During the early days of Donald Trump’s presidency, Twitter accounts purporting to represent unofficial “resistance” factions of federal agencies emerged and proliferated alternative perspectives on the inner workings of the Trump administration and its policies. These accounts claim to represent holdover factions from the Obama administration and career officials in agencies and government organizations such as the National Parks Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The accounts issued frequent tweets critiquing the Trump administration’s policies across a variety of issues. Agencies “represented” by “alternative” Twitter accounts run the gamut from the Department of Justice to NASA to the National Weather Service.
Age discrimination, particularly for actresses, is hardly a secret issue in Hollywood. Indeed, workers at all levels of the entertainment industry are affected. As a recent example, consider the casting of Naomi Bellfort in The Wolf of Wallstreet. Olivia Wilde was reportedly passed over for the part for being “too old” (age 28), despite being one year younger at the time of casting than Naomi’s actual age during the filming of the movie (age 29).
Simon Shao Tam named his band ‘The Slants,’ to make a statement. He wanted to address cultural issues and discussions regarding race in society. This type of free speech is generally considered foundational to the protections of the First Amendment. But, Tam was denied this right.
In In Re Tam, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) denied Tam’s registration for ‘The Slants,’ finding that a “substantial composite of persons of Asian descent would find the term offensive.” Tam appealed his case to the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals who overturned the decision. In her opinion, Judge Kimberly Moore expressed that the statute on which the Government relied – Section 2(a) of the Lanham Act – was unconstitutional under the First Amendment. The court held that discrimination against content-based private speech is subject to strict scrutiny, which means the Government must present a compelling interest to restrict this kind of speech. The Government’s interest in excluding speech they determined offensive was considered illegitimate to the court, and a judgment was entered in favor of Tam.
Whether you should smoke or not is a personal choice. However, whether smoking is good or bad for your health is not really a matter of opinion (spoiler, it’s bad for you). Smoking is certainly not a habit that we, as a society, want to encourage children to pick up (at least not anymore). Yet, one place that has an impact on children’s perception of smoking is at the movie theater.
The most important law governing the internet just had its 20thbirthday earlier this year, the Communications Decency Act (CDA). Signed by President Bill Clinton in 1996, the CDA grants online service providers immunity from liability for most illegal activities of their users. What’s more, the CDA not only allows large internet-based companies like Facebook, Amazon, and Yelp! to survive because they don’t have to individually each user’s activity, it also enables a large portion of the freedom of speech the general public enjoys online daily.
Yet, despite 20 years of precedent, the CDA has come under scrutiny. Most notably, a California appellate court issued a ruling that included an order for Yelp!, a nonparty to the case, to take down a defamatory post involving an attorney who sued a former client for posting defamatory comments and reviews on Yelp!. Along with the court order to take down the reviews, the attorney won on a default judgment to the tune of over $500,000.