Posts Tagged ‘First amendment’

Florida Student Wins Facebook Fight

December 28, 2010

A Florida high school student who posted that her AP English teacher was, “the worst teacher I’ve ever met” and got suspended from school for three days has won a settlement paying her legal fees and getting the suspension wiped off her school record.

The court had agreed that this was protected First Amendment speech as it was, off-campus, causing no disruptions at school, wasn’t vulgar and not advocating violent or illegal behavior.

School districts across the country are struggling with developing social media policies that maintain order and a safe educational environment while at the same time guaranteeing students and staff their First Amendment rights.  I wouldn’t be surprised if a first amendment case involving Facebook and a school district ends up as a landmark Supreme Court free speech precedent.

Worker Allowed to Criticize Boss on Facebook

November 10, 2010

According to the National Labor Relations Board, an employee is allowed to express their opinion about their employer on social media sites under the First Amendment without the threat of termination.


Though supposedly this applies to both union and non-union positions, it seems that this opinion will have more weight for union employees who are protected by a labor contract the union negotiates with the employer.  To be continued….

Facebook law of unintended consequences

May 14, 2010

Regular people, police departments, companies and non-profits are increasingly using Facebook to communicate with the world at large.  In many ways Facebook is like having a free website that quickly disseminates information to people you want to reach.  Very powerful but this power comes with a price.

Here is an example:

This is an excellent article which outlines the issues that a school board faces by creating its own Fan page and posting information to it.  The article suggests if the school board makes the Fan page available to anyone, it could be considered a public forum.  If the school board allows for public comment to this page, it is possible that all kinds of content could get posted to the page from students, teachers, administration or concerned citizens.  The impact of this is that the school board will have to accept all kinds of opinion subject to the constitutional protections of the First Amendment.  They might have to hire a First Amendment attorney to assist them in determining content that they can remove because it doesn’t fall within the realm of First Amendment protections and content they can’t remove.

This “public forum” issue, where a public or quasi-public entity decides to create a Facebok Fanpage to share information could arise in many situations thereby triggering the Facebook law of unintended consequences

Restrictive Scientology ordinance passes

March 4, 2009

Despite certain first amendment challenges, the Riverside Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance stating that protesters must stay at least 30 feet from the property line when protesting a residence.  The vote on Chairman Jeff Stone’s ordinance was 4 to 1 and I plan to follow any constitutional challenges to the ordinance which proponents argue is less restrictive than one passed in San Diego County.


Scientology ordinance update

March 3, 2009

Looks like tomorrow the Riverside County Board of Supervisors under the leadership of Jeff Stone Board Chairman will vote on an ordinance that restricts picketing to no closer than thirty feet of resident’s homes.  No mention in this article about Supervisor Stone’s connections with the Scientology lawyer.  The meeting details are:

Picketing Ordinance

Riverside County supervisors could adopt an ordinance Tuesday to restrict residential picketing. Here’s how to attend the meeting:

When: 9 a.m. Tuesday

Where: Board chambers, 4080 Lemon St., Riverside

For the agenda:





Riverside ordinance re: Scientology suspended

January 17, 2009

Last week I posted about Riverside County’s ordinance which banned residential picketing to fifty feet beyond the subject’s property as a way to diminish the impact of anti-Scientology protests at the church’s Hemet facility.  

Now comes news that the County has punted the ordinance to the County counsel’s office which is to work with the Sheriff to figure out how to apply the ordinance to the Scientology situation.  The sheriff’s department was concerned that because of the way the campus is configured, the ordinance might not be enforceable.  My own suspicion is that the Counsel’s office is also reviewing possible constitutional questions with the ordinance.  Like First amendment challenges?