On Tuesday, I spoke to the Sacramento Lawyers Chapter of the Federalist Society about Minnesota Voters Alliance v. Mansky. In Minnesota Voters Alliance, we’re asking the Supreme Court to invalidate a ban on political apparel (including shirts featuring the logo of the Tea Party, the Chamber of Commerce, or the AFL-CIO) at polling places across Minnesota. The Court will hear argument in the case on February 28.
Several states have laws that prohibit credit card surcharges. The Ninth Circuit recently joined two other courts in deciding that those laws implicate the First Amendment. In Italian Colors Restaurant v. Becerra, the San Francisco-based court invalidated a California law that banned credit card surcharges but allowed cash discounts. In other words, a business could charge cash-paying consumers less, but only if the businesses called its practice a “cash discount” rather than a “credit card surcharge.”
The week of February 26th will be a huge week for the First Amendment. The Supreme Court has just announced that it will hear argument in three important First Amendment cases that week.
Jabez Oates is a four-year-old boy who was excited to start his first day of Pre-K. His mother Jessica was shocked to learn that the Barbers Hill Independent School District would not let him attend school, because he is a boy with long hair. (You can read more about Jabez’s story in Newsweek, Huffington Post, and several other outlets).
Last week, my colleague Joshua Thompson and I informed the school district of the legal problems of its ban on boys with long hair. For example, the ban violates the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment. As we told the school district in a letter:
[T]he school district’s actions violate the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment. The First Amendment protects not just words, but also conduct that’s sufficiently communicative. In one case, a Houston-based federal court held that a school district’s policy that required a Native American child to cover his braids violated the Free Speech Clause. The court found that the policy was unconstitutional because it burdened more speech than necessary to promote the school’s stated interests of promoting order, discipline, and hygiene. The same can be said of [the school district’s] policy here.
You can read the rest of the letter here and another blog post about this issue here. Let’s hope the school district decides to do the right thing, and allows Jabez the opportunity to go to Pre-K and meet his new friends.
This November, health expert Aaron Carroll will release his latest book: The Bad Food Bible: How and Why to Eat Sinfully. The book debunks common myths about nutrition.
For example, many people once viewed salt as a hypertension-causing monster. Yet, after examining the scientific evidence, Carroll concludes that people with normal blood pressure should be more worried about getting too little sodium than getting too much.
Thousands of law students around the country are buying their books and heading back to school. Many of them took Constitutional Law during their first year. Only a handful learned much about the First Amendment.
In law school, a course on the First Amendment is usually offered as an upper-class elective. But that presents another problem. Even top-notch law professors have trouble cramming all there is to know about the First Amendment in one semester.
The last Supreme Court term ended in June with two huge victories for free speech. The next term might bring more of the same.
This fall, the justices will decide whether to hear a free speech case that could have major ramifications for voters across the country. In Minnesota Voters Alliance v. Mansky, I represent Minnesota voters in their First Amendment challenge to a government-imposed dress code at polling places in the North Star State.