Tag Archives: Government

Net Neutrality-The First Amendment Issue of Our Time

Net neutrality has been around since the internet took off. It says that internet service providers cannot slow down certain websites. This is so that they don’t slow down certain to discourage traffic on that site, but it has become an increasingly hot issue over the past few years. Some people believe that everyone should have equal access to the web and that companies that provide internet services are simply there to transfer information without bias. The big media companies, however, believe that since they engage in and transmit speech, that this is a violation of the first amendment.

Verizon in particular have voiced that they think it violates the first amendment by stripping these ISP’s of control over the transmission of speech on their networks. Other internet service providers also agree that net neutrality imposes dramatic new restrictions and that the government seeks to control all aspects of broadband internet access service.

Recently, the organization that regulates net neutrality has proposed new rules that permit a fast lane for content providers that are willing and able to pay for it. Many people believe that if the court allows this new rule, that broadband companies will shut off access to web sites and ideas they don’t like, and it will funnel consumers instead to the sites and ideas that are favorable to corporate interests. This, they think, risks the loss of free flow and exchange of ideas that is central to democracy.

Confederate Flags Are Banned From Schools

Defenders of the Confederate flags demands that it symbolizes the heritage, not hate. Many other Americans see it as an emblem of white supremacy. Freedom of speech is one of the most important facets of our democracy, we as individuals wear these symbols to protest a school policy that prohibits them. So should students be allowed to wear Confederate symbols at school, or should the school limit the freedom of speech? A peaceful student who attended at a Virginia High School demonstrated his view with confederacy, which ended with school administrators suspending twenty three students for wearing clothing with the Confederate flag. According to school officials, other students, and parents, this violated the school’s dress code.

The other big issue is that Students are banned from wearing any clothing that could possibly reflect negatively on someone due to their race, which specifies that any clothing with Confederate symbols would fall into that category. Based on the school’s recent experiences with displays of the Confederate flag, it’s likely to disrupt schoolwork, by exacerbating racial hostilities leading to fights and similar disruptions. Speeches will lead to violent attacks on the speaker, unless an outright riot is looming. School administrators should be free to prevent substantial risks of material disruption whatever the disruptive mechanism might be.

 

Tags: Press, Confederacy, Confederate Flag, Public, Freedom, Controversial

 

Works Cited:

 

Board, T. (2017). Should students be allowed to wear Confederate flag clothing?. latimes.com. Retrieved 20 February 2017, from http://www.latimes.com/opinion/editorials/la-ed-flag-20150820-story.html

Volokh, E. & Volokh, E. (2017). Opinion | The Confederate flag, the First Amendment and public schools. Washington Post. Retrieved 20 February 2017, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2015/09/21/the-confederate-flag-the-first-amendment-and-public-schools/?utm_term=.b27201551dd5

Expanded Rights for All Government Employees

Topic: Free speech rights of people employed by federal, state, and local government.

 

Essential Question: Should employers be able to fire or demote employees because of their political views?

 

There are around 22 million people that work for federal, state, and local government. All of them have limited 1st amendment rights. This focuses on freedom of speech. Recently there has been a breakthrough in the move towards equal protection under the 1st amendment for employees of government. In the Washington Post they explain the few ways that employees are protected. They say, “1. the speech is on a matter of public concern 2. the speech is not said by the employee as part of the employee’s job duties, Garcetti v. Ceballos, 547 U.S. 410 (2006), and 3. the damage caused by the speech to the efficiency of the government agency’s operation does not outweigh the value of the speech to the employee and the public (the so-called Pickering balance). Connick v. Myers (1983) (p. 567).”       

In an article in the LA Times, the writer David G. Savage, explained the Supreme Court’s decision, “the Supreme Court has strengthened the rights of the nation’s 22 million public employees to protect them against being demoted or fired for supporting the wrong political candidate in the eyes of their supervisors.” This was an important decision that gives more protection to the employees. One of the more notable cases on this subject was Heffernan vs. City of Paterson. In this case a police detective was demoted because he was seen carrying a sign that opposed the mayor. The police chief strongly supported the current mayor. What happened was that the detective was delivering the sign to his mother. The lawsuit was filed in 2005 and finally reached the Supreme court in 2016. In an article from the New Yorker they talk about the decisions that were made in court. The article says, “The trial judge ruled that because Heffernan didn’t mean to get involved in the campaign, he hadn’t exercised any First amendment right, so he couldn’t bring a First Amendment claim.” Eventually the case made its way to the Supreme Court and the court ended up ruling in favor of Heffernan. My personal stance would be that employers should not be able to fire employees just because of their political beliefs whether they make them public or not.