Commentary: The List of Contraband Symbolism, Political Views, and Speech Will Grow

Confederate flag blowing in wind

Outside Christie’s home in upstate New York, nestled beneath a tree near her driveway, sits a small rock painted with a Confederate flag that could cost her the custody of her little girl. 

In a row between parents identified only as Christie and Isaiah, the Appellate Division of the New York State Supreme Court’s Third Department unanimously allowed the pair to retain joint custody of their biracial child but ordered the mother to remove the rebel rock by June 1. Failing that, the court ruled the rock’s “continued presence shall constitute a change in circumstances.” 

Put plainly, the bench threatened to revisit parents’ custody agreement and warned: “Family Court shall factor this into any future best interests analysis.”

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Minnesota School District Adopts Black Lives Matter Slogan as Privileged ‘Government Speech’

BLM protest

Many schools promote racial justice slogans such as Black Lives Matter. But one district in Minnesota has gone a step further, adopting several slogans as uniquely privileged “official government speech” tacitly exempt from challenge by dissenting opinion ordinarily protected under the First Amendment.

Rochester Public Schools board members unanimously approved a sweeping resolution that authorizes the superintendent to promote the slogans Black Lives Matter, Brown Lives Matter, Indigenous Lives Matter, All Are Welcome Here, and Stop Asian Hate.

The official is directed to take all actions “that further the objectives” of the resolution, including by approving “messaging, signage, and visuals” for the slogans. The district also adopted the six-color “pride flag” as government speech to support “a message of inclusion” within schools.

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Pentagon Says it Isn’t Biased on Political Violence Despite Rank and File Concerns, Spokesman Says

The Pentagon’s views on political violence following the Black Lives Matter (BLM) and Capitol riots are not biased despite rank and file concerns, a Department of Defense (DoD) spokesman said.

Service members have expressed concerns regarding DoD’s different responses to the political turmoil in the summer of 2020 and the Capitol riot, believing that the Pentagon should take a balanced view on violence in both cases, according to McClatchy. A DoD spokesman said judgements are not based on the causes of political violence when providing military assistance to states and the federal government.

“If a request for assistance is received from state or federal authorities, the Department of Defense reviews it, and considers what support it can provide that would meet the requirements of the request,” Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) Chris Mitchell at DoD, told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “In doing so, the Department does not make distinctions or judgements about the events that led to the request.”

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Wedding Venue Sues Northam For Not Allowing Expanded Capacity at Outdoor Weddings

Outdoor wedding venue Belle Garden Estate (BGE) is suing Governor Ralph Northam over Executive Order 72.  The governor has begun relaxing restrictions on outdoor activities, allowing the lower of either 1,000 people or 30 percent capacity at many outdoor venues. However, outdoor wedding venues are not included in those relaxed restrictions.

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Virginia Senate Judiciary Committee Kills Ban on Cyber Flashing

Delegate Kelly Convirs-Fowler’s (D-Virginia Beach) HB 2254 passed with unanimous support in the House of Delegates. The bill would ban people from sending unsolicited obscene images to others. But after the House sent the bill to the Senate, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted eight to five to table the bill February 17, citing concerns that the bill could be applied too broadly.

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Gubernatorial Candidate Cox Rolls Out Big Tech Accountability Plan

Gubernatorial candidate Delegate Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights) announced a plan Wednesday to hold Big Tech accountable for protecting free speech. The plan expands regulation and enforcement with transparency requirements, bans on de-platforming elected officials, and $100,000-per-day fines for violating tech companies.

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FBI’s Desperate Pretext to Keep Spying on Carter Page: He Might Write a Book!

Nine months into a relentless effort to spy on Carter Page with the most awesome surveillance tools the U.S. possesses, the FBI had no proof the former Trump adviser had colluded with Russia to hijack the 2016 election.

In fact, the bureau hid from the FISA court the fact that it knew Page was actually a U.S. asset who had helped the CIA and that in a secret recording with an informant he had denied all the core allegations against him with significant proof.

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West Virginia School Bus Drivers File Lawsuit Against School Superintendent over Suspensions Related to Capitol Protest

Two veteran school bus drivers from a West Virginia school district have filed a civil lawsuit for suspensions related to their attendance at the January 6 Washington, DC protest.

Tina Renner and Pamela McDonald were suspended by Jefferson County Schools Superintendent Bondy Shay Gibson after receiving word the drivers had “posted threatening and inflammatory posts on their Facebook pages, had been present at the Electoral protest march on Wednesday that erupted in violence, and had violated […] leave policy.”

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Commentary: Big Tech’s Conservative Purge Changes the Free Speech Debate

Big Tech’s coordinated silencing of conservative voices, including President Trump’s, signals a crossing of the Rubicon in the debate over government involvement to protect free speech.

Even conservatives like me, who have long argued that small-business competition is the best way to moderate the tech oligarchs’ power, recognize that government may now have an interest in making some large companies, such as basic web-hosting platforms, utilities akin to AT&T.

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Facebook Bans Virginia Senator Amanda Chase from Posting for 30 Days

State Senator Amanda Chase (R-Chesterfield) said Friday that she has been banned from posting to her public Facebook page for 30 days, with an additional ban on posting live video for another 30 days. In addition to the ban, Facebook removed some of her posts, including a video showing a woman being shot in the U.S. Capitol and flagged as false Chase’s claims of Antifa involvement in the Wednesday Capitol riot.

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Facebook Bans Virginia Senator Amanda Chase from Posting for 30 Days

State Senator Amanda Chase (R-Chesterfield) said Friday that she has been banned from posting to her public Facebook page for 30 days, with an additional ban on posting live video for another 30 days. In addition to the ban, Facebook removed some of her posts, including a video showing a woman being shot in the U.S. Capitol and flagged as false Chase’s claims of Antifa involvement in the Wednesday Capitol riot.

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Out-of-Court Settlement Reached to Provide Space for Virginia Legislators to Meet With Constituents

On New Years Eve, Senator Bill DeSteph (R-Virginia Beach) struck a deal with leaders of the Virginia General Assembly that will provide space for constituents to meet with legislators near the Capitol grounds even though the Pocahontas Building and Capitol Building remain closed to outsiders due to COVID-19.

DeSteph said the out-of-court settlement was a win. “This will allow citizens, subject matter experts, and other professional staff to meet face-to-face with legislators during the upcoming regular session. This is a huge victory for the First Amendment and for open access to government for all Virginians,” the press release states.

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Out-of-Court Settlement Reached to Provide Space for Virginia Legislators to Meet With Constituents

On New Years Eve, Senator Bill DeSteph (R-Virginia Beach) struck a deal with leaders of the Virginia General Assembly that will provide space for constituents to meet with legislators near the Capitol grounds even though the Pocahontas Building and Capitol Building remain closed to outsiders due to COVID-19.

DeSteph said the out-of-court settlement was a win. “This will allow citizens, subject matter experts, and other professional staff to meet face-to-face with legislators during the upcoming regular session. This is a huge victory for the First Amendment and for open access to government for all Virginians,” the press release states.

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Injunction Filed Against Democratic State Legislators for Shutting Out Public from General Assembly

State Senator Bill DeSteph (R-Virginia Beach) and attorney Tim Anderson filed a petition for injunction against Democratic legislators to preserve constituents’ in-person access to General Assembly members. State Senator Mamie Locke (D-Hampton), Chair of Senate Rules, and Speaker Eileen Filler Corn (D-Fairfax) decided to close the Pocahontas building to the public, which hosts office appointments for both the House of Delegates and State Senate.

“The closure of the legislative office building to the public is contrary to the explicit historical purpose of the building to allow the public access to its elected legislative members, especially during the General Assembly Session,” read the lawsuit. “Most importantly, the right to assemble and address lawmakers at the state and federal levels is fundamentally protected by the 1st Amendment of the United States Constitution: a. ‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.'”

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Facebook Demands Academics Disable Ad-Targeting Data Tool

Academics, journalists and First Amendment lawyers are rallying behind New York University researchers in a showdown with Facebook over its demand that they halt the collection of data showing who is being micro-targeted by political ads on the world’s dominant social media platform.

The researchers say the disputed tool is vital to understanding how Facebook has been used as a conduit for disinformation and manipulation.

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Loudoun County School Board Backpedals on Policy Limiting Free Speech Indefinitely After Public Outcry

Loudoun County School Board voted this week to revise their “Professional Conduct” policy governing employee speech off of school property. Up until the latest meeting, members recommended to approve and accept the policy.
Apparently, public outcry from teachers unions and community members led to this decision.

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More Madness in Virginia’s School Systems: Free Speech… Unless We Disagree

The Loudoun County School Board will vote on a policy silencing employees who disagree with racial equity practices. The proposal would extend the school’s jurisdiction over off-campus speech, including social media, speeches, and any written forms of communication.
The new policy would govern employee speech “during and after school or work hours, whether on or off school board property, including the property of any school, office, or facility.”

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Los Angeles Ordered to Pay NRA Six Figures After Losing First Amendment Case

The Washington Free Beacon reports, a federal court ordered the city of Los Angeles to pay the NRA’s lawyer fees of approximately $150,000, just months after he ruled a city ordinance violated the gun-rights group’s First Amendment rights.

The City of Los Angeles tried to penalize any contractor with ties to the NRA. The NRA sued over the ordinance and federal district court judge Stephen Wilson ruled it was an unconstitutional violation of the NRA’s First Amendment rights. The city eventually repealed it and on Tuesday, the judge ordered city officials to pay the NRA’s attorney fees totaling about $150,000.

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Campus Survey: 42 Percent of Students Say Their College Doesn’t Empower Free Speech

Conservative students on college campuses across the U.S. are more likely to self-censor than their more liberal classmates out of fear of backlash or retribution, according to a first-of-its-kind student survey commissioned by RealClearEducation and the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE).

The survey is the largest of its kind – canvasing 20,000 students at 55 U.S. colleges and universities about their experiences with free speech on campuses. Conducted by College Pulse, the survey ranks schools according to how open and tolerant students say they are, among several other criteria, and includes numerous student comments about their experiences.

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Free Speech Group Warns University After it Allowed Black Lives Matter Protest but Banned Other Gatherings

A free speech advocacy group has sent two letters to East Carolina University after the public college banned gatherings of more than 50 students, but allowed a Black Lives Matter protest on campus.

Southeastern Legal Foundation sent a letter to the North Carolina public university on September 16 seeking information on its enforcement of its coronavirus policies. After receiving no response, the public interest law group sent a follow-up letter on September 24.

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US Supreme Court Denies Nevada Church’s Appeal of Virus Rule

A sharply divided U.S. Supreme Court denied a rural Nevada church’s request late Friday to strike down as unconstitutional a 50-person cap on worship services as part of the state’s ongoing response to the coronavirus.

In a 5-4 decision, the high court refused to grant the request from the Christian church east of Reno to be subjected to the same COVID-19 restrictions in Nevada that allow casinos, restaurants and other businesses to operate at 50% of capacity with proper social distancing.

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‘Walking on Eggshells’: 62 Percent of Americans Are Afraid to Express Political Views, Survey Finds

Self-censorship is on the rise according to a new Cato Institute survey that reports nearly two-thirds of Americans are afraid to share their political views.

A new CATO Institute/YouGov national survey found 62% of Americans say the political climate today prevents them from saying what they believe. This is up several points from 2017 when 58% of Americans said they were afraid to share their political beliefs.

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Conservatives Praise Supreme Court for Ruling States Can’t Discriminate Against Religious Schools

The U.S. Supreme Court said Tuesday that states can’t cut religious schools out of programs that send public money to private education in a 5-4 ruling. 

Hailed as a victory for religious freedom, the justices upheld a Montana scholarship program that allows state tax credits for private schooling in which almost all the recipients attend religious schools.

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Analysis: California’s Bill Establishing the ‘Internet Social Media Advisory Group’ Could Run Afoul of the First Amendment

California is one step away from going down the unconstitutional road of government-mandated censorship of Internet speech. The California Senate and State Assembly recently passed S.B. 1424, the “Internet: social media: advisory group” act. This fake news advisory act is now on the desk of Governor Jerry Brown for his signature. According…

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A New Campus Invention for Policing Speech

by Dan E. Way   Colleges are using a new tool with the frightening potential to shut down open dialogue. They go by the benign-sounding name of “bias response teams.”  Bias response teams monitor what students and faculty say. They encourage students to report, often anonymously, comments or behavior that…

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Commentary: Political Correctness, Just One Tool In The Arsenal Of ‘Sustainability’

by Kathleen Marquardt, Vice President, American Policy Center   “At its worst, political correctness is nothing different from Orwell’s Newspeak – an attempt to change the way people think by forcibly changing the way they speak.” ~ Urban Dictionary “Every child in America entering school at the age of five is mentally ill because…

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Generation Z: The Intolerant Ones

Millienals

by Ben Cohen   The post-millennials have arrived. As the oldest millennials turn 37, demographers have designated a new generation for those born after 1996, Generation Z. The oldest members of this cohort just graduated from college and had their first (legal) alcoholic beverages. As they wind their way through college, post-millennials…

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Republican Rep. Gaetz Threatens Twitter with FEC Complaint Over Twitter Suppression, Claims Twitter May Be Giving Opponent Illegal Advantage

Matt Gaetz

by Peter Hasson and Joe Simonson    – Twitter’s recent algorithm change suppressed, or “shadow-banned,” prominent conservatives, including Republican Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, a new report found.  – Gaetz is considering filing a Federal Election Commission (FEC) complaint against Twitter, he told The Daily Caller News Foundation.  – Gaetz said…

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JC Bowman Commentary: SCOTUS Janus Decision Will Make Unions More Accountable to Their Members

Mark Janus

The Janus Decision will not create drastic structural changes to unions.  It will simply make them more accountable to their own members.  And in the case of teacher unions, this greater accountability should focus on making the quality of education front and center, help public education rebuild support from the public for issues like raising teacher pay and school funding, and work for the common good of all students and educators.

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Oregon Forced Us to Close Our Cake Shop – Here’s What the ‘Masterpiece Decision’ Means for Us

Aaron and Melissa Klein

by Aaron and Melissa Klein   We are thrilled for our friend, Jack Phillips, the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop who recently won his case at the Supreme Court. Like Jack, we know what it is like to be treated unfairly by a state agency and mocked, threatened, and abused by critics. We…

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Senate Republicans Aim to Block the Confirmation of an Obama-Era Holdover Hostile to Religious Freedom

Chai Fledblum

by Kevin Daley   A budding coalition of Republican lawmakers is opposing the renomination of Chai Feldblum to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) after President Donald Trump renominated the Obama-era commissioner to another term on the anti-discrimination panel. Much of the institutional religious right has mobilized in opposition to…

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President Trump Puts an End to Taxpayer Subsidies for Unions

President Trump

by Richard Manning   Government employee unions have enjoyed an absolute boondoggle in recent years, receiving hundreds of millions in taxpayer funds. But the boon could soon be over thanks to a new executive order from President Donald Trump. Last Friday, the president signed an executive order requiring that federal…

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Trump Initiative Protects Religious Rights, Faith Groups’ Equal Access to Federal Dollars

by Fred Lucas   President Donald Trump signed an executive order Thursday focusing on protecting freedom of religion and exploring new ways faith-based agencies can partner with government to effectively provide services. “We condemn all crimes against people of faith, and today we are launching another historic action to promote…

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