First Amendment

First Amendment
Robin Klein | Wikipedia

Republican presidential candidates and anti-racism protesters at Mizzou don’t agree on much. Yet both made news recently by confronting journalists. Intentionally or not, they raised similar, significant questions about press freedom — and responsibility.

For journalists, it’s tempting to conclude that if you’re being criticized from opposite sides, you must be doing things right. It’s not that simple. Let’s break down the issues and look at what’s at stake — for reporters and for the public we are supposed to serve.

St. Louis Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce has called Amendment 5 "a disaster." She's been heaping criticism on the "gun rights" measure for months.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

For the second time this year, St. Louis Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce’s office has subpoenaed St. Louis Public Radio and “requested” that we keep silent about it. For the second time, we’re speaking out because the public — you — has much at stake when a prosecutor goes on a fishing expedition in a news organization's files.

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Central Intelligence Agency

Jeffrey Sterling, a former CIA agent with Missouri ties, was convicted of espionage Monday. He was accused of leaking information to New York Times reporter James Risen about a secret plan to disrupt Iran's nuclear program. The case prompted years of debate about journalists' ability to protect their confidential sources.

Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

A report by the PEN America Center says an “aggressive, militarized response to largely peaceful public protests” fueled “the most serious human rights violations in Ferguson” against both protesters and the press. 

In its report, the New York-based advocacy organization for reporters and other writers says it has documented 52 alleged violations of press freedoms at the Ferguson protests in mid-August.  The report goes on to say that “those responsible for human rights abuses should be held accountable.”

U.S. Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court started its new term Monday morning by announcing it would not hear petitions related to bans on gay marriage in Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin. 

(via Flickr/k763)

A federal appeals court has ruled that efforts by the city of Manchester to limit protests by the Westboro Baptist Church is constitutional, despite the fact that it limits free speech.

The ordinance, which has been amended several times, was first adopted in 2007.  The final version limits picketing or other protest activities within 300 feet of the site of any funeral or burial service within an hour before or an hour after the ceremony. There are no restrictions on picketing during processions. 

Steakpinball | Flickr

Updated at 8:35 p.m. with statement from city.

A federal appeals court has ruled that a St. Louis city ordinance regulating street-side protests "excessively chills free speech" because it does not make clear exactly when those protests become a traffic hazard.

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., today condemned the plans of a Florida pastor, Terry Jones, to burn copies of the Quran on Saturday, the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. McCaskill made her remarks in response to a question at a news conference today on local veterans’ issues.

"I don't know how anybody in the name of God would want to endanger the lives of American soldiers," the senator said, referring to the outcry already underway among some Muslims abroad.