William Freivogel | St. Louis Public Radio

William Freivogel

William Freivogel

William H. Freivogel is director of the School of Journalism at Southern Illinois University Carbondale and a professor at the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute.

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The U.S. Supreme Court has unanimously struck down President Barack Obama's recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board and a Massachusetts law keeping opponents of abortion off the sidewalks within 35 feet of an abortion clinic.

U.S. Supreme Court
Matt H. Wade | Wikipedia

In a landmark decision protecting Americans' digital privacy, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously on Wednesday that police almost always need to get warrants to search the cell phones of people they arrest.

U.S. Supreme Court
Matt H. Wade | Wikipedia

(Updated 4:30 p.m., Wed., April 2 with comments from U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo.)

For the second time in four years, the five Republican-appointed justices on the U.S. Supreme Court have opened the door for rich donors to increase their influence on elections. 

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: There are no blockbusters on the U.S. Supreme Court term that begins today. Nothing measures up to the landmark decisions of the past two terms -- upholding the Affordable Care Act, overturning the Defense of Marriage Act and gutting the most successful civil rights law in history, the Voting Rights Act.

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The Senate Judiciary Committee voted in favor of a federal "shield" law on Thursday, but still refused to include Julian Assange, Edward Snowden or citizen bloggers in the group of protected journalists.

A shield law allows a journalist to protect a confidential source unless the government can present a compelling reason, such as national security, to demand the source's name. Most states have shield laws but there is no federal law.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: President Barack Obama's public relations offensive to counter bad press about the NSA snooping on Americans and investigators snooping on reporters suffered multiple setbacks in the past week.

Rally to protest George Zimmerman's acquittal was held Sunday night in front of St. Louis' Justice Center.
Jarred Gastreich | St. Louis Beacon | 2013

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The Justice Department could prosecute George Zimmerman for a hate crime under federal law, but such a dual prosecution would not be justified without more proof of a racial motivation by Zimmerman or ineptitude by state prosecutors.

That is the view of legal experts in St. Louis who followed the Florida prosecution of Zimmerman for the 2012 shooting death of Trayvon Martin, a young African-American man.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Affirmative action survived in the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday, but universities will have a harder time defending racial preferences in court. The justices said that universities must show that they have no other way to achieve diversity.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that Missouri couldn’t force a Cape Girardeau man suspected of drunken driving to submit to a blood alcohol test without obtaining a search warrant. 

The court ruled 5-4 in favor of Tyler McNeely who was arrested after driving erratically and then forced to submit to a blood test at a hospital after he refused a breath test. The blood test showed he was legally drunk. (Read the Scotusblog file on the case.)

Mental health care on campus: Need up, services down

Feb 5, 2012

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 5, 2012 - More college students are arriving on campus reporting serious mental health problems and more students are threatening suicide than in the past. But some college counseling services, such as those at Southern Illinois University  Carbondale, are so understaffed that many students have to wait weeks before getting help.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Nov. 28, 2011 - Occupy Wall Street protesters have a First Amendment right to protest in a public park, but they don't have the right to camp overnight or to physically block police officers trying to remove their tents. If officers try to forcibly remove protesters, the police may use reasonable, but not excessive force.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Nov. 15, 2011 - The debate about the power of the federal government is as old as the nation.

It began with the Articles of Confederation and its weak central government. It continued with arguments between Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson and a bitter fight over the creation of the Bank of the United States. It boiled over in the war against slavery and, later, the states' rights to deny equality to African-Americans. It again divided the country over the New Deal's power to take strong national action to end the Great Depression.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Nov. 14, 2011 - NEW YORK - Anthony Lewis is a friend of the First Amendment. But the former New York Times Supreme Court reporter said last week that the court had gone too far in recognizing the free speech of hateful funeral protesters and corporations that spend big money on politics.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Oc. 22, 2011 - U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Kansas City, challenged Kirkwood to do "three big things" to help heal the community from the wound of the deadly Feb. 7, 2008, shootings at city hall.

Federal prosecutors in complicated white-collar cases that end in mistrials often win convictions the second time around, according to a study by Washington University law professor Kathleen Brickey. Brickey, an expert on white-collar crime, pointed to the study in the wake of the Rod Blagojevich corruption trial that ended in a mistrial on 23 of 24 counts against the former governor and a conviction on the other count of lying to FBI agents.

While the jury in the Rod Blagojevich corruption trial took the weekend off, court watchers had time to read between the lines of the jury's cryptic note to the judge and to reflect on the Blagojevich trial strategy.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 4, 2009 - Missouri Supreme Court Judge Michael A. Wolff has joined the chief justice of the Oregon Supreme Court in a letter to President-elect Barack Obama calling for "major change in state and federal sentencing practices" that have resulted in the United States imprisoning a larger percentage of its population than any other country.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 30, 2008 - One of the nation's leading experts on congressional power says that the U.S. Senate does not have the authority to exclude Roland Burris from the Senate, as Democratic leaders have threatened to do.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon - Dec. 18, 2008 - The legal tangle faced by the Illinois impeachment committee may have a legal solution. But a political solution may be the best way to solve the Blagojevich problem.

That's the assessment of both a lawyer and a political scientist.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 17, 2008 - The Missouri Supreme Court resoundingly rejected on Tuesday the claim by the St. Louis Board of Education that the state takeover of the school district had violated St. Louis voters' rights and the rights of elected board members to serve.

In a unanimous decision, Judge Patricia Breckenridge wrote that the district's loss of accreditation in 2007 and the resulting transfer of authority to a state-appointed board did not violate the fundamental right to vote of the people of St. Louis.