Working for a Strong First Amendment
and Sound Communications Policy

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College Newspaper Advertising

Filed a friend-of-the-court brief, joining with The Thomas Jefferson Center, in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, arguing that a Virginia regulation forbidding college newspapers from running ads for alcoholic beverages is unconstitutional.  The brief argues that the lower court should have applied strict scrutiny, rather than the less-stringent commercial speech standard, because the issue is not what advertisers of alcohol are allowed to say, but what newspapers are allowed to say.  The regulation strips the Collegiate Times (Virginia Tech) and Cavalier Daily (University of Virginia) of full editorial discretion, and thus is unconstitutional.  [2012] Click here to view brief.

Untruthful Speech

Joined with 23 other leading media organizations in filing an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in United States v. Xavier Alvarez.  The brief urged the Supreme Court to uphold a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit that the “Stolen Valor Act,” which makes it a crime to make false claims about receiving military honors, should be struck down because it is an unconstitutional restriction of speech.  The law improperly creates a new category of speech exempt from First Amendment protection, the brief stated.  Untruthful speech can be detected and exposed without rewriting First Amendment principles, the brief concluded.  [2012]  Click here to view brief.

Washington Legal Foundation v. FDA

Filed an amicus brief in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, joined by the Association of American Publishers, the Radio-Television News Directors Association, and The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression, asking the court to deny the FDA's motion to dismiss. The Media Institute argued that a First Amendment exception to the ripeness and exhaustion doctrines permits the court to review the FDA's prohibition of the distribution by pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers of independently generated medical textbooks and supplements, and peer-reviewed journal articles. [1994] The Court denied FDA's motion to dismiss on First Amendment grounds. [1995]

FDA Information Restrictions

Filed comments before the Food and Drug Administration arguing the agency's required 'preclearance' of video news releases is an unconstitutional prior restraint on speech. The comments also requested that the FDA remove its restriction on drug manufacturers' dissemination of medical textbooks and peer-reviewed articles. [1994]

Journal of the American Medical Association

Filed comments with the circuit court asserting that the Cook County prosecutor was in violation of the First Amendment and the Illinois shield law by subpoenaing JAMA for the name of an anonymous doctor who wrote a controversial piece in JAMA on euthanasia. The Court granted JAMA's motion to quash the subpoena on statutory, not constitutional, grounds. [1988]

Carpenter v. U.S. (the Winans case)

Filed a brief before the Supreme Court with several other media groups, organized by the Reporters Committee, about whether a reporter could be prosecuted under federal securities law for trading on alleged 'insider' information gathered for news purposes. Winans's conviction was upheld by the Supreme Court. [1986]

Lowe v. SEC

Filed a brief before the Supreme Court with several other media organizations, organized by the Reporters Committee, arguing that the SEC could not constitutionally require a publisher to register with the Commission in order to publish financial newsletters containing recommendations or reports concerning securities. [1984] The Court held for the publisher on statutory grounds without reaching the constitutional question. [1985]