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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, July 08, 2019

#FREESPEECH IN THE NEWS: July 8, 2019

Bliss Davis, Content Coordinator, The City Club of Cleveland

#FREESPEECH IN THE NEWS: July 8, 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.) Heavy police presence in Washington for "Demand Free Speech" rally

Police in Washington, D.C., were on alert Saturday for possible clashes between right-wing groups and counter-protesters holding demonstrations in the nation's capital, but the "Demand Free Speech" rally remained largely peaceful. There were no major incidents reported at the protests in Freedom Plaza, just a few blocks from the White House.

Hours before the rival rallies, there was already an extremely heavy police presence. Police say they were hoping for safe and peaceful demonstrations, but that's not what happened last week in Portland, Oregon, when clashes broke out between rallies by right-wing groups and counter-protesters.

One of the groups involved in the Portland demonstration was the so-called Proud Boys, who have been labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center and banned from Facebook. The Proud Boys also made an appearance at Saturday's demonstration.

2.) Attorney files brief in free speech case on behalf of Block Communications, Parent Company of The Toledo Blade

Toledo attorney Fritz Byers filed a brief Monday with the Ohio Supreme Court on behalf of The Blade’s parent company, Block Communications, Inc., opposing the censorship of a man's online postings.

The pending case before the high court questions whether a judge can preemptively restrict speech, particularly before determining the comments are not protected.

Mr. Byers, who represents The Blade newsroom on First Amendment issues, wrote Mercer County trial court records show no evidence of careful determination before issuing an injunction against the man's comments. It instead ordered he remove previous posts and refrain from any future statements about specific relatives.

3.) A Supreme Court Decision Could Have Implications for Social Media Free Speech

The Supreme Court ruled on Monday that the First Amendment's protection of free speech does not apply to a non-profit that runs a public access cable television station in New York City.

In a 5–4 decision, split between the conservative and liberal justices, the court ruled that the Manhattan Neighborhood Network could not face lawsuits for deciding not to air content that criticized it. Two individuals had sued the corporation for removing their film, claiming that doing so violated their free speech rights.

Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote on behalf of the majority that, while the First Amendment's free speech clause applies to "state actors" or governmental entities, the network is a private entity, not a state actor: "Providing some kind of forum for speech is not an activity that only governmental entities have traditionally performed," the decision reads. "Therefore, a private entity who provides a forum for speech is not transformed by that fact alone into a state actor."

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