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Editorials

  • How big? An unresolvable argument

    By LEE H. HAMILTON
    A few weeks ago, in his second inaugural speech, President Obama waded into the longest-running argument our history offers.
    “Progress does not compel us to settle centuries-long debates about the role of government for all time,” he said, “but it does require us to act in our time.”
    He had just laid out a rationale for government action on infrastructure, protecting the security and dignity of people, climate change, inequality, the strength of arms and the rule of law.

  • Lone Star State gets failing grade for Bible courses

    By CHARLES C. HAYNES
    First Amendment Center
    Fifty years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional the devotional use of the Bible by public schools, in its ruling on Abington Township v. Schempp.
    But many school districts in the Lone Star State still haven’t gotten the message, according to a report released last month by the Texas Freedom Network entitled “Reading, Writing and Religion.”

  • GUEST OPINION: Inaugural prayers now weathervane

    By CHARLES C. HAYNES
    First Amendment Center
    Prayers delivered at presidential inaugurations are rarely quoted and quickly forgotten (at least in the earthly realm).

    But in today’s deeply divided America, who prays the prayers – and who doesn’t – is fast becoming a religio-political weathervane pointing in the direction cultural winds are blowing.

  • GUEST OPINION: 1st Amendment rode with Civil Rights effort

    By GENE POLICINSKI
    First Amendment Center
    Assembly and petition are the “quiet freedoms” among the five rights set out in the First Amendment.
    Speech, press and religion are more often – or at least, more obviously – in the headlines. But during Black History Month, in February, the quiet kids on this corner of the constitutional block deserve at least as much attention as their better-known brethren.

  • Free speech and the right to be crass

    By KEN PAULSON
    President, First Amendment Center
    One measure of our freedom is how foolish we’re allowed to be in exercising our rights.
    Case in point: Joseph W. Resovsky of Columbia Station, Ohio, decided to provoke some people with a grossly insensitive post on his Facebook page referring to the shooting of schoolchildren in Newtown, Conn.: “I’m so happy someone shot up all those little (expletives). Viva la school shootings!!!!”

  • GUEST OPINION: Free speech and the right to be crass

    By KEN PAULSON
    President, First Amendment Center
    One measure of our freedom is how foolish we’re allowed to be in exercising our rights.

    Case in point: Joseph W. Resovsky of Columbia Station, Ohio, decided to provoke some people with a grossly insensitive post on his Facebook page referring to the shooting of schoolchildren in Newtown, Conn.: “I’m so happy someone shot up all those little (expletives). Viva la school shootings!!!!”

  • GUEST OPINION: We can’t trust government to police itself

    Editor’s note: This column was written to educate during Public Notice Week in Tennessee. Many government agencies want to keep from having to publish important public notices in newspapers. The following makes the case of what citizens stand to lose if that were to happen.
     

    By JIM ZACHARY
    Tennessee Transparancy Project
    Any battle to remove required government public notices from newspapers is an assault on government transparency.

    Compromising government transparency is a full-out assault on the citizens of Tennessee.

  • GUEST OPINION: Religion vs. government battles ahead

    By CHARLES C. HAYNES
    First Amendment Center
    Let’s start the New Year with a conundrum as old as the Republic: When religious convictions clash with secular laws, how far should government go to accommodate religious claims of conscience?

    From Colonial conflicts over the refusal of Quakers to take up arms to the more recent refusal of Jehovah’s Witnesses to salute the flag, American history is replete with robust arguments over the limits of “free exercise of religion” as guaranteed by the First Amendment.

  • GUEST OPINION: Recognizing a civil rights landmark

    By DAVID L. HUDSON Jr.
    First Amendment Center
    Fifty years ago — on Jan. 14, 1963 — the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated a Virginia law that was being used to quash the work of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

    The court ruled in NAACP v. Button that the First Amendment protected the group’s efforts to solicit plaintiffs to challenge segregation policies.

    The state of Virginia had passed a law expanding the definition of the improper solicitation of legal or professional business.

  • GUEST OPINION: Elvis still icon in freedom of expression

    By KEN PAULSON
    President, First Amendment Center
    Last Tuesday would have been Elvis Presley’s 78th birthday, and he’s being widely hailed this week for his musical career.

    But it’s also worth noting that Presley was a singular figure in terms of free expression, pushing the envelope while the authorities inevitably pushed back.

    Elvis’ early career was almost a constant test of free speech.