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Jun 16, 2017

The Media Bite Back: Legal responses to attacks against the media

My June column for the South Carolina Press Association:

The insults and haranguing of the media during Donald Trump’s campaign has continued into his presidency, with Trump and various White House officials continuing to disparage the media and its reporting. Elected officials at the state and local levels have taken up the cause as well, with examples including Texas Governor Greg Abbott joking at a firing range that he would carry around the silhouetted target “in case I see any reporters,” and Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin calling a reporter investigating his purchase of a mansion a “sick man” and a “peeping Tom.”

Jun 8, 2017

Juror Gets 30 Days, Fine for Online Research

A juror in a high-profile criminal trial of five members of a church for beating a gay congregant has been held in contempt and sentenced to 30 days in jail and fined $500 for doing independent research online about (archaic, it turns out) North Carolina law and distributing it to fellow jurors. Besides punishing the juror, the judge also declared a mistrial in the case.

May 11, 2017

Local case raises question: Is journalism harassment?

My May column for the South Carolina Press Association:

In April, independent investigative journalist Ron Aiken successfully defended himself against civil harassment and stalking charges brought against him by Pinewood Lake Park Foundation CEO Liewendelyn Hart, after Aiken reported that the foundation’s use of government funds is under investigation.

May 9, 2017

Another Court Seeks World Domination

An Austrian appeals court has held that Facebook must remove posts that insult the leader of the country's Green Party, Eva Glawischnig, not only in Austria but worldwide.

Apr 26, 2017

Supreme Double Standard on Cell Phones in Court

I've written before about the fact that many courthouses "ban" cellphones and other electronic devices from parts of the building, or from the entire edifice, often have exemption for a select elite: judges and their staffs, often along with lawyers, police officers, and others.

Yesterday's incident at the U.S. Supreme Court points this out to an extreme.

Apr 19, 2017

The Dilemma of Group Libel: How big is it?

My latest column for the South Carolina Press Association:

Apr 6, 2017

During World War I, a silent film spoke volumes about freedom of speech

My premiere article on The Conversation website:


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Chief John Big Tree, Dark Cloud, Jack Cosgrave, Adda Gleason and Robert Goldstein in The Spirit of ‘76 (1917). IMDb


In the United States, “The Great War” led to unprecedented efforts by the federal government to control and restrict “unpatriotic” speech. But the boundary between speech that undermined the government and legitimate criticism was often unclear.

As a scholar and lawyer focused on freedom of speech in the U.S., I have studied the restrictions on speech during WWI and the legal cases that challenged them. These cases helped form the modern idea of the First Amendment right of free speech. But the conflict between patriotism and free expression continues to be an issue a century later.

Mar 23, 2017

Mar 7, 2017

New Guide to U.S. Social Media Law

Late last year I became the new lead contributor and editorial reviewer for the venerable Internet Law: The Complete Guide, published by Specialty Technical Publishers.

Now, STP has released a chapter of the Guide as a stand-alone publication, Internet Law Essentials: U.S. Social Media Law.