Free Speech

Justice Sonia Sotomayor

Yesterday I had the great pleasure of hearing words of wisdom from the Wise Latina herself. Justice Sonia Sotomayor, author of an acclaimed memoir, My Beloved World (affiliate link), delivered the Arthur Miller Freedom to Write Lecture at the PEN World Voices Festival here in New York.

After Justice Sotomayor’s speech, she engaged in conversation with an eminent literary scholar, Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. And after that, she signed books and met fans (including yours truly).

What did Her Honor have to say? Here are some highlights from Justice Sotomayor’s remarks, as well as photographs….

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* Eugene Volokh analyzes the free-speech issues raised by the prosecution of Anya Bargh, the UConn law student accused of sending anti-Semitic and racist emails. [Volokh Conspiracy]

* Lawyerist thinks you suck, not the gunners. Discuss. [Lawyerist]

* Law and the Multiverse now has CLE courses about comic books. Maintaining this license just got that much easier. [Law and the Multiverse]

* Some new developments in the Ed O’Bannon case against the NCAA. Basically, discovery has not been kind to the NCAA. [Bloomberg]

* All the editors-in-chief at Michigan Law are women. Now, if another 90 or so journals follow suit, Staci’s article will seem outdated. [Michigan Law]

* Ruh-roh. Did David Boies blow the lid off campaign spending limits last cycle? [Huffington Post]

* No, Mike Bloomberg was not denied a slice of pizza yesterday. [Gawker]

* WARNING: If you understand math, the latest from NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly will annoy the hell out of you. [PrawfsBlawg]

* Man injured in a drunken fight sues the bar that he says should have cut him off. [Overlawyered]

Should the parties choose to string this case out to trial on the merits, the Court encourages reasonable discovery intercourse as they navigate the peaks and valleys of litigation, perhaps to reach a happy ending.

– Chief Judge Fred Biery of the Western District of Texas, denying a preliminary injunction sought by strip club owners in San Antonio who are challenging city regulations that would require bikini tops instead of pasties to avoid stringent licensing requirements.

(The Chief Judge produced over seven pages of genius double entendre. Check out the full opinion, which he entitled “THE CASE OF THE ITSY BITSY TEENY WEENY BIKINI TOP V. THE (MORE) ITSY BITSY TEENY WEENY PASTIE,” after the jump….)

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Hey, we’re talking about Hulk Hogan here, so I figure a 20-year-old reference like “Talk to the Hand” is entirely appropriate.

A judge in Florida has ordered Gawker to take down a sex tape it acquired showing wrestler Hulk Hogan putting the “Legdrop of Doom” into his friend’s ex-wife, along with Gawker’s accompanying commentary and all the comments made to the post.

Gawker has taken down the video.

But in lieu of taking down the post and the comments, Gawker penned a stirring defense of the First Amendment that will also serve as Exhibit 1 in the eventual contempt hearing….

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Ed. note: This post appears courtesy of our friends at Techdirt. We’ll be sharing law-related posts from Techdirt from time to time in these pages.

At times, there’s no one in a more unenviable position than the chairman of the FCC. When not dealing with larger issues like net neutrality and wireless competition, you’re at the beck and call of every member of an Overly Concerned Citizens’ Group that feels the need to start a letter-writing campaign any time an expletive hits the airwaves.

Bono fired off an f-bomb at the Grammys and someone let Nicole Richie make the most of her what-am-I-for fame by giving her a microphone and allowing her to explain how difficult removing cow shit from a Prada purse is. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals has twice found the FCC’s rules on so-called “fleeting expletives” to be a violation of the First Amendment. That, of course, matters little to angry letter writers who somehow believe The Children will be encouraged to swear by potty-mouthed celebs…

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The title is phrased like a joke, because this whole story plays like a joke: full of misunderstandings and dumb decisions. Hm. Typing that out made me realize that also describes most of the weekends of my adult life if you just add the phrase, “I’ll have another Manhattan.”

We set the stage for this joke in my home town of Portland, Oregon, and the campus of the Northwestern School of Law at Lewis & Clark College. Last week, Chief Justice John Roberts visited the school to judge a moot court competition.

But the real controversy began after the Chief skipped town and the Dean started monkeying with the press coverage of the event — and blaming his actions on the Supreme Court…

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J.D. = Just the Dark Roast?

* President Obama apologized to Kamala Harris after referring to her as the “best-looking attorney general in the country.” We’re guessing the First Lady was none too pleased with her husband’s behavior. [New York Times]

* If you’re unemployed (or were the victim of a recent layoff), try to keep your head up, because there’s still hope for you. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the legal sector added 2,000 jobs last month. [Am Law Daily]

* The 10 percent vacancy rate on the nation’s federal courts is unacceptable and the New York Times is ON IT. Perhaps D.C. Circuit hopeful Sri Srinivasan will have some luck at this week’s judicial confirmation hearing. [New York Times]

* Shine bright like A. Diamond: Howrey’s bankruptcy trustee is still trying to get “unfinished business” settlements from several Biglaw firms, but managed to secure funds from ALAS. [Capital Business / Washington Post]

* Contrary to what law deans tell you in the op-ed pages, if you want to work as a real lawyer, it actually matters where you go to law school. We’ll probably have more on this later today. [National Law Journal]

* Cooley Law took a hard hit in the appeal of its defamation case against Rockstar05, and now the disgruntled blogger may seek a dismissal. Score one for anonymous online speech! [Ars Technica]

* Margaret Thatcher, Great Britain’s first female Prime Minister, RIP. [CNN]

Marc Randazza

Without access to information, there is no free press. While it was a privilege to argue against Mr. Dershowitz, it was more of an honor to secure a First Amendment win for the press and public.

– First Amendment lawyer Marc Randazza, commenting on his recent win in a case regarding cameras in the courtroom — a win over Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz, who was representing the Las Vegas Sands Corp. (aka billionaire Sheldon Adelson). Randazza also represents Above the Law in various proceedings.

We all remember Schenck v. United States, the 1919 decision written by Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes that established the “clear and present danger” test and coined the oft-misquoted line “free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic.”

Eloquent and well-reasoned.

You know what Oliver Wendell Holmes didn’t say? “Free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting ‘BINGO!’ in a seniors home.”

But one judge has gone that far…

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You mean the guy who allegedly killed a tree over a football game might be crazy? WHO WOULD HAVE GUESSED?

I don’t mean to brag, but I took two different classes dedicated to studying the First Amendment during law school. The first, a semester-long meditation on the ideas behind that bill of right, was much like war: long stretches of boredom punctuated by moments of sheer terror. I don’t remember the two or three interesting things I learned in the class, but I remember feeling vaguely alive a few times. The second class, a more straightforward survey of the law, didn’t leave a mark on my consciousness the two times I actually went.

I’m a bit of a First Amendment scholar.

I do know that this most holy and invoked of all our rights has been the refuge of not a few rascals and reprobates. The adorable Larry Flynt is always available to slur a few words in support of free speech. And while I hate Illinois Nazis too, they play an outsized role in the history of the First Amendment.

To this estimable list of patriots comes an unabashed piece of redneck trash from the great state of Alabama. May it please the Court and roll damned tide, let’s talk Harvey Updyke, let’s talk sports.

Roll tide, y’all…

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