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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, January 06, 2020

#FREESPEECH in the News: January 6, 2020

#FREESPEECH in the News: January 6, 2020

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.) Lawsuit: Iowa State University accused of violating free speech rights ahead of Iowa caucuses

A national nonprofit is suing Iowa State University and its administrators, alleging three of the school's policies violate the First Amendment by restricting free speech.

Speech First filed a lawsuit Thursday in federal court declaring unconstitutional the university's bans on sidewalk chalk messages; communication about campaigns and ballot issues through school-issued email; and the establishment of a Campus Climate Reporting System.

These policies "created a series of rules and regulations designed to restrain, deter, suppress and punish speech concerning political and social issues of public concern," according to the lawsuit by the D.C.-based organization.

2.) Strzok claims FBI, DOJ violated his free speech, privacy rights

Former FBI agent Peter Strzok, a onetime member of former special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe, is claiming the FBI and Justice Department violated his rights of free speech and privacy when firing him for uncovered texts that criticized President Trump.

Strzok and his legal team made the claims in a court document filed Monday that pushes back on the Department of Justice's (DOJ) motion to dismiss the lawsuit he filed in August over his ouster a year earlier.

DOJ alleged in its motion to dismiss that Strzok’s role in high-profile investigations meant he was held to a higher standard when it came to speech. But Strzok’s legal team disputed this in Monday’s filing, saying that the approximately 8,000 other employees in similar positions retain their privacy even when using government-issued devices.

3.) Trump/Pence sign starts as prank, turns in to free speech case in WA city

What started as a prank between friends is turning into a free speech case in Bremerton WA.

The Kitsap Sun website reports that a "Trump/Pence 2020" sign was erected in the yard of Bremerton resident Kevin Chambers, who describes himself as anti-Trump. Chambers' friends posted the sign as a prank while he was out of town on a business trip. But when Chambers discovered that a Facebook group in Bremerton was posting comments about coming to take down the sign and vandalize the house where it was located, he was taking a stand.

“I decided I don’t really like Trump, but I don’t like people telling me what I could do in my yard more than I hate Trump,” Chambers told the Kitsap Sun.

In an effort to prevent the sign being vandalized, Chambers and his friend who posted the large sign raised it to 15-feet in height. Elevating it to that height, though, is a violation of city code on non-commercial signage.

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