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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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Monday, October 08, 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.) Free speech issues at stake in FBI agent leak case

A court case involving a former Minnesota FBI agent has raised questions regarding free speech, and the rights of the press and citizens to know information.

On January 31, 2017, an article appeared in The Intercept containing information only available to FBI agents. In April, Terry James Albury plead guilty to two counts of unauthorized disclosure or retention of national defense information after giving information to a reporter. The documents, classified as “secret,” contained information regarding how the FBI assesses confidential informants.

The former agent’s legal team says the right for the public to know certain information should be considered during sentencing, and whether or not it harms national security.

2.) First Amendment Complaint Filed Over Access Policy in San Jose Courts

The court clerk in San Jose, California, is being sued the U.S. District Court for how they handle their access policy.

The court currently does not allow access to documents in a timely manner, which has become a free speech issue for journalists and others seeking access to court information.

“The First Amendment provides the press and public with a presumptive right of access to civil complaints filed with the court. Timely access to new civil complaints is essential to ensure that news of civil disputes reaches the public when it is most likely to become the subject of public discussion, and is thus vital to the public’s ability to discuss what is happening in an important branch of government” said the complaint, citing the Ninth Circuit’s 2014 decision in Courthouse News Service v. Planet.

3.) Lawsuit seeks to stop FEMA's "Presidential Alert" system to cellphones citing First Amendment violation

A lawsuit has been filed in New York over the implementation of FEMA’s new “Presidential Alert” messaging system.

Plaintiffs in Manhattan are suing Mr. Trump and FEMA Administrator Brock Long, claiming the alert system is a "violation of Americans' First and Fourth Amendment rights to be free from Government-compelled listening, as well as warrantless, non-consensual trespass into and seizure of their cellular devices."

According to FEMA, the alert will rarely be used. However, the plaintiffs say Americans should be concerned with how the current White House disperses information, and FEMA has not specifically said what sort of messages will be sent through the system.

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