November 14, 2017

FREE SPEECH IS SEXY AGAIN: The Supreme Court has granted certiorari to six First Amendment cases this term, reports Bloomberg‘s Greg Stohr, three of them just yesterday.

They include a high-profile fight over a Colorado baker who refuses to make cakes for same-sex weddings and a challenge to the requirement in some states that public-sector workers pay for the cost of union representation […] In the new California case, a state law requires licensed pregnancy clinics to tell patients that they can call a county health department to learn about state-funded prenatal, family planning and abortion services. The law is being challenged by clinics that oppose abortion […] The justices also said Monday they will use a Minnesota case to consider guaranteeing people the right to wear political apparel when they go to the polls to vote. The final case involves a man who says he was arrested in retaliation for suing and politically criticizing his local government.

Not surprisingly, law professors are all over the place on what it means and what will happen. Harvard Law prof Rebecca Tushnet told Bloomberg that “the current court interprets the First Amendment more expansively in many ways than it did in the past,” while Eugene Volokh, a First Amendment scholar at UCLA School of Law says the latest issues are “mostly variations on topics the justices have been debating for decades.”

**DISCLOSURE: I defended Greg Stohr for more than 12 years at Bloomberg and did the pre-publication vetting of his book “A Black and White Case” about the landmark Gratz v. Bollinger affirmative action case.