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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, July 12, 2021

#FREESPEECH in the News July 14, 2021

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

#FREESPEECH in the News July 14, 2021

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.) Federal judge rules Florida social media law likely violates free speech

A federal judge on Wednesday blocked a recently-enacted Florida law that was meant to authorize the state to penalize social media companies when they ban political candidates, with the judge saying the law likely violated free speech rights.

U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle in Tallahassee issued a preliminary injunction blocking enforcement of the law, which was scheduled to go into effect Thursday.

"This order preliminarily enjoins enforcement of the parts of the legislation that are preempted or violate the First Amendment", the judge said in the order filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District Of Florida.

"The plaintiffs are likely to prevail on the merits of their claim that these statutes violate the First Amendment," Hinkle wrote. The First Amendment of the United States Constitution guarantees citizens the right to free speech.

2.) In Augusta, the First Amendment Museum hopes to bring an underpinning of democracy to life

The First Amendment Museum is at 184 State St., next door to the governor’s residence and in the shadow of the Statehouse, a prime location for school groups and local visitors. But those involved in its development have a much bigger scope in mind.

That scope is already growing with online presentations that relate current events to First Amendment freedoms, and have been attended by people from around the world.

“We’ll start in Maine, but it’s a national effort,” Christian Cotz, Executive Director says. “Give us 10 years.”

The project is catching momentum at a time when the perception of what makes a museum is evolving, and during an elevated national discussion about what makes a democracy.

The museum won’t be “dusty artifacts under glass,” but an interactive experience that will help visitors relate the First Amendment to their lives, Cotz says.

3.) Constitutional lawyers call Trump’s First Amendment defense against Jan. 6 lawsuits ‘spurious’

Former president Donald Trump’s claim that the First Amendment shields his conduct leading up to the Jan. 6 Capitol riot is legally “spurious” and should be rejected as a federal court considers lawsuits that allege he incited the violence, four prominent First Amendment lawyers and scholars argued Thursday.

Targeting a key defense raised by lawyers for Trump and co-defendants including Rudolph W. Giuliani and Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), the legal experts said that courts have long recognized that speech central to a crime — such as the political intimidation of voters, lawmakers and government officials — is barred and not protected by the Constitution.

In a 23-page proposed friend-of-the-court brief filed Thursday in a case brought by members of Congress and Capitol police, the legal scholars argued that courts must strike a balance between protecting freedom of political speech and preventing political intimidation.

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