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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, November 04, 2020

#FREESPEECH in the News November 4, 2020

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

#FREESPEECH in the News November 4, 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.) Texas news organizations win awards for putting spotlight on free speech

Two news organizations in Texas have won Spirit of Freedom of Information (FOI) Awards for their report on a fatal police encounter.

The Nancy Monson Spirit of FOI Awards, showcases journalism that spotlights free speech and free press, while also promotes open government laws such as the Texas Public Information Act.

The Highlander of Marble Falls and the Dallas Morning News, are the recent recipients in the online awards program, held on Tuesday, November 10.

According to a press release, The Highlander won for championing open government for the citizens of Meadowlakes when the city instituted overly restrictive rules for public comments and suggested citizens could be charged with a crime for what they say. The Highlander reported that the rules likely violated constitutional free speech rights and attempted to weaponize the Texas Open Meetings Act. That's when the city council rescinded its rules.

2.) Second US court pauses Donald Trump’s TikTok ban on free speech grounds

A federal court in Pennsylvania issued an injunction on Friday blocking Donald Trump’s big TikTok ban, ruling that the executive orders issued by the US President against the video-sharing app likely violated the law via which the ban was justified.

Trump issued two executive orders against TikTok and its Chinese owner Bytedance back in August, the first banning US companies and citizens from transacting with the Chinese company, the second ordering Bytedance to sell off all its American assets.

The US government says the bans are necessary because of concerns that the Chinese government has access to TikTok’s global userbase and user data. The executive orders utilised powers granted to the President via America’s International Emergency Economic Powers Act.

3.) A Kansas university threatens a student — and everyone’s right to free speech

A student journalist at Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence recently received a disturbing letter from the school’s president, Ronald Graham.

Jared Nally, the editor of Haskell’s newspaper, the Indian Leader, had worked on stories involving the university, including the census, student fees and the recent death of a food service worker at the university.

“Your behavior has discredited you and this university,” Haskell’s president wrote to Nally. “You will NOT: attack any student, faculty or staff member with letters or in public, or any public forum,” he ordered. Nally was prohibited from “making demands” of any government agency or Haskell while representing the newspaper, Graham continued. He couldn’t record conversations with Haskell officials without the other party’s consent, despite a Kansas law allowing him to do so.

“Failure to do so, may result in disciplinary action,” Graham wrote.

Existence of the three-page directive soon became public, and for good reason: It was a breathtaking violation of Nally’s rights and the First Amendment, and has done serious damage to Haskell’s reputation.

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