Tag Archives: 1st Amendment

Libertarian Student Sues USC Following ‘Free Speech Zone’ Demonstration

As previously reported by Truth In Media’s Rachel Blevins, universities in the United States are designating “Free Speech Zonesthat restrict the 1st Amendment rights of students.

In 2014, Blevins described these “Free Speech Zones” as a “designated space on campus where students can set up booths, hand out pamphlets, and host speeches concerning the things they are passionate about.”

Universities across the nation are apparently continuing to infringe on students’ 1st Amendment rights.

According to the The State newspaper, libertarian activist and University of South Carolina (USC) student Ross Abbott sued the university, claiming that the college threatened to discipline him for displaying posters on campus.

Last fall, Abbott’s student organization held a campus event which reportedly highlighted examples of censorship at various campuses. The event displayed posters that exposed 1st Amendment restrictions occurring on campuses across the United States. Despite holding the event in a designated “free speech zone,” some people complained that the posters were “offensive” and “triggering,” according to TheFire.org.

The complaints triggered a response from USC and Abbott was served with a “Notice of Charge,” an investigation was launched, and he was allegedly threatened with expulsion.

Abbot filed the lawsuit on Tuesday to preserve the rights of students to engage in freedom of expression.

Abbott told Truth In Media’s Joshua Cook, “Last I checked, the entire United States was supposed to be a ‘free speech zone.’ Trying to limit student speech to a small area of campus, especially at a public school such as ours, is not only impractical but immoral.”

“The University of South Carolina is so intolerant of free speech that students can’t even talk about free speech,” said Catherine Sevcenko, FIRE’s litigation director. “Ironically, the university’s current marketing campaign features the slogan ‘No Limits.’ But as Ross and his fellow students learned, that does not extend to their free speech rights.”

Cook asked Abbott about the reaction he’s received since he filed the lawsuit. “So far I’ve heard nothing but positive things from my peers. Even some friends from High School who I haven’t heard from in years have reached out to express their support,” said Abbott.

Abbott joins many other students who are fighting to have their voices heard on university campuses. For more information please visit the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education here to see other cases.

The lawsuit can be seen below:

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Lawmakers, Activists Showing Support for 3D Printed Guns

On December 17, Kentucky Congressman Thomas Massie and 14 other Republican lawmakers filed an amicus brief on behalf of Defense Distributed, a non-profit organization that designs weapons that may be downloaded and printed with a 3D printer.

Defense Distributed is currently embroiled in a legal battle with the U.S. State Department over the legality of publicly posting blueprints of 3D printable weapons online. In 2013, DD’s founder Cody Wilson created the world’s first 3D printed handgun. Shortly after Wilson posted the blueprints online for free downloading, he was contacted by the State Department and told that his designs were under the jurisdiction of the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR). The State Department insisted that “this means that all data should be removed from public access immediately.”

After months of delays, Defense Distributed filed a lawsuit requesting an injunction that would keep the Obama administration from blocking the posting of the blueprints for the “Liberator” 3D printed gun.

Massie stated that “the State Department’s improper and unconstitutional interpretation of federal law is likely to chill scientific and technological advancement in the United States.” The brief also noted that Massie is an MIT-trained engineer and inventor, as well as a Member of the Committee on Science, Space & Technology.

“We expect the Court to recognize that the State Department exceeded the authority granted to it by Congress and violated the First, Second, and Fifth Amendments to the Constitution,” Massie stated.

The day after Massie’s brief was filed, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a non-profit focused on protecting civil liberties, also filed a brief in support of Defense Distributed.

“The State Department claimed that publishing the files on the Internet could violate the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), which controls the international export of defense-related technology. After suggesting Defense Distributed put in an administrative request to determine whether the files were, in fact, controlled, the State Department sat on the request for nearly two years—only acting after Defense Distributed sued. It then concluded that a license was required to publish most of the files at issue,” the EFF wrote.

The EFF’s brief also noted that “the scope of [International Traffic in Arms Regulations]’s prohibition on speech could apply to members of the press republishing newsworthy technical data, professors educating the public on scientific and medical advances of public concern, enthusiasts sharing otherwise lawful information about firearms, domestic activists trading tips about how to treat tear gas or resist unlawful surveillance, and gun control opponents expressing a point about proliferation of weapons.”

The Cato Institute filed an amicus brief calling on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit to defend the First Amendment right of Americans to share open-source technical information.

As Cato writes, “Defense Distributed is not in the business of distributing arms. What it distributes, as properly recognized by the district court, is computer code in the form of CAD and other files. Code and digital files are speech for purposes of the First Amendment, as several federal appellate courts have recognized. Most importantly, simply because speech may be used for unlawful purposes by third parties doesn’t mean it loses constitutional protection.”

The topic of 3D printed guns is likely to continue to be a contentious topic of debate as gun violence is the focus of much of the media. Police in Queensland, Australia recently busted a crystal-methamphetamine lab with several weapons produced with 3D printers. The bust came shortly after Australia passed legislation to regulate 3D printed weapons.

The U.S. government can craft as many pieces of legislation as they’d like, but the fact remains that if people want to commit violence or want means of self-defense they will use whatever means are at their disposal, including creating weapons with emerging technologies. 3D printed weapons, like all technology, are simply tools that can be applied in any number of ways. The state fails every time they attempt to legislate morality or attempts to create security through statism.

For more information on DefenseDistributed vs. U.S. State Department check out this recent interview with Cody Wilson.


Oath Keepers: Americans “Are Being Given A False Choice” In Calming Ferguson Tension


Truth In Media’s Joshua Cook followed up with Oath Keepers president Stewart Rhodes to provide an update on the Oath Keepers’ presence in Ferguson.

Cook asked Rhodes, “what is the media getting wrong about your group?”

“One of the first things they said was that our presence was inflammatory,” answered Rhodes. “And it’s quite the opposite. There were actually no shots fired and interesting enough, no arrests made while our guys were on the streets. And we protected several black owned businesses again like we did last year.”

“The point of us being there is, (a), lead by example and show the people of Ferguson this is how you prevent arson, this is how you protect against looting, etc. And (b), protect your community so that you don’t have this false choice that’s being presented to the American people- that the only way to stop arson and looters is to trample on the First Amendment Rights of the protesters or to have a hyper-militarized police state. The American people are being given a false choice,” said Rhodes.

“The American people are being given a false choice.” – Stewart Rhodes, President of Oath Keepers

Rhodes said that there have been increased instances of business owners more actively protecting their property during the unrest. “There’s a growing number of businesses doing exactly what we did, stand up and do what the police can’t do. The police cannot or will not protect the people’s actual businesses from the looters and arsonists. The best answer is for the folks in Ferguson to do it themselves, it takes away that false choice,” said Rhodes.

Cook asked Rhodes about his thoughts on St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar’s comments about his group’s presence being “unnecessary” and “inflammatory.” Rhodes responded that their presence has actually had a “calming” effect and many of the protesters realized who the Oath Keepers were and that their presence was meant for protection.

“I think Chief Belmar, like all too many police officers, have this idea that only the police should have firearms. It’s a threat to their turf. It’s a turf battle. He’s kind of a small minded man and looks at it like that,” said Rhodes.

“What we are doing is leading by example. And we want to see the people of Ferguson to stand up for themselves and take care of their own security so they won’t need a heavy police presence.” said Rhodes.

“Frankly they need a new police of chief there,” said Rhodes. “I think a lot of the problems go away with better leadership.”

Cook asked about the criticism Oath Keepers have received for offering to protect independent journalists while major media outlets have provided themselves with security teams. “If you’re a mainstream media journalist with a professional security team, that’s okay. But if you’re alternative media like Alex Jones or some other small group who has us along to help protect them, then it’s somehow extreme. So it’s a double standard, it is,” said Rhodes.

Rhodes advised that “the people themselves need to step up and take care of their own neighborhoods and suppress the thugs. The few thugs who are causing the problems, it’s up to the experienced veterans in Ferguson to step up.”

VIDEO: Sen. Mike Lee condemns Democrats for trying to alter the First Amendment

WASHINGTON D.C., September 10, 2014 – On Tuesday, Senator Mike Lee (R- Utah) gave an impassioned speech before Congress detailing the threat S.J. Res 19, a new proposed constitutional amendment, poses to the  First Amendment.

If passed, the proposed amendment would grant Congress and states the power to regulate the raising and spending of money with respect to federal and state elections. Lee blasted the Democrats attempt to limit free speech and said our political system “keeps us free only to the extent that individuals rich and poor alike are able to say what they want and join together to form voluntary associations for the purpose of influencing the outcome of elections.” You can watch the full video here:


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Raw Video: Ferguson Police Gas News Crew

Ferguson, MO – Ferguson police fired tear gas near AL JAZEERA AMERICA TV news crew’s vehicles Wednesday night.   The news crew was forced to flee the scene, leaving their equipment behind.

Police ignored the screams of

“We’re the press!”

Moments later, an armored vehicle packed with police officers pulled up and started taking down the video equipment until they noticed another news crew was across the street filming their actions.

A man behind the camera can be heard saying “I’ll get behind something, I don’t want [bleeped].”

Then police ordered them to leave the area.

Earlier that evening, photojournalist Elizabeth Matthews was reporting on the school closing when riot police flushed the protesters in their direction. Another photojournalist then walked over to film the police who had a suspect on the ground. That is when the police officers turned on the photojournalist. The police shined bright lights in their direction then opened fire with a bean bag gun. The bean bag hit the camera equipment.

Military Police Detain Journalists and Confiscate Equipment

LIMA, Ohio – On Friday outside the Joint Systems Manufacturing Center, two The Blade reporters were detained and had their equipment confiscated by military police.

Reporter Tyrel Linkhorn and photographer Jetta Fraser were in the driveway of General Dynamics’ Land Systems, a tank plant, taking pictures for an upcoming story. They both claim they never went past the armed guards or gated area. However, that did not stop military police confronting them, detaining them and confiscating their photography equipment.

“I’m personally shocked by this incident,” Mr. Block, editor in Chief of Blade said. “I believe our people were totally in the right.”

It was not until after U.S. Sen. Rob Portman’s office made a call to General Dynamics, that the military police agreed to release the photography equipment but only after the photos were reviewed.

The equipment was in the military police’s possession for seven hours. When the equipment was finally returned, Blade employees examined the equipment to find that all of the photos of the building were missing.

The military police denied deleting the photos and said that a representative from the facility deleted them. However, when Keith Deters, manager of the plant, was asked he said no one from their company had handled the camera. Deters stated that “I would have no idea” who would have deleted the photos.

Ms. Fraser said that she was told that taking photos of the building raised concerns of terrorism.

“I really don’t understand what I was not allowed to photograph. If I can see it from the road, it’s available to the public eye,” she said. “If there is something terribly significant there, then they should probably hide it from the public.”

The Blade is considering legal action.


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Mom Passionately Pleads Against the NDAA

In a typical government meeting, public comments are near the beginning. At this particular Clark County (Nevada) Commission meeting, there were two sets of comments: the beginning and the end of the meeting.

Daphne Lee had to wait to the end of the meeting, which was 8 hours including a 1-hour lunch break.

Needless to say, when she was finally given the chance to be heard by her elected officials, she was visibly shaken, but what followed were passionate words against the National Defense Authorization Act.

Her goal was to persuade the commissioners to vote on a resolution, which had already passed the Las Vegas City Council. If it passed, it would be the first Joint City/County Resolution passed in response to the NDAA.

“I don’t understand why I’m being ignored on this. It’s serious,” she pleaded. The resolution would help in “protecting the rights of due process, asking the police department to not assist in a federal agent coming in and taking someone without the right of due process.”

She explained in the bill, passed on Dec. 31, 2011, tucked away gave our government permission for the indefinite detention of any person merely suspected of, not convicted, of committing a belligerent act against our government, including United State citizens.

“Senator Graham defended those provisions by saying that our country is part of the battle. He now believes that the United States is part of the battlefield and that the laws of war should apply here in our country, because we’re fighting an endless, nameless war on terror,” she said.

She finished by explaining that the resolution was not perfect, since it was just voicing dissent and not prohibiting the invasion of U.S. citizen’s personal freedoms.


Muslims or Bikers, We All Have The Right To Free Speech

Wednesday hundreds of thousands converged on Washington D.C. for marches relating to the anniversary of 9/11. The first march was the Million Muslim March, which later changed its name to “Million American March Against Fear”. The group was able to get a permit for their march from the US National Park Service. Though in actuality, only a few hundred people actually turned out and many of those may not have been Muslims at all.

Muslims Washington DC

Simultaneously, as our Kristin Tate reported, another group was denied a permit request by the NPS. That group called ” 2 Million Bikers” wanted to ride through Washington, DC on September 11th. They wanted to do this to honor all of the victims killed during the 2001 terrorist attacks. They did arrive in D.C. and as you can see from the photos, the turnout was very large.

Bikers Washington DC

Throughout the day yesterday and into today headlines are pitting the bikers against the Muslims. Why would NPS discriminate against the bikers but support the Muslims? Why would Muslims be so insensitive to march in D.C. on September 11th?

This is the left/right game. Don’t fall for it!

The reality here is that both of these groups have every right to march on Washington. Media on the right and left are working very hard today to pit these groups against each other. It is shameful. The reality is that American Muslims have every right to march on Washington for whatever message they want to express. Similarly, the bikers have a right to do the same.

The problem between these groups is not that they both want to march on Washington, the problem is that the National Park Service believes they have the power to decide who can march and who cannot.

The First amendment protects our right to speech and our right to peaceably assemble. The Bill of Rights does not state that your right to do so can be suspended because of traffic concerns or because an area might become too crowded.

When a right can be taken away simply because the National Park Service believes that it can or because local, state or federal lawmakers believe that it can, then it wasn’t a right to begin with. It is a privilege.

The right to assemble and the right to air our grievances is not a privilege. But that is the game we find ourselves playing when one group of citizens begins to argue that another group has been given “privilege”.

Under the Constitution, the American Muslims who marched on Washington D.C. need no permit and no “privilege” to make their voice heard. Under the Constitution the American bikers who rolled into D.C. do not need that privilege either.

The reality of what happened in D.C. yesterday is that both groups suffered a violation of their Constitutional rights. Both have an equal right under rule of law. By making one group (Muslims) obtain a permit and by denying a permit to the other (bikers), every one of those Americans had their First Amendment rights trampled.