Illegal in New Hampshire to Repeatedly Use “Offensively Coarse Language” With the Purpose to Annoy

The Volokh Conspiracy:  “N.H. Stat. § 644–4 makes it a misdemeanor to, among other things, “[m]ake[] repeated communications at extremely inconvenient hours or in offensively coarse language with a purpose to annoy or alarm another.” In re Alex C. (N.H. Sup. Ct. Nov. 30) upheld the conviction of a minor for sending 20 instant messages in the span of an hour to a friend’s mother” that contained curse words.

Coming Hate Speech Prosecutions in New York?

The Volokh Conspiracy:  “Newsday reports:  ‘A group of teens spotted Sunday evening slapping up stickers along a Bellmore street

[including on a lamp post and a Chamber of Commerce sign] could be charged with felonies for posting white supremacist messages and images ‘. . . . Such a content-based speech restriction violates the First Amendment. There is no ‘hate speech’ exception to the First Amendment

Goldwater Institute Sues Coconino County Recorder Owens for Preventing People Who Wore Tea Party Shirts from Voting

Goldwater Institute:  Wickberg vs. Owens –  “On Sept. 20, 2010, the Goldwater Institute filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of Flagstaff resident Diane Wickberg to defend her right to vote at her polling place while wearing a T-shirt for the Flagstaff Tea Party. Poll workers have twice threatened to block Mrs. Wickberg from voting unless she removed or covered her T-shirt. The lawsuit says the actions of Coconino County and County Recorder Candace D. Owens violate Mrs. Wickberg’s constitutional rights and put her at risk of being arrested.”

Read the complaint filed with the district court and the Arizona Republic story called “Flagstaff grandmother’s ‘tea party’ shirt spurs lawsuit.”

Texas Supreme Court Tackles Tax on Strip Clubs

Statesman.com:  “Owners say fee violates free speech; officials say it aids public safety.  Is exotic dancing, performed partially clothed or fully nude, a form of free speech protected by the U.S. Constitution? Strip club owners insist that it is, and on Thursday they asked the Texas Supreme Court to strike down the state’s $5-per-patron tax as an unconstitutional limit on free expression.

Plaintiff Wins $1,791 in 1st Amendment Case, County’s Legal Fees Were $464,242

The Denver Post has a story about a lawsuit won by Mike Zinna against Jefferson County, Colorado, that illustrates the high cost of litigation and the incredible amounts government spends defending itself.  The lawsuit arose after Jefferson County Commissioner Jim Congrove denied Zinna access to public records and prevented him from speaking at public meetings.  Zinna claimed the County violated his first amendment rights.  The court agreed and awarded Zinna damages of $1,791, which seems like a victory for Jefferson County.  Not!

Jefferson County paid $464,242 to “win” the lawsuit.  It may also be liable to pay the plaintiff’s legal fees, which could approach $500,000.  The bottom line is Jefferson County taxpayers lose almost $1,000,000 in scarce government resources in these financially difficult times because a long-gone elected official prevented some guy from speaking at a public meeting.  The justice system is completely out of balance.

1st Amendment is Not a Defense to a Crime Involving Online Threats

Law.com:  “The First Amendment does not insulate animal rights activists from criminal liability when they use an Internet Web site to orchestrate a campaign of harassment, cyberattacks, vandalism and destruction of property, the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled.”  The convicted defendants “invite its supporters ‘to engage in electronic civil disobedience against Huntingdon and various companies associated with'” their victim, Huntingdon Life Sciences, an animal testing firm.

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