January 16, 2014 12:20:19 PM by
On January 15, 2014, the Supreme Court heard opening arguments in McCullen v. Coakley concerning the abortion clinic buffer zone law in Massachusetts. Passed in 2007, this statute establishes a 35-foot perimeter around the entrances of reproductive health facilities in order to limit what is perceived as the harassment by anti-abortion protesters of employees and patients entering clinics. While I support a woman’s right to choose to terminate her pregnancy, this law extends beyond what is necessary to protect women accessing these facilities (numerous other laws already protect against harassment and violence) and infringes on the First Amendment rights of anti-abortion protesters. This case represents yet another example of the “free speech for me but not for thee” attitude. A free society assures liberty, but not necessarily comfort, for its citizens.
For more insight on this issue please read my argument against the constitutionality of this law, presented alongside Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley’s argument in support, on the WGBH/News page.
The column after the jump...
November 15, 2013 3:49:19 PM by
A contretemps currently taking place at Boston’s public broadcasting network WGBH is one of the more recent examples of pressure applied by interest groups to enforce ideological conformity. This latest such controversy involves billionaire industrialist and philanthropist David Koch, who sits on the WGBH board. Climate change activists are calling for his dismissal from that post. Without any evidence that Koch – who donates generously to the station – has attempted to influence, much less actually influenced and corrupted the network’s programming, these voices believe that he has no place serving as a board member on account of his minority-held views on the nature of climate shift. A loud and very public campaign, including picket lines outside of the network’s headquarters in Boston, is taking place.
In my recent piece for Forbes.com, I explain the stunted logic of this kind of campaign. Citing Justice Robert Jackson’s famous and moving 1943 Supreme Court opinion in the West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette case, I remind those intolerant of Koch’s role in the public arena that unpopular opinions must be protected against the majority-held or “official” view of the day, particularly with regards to issues as important to all of us as the health of our planet. I invite you to read the full column here: http://www.forbes.com/sites/harveysilverglate/2013/11/15/david-koch-and-the-wgbh-controversy-pledging-allegiance-to-the-flag-of-the-day/.
April 04, 2012 12:48:52 PM by
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.
November 01, 2011 10:57:30 AM by
Tarek Mehanna may have objectionable--even horrific--views, but that does not make him a terrorist or a criminal. Mehanna was arrested two years ago on charges of lying to federal investigators, and providing material support to terrorists. The FBI also implies that Mehanna had plans to carry out a shooting spree in the Sudbury mall, but was thwarted by his inability to obtain weapons (consider, for one moment, how easy it is to get a gun in the United States). The crux of the government's case centers on a series of videos for which Mehanna allegedly provided subtitles; the translations, the Feds say, represented material support for terrorists.
Last night I spoke with Emily Rooney on her WGBH show about the case, arguing that, in order to live in a free and open society, we must protect speech, even the speech of those whose beliefs we find abhorrent. The video is embedded after the jump.