Tag: First Amendment

This Case Isn’t (Only) About a Confederate Flag License Plate

If it were displayed on a specialty license plate, would you consider the image of a Confederate flag to be an expression of government speech or private speech? (Texas Department of Motor Vehicles) In Walker v. Texas Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans, the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles Board rejected the Texas Division of the

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Must All Signs Be Treated the Same?

Update: the Supreme Court heard oral arguments for this case on Monday, January 12, 2015. Municipal codes treat signs differently, meaning that spray-painted signs like this might not be allowed to remain in your neighbor’s yard for longer than necessary. (Getty Images) The Supreme Court’s decision in the case of Reed v. Town of Gilbert,

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Supreme Court Preview for Cities

Even though the Supreme Court’s next term won’t officially begin until October 6, the Court has already accepted about 40 of the 70 or so cases it will decide in the upcoming months. For a more detailed summary of all the cases the Court has accepted so far affecting cities, read the State and Local

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Do Buffer Zones Survive After McCullen?

In a unanimous opinion in McCullen v. Coakley the Supreme Court held that a Massachusetts statute making it a crime to stand on a public road or sidewalk within 35 feet of an abortion clinic violates the First Amendment. Massachusetts adopted this statute because protesters routinely violated a previous statute. Petitioners were “sidewalk counselors” who

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Lane v. Franks Leaves Local Governments Holding their Breath

The Supreme Court held unanimously that the First Amendment protects a public employee who provides truthful sworn testimony, compelled by a subpoena, outside the course of his or her ordinary responsibilities. But what about the much more likely scenario:  An employee provides truthful sworn testimony, compelled by a subpoena, which is part of an employee’s

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Unqualified Win in Qualified Immunity Cases

The Supreme Court resolves circuit splits (where federal circuit courts of appeals have decided the same issue differently) and isn’t an error correcting Court.  But you would not know that if you looked just at the Court’s two unanimous qualified immunity decided this week. State and local government officials can be sued for money damages

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Roadmap for Constitutional Prayer at City Council Meetings

Justice Kennedy is better known for his rhetorical flair than his practical guidance.  But his majority opinion in Town of Greece v. Galloway provides a roadmap cities can follow to stay out of trouble when beginning city council meetings with a prayer. While anyone could give a prayer at a Town of Greece board meeting,

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A Term of Recurring Themes

Lisa Soronen is the Executive Director of the State and Local Legal Center and a regular contributor to CitiesSpeak. If you follow the Supreme Court’s docket, one theme from this term is unmistakable:  patent cases.  The Court has taken at least five patent cases (out of less than 70).  But patents don’t worry the State and Local

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In Hot Pursuit of Qualified Immunity

Lisa Soronen is the Executive Director of the State and Local Legal Center and a regular contributor to CitiesSpeak. While a recent Washington Post article notes that the Supreme Court isn’t hearing as many cases as usual this winter, the Court has not been shy about taking qualified immunity cases.  Recently, the Court decided to

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NLC Joins Public Safety Buffer Zone Case

Lisa Soronen is the Executive Director of the State and Local Legal Center and a regular contributor to CitiesSpeak. It looks like an abortion case…but it really isn’t.  It just happens to have come up in the abortion clinic context.   It’s actually a speech case; a time, place, and manner case.  And local governments use

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