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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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Wednesday, September 30, 2020

#FREESPEECH in the News September 30, 2020

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

#FREESPEECH in the News September 30, 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.) Midshipman sues Naval Academy, claims looming expulsion for racist tweets violates his free speech rights

A midshipman facing expulsion following an investigation of racist tweets he sent over the summer sued the Naval Academy Wednesday, claiming it is violating his constitutional rights of free speech and protection from self incrimination.

The Naval Academy opened an investigation into Midshipman 1st Class Chase Standage, 21, of California after he tweeted several racist statements, including saying Breonna Taylor received justice when police shot her, over the summer.

The investigation ended last week with Standage receiving “appropriate administrative action,” academy spokesperson Cmdr. Alana Garas told The Capital. Garas said she could not expand on the details of the action or confirm if Standage was still a member of the brigade, citing the Privacy Act.

2.) City Council Repeals 102-Year-Old Sedition Law Used To Punish Speech

The San Diego City Council voted Wednesday to repeal an antiquated seditious language law that has been disproportionately used in recent years to punish Black San Diegans.

San Diego Municipal Code section 56.30, labeled "Seditious Language - Prohibited," made it unlawful to use seditious language, or any words having a tendency to create a breach of the public peace, in the presence of other people. Sedition is defined as conduct or speech inciting insurrection toward the established order.

Free speech advocates and local political leaders have said that section of the code, which dates back more than 100 years, violates the First Amendment. The council's vote was unanimous, with Councilman Chris Cate absent. Even with the overwhelming support to repeal the law, some council members said the fact this law was on the books for so long was something worth investigating.

3.) Georgia Tech coughs up $50k to settle free speech lawsuit involving MLK's niece

The Georgia Institute of Technology settled a lawsuit with a pro-life student group after the university's student government refused to sponsor an event featuring Alveda King -- the niece of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

As Campus Reform reported in April, the legal nonprofit Alliance Defending Freedom filed a lawsuit on behalf of Georgia Tech’s Students for Life club, which was denied $2,346.16 to host King. Like other extracurricular groups, Students for Life has the right to access university funding for their programs.

However, Georgia Tech’s student government asked Students for Life to “guarantee” that King would not discuss “religion, abortion, or LGBT issues.” According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Students for Life agreed to settle with Georgia Tech after the school revised its policies so that student groups would receive funding through a “viewpoint-neutral decision-making criteria.”

The university will also pay $50,000 in damages and attorneys’ fees.

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