Browsed by
Tag: First Amendment

St. Louis City Forces Good Samaritans to Appear in Court, Unceremoniously Drops Charges

St. Louis City Forces Good Samaritans to Appear in Court, Unceremoniously Drops Charges

On October 31, an officer of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department gave citations to Ray Redlich and Chris Ohnimus. Their alleged offense? Giving sandwiches to the homeless. The citations required Redlich and Ohnimus to appear in St. Louis City Municipal Court on the morning of December 4, to face the charges against them. If either of the two failed to appear for this court date, the court could have issued warrants for their arrest and they would also have…

Read More Read More

Volunteers Are Lobbyists, Rules Eighth Circuit: Sharply Divided Panel Deals Severe Blow to the First Amendment

Volunteers Are Lobbyists, Rules Eighth Circuit: Sharply Divided Panel Deals Severe Blow to the First Amendment

Mexico, MO – Today, an Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals panel ruled, 2-1, that unpaid citizen activists can be forced to comply with the same registration, reporting, and disclosure requirements as professional lobbyists working for large corporations. This decision is unprecedented and represents a significant strike against Americans’ First Amendment right “to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”  Ron Calzone is a citizen activist from Dixon, Missouri, who has for years traveled to the State Capitol to share his…

Read More Read More

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. …

Read More Read More

Briefing Completed in Cutting Edge First Amendment Case

Briefing Completed in Cutting Edge First Amendment Case

On December 21, 2017, the Freedom Center of Missouri and our co-counsel at the Institute for Free Speech filed our final brief on behalf of Ron Calzone in our Citizen Activist Speech case.  The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals is expected to hear oral arguments in this case early next year – we will post an announcement when the court sets the date for those arguments. Last month we shared a video in which Ron explains the importance of this case,…

Read More Read More

Ron Calzone Explains Our Citizen Activist Speech Case

Ron Calzone Explains Our Citizen Activist Speech Case

In the above video, Ron Calzone explains in his own words the basis and critical importance of our Citizen Activist Free Speech case.  This case involves a Missouri statute that requires citizen activists to register as lobbyists and (under threat of huge fines and criminal penalties) to file regular reports with the government regarding efforts to talk to government officials about public policy – even if no one is paying the activist to speak on their behalf.  The Missouri Ethics…

Read More Read More

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,…

Read More Read More

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…

Read More Read More

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…

Read More Read More

Missouri Supreme Court: Voters’ Rights Not Burdened By Limiting Their Choice To Only One Candidate

Missouri Supreme Court: Voters’ Rights Not Burdened By Limiting Their Choice To Only One Candidate

In a sharply divided 4-3 opinion the Missouri Supreme Court has ruled that the only choice listed on the ballot for voters in the State House District 76 will be their incumbent State Representative, Joshua Peters. Peters had been facing competition from political activist Rachel Johns, but Peters sued to have his opposition removed from the ballot, arguing that when the election takes place this fall Johns will only have been a registered voter for twenty-one months and state law…

Read More Read More

PRESS RELEASE: Protecting the Right to Protest

PRESS RELEASE: Protecting the Right to Protest

  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:    April 8, 2016 CONTACT:  Dave Roland PROTECTING THE RIGHT TO PROTEST: Candidate Challenges Laws That Keep Political Protesters Off Election Ballots Mexico, Missouri—In 1999 the U.S. Supreme Court held that refusing to register to vote is an expressive act protected by the First Amendment because “there are those individuals for whom the choice not to register to vote implicates political thought and expression.”  Rachel Johns is one of those individuals. “In 2014, as an African American…

Read More Read More