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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 18, 2020

#FREESPEECH in the News November 18, 2020

#FREESPEECH in the News November 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.) Court strikes down bans on conversion therapy as violations of free speech

A federal appeals court has issued a major blow against bans on conversion therapy for youth by ruling they violate the First Amendment, setting up a split within the judiciary that could lead the U.S. Supreme Court to adjudicate the issue on a nationwide basis.

In a 2-1 decision written by U.S. Circuit Judge Britt Grant, a three-judge panel on the U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta determined municipal bans on conversion therapy for youth in the cities of Boca Raton and Palm Beach in Florida contravene the freedom of speech under the First Amendment.

“We understand and appreciate that the therapy is highly controversial,” Grant writes. “But the First Amendment has no carveout for controversial speech. We hold that the challenged ordinances violate the First Amendment because they are content-based regulations of speech that cannot survive strict scrutiny.”

2.) Justice Alito: Pandemic Has Brought 'Unimaginable Restrictions' On Freedoms

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito says the COVID-19 pandemic has brought "previously unimaginable restrictions on individual liberty," warning of an important shift in the views of essential rights on several fronts, from religious freedom to free speech.

Alito's remarks came Thursday in a keynote speech at the Federalist Society's annual National Lawyers Convention, which is being held virtually this week. The event's theme is to examine how the coronavirus is affecting the rule of law.

The COVID-19 crisis has "highlighted constitutional fault lines," Alito said.

He cautioned that his statements shouldn't be taken as a judgment on whether numerous coronavirus restrictions reflect good public policy.

3.) Facebook Says It’s Doing A Better Job Of Catching Hate Speech Before Users See It

Facebook users saw hate speech about once in every 1,000 pieces of content they viewed on the social network between July and September, the company said on Thursday.

This is the first time Facebook has publicly estimated the prevalence of hate speech on its platform, giving a sense of scale of the problem. It published the new metric as part of its quarterly report on how much content it removed from Facebook and Instagram for breaking rules ranging from violence to child exploitation to suicide and self-harm.

“The real question is, ‘What do we not catch? What do we miss?'” said Guy Rosen, Facebook vice president of integrity, on a call with reporters. “It’s why we consider [prevalence] to be the most important measure.”

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