William H. Freivogel | St. Louis Public Radio

William H. 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. Previously, he worked for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch for 34 years, serving as assistant Washington Bureau Chief and deputy editorial editor. He covered the U.S. Supreme Court while in Washington. He is a graduate of Kirkwood High School, Stanford University and Washington University Law School. He is a member of the Missouri Bar.

Thi article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Nov. 3, 2009 - The federal "shield law," which has been stuck on Capitol Hill for years, seems closer to passage now that Senate Democrats and the Obama  administration have compromised on how the law would apply to leaks involving national security.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Oct. 28, 2009 - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issued a strong statement Monday in opposition to the efforts of Islamic countries to make "religious defamation" a violation of human rights.

"Some claim that the best way to protect the freedom of religion is to implement so-called anti-defamation policies that would restrict freedom of expression and the freedom of religion," Clinton said. "I strongly disagree."

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Oct. 27, 2009 - What do imprisoned business executives Jeffrey Skilling and Conrad Black have in common with disgraced former Gov. Rod Blagojevich? The convictions of the former Enron chief and media mogul rest in part on the same federal law that forms an important part of the indictment against Blagojevich - depriving people of the "intangible right to honest services."

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Oct. 19, 2009 - Chicago prosecutors are demanding grades and confidential interviews from Northwestern journalism students who unearthed evidence that could free a man the prosecutors put in prison 31 years ago. The case raises the question of who is a journalist.

Are journalism students and their professor journalists?

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Oct. 17, 2009 - The president of the Meacham Park Neighborhood Association has resigned from the Justice Department Mediation Team that was appointed in the wake of the Feb. 7, 2008 Kirkwood City Hall murders that left five city officials dead. The team is preparing to deliver its report next month.

Harriet Patton, a long-time activist in Meacham Park, said she resigned last month because city officials on the team kept saying, in her words, "Kirkwood does not have a racial problem. There is nothing broken, nothing needs to be fixed." Meacham Park is a mostly African-American neighborhood in Kirkwood.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The president of the Meacham Park Neighborhood Association has resigned from the Justice Department Mediation Team that was appointed in the wake of the Feb. 7, 2008, Kirkwood City Hall murders that left five city officials dead. The team is preparing to deliver its report next month.

Harriet Patton, a long-time activist in Meacham Park, said she resigned last month because city officials on the team kept saying, in her words, "Kirkwood does not have a racial problem. There is nothing broken, nothing needs to be fixed." Meacham Park is a mostly African-American neighborhood in Kirkwood.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Oct. 16, 2009 - The protection of anonymous speech in politics has a long tradition dating back to the Revolutionary War. But the Founding Fathers couldn't have imagined the anonymous speech that surfaced during last spring's municipal election in Buffalo Grove Village, near Chicago.

"Hipcheck16" posted an anonymous online comment about the teenage son of Buffalo Grove Village Trustee Lisa Stone. Stone thought the comment was "deeply disturbing" and defamatory. She went to court to find out the identify of the blogger, who has also hired a lawyer to maintain his secrecy.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Oct. 8, 2009 - The two First Amendment cases that the U.S. Supreme Court heard during the first week of its regular term are unlikely to make major changes in the contours of free speech and religious freedom.

On Tuesday, the justices seemed disinclined to create the first new exception to free speech in the past 25 years. The government and animal rights advocates want the court to approve laws outlawing video depictions of cruelty to animals. But the justices buried the argument in hypotheticals suggesting the law was so broad that it would outlaw movies of bullfighting, hunting and of using geese to make foie gras.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Oct. 2, 2009 - Missouri has been at the heart of the nation's story of race from the first chapter. It entered the Union as part of the Missouri Compromise; it drove abolitionist Elijah Lovejoy across the river to Illinois where he was killed, and it deepened the divisions in the Union by claiming Dred Scott for slavery. So it isn't surprising that important chapters of the history of housing segregation played out on Missouri soil.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 25, 2009 - The EEOC in St. Louis has sued Better Family Life, Inc. for taking back a job offer because the applicant was pregnant. Better Family life styles itself as "dedicated to the prosperity and growth of the American family" and finding "internal solutions to the crises within the African-American family."

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 18, 2009 - The Congressional Research Service has concluded that Congress' decision to permanently cut off funding for ACORN may be an unconstitutional Bill of Attainder. A Bill of Attainder singles out a person or group for punishment without a trial. Click here to read Eugene Volokh on whether ACORN cutoff is a Bill of Attainder and here for Politico's story on CRS' report.

Meanwhile, ACORN has sued in Maryland claiming a fake prostitute and pimp violated the law by secretly recording ACORN employees discussing how the prostitution ring could operate.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon Sept. 2, 2009 - Missouri Supreme Court Judge Mike Wolff's witty, chatty, very personal dissent to Tuesday's school funding decision may point toward a new round of litigation challenging the inequality of property tax assessments between counties. Wolff maintained that the failure to equalize tax assessments violates the state constitution, distorts school funding and is ripe for another lawsuit.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 20, 2009 - If Elizabeth A. Thrasher is to be convicted of the felony of cyber-harassment, St. Charles County prosecutors may have to justify carving out a new exception to the First Amendment.

Thrasher is the 40-year-old St. Peters woman who this week became the first person charged under the felony provisions of a new state cyber-harassment law passed in the wake of the Megan Meier MySpace suicide. St. Charles County Prosecuting Attorney Jack Banas, who decided he could not prosecute in the Meier case, brought the charges against Thrasher under the new law. (Click here to read Missouri law review article arguing Missouri law is constitutional.)

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 14, 2009 - Privacy advocates are trying to force Google to agree to tough privacy protections that would safeguard the list of books that people read from the future Google online library. They want the protections written into a pending court settlement.

Google has scanned millions of books into digital form since it began the books project in 2003. Authors and publishers sued for copyright infringement in 2005, and Google reached a tentative settlement of the case in 2007. Critics of the settlement have until Sept. 4 to file their comments with the court.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 12, 2009 - A 2005 White House email shows that Karl Rove signed off on a deal under which Sen. Christopher S. "Kit" Bond, R-Mo., won the removal of former U.S. Attorney Todd Graves in return for withdrawing his objections to an Arkansas judicial nominee for the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

An internal Justice Department investigation concluded last fall that Graves' removal was the "inappropriate" result of political pressure from Bond's office. Bond said at the time that he had not known that his former chief legal counsel, Jack Bartling had contacted the White House about Graves.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 10, 2009 - A Virginia woman has been locked up for three weeks for her blog identifying drug agents near Charlottesville, Va. She is charged with identifying a police officer with intent to harass, the Washington Post reports. She is being held on $750 bail, which she apparently is unable to pay. The arrest challenges the limits of free speech.

Elisha Strom, who has white supremacist connections, was arrested outside Charlottesville on July 16. Police raided her house, confiscating notebooks, computers and camera equipment. Strom's last post, at 7 a.m. the morning of the arrest, says, "Uh-oh, they're here."

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 6, 2009 - Conservatives and legal scholars lately have been debating the constitutionality of the health-care mandate in President Barack Obama's health-care legislation. The stronger argument appears to be that the mandate would be constitutional.

Slate has a piece summarizing some of the legal objections to taxing people who fail to buy health insurance for themselves or their family.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, July 27, 2009 - Amanda Bonnen of Chicago would tweet about the kinds of things a lot of people babble about on Twitter: The hockey playoffs, the Cubs, drinking, friends, "wardrobe malfunctions" and her moldy apartment. It was the complaint about the apartment that got her in trouble.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, July 23, 2009 - After an hour talking about health care and after months of trying to stay above the racial fray, President Barack Obama said at his press conference on Wednesday that Cambridge police acted "stupidly" in arresting Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. at his own home.

He said the arrest and racial profiling show that "race remains a factor in the society. That doesn't lessen the incredible progress that has been made. I am standing here as testimony to the progress that's been made. And yet, the fact of the matter is this still haunts us."

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, July 17, 2009 - By all accounts, Judge Sonia Sotomayor did so well during her confirmation hearing that her quick confirmation is a foregone conclusion.

But was the confirmation process a success as a civic exercise? Was Sotomayor able to say what she really believes about the role of experience in decision-making or the role of judges in policy-making? Was Sotomayor able to talk about empathy in the same way that a male nominee talked about empathy? Did the senators ask clear, succinct questions designed to elicit information? Do the American people have a better idea today than before the hearing about who Sotomayor is and how the U.S. Supreme Court works?

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, July 13, 2009 - Republicans focused their criticism on President Barack Obama more than Judge Sonia Sotomayor during the opening day of confirmation hearings for the first Hispanic named to the U.S. Supreme Court.

That focus reflects the reality that Sotomayor is almost certain to be confirmed. As Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., quipped to Sotomayor, "unless you have a complete meltdown, you're going to get confirmed."

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, July 7, 2009 -The skirmishes of half a century of the civil rights movement were visible in last week's U.S. Supreme Court decision in a New Haven firefighters' case - a case that resonated in St. Louis and other large cities where fire and police departments were historically segregated.

The New Haven decision makes it harder for black firefighters to achieve the kind of decisions they won in the 1970s when fire departments like St. Louis and New Haven had only one black supervisory officer and when eating clubs in St. Louis fire houses refused to include black firefighters.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, July 3, 2009 -  The U.S. attorney who prosecuted Lori Drew reached too far in trying to apply a federal anti-hacking law to bad behavior that the law never was meant to criminalize.

That is the view of media and Internet law experts here and around the country in the wake of U.S. District Judge George Wu's tentative decision to throw out Drew's conviction in the notorious MySpace suicide case from St. Charles County.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, July 2, 2009 - Much has been made about David Souter's courtly, poetical farewell from the bench earlier this week. But a passage in one of Souter's last dissents is getting even more attention as a possible clue that advocates of gay marriage should go slow.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, June 30, 2009 - Bush vs. Gore reared its head in Coleman vs. Franken, but the Minnesota Supreme Court didn't pay it much heed in rejecting Norm Coleman's challenge to Al Franken's election to the U.S. Senate.

Coleman must not have thought the U.S. Supreme Court would want to revisit the case either. Coleman conceded the election Tuesday afternoon, shortly after the 5-0 decision was announced.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, June 30, 2009 - Dividing along ideological lines, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 on Monday that New Haven had discriminated against white and Hispanic firefighters in throwing out a promotional exam on which African-American firefighters had done poorly. The decision reverses a lower court decision that had been joined by Judge Sonia Sotomayor.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, June 26, 2009 - Every so often, the usual liberal-conservative alignment on the U.S. Supreme Court breaks down. One of those times was Thursday when the court ruled 5-4 that criminal defendants can insist on confronting the analysts who prepare crime lab reports for trial.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, June 25, 2009 - Public school administrators cannot order the strip-search of young, adolescent girls when they are not searching for dangerous drugs and have no reason to believe the drugs are hidden in the child's underwear.

That is what the U.S. Supreme Court decided on Thursday in ruling in Redding vs. Safford that an assistant principal from Arizona violated the privacy of a 13-year-old girl in 8th grade when he ordered her to be strip-searched to find prescription Ibuprofen tablets.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, June 22, 2009 - The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday stopped short of overturning a key part of the Voting Rights Act, but it warned Congress that "things have changed in the South" and may no longer justify the popular law's toughest enforcement tools.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, June 21, 2009 - A federal judge decided last Thursday to inspect notes of an FBI interview with Vice President Dick Cheney concerning the Valerie Plame leak. Judge Emmet Sullivan made the decision after Obama Justice Department lawyers argued against releasing notes that could embarrass former presidents and vice presidents on late night comedy shows such as the "The Daily Show."

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