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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, May 18, 2020

#FREESPEECH in the News May 18, 2020

Bliss Davis, Content and Programming Coordinator, The City Club of Cleveland

#FREESPEECH in the News May 18, 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.) Wisconsin Hair Salon Owner Sues Over Stay-At Home Order Violating Free Speech, Religious Rights

The owner of a Christian-based children’s hair salon has filed a federal lawsuit alleging that Gov. Tony Evers’ “safer at home” order that closed nonessential businesses is a violation of free speech and religious rights.

The lawsuit filed Tuesday is the third legal challenge to the order issued by the Democratic governor that runs until May 26. Two other lawsuits are pending in the Wisconsin Supreme Court. One was brought by Republican lawmakers alleging that Evers’ health secretary exceeded her authority in issuing the order. The other was brought by two men who argue Evers’ policies interfere with their free speech and religious rights.

The third lawsuit was filed by Jessica Netzel, the owner of Kingdom Kuts in Appleton, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. Netzel asked U.S. District Judge William Griesbach to lift the order and allow her hair salon to be treated like businesses that Evers has deemed essential.

2.) West York school board members question if policy revisions limit free speech

Several West York Area board members Tuesday night raised concerns about freedom of speech while debating a proposed policy many districts have had in place for years. The policy, "Freedom of Speech in Non-school Settings," would limit administrators, professional staff and support staff on what they can say even when off the clock.

If opinions or concerns expressed conflict with district interests, they would be in violation of the policy — an update all other districts in the county have adopted, years earlier in some cases.

Some, such as that of Southern York County, were adopted as early as 1992. Others have versions with additions that note administrator speech is generally assumed to be representative of the district, so they must take special care to make it known their views are personal. Red Lion Area notes this for all employees.

3.) Prosecutor: Facebook Post Targeting Mayor Protected Speech

A social media post that called Norman Mayor Breea Clark a vulgar name and lamented that “politicians don't get hung in public anymore" was not a direct threat to the mayor and is protected free speech, Cleveland County District Attorney Greg Mashburn said Friday.

Norman police launched an investigation Thursday after Clark reported the post on a “Re-Open Norman" Facebook page. It read: “Mayor (expletive), needs to be pulled out of office and tried on the court house lawn...the problem with politicians, they don't get hung in public anymore ...#bringbackpublichangings!"

Norman police connected the post to Eddie Zaicek, a police officer in the nearby town of Lexington who admitted to police that he made the post after telling reporters a day earlier that his Facebook account had been hacked. A telephone message left Friday with Lexington Police Chief Deana Allen wasn't immediately returned.

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