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Category: Commentary

Public Officials, Social Media, Transparency, and the First Amendment

Public Officials, Social Media, Transparency, and the First Amendment

The past few decades have seen the development of technologies that raise challenging new questions about citizens’ rights under open records laws, open meetings laws, and the First Amendment.  Several current situations in Missouri may require courts to answer some of these questions. One question has to do with public officials’ use of social media to interact with the public.  Ordinarily, if a public official is hosting an event in a public setting, they cannot selectively exclude citizens from attending. …

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Sometimes Victory Means Avoiding Litigation

Sometimes Victory Means Avoiding Litigation

The Freedom Center’s primary goal is to help shape our legal landscape by winning victories in the courtroom.  But sometimes we can score victories without ever needing to file a lawsuit.  We have a brand-new story to share about just such a victory. A few weeks ago Jerry Dollar, a resident of St. Louis County, let us know that the St. Louis County Police Department was refusing to return a handful of lawfully-obtained, lawfully-owned firearms that it had confiscated from…

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VICTORY: Eighth Circuit Revives Fourth Amendment Challenge to Suspicionless Vehicle Stops

VICTORY: Eighth Circuit Revives Fourth Amendment Challenge to Suspicionless Vehicle Stops

P.O. Box 693            Mexico, Missouri            www.mofreedom.org              (314) 604-6621 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:                                                     CONTACT:  Dave Roland August 7, 2017                                                                                                       (314) 604-6621   Eighth Circuit Revives Missouri Rancher’s Challenge to Suspicionless Vehicle Stops   Mexico, Missouri—The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals today revived a lawsuit in which Ron Calzone, a rancher and small businessman who lives in the country near Rolla, Missouri, is challenging a Missouri law that allows highway patrol officers to seize and search vehicles even if…

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If You’re Just Learning About the Freedom Center

If You’re Just Learning About the Freedom Center

Recent publicity has resulted in a spike in the number of people trying to learn about the Freedom Center of Missouri and the work that we do.  If you’re one of the folks just now hearing about our work, we’re glad you’re checking out our website.  The “About Us” section will give a general overview of our mission, our staff, and our Board of Directors, but in this post we wanted to highlight several of the successes we’ve seen over…

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Extended Thoughts on the Police Officer’s Suit Against Black Lives Matter

Extended Thoughts on the Police Officer’s Suit Against Black Lives Matter

Last week a Baton Rouge police officer wounded in an ambush that killed three officers and wounded two others filed a lawsuit, Officer John Doe Smith v. Black Lives Matter, et al., claiming that Black Lives Matter, and several of its most prominent activists, should be held liable for the injuries he suffered.  Over the weekend a journalist asked Dave for comment on the lawsuit, which has resulted in his being quoted by PBS NewsHour (twice), the Washington Post, and the Atlantic.  By necessity,…

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U.S. Supreme Court Rules That First Amendment Prohibits State Constitutions From Requiring Religious Discrimination

U.S. Supreme Court Rules That First Amendment Prohibits State Constitutions From Requiring Religious Discrimination

In a landmark 7-2 decision, the United States Supreme Court has ruled in Trinity Lutheran Church v. Comer that the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment forbids states to categorically exclude persons or organizations from government benefits simply because the persons or organizations happen to be religious.  The case involved Article I, Section 7 of the Missouri Constitution, which the state had interpreted to preclude a church in Columbia, Missouri, from being considered for a state-funded grant that would offset…

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Dave Discusses Most Important Religious Liberty Case in a Generation

Dave Discusses Most Important Religious Liberty Case in a Generation

In just a few weeks the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to hand down a decision in Trinity Lutheran Church v. Comer, the most important religious liberty case it has considered in nearly three decades – and a case that originated right here in Missouri.  The question before the Court is: “Does the First Amendment allow governments to discriminate against religious organizations for no reason other than that they are religious?” The way the Supreme Court answers this question will have…

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The Freedom Center Is Swinging For The Fences!

The Freedom Center Is Swinging For The Fences!

Dear Friend of the Freedom Center, As I write this I am both exhausted and exhilarated. Last Thursday Ron Calzone and I were at the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis, where the Freedom Center argued in favor of a very simple constitutional principle: The Fourth Amendment prohibits law enforcement officers from pulling people over unless the officer has an articulable and reasonable suspicion that the vehicle or its occupants are in violation of a law. This idea shouldn’t be…

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Briefing Completed in Suspicionless Stops Appeal

Briefing Completed in Suspicionless Stops Appeal

Several months ago the Freedom Center began its appeal in our Suspicionless Stops case, in which we are challenging a state law that allows certain law enforcement officials to randomly stop almost any vehicle and driver, anywhere and at any time along a state highway or interstate, “with or without probable cause” to believe that the vehicle or driver are in violation of any laws.  Today we filed the last of the briefs in this appeal, and we wanted to make…

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Good News for Government Transparency!

Good News for Government Transparency!

Last year the Freedom Center of Missouri expanded its mission to include not only constitutional litigation, but also litigation under this state’s Sunshine Law, which guarantees citizens the right to obtain open public records and to attend – and record! – open public meetings of government entities.  The Freedom Center’s Director of Litigation, Dave Roland, had already been handling several Sunshine Law cases, and the Freedom Center recently adopted four of those.  That is why we are very pleased to…

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