Free Speech and Civil Liberties


Texas School Can Force Teenager to Wear Locator Chip: Judge

By Jim Forsyth, Reuters, January 8, 2013

A public school district in Texas can require students to wear locator chips when they are on school property, a federal judge ruled on Tuesday in a case raising technology-driven privacy concerns among liberal and conservative groups alike.

U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia said the San Antonio Northside School District had the right to expel sophomore Andrea Hernandez, 15, from a magnet school at Jay High School, because she refused to wear the device, which is required of all students.

Read entire story here.


Judge Weighing Dismissal of Uganda Gay Rights Suit

By Bridget Murphy, Associated Press, January 7, 2013

For Pepe Onziema, a transgender gay rights activist from Uganda, Monday’s federal court hearing in Springfield was a chance to face the man he later called the devil.

For Scott Lively, a Massachusetts evangelical accused of persecuting gays in Uganda, the hearing was something he said he expected as a Christian.

“The Bible predicts that Christians would sit in seats like this and have to face these kinds of things,” Lively said later. “I’m not surprised and I’m ready to do whatever the Lord has for me to do.”

Following court arguments Monday, it is now up to U.S. District Judge Michael Ponsor to decide whether to grant Lively’s motion to dismiss a civil action that Sexual Minorities Uganda filed against him last year. The Uganda-based group for which Onziema serves as program director alleges that Lively waged a long campaign of persecution of gays in the East African country.

Lively’s lawyer, Horatio Mihet, called the case an attack on the U.S. Constitution and his client’s First Amendment right to free speech. Read entire story here.


‘Campus Freedom Index’ gives free speech a failing grade at Canadian universities

Steve Mertl / Daily Brew, November 1, 2012

Universities were the birthplace of political correctness and now a right-leaning group says that on most Canadian campuses the trend has eroded free speech.

The Calgary-based Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms issued its 2012 Campus Freedom Index, which surveyed 35 Canadian universities and student unions.

It awarded only three A grades, compared with 28 Fs to 12 universities and 26 student unions for things like cancelling campus appearances of controversial speakers to trying to keep out pro-life groups and banning the expression “Israeli apartheid,” the National Post reported. Read entire story here.


Section 13: How the battle for free speech was won

Five years, two tribunals, secret hearings, a court challenge and a turning point
Charlie Gillis, June 19, 2012

For all the passion it stirred, you’d think it would get a noisier send-off. An ovation, maybe. Or tears. Instead, Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act slipped quietly beneath the waves last week during a night-time sitting of the House of Commons—victim of a private member’s bill and a trailer load of toxic publicity. Brian Storseth, Conservative MP for Westlock-St. Paul, had glanced anxiously around the chamber as his kill bill went through its third reading. “The benches weren’t full,” he recalls. “That always makes for a bit of extra heart pumping.”

Justice Minister Rob Nicholson had voiced support for the legislation. So had the Prime Minister. The result, then, was never in doubt: at 9:35 p.m. on June 6, by a vote of 153-136, Parliament got Canada’s human rights bureaucrats out of the business of policing speech on the Internet. There was a scattering of applause, and handshakes for Storseth (the bill requires the rubber stamp of Senate approval). “To be honest, it’s all a blur,” says the three-term MP, laughing. But if the passage of Bill C-304 represents a fundamental shift in Canadian culture, you’d never have known it that night. Members dealt with a few housekeeping matters, then waded through a supply bill. Finally, one by one, they trickled out into the cool Ottawa night. Read entire story here.

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