Speech At Work?

The grocery store chain of “Whole Foods Market,” which advertises nothing but organic foods, is embroiled in a controversy over speech in their stores. Jonathon Turley explains:

Jeff Bezos has always told his staff to “start with the customer and work backward.” That could now change in a dispute between Amazon-owned Whole Foods and both Black Lives Matter and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). NLRB lawyers are arguing that Whole Foods must allow workers to wear “Black Lives Matter” masks at work, suggesting — in effect — that Bezos should start with the worker and work forward by allowing them to advocate for social change. The company is arguing that such a rule would constitute a violation of its own free speech rights.

Whole Foods is fighting for the right to maintain a workplace free of political slogans or demonstrations.

Brevard County School Board Floats Lead Balloon. Still Thinks The Constitution Doesn’t Apply.

We heard from some folks inside of the Brevard County School District building concerning our post on Friday where we noted the School Board is denying people their Constitutional rights.

People in the building asked others about the post and how accurate we were. Not surprisingly, supervisors and others tried to float the idea that the Board had done nothing wrong. They even were citing a Florida Statute to back their opinion.

The statute they are citing is FS 286.0114 which reads in part:

286.0114 Public meetings; reasonable opportunity to be heard; attorney fees.—

(1) For purposes of this section, “board or commission” means a board or commission of any state agency or authority or of any agency or authority of a county, municipal corporation, or political subdivision.

(2) Members of the public shall be given a reasonable opportunity to be heard on a proposition before a board or commission. The opportunity to be heard need not occur at the same meeting at which the board or commission takes official action on the proposition if the opportunity occurs at a meeting that is during the decisionmaking process and is within reasonable proximity in time before the meeting at which the board or commission takes the official action. This section does not prohibit a board or commission from maintaining orderly conduct or proper decorum in a public meeting. The opportunity to be heard is subject to rules or policies adopted by the board or commission, as provided in subsection (4).

They are clinging to the phrase:

The opportunity to be heard is subject to rules or policies adopted by the board or commission…….


California Churches Respond To Newsome’s Ban On Singing.

A few weeks ago we reported that California Governor Gavin Newsome had banned “singing and chanting” during religious services.

As we noted at the time:

So while people will march, chant, and sing in protest, if you do that in a church, you can face criminal and civil charges.

Three churches in California have filed suit against the state and Newsome.

Three northern California churches are suing Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) and other public health officials over a ban on singing and chanting in houses of worship during the coronavirus crisis.

Several advocacy groups, including the American Center for Law & Justice (ACLJ), filed the federal suit Wednesday on behalf of Calvary Chapel of Ukiah, Calvary Chapel Fort Bragg and River of Life Church, in Oroville, Calif.

The lawsuit alleges Newsom’s order prohibiting singing and chanting in places of worship violates the churches’ constitutional rights.

Free Speech On Campus – Better, But Not Great.

FIRE, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, has released it’s annual report concerning free speech on college campuses for the year.

The major findings of the report are:

1) The percentage of schools earning an overall “red light” rating in FIRE’s Spotlight database has gone down for the twelfth year in a row, this year to 24.2%. This is over a four percentage point drop from last year, and is exactly 50 percentage points lower than the percentage of red light institutions in FIRE’s 2009 report.

2) The percentage of private universities earning a red light rating, which stood at 47.1% last year, continued to decrease, coming in at 44.8% this year.

The First Amendment And Government Property: Free Speech Rules

Part of a continuing series:

The five rules of the First Amendment and Government Property

Rule 1: A few forms of government property are treated as so-called “traditional public forums.” There, the government generally can’t exclude speech based on its content.

The classic examples are sidewalks and parks, as well as streets used for parades. Unless speech falls within one of the narrow First Amendment exceptions, the government can’t restrict it. Such places are technically government property; but that gives the government no extra authority to control such speech.

Hands On Originals Wins……..Again.

We’ve covered the case of Lexington, Kentucky printer Hands On Originals before here and here.

The Cliff Notes version of this case is rather simple.

In 2012, the Gay and Lesbian Services Organization (GLSO) sought quotes for tee-shirts for a Gay Pride Festival. The organizing committee called various shops asking for quotes based on a tee shirt with printing on the front and back of the shirt.

Hands on Original was the lowest bidder for the shirts. The GLSO then called Blaine Adamson, the owner of Hands On Originals in an attempt to negotiate a lower price for the tee-shirts. At this time, the caller identified the group he was representing and the fact that the message on the tee-shirts was to promote a gay pride festival and parade.

Adamson declined to print the tee-shirts as the message was against the company’s beliefs.

One of the important things to note here is that Adamson did not decline to print the tee-shirts because of the sexual orientation of the group, but the message the group wanted on the shirts.

In 2014, the GLSO filed a complaint with the the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission which found that Hands on Originals had discriminated against the GLSO.

Cocoa Beach: A Peek At The Presentation.

Last week, we sent our mouthpiece to the Cocoa Beach Commission meeting to comment and make a presentation on the speech issue that had occurred in several meetings.

Several things happened, none of which were very good.

First, our representative had been told previously that his time to talk at the podium would begin when he began to speak. As he had to bring up the PowerPoint presentation onto the screen so everyone could see it, it does not seem right to penalize a speaker for having to open a file and have it appear on the main screen. Yet that is what happened. His time began when he got up to the microphone, not when he started talking.

That came into play as we as a group had practiced what he was going to say. We timed it. We had his presentation down consistently to be between 2:50 and 2:54. Without fail, that is what he was running. When the buzzer went off way before the end of the presentation, he was perplexed and thought he had blown it. It was not until someone from the audience said the Commission had started the timer early that he realized he had not messed up the timing at all.

For every speaker following him, the timer started AFTER the speaker began speaking.

We thought you’d like to see what the presentation was so here it is. We have added the PowerPoint slides in the correct positions. What we do and what he did was read the section and then click to change the slide without looking. We can’t reproduce that on a blog, but you can see what was said and the slides.

You may be wondering who “Ring Lardner” was and why the reference to him.

THIS Is Why We Get Riled Up About Free Speech.

There are some times when we get people who write or ask us “why are you so concerned with free speech? It’s not like anything is going to happen that can take it away.”

The Cocoa Beach City Commission notwithstanding, here are two really odd cases where people’s rights were attacked and violated under the color of the law.

The first is out of Washington County, Georgia and comes to us via

Anne King and her ex-husband had a dispute over medicine for their children. Specifically, while Anne King was home taking care of the kids, she asked her husband to pick up some medicine for them. When the husband refused saying he was too busy, Mrs. King posted this on Facebook:

A friend of Mrs. King, Susan Hines, “liked” the post and responded with “POS — give me an hour and check your mailbox. I’ll be GLAD to pick up the slack.

Perfectly normal comments in today’s society, right?

Unfortunately for Mrs. King, the former Mr. King is Captain Corey King of the Washington County Sheriff’s Department.

Corey King saw the post and the “like” by Hines and apparently decided he didn’t like the way he was being talked about so he had his friend Washington County Sheriff’s Investigator Trey Burgamy take a complaint and file charges against Mrs. King and her friend for “criminal defamation.” Mrs. King and Hines were arrested and taken before local magistrate Ralph O. Todd (who is an elected official and not a lawyer.)

Ken White at describes what happened next:

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