Tag Archives: First Amendment to the United States Constitution

Is there a First Amendment right to beat your MMA opponent senseless? – Slate Magazine

Is there a First Amendment right to beat your MMA opponent senseless? – Slate Magazine.

First Amendment Smackdown

What would the Founding Fathers have thought of mixed martial arts?

First, a confession: Absolutely everything I know about Ultimate Fighting, aka mixed martial arts, aka MMA, I learned from my boss, David Plotz. He wrote about it a dozen years ago, and I remember thinking at the time that it seemed a little crazy and violent and testosteroney. That was before I realized that it raised profound questions about punching, kicking, head-butting, and the First Amendment right to free expression.

MMA is a combat sport that includes boxing, wrestling, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, karate, judo Greco-Roman wrestling and other styles of fighting. It’s held in an octagonal chain-link cage. There’s blood. (In 1996 John McCain described the sport as “human cockfighting” but has since recanted.) Events and matches were banned in the state of New York in 1997, before the sport was properly regulated, or even regulated at all. The law provided that, “No combative sport shall be conducted, held or given within the state of New York, and no licenses may be approved by the commission for such matches or exhibition.”  The law then defines MMA as a “combative sport” but excludes boxing, wrestling or karate competitions. New York is one of very few states with such bans (oddly enough, though MMA is illegal, it combines several genres—boxing, wrestling, karate—that are permitted individually). Attempts to overturn the New York ban legislatively have not been successful, and so the sport’s biggest promoter filed a lawsuit in federal court last week asking to overturn the ban. (Disclosure: My friend Barry Friedman, a constitutional law professor at New York University Law School represents the fighters, promoters, and fans challenging the ban.)

So where does the First Amendment come in? […]

Read the full story here: Slate Magazine

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Police Using Body-Mounted Video Cameras – NYTimes.com

Police Using Body-Mounted Video Cameras – NYTimes.com.

Video, a New Tool for the Police, Poses New Legal Issues, Too

When a man was fatally shot by a police officer on a street in Oakland, Calif., late last month, the shooting was captured by a video camera.

But the video was not taken by an alert pedestrian with an iPhone. It was recorded by a device clipped onto the police officer’s chest.

[…]

The cameras, legal experts say, are the latest addition in a world where everyone is increasingly watching everyone else.

[…]

The ubiquity of video in police encounters — some of it promptly uploaded onto YouTube — is creating new frontiers for judges and lawmakers, who must sort out the issues raised by the new technologies.

Courts in several states are considering cases where citizens who videotaped the police have been charged with violating wiretapping or eavesdropping statutes, prosecution that civil rights lawyers say violates First Amendment rights.

If body cameras are widely adopted by police departments — Vievu, the Seattle firm that sold Oakland its cameras, has supplied them to more than 1,100 police agencies across the country, according to Heidi Traverso, a company spokeswoman — privacy questions are likely to be added to the legal stew.

[…]

Read the full story here: The New York Times

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Supreme Court video game ruling: Is it worse for a child to see pornography or graphic violence? – By Brian Palmer – Slate Magazine

Supreme Court video game ruling:�Is it worse for a child to see pornography or graphic violence? – By Brian Palmer – Slate Magazine.

Is it worse for a child to see pornography or graphic violence?

The Supreme Court struck down a California law regulating the sale of violent video games to children on Monday. Writing for the majority, Justice Scalia noted that, unlike sexual content, which can be regulated, violence has been part of children’s entertainment for centuries. History aside, do we know whether exposure to sex or violence is worse for children?

Read the full story here: Slate Magazine

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Supreme Court’s Latest Term Dominated by First Amendment – NYTimes.com

Supreme Court’s Latest Term Dominated by First Amendment – NYTimes.com.

Published: June 28, 2011

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court term that ended Monday was marked by accomplishment and anticipation. The court continued its work on two signature projects of Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.: defending free speech and curbing big lawsuits. And it dropped occasional hints about the blockbusters on the horizon.

The First Amendment dominated the term, with the court ruling for funeral protesters, the makers of violent video games, drug marketers and politicians who decline public financing. The American commitment to free expression, the court said, cuts across politics and commerce, requires tolerance of offensive speech and forbids the government from stepping in when powerful voices threaten to dominate public debate.

In cases involving the nation’s largest private employer, Wal-Mart, and its second-largest cellphone company, AT&T Mobility, the court tightened the rules for class actions and made it easier for companies to do away with class actions entirely by using form contracts.

All of the decisions this term were scrutinized for clues about the arc of the Roberts court as it settles into a period of consolidation and awaits a series of colossal cases, notably the challenges to the health care law championed by President Obama. This term was significant, but the next one may include the most important clash between the Supreme Court and a president since the New Deal.

Read the full story here: New York Times

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The First Amendment, Upside Down – NYTimes.com

The First Amendment, Upside Down – NYTimes.com.

The Supreme Court decision striking down public matching funds in Arizona’s campaign finance system is a serious setback for American democracy. The opinion written by Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. in Monday’s 5-to-4 decision shows again the conservative majority’s contempt for campaign finance laws that aim to provide some balance to the unlimited amounts of money flooding the political system.

Read the full story here: New York Times

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Violent Video Game ban: Supreme Court strikes down California law that bans sale of Mortal Kombat, Grand Theft Auto, Duke Nukem to minors.

Violent Video Game ban: Supreme Court strikes down California law that bans sale of Mortal Kombat, Grand Theft Auto, Duke Nukem to minors..

Justices say California ban would violate children’s First Amendment rights.

The Supreme Court on Monday struck down a California law that regulates the sale or rental of violent video games to children.

In a 7-2 decision, the court found that governments don’t have the power to “restrict the ideas to which children may be exposed.”

The ruling upheld an earlier federal appeals court decision that the state’s ban violated minors’ rights under the First Amendment.

Writing for the majority, Justice Antonin Scalia said that the California law was “unprecedented and mistaken” and argued that there is a difference between protecting children from depictions of sex, and placing restrictions on depictions of violence.

“Certainly the books we give children to read – or read to them when they are younger – contain no shortage of gore,” Scalia wrote, citing Grimm Fairy Tales like Hansel and Gretel, Cinderella and Snow White.

Read the full story here: Slate Magazine

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