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Want to know what is on our minds? Find blog posts written here, by the City Club staff, members, and partners. Every week you can find a new edition of #FreeSpeech in the News — a collection of related stories, commentary, and opinions on free speech in the 21st century that’s making the news. You’ll also find takes on current events, past forums, and issues surrounding Northeast Ohio. Read on for all things City Club.

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Tuesday, February 20, 2018


Bliss Davis, Content Coordinator, The City Club of Cleveland


As the Citadel of Free Speech here in Cleveland, we work to protect and promote the basis of our democracy by sharing related stories, commentary, and opinions on free speech in the 21st century. Here's what's making the news – and what you should know about – in the past week.

1.) Fight against Russian election meddling should not have government 'regulating free speech': Former DHS chief

Russian meddling in U.S.elections have uncovered a new concern—its impact on free speech. Former Department of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson says the responsibility to protect the internet should be placed on internet providers themselves and not the government.

“I think that the answer has to be that those that provide access on the internet do more to self-regulate, to do more to make attribution to those who gain access to the information marketplace," the former Homeland Security secretary said, according to ABC News. "We are a society of free speech, and we need to be careful not to get security agencies of our government involved in regulating free speech.”

Social media during the 2016 presidential election was inundated with fake social media accounts, some with followings in the hundreds of thousands. These accounts regularly spread false and sometimes even dangerous information, and were much more often than not allowed to spread by internet platforms despite being reported.

2.) Candidate files lawsuit alleging Hamilton County sign ordinance violates political speech

A politician in Indiana has filed a lawsuit against Hamilton County, saying the county’s sign ordinance violates the constitutional rights of political candidates.

Rick Sharp is running for a seat on Hamilton County Council and is a former Carmel Council president. Sharp and his attorney say limiting the amount of signage a candidate is allowed to use to promote their campaign is limiting their free speech. In addition, limitations such as these favor politicians with larger platforms and effectively snuff out lesser known candidates. With a $500 fine per sign, it’s also easier for sabotage by way of another campaign or entity moving the signs to restricted territory.

In his lawsuit, Sharp also cites a 1981 precedent set by an Oregon Court of Appeals striking down an ordinance restricting the constitutional rights of politicians.

3.) Minnesota restricts political wear at the polls. But the Supreme Court could change that

A Supreme Court decision on February 28 may change a Minnesota law banning clothing and other political wear to polling booths.

Under state law, Minnesotans heading to polls are required to cover their political wear or face a possible $300 fine. Opponents of the law have long said this stifles the free speech rights of voters, while proponents say the goal is to discourage voter intimidation.

The Court’s decision will have a major impact on laws concerning voting polls. Several cases, including rulings in Delaware,Vermont and Tennessee have ruled in favor of banning political wear. Each ruling was followed by lawsuits saying the decisions condemning the bans.

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