On Friday, August 30, 2019, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit rejected lawyer Arnold Fleck's challenge to the State Bar Association of North Dakota's collection of mandatory bar association dues. Fleck v. Wetch, No. 16-4564 (8th Cir. 2019), was remanded to the Eighth Circuit from the United States Supreme Court in light of the Supreme Court's June 2018 ruling in Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, 585 U.S. ___ (2018), holding that public-sector unions may not collect mandatory fees from nonmember employees unless the employees waive their First Amendment rights.
On Friday, August 16, 2019, Judge Brian C. Wimes of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri ruled that Mike Campbell was deprived of his constitutional right to free speech when Missouri Representative Cheri Toalson Reisch blocked Campbell from her Twitter page after Campbell retweeted a comment criticizing Reisch's political views. Judge Wimes granted Campbell's request for declaratory and injunctive relief against Reisch under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
On Monday, August 1, 2019, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit held that KWP, a seven year old boy attending the Kansas City Public Schools system, did not have his constitutional rights violated by Officer Brandon Craddock or the school's principal, Anne Wallace, when KWP was handcuffed for twenty minutes by the officer on school grounds. The Court further ruled that both the officer and principal met the requirements for qualified immunity on KWP's claims of unreasonable seizure and excessive force in violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments, brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
On Tuesday, July 9, 2019, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held that President Donald J. Trump engaged in unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination, in violation of the First Amendment, by blocking certain users' access to his Twitter account based on those users' speech on Twitter. The Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University sued the President on behalf of seven Twitter users who were blocked from the President's Twitter account after said users tweeted replies to the President critical of his personality and policies. Judge Barrington D. Parker concluded "that the First Amendment does not permit a public official who utilizes a social media account for all manner of official purposes to exclude persons from an otherwise-open online dialogue because they expressed views with which the official disagrees."
On Monday, June 24, 2019, the United States Supreme Court issued a decision in Iancu v. Brunetti, 588 U.S. ___ (2019), holding that the Lanham Act's bar on registration of immoral or scandalous trademarks violates the First Amendment. At issue in the case is the trademark FUCT, pronounced as four letters, which is the clothing brand founded by Erik Brunetti. Justice Elena Kagan, writing for the majority, wrote that the Lanham Act's bar on immoral or scandalous trademarks is viewpoint-based discrimination in violation of the First Amendment.
On Wednesday, June 5, 2019, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that Washington State police officers lacked reasonable suspicion to arrest Daniel Brown after the police received an anonymous report of a black man possessing a gun in Washington, a concealed-carry state. After the police received the anonymous report, the police saw Brown, activated their police lights, and then pursued him going the opposite direction down a one-way street. Brown ran for about a block before being arrested at gunpoint. Police found a gun in Brown's waistband, prompting a further search finding drugs and cash. The Ninth Circuit found that the officers lacked reasonable suspicion of criminal activity when they stopped and frisked Brown and, thus, granted Brown's motion to suppress the evidence of drugs and cash.
New Jersey and other states are supporting the effort of a Navy veteran from Colorado to challenge the binary gender designations on passport applications. The case could affect how the federal government refers to non-binary individuals.
A New York tenant achieved an early victory in a lawsuit against his landlord based on harassment by a neighbor. This case should encourage landlords in New York and surrounding states to respond proactively to accusations of discrimination or harassment involving their tenants.
On Tuesday, April 2, 2019, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court, District of Maryland, on behalf of five former federal employees challenging the constitutionality of prepublication review. Former government and intelligence agency employees must submit manuscripts and drafts for government review before publication due to a lifelong obligation to keep national security secrets for as long as the information is considered classified by the government. The lawsuit alleges violations of both the First Amendment and the Fifth Amendment.