on independent expenditures (i.e., expenditures advocating
the election or defeat of a candidate made without coordination
with the candidate) by business corporations, so they must be
exempted from a federal corporate independent expenditure ban.
In Beaumont, the Fourth Circuit applied that rationale
to contributions to candidates. Because not-for-profit ideological
corporations pose no corruption threat, then nothing justified
prohibiting them from also making contributions. Requiring them
to do so through political action committees "could effectively
cripple small, nonprofit advocacy groups that may have few or
no ties to the world inhabited by for-profit corporations."
The Court concluded that any "congressional interest in
minimizing corruption" was adequately addressed by the
$1,000 limitation on contributions to a candidate. Contact the
Madison Center for more information.
- The Supreme Court will hear a redistriciting case, Utah v.
Evans. Utah claims that the 2000 census used an impermissible
statistical method, the "hot-deck imputation," to estimate
a portion of the population, resulting in North Carolina receiving
an additional Congressional seat. Utah argues that this method
violates the Constitutional requirement for "an actual enumeration"
of each U.S. resident every 10 years. The Court is not expected
to hear oral arguments in the case until next Fall, with the ruling
not affected the November Congressional elections. For more details,
School Dress Code Ruled Illegal
A high school violated a student's constitutional rights last
year when the principal ordered him not to wear a sweat shirt
with the words "Straight Pride" on it, a judge ruled.
U.S. District Judge Donovan Frank ruled that the school's dress
code was unconstitutional when applied to the student, Elliott
Though Frank noted that there are circumstances when a school
can prohibit student expression ordinarily protected by the
U.S. Constitution, he said Woodbury High School officials failed
to demonstrate that Chambers' shirt could disrupt school activities.
- The 9th Circuit issued its ruling in Lincoln Club v. City
of Irvine on December 20, holding that restrictions on contributions
to independent expenditure committees are subject to strict scrutiny,
reversing the grant of summary judgement for the City and remanding
for further proceedings to consider whether the City's restrictions
"achieved or furthered" any concern with avoiding the
appearance of quid pro quo corruption. The opinion is available
- George Will discusses Republican Party of Minnesota, et al.
v. Kelly et al., which will be argued before the Supreme Court
in March, in his column. Find it at: http://www.townhall.com/columnists/georgewill/gw20020102.shtml.
2002 The Federalist Society