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Monday, June 29, 2009

Tobacco Regulation Is Expected to Face a Free-Speech Challenge

The New York Times - The marketing and advertising restrictions in the tobacco law that Congress passed last week are likely to be challenged in court on free-speech grounds. But supporters of the legislation say they drafted the law carefully to comply with the First Amendment.

The law’s ban on outdoor advertising within 1,000 feet of schools and playgrounds would effectively outlaw legal advertising in many cities, critics of the prohibition said. And restricting stores and many forms of print advertising to black-and-white text, as the law specifies, would interfere with legitimate communication to adults, tobacco companies and advertising groups said in letters to Congress and interviews over the last week.

The controversy, legal experts say, involves tension between the right of tobacco companies to communicate with adult smokers and the public interest in preventing young people from smoking.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/16/business/16tobacco.html

Opponents of the new strictures, including the Association of National Advertisers and the American Civil Liberties Union, predict that federal courts will throw out the new marketing restrictions. They say, for example, a 2001 Supreme Court decision struck down a Massachusetts rule that had imposed a similar ban on advertising within 1,000 feet of schools.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

A Fight to Protect Americans From British Libel Law

The New York Times - PARIS — The American Civil Liberties Union may not often see eye to eye with the American Center for Democracy, a research group with neoconservative credentials. But the two organizations are united on at least one thing: their distaste for British libel laws, which they say are being exploited to suppress free speech in Britain and beyond.

British courts have always been friendlier to libel claimants than their American counterparts. Until recently that did not matter much to American authors or publishers. But now the Internet makes anything published in the United States almost immediately available in Britain, too.

Some free-speech advocates in the United States say that so-called libel tourists — people with little connection to Britain — are using the global-distribution argument to justify suing for libel there.

London has gained a reputation as the libel capital of the world. Saudi businessmen have sued there to complain about American reports that they engaged in terrorist financing; Russian and Ukrainian oligarchs have sued in Britain over accusations of unsavory business activities; and Hollywood celebrities have gone to London to seek redress over reports of wayward kisses.

To try to insulate American authors and publishers, groups like the A.C.L.U. and the Center for Democracy have persuaded lawmakers in New York and Illinois to pass state laws that block enforcement of British libel decisions in the United States. Similar bills are advancing in other state legislatures, and stronger measures, allowing American defendants to fight back against adverse foreign libel rulings, have been proposed in the United States Congress.http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/25/business/media/25libel.html

Monday, June 1, 2009

Abortion Doctor Is Shot to Death in Kansas Church

WICHITA, Kan. — George Tiller, one of only a few doctors in the nation who performed abortions late in pregnancy, was shot to death here Sunday in the foyer of his longtime church as he handed out the church bulletin.
The authorities said they took a man into custody later in the day after pulling him over about 170 miles away on Interstate 35 near Kansas City. They said they expected to charge him with murder on Monday.

The Wichita police said there were several witnesses to the killing, but law enforcement officials would not say what had been said, if anything, inside the foyer. Officials offered little insight into the motive, saying that they believed it was “the act of an isolated individual” but that they were also looking into “his history, his family, his associates.”

A provider of abortions for more than three decades, Dr. Tiller, 67, had become a focal point for those around the country who opposed it. In addition to protests outside his clinic, his house and his church, Dr. Tiller had once seen his clinic bombed; in 1993, an abortion opponent shot him in both arms. He was also the defendant in a series of legal challenges intended to shut down his operations, including two grand juries that were convened after citizen-led petition driveshttp://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/01/us/01tiller.html

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