Free Speech

Kansas "ag gag" law unconstitutional infringement on free speech

A Kansas statute (Kansas Farm Animal and Field Crop and Research Facilities Protection Act, Kan. Stat. §47-1825 to §47-1828) criminalized entry into an agricultural facility "without the effective consent of the owner" if the intent is to "damage the enterprise." Animal Leg. Defense Fund v. Kelly, 2021 WL 3671122 (10th Cir. 2021). The Tenth Circuit struck down...

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Town esthetic zoning law does not violate the owner's free speech rights

The Eleventh Circuit ruled that a town could prevent an owner from building a home that had an architectural design out of keeping with surrounding homes. Burns v. Town of Palm Beach, 2021 WL 2325300 (11th Cir. 2021). The owner hoped to demolish his home and build one more than twice as large in a midcentury modern style rather than the typical Palm Beach beachfront...

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Eighth Circuit holds that videographers have First Amendment free speech right to refuse to provide services at same-sex weddings

In Telescope Media Group v. Lucero, 936 F.3d 740 (8th Cir. 2019), the Eighth Circuit held that Minnesota could not enforce its public accommodations law against a company that refused to provide video services for same-sex weddings. The process of producing a video, the court said, constitutes “speech” and would be posted on the company’s website....

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Federal court allows public accommodation to refuse to create custom videos of same-sex weddings

In a 2 to 1 vote, the Eight Circuit has held that the First Amendment prohibits a state from enforcing its public accommodations law if it requires videographers to create custom videotapes of same-sex weddings even though they provide this service to opposite-sex weddings. Telescope Media Group v. Lucero, 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 25320 (8th Cir. 2019). Because the videos will be edited and posted on the videographer's website, the majority accepted the defendant's argument that they would convey a message of support for same-sex marriage contrary to the... Read more about Federal court allows public accommodation to refuse to create custom videos of same-sex weddings

Trademark Act provision disallowing registration of marks that are immoral or scandalous violates the first amendment

The Supreme Court has held, inIancu v. Brunetti, — U.S. — (2019), that the Constitution prohibits statutory distinctions between commercial speech based on its "viewpoint." The provision of the Trademark Act taht prohibits federal registration of marks that are "immoral or scandalous," 15 U.S.C. §1052(a) is thus unconstitutional. While several Justices would have interpreted the provision narrowly to outlaw speech based on... Read more about Trademark Act provision disallowing registration of marks that are immoral or scandalous violates the first amendment

First Amendment protects right to federal registration of offensive trademarks that disparage a person or group

The Supreme Court held that the First Amendment prohibits enforcement of a provision of the Lanham Act that purports to deny the benefits of trademark registration to names or marks that "disparage" a person or "bring [them] into contempt or disrepute." Matal v. Tam,2017 WL 2621315 (U.S. 2017); 15 U.S.C. §1502(a) (Lanham Act). The Court held that "this provision violates the Free Speech Clause of the First...

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Publicity rights limited by free speech guarantees

In the well-known case of Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Social Change v. American Heritage Products, 296 S.E.2d 697 (Ga. 1982), plaintiffs Coretta Scott King, administrator of Dr. King’s estate and Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Social Change, and Motown Records, an assignee of the rights to several of Dr. King’s recorded speeches, sued defendants to stop them from manufacturing and selling plastic busts of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The Georgia Supreme Court recognized a “celebrity’s right to the exclusive use of his or her name and likeness” and rejected...

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Federal Circuit holds that first amendment protects right to use disparaging trademarks

In In re Tam, 808 F.3d 1321 (Fed. Cir. 2015), the Federal Circuit held the government could not withhold trademark registration because the name was disparaging. In re Tam involved a band called The Slants and the Patent and Trademark Office had determined that the name represented a racial slur that was disparaging to people of Asian descent and thus could not be registered as a...

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