The Arizona Legislature Tries to Bully the Constitution

My research assistant Daniel Schwartz and I just wrote a piece for Forbes.com about the absurd new Arizona anti-bullying law passed by the state legislature and awaiting Governor Jan Brewer's signature. The bill is just the latest in a series of federal and state laws that seek to ban protected speech by renaming it as something else, then outlawing it. The Arizona bill is a particularly clumsy example of this phenomenon, with the legislature crudely attempting to expand its anti-harassment law to prohibit any form of electronic communication that might be considered "annoying" or "offensive" to the recipient.

As we point out in our article, this bill would essentially criminalize the conduct of anyone who wishes to participate in any public forum. Pundits, too, should beware: from Rush Limbaugh to Bill Maher,those from both sides of the political spectrum who seek to provoke and offend via electronic communications would be liable to face criminal charges under this bill.
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Supreme Court: Strip Searches for All, Even Minor Offenders

The Supreme Court's opinion in Florence v. Board of Chosen Freeholders of County of Burlington has created quite a stir this week. The opinion, authored personally by Justice Anthony Kennedy with concurrences from Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito, authorizes jails to conduct strip searches of all inmates, even those who are being booked for minor offenses such as traffic violations, regardless of whether or not prison authorities deem them suspicious.

Albert Florence, the plaintiff, filed his suit against the government after being arrested, subjected to a strip search, and put in prison for several days following a routine traffic stop. He was booked on charges of failure to pay a fine, a fine which he had actually paid years earlier. Yesterday I appeared for an interview on WGBH radio's
Emily Rooney Show, in which I discussed the dangerous implications of both faulty police databases and the Court's granting such expansive authority to law enforcement and prison officials.
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Boston College, the Belfast Project and the Academy of Betrayal

Last week I co-wrote, with my research assistant Daniel Schwartz, a blog post for the Huffington Post about the legal battles surrounding Boston College's Belfast Project. The Belfast Project, a groundbreaking oral history undertaking conducted by former IRA member Anthony McIntyre and journalist Ed Maloney, was meant to chronicle "The Troubles" in Northern Ireland. They conducted ground-level interviews with key players from both sides, seeking candid and open records of the fighting in exchange for the promise that the testimonies would be confidential until death.

But now that the Police Service of Northern Ireland has decided to reopen a 40-year-old cold murder case, the British government has subpoenaed the Belfast Project's records for use in the investigation. In our blog post, we discuss BC's lackluster legal defense of academic freedom and the unconscionable dereliction of its duty to defend its scholars' First Amendment rights.
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Rutgers Conviction Goes Too Far

The New Jersey Star Ledger has a piece out today in which Paul Mulshine discusses the recent conviction of Dharun Ravi. Ravi shared a Rutgers dorm room with Tyler Clementi, a gay student who later committed suicide, and faced charges stemming from his setting up a camera to spy on Clementi. In comments I made for the article, I suggest that while Clementi's privacy rights were clearly violated by Ravi's camera setup, the New Jersey legislature's attempt to create new hate crime and anti-harassment laws in response to the Rutgers case is an overreaction that violates the principle of equal application of the law. This case should have been a matter of a fundamental violation of privacy rights. Instead, the New Jersey legislature and Rutgers administrators are fighting an ideological battle to make political correctness the law of the land.
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Should Attleboro Teens Have Been Arrested After Posting Threats On Facebook?

Two days ago I was asked to appear on WBUR Radio's "Radio Boston" in order to discuss a recent case that has gotten quite a bit of press. The case involves two Attleboro, MA teenagers who were arrested after posting comments on Facebook about school shootings. Slate's Emily Bazelon and I discussed the charges before taking questions from callers.

You can find my interview after the jump.
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