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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, February 11, 2019

#FREESPEECH IN THE NEWS: FEBRUARY 11, 2019

#FREESPEECH IN THE NEWS: FEBRUARY 11, 2019

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.) Oral Arguments Could Get Interesting When FUCT Free Speech Case Hits SCOTUS

Erik Brunetti is the founder of a streetwear brand that has been around since the ‘90s called FUCT—allegedly an acronym for ‘Friends yoU Can’t Trust.’

While the brand has been around for decades, it wasn’t until 2011 that Brunetti filed for federal trademark registration to protect the brand from copycats. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) denied the request, citing the 1946 Lanham Act, which gives it the right to refuse immoral or scandalous applications.

But Brunetti hasn’t taken the rejection lying down. He successfully appealed the rejection in federal circuit court, claiming that the PTO’s decision was in violation of the First Amendment’s right to free speech. Next, the Supreme Court will hear the case in April, with a decision expected before July.

2.) Massachusetts high court upholds Michelle Carter's conviction for texts encouraging boyfriend's suicide

The Massachusetts Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld the involuntary manslaughter conviction of a woman who encouraged her boyfriend's suicide through text messages.

Michelle Carter will have to serve 15 months behind bars for the 2017 conviction that held her responsible for the July 2014 suicide of Conrad Roy III, 18.

Carter’s defense has drawn support from the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, which argued that her actions were First Amendment-protected free speech. Carter's lawyers had argued to the high court that no one can be convicted of manslaughter for simply instructing someone to harm themselves.

3.) Eddie Money's Decision to Fire Drummer Was Expression of Free Speech, Court Rules

Glenn Symmonds is suing Money for wrongful termination, among other claims, arguing that he was fired because of his poor health.

Eddie Money's decision to fire drummer Glenn Symmonds is protected activity under California's anti-SLAPP statute, an appeals court has ruled.

Money in June 2016 filed an anti-SLAPP motion in response to Symmonds' claims that he was fired because of his age and disabilities from bladder cancer and a back injury, arguing that playing music is a First Amendment right and Money's choice of band members is protected activity stemming from that right. Judge Rafael Ongkeko denied the motion, finding Symmonds' lawsuit arose from the alleged discriminatory conduct and not the decision to fire him. It didn't reach the second prong of the anti-SLAPP analysis, which addresses the plaintiff's probability of prevailing on the merits of his claim.


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