The First Amendment and Occupy Wall Street’s Occupation of Zuccotti Park

by Tony Guo

Introduction

Over Fall Break I visited my fiancée in New York City.  As part of my visit we went to Washington Square Park.  We both graduated from New York University and Washington Square Park is a second home to us.  It was the first place I met my fiancée.  Before I graduated the park had undergone renovations forcing the two previous classes and my class to break tradition and graduate in Yankee stadium instead Washington Square Park.  I was curious to see the recent renovations and excited to visit my favorite park.  When we got near the park we saw rows of police vehicles.  We had stumbled upon an Occupy Wall Street protest.

My fiancée and I made our way to the barricaded fountain and in the process received several copies of the same Occupy Wall Street newspaper.  As we left the park to go to the vendor fair nearby I heard a protestor arguing with a resident.  The protestor held a copy of the Constitution and a copy of the Occupy Wall Street newspaper.  The protestor gave the newspaper to the resident who immediately threw it in the trash can.  As the resident moved away, the protestor shouted “you are suppressing my First Amendment right to be heard.”  The protestor having not taken William and Mary Professor Timothy Zick’s First Amendment class was unaware that the First Amendment only prohibits state actors such as a police officer from limiting his right to free speech and not private persons.  The protestors should have said please recycle.

Background

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Published in: on November 6, 2011 at 12:01 pm Comments Off on The First Amendment and Occupy Wall Street’s Occupation of Zuccotti Park

Fear, Loathing, Clinging, and Buying at an Awesome Clip

The phrase is an infamous part of the history of the 2008 election.  Those small-town folks that “cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them…”  Its one of the reasons that some fear the policies of the Obama administration.  That fear has culminated in another form of economy stimulation; gun sales.

Before the election was complete, national papers were reporting on one aspect of the bubbling fear of an Obama presidency coupled with a Democrat-controlled Congress.  According to a recent post at the Volokh Conspiracy, that pot has bubbled over.  Comparison of monthly increases in background checks relative to the previous year indicate a staggering 42% response to the November election of President Obama.  Even if the numbers don’t persuade you, the zeitgeist of gun-enthusiasts is a fear of returning to the Clinton-Era ban on “assault-style” weapons or ammunition taxes.

While gun sales go on at an impressive clip and some advocate investing in the stocks of gun-manfucturers, the rationality of the response is called into question.  Is this even a response to the Obama presidency, or to the economy in general?  A second Volokh post suggests suspicion that the rise is related to the economy (and interestingly, suspicion of an impending Obama presidency, though the data from the election month was noticibly lacking).  President Obama professed his belief in the Second Amendment, and voices his support of “common-sense gun safety laws.”  But with Attorney General Eric Holder’s February announcement that the President seeks “to reinstitute the ban on the sale of assault weapons,” perhaps that fear is well founded.

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Published in: on March 31, 2009 at 9:11 am Comments Off on Fear, Loathing, Clinging, and Buying at an Awesome Clip

Poll Searching

We’re almost to the finish line this election season and every day we hear more and more about the polls.  But what is the value of these polls?  Many sources insist on reporting the popular vote, which doesn’t say much about who will win the presidency.  CNN uses a touch map to change the electoral distribution for each of their election day scenarios.  Think that sounds laughable?  Well, Saturday Night Live does too.  With the ubiquity of polls in the twenty-four hour news cycle, where should you turn for an accurate representation of the upcoming elections?  FiveThirtyEight.com is the answer.

What is FiveThirtyEight.com?  Taken from their FAQ, FiveThirtyEight.com is a site with a mission to “accumulate and analyze polling and political data in way that is informed, accurate and attractive”.  The site is run by Nate Silver, a baseball analyst for the website Baseball ProspectusSilver decided to turn his advanced statistical methods towards polling information to eliminate bias by using regression analysis, “inferential processes” to keep stale polls recent, and 10,000 simulations for each site update in order to provide a probabilistic assessment of electoral outcomes based on a historical analysis of polling data since 1952.” FiveThirtyEight is not just about plugging in numbers.  Silver analyzes the underlying models which pollsters use in determining their models and thus their data.  The analysis can even elicit responses from those he criticizes.

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Published in: on October 28, 2008 at 11:20 pm Comments Off on Poll Searching

Consumerist

Interested in consumer law? First of all, register for Professor Tortorice’s class. Next, check out W&M ACS member Alex Chasick’s work over at consumerist.com.

You might be familiar with Chasick’s muckraking if you’ve been following this site for a while. Almost a year ago, he wrote W&M officials to discuss the RIAA’s litigious tactics on college campuses.

Nowadays, he’s still publishing stories about the RIAA and trying to warn baseball fans about getting ripped off by ridiculous ticket policies.

Keep up the good work, Alex! Protecting people from harmful business practices is progressive, after all.

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Published in: on March 19, 2008 at 9:07 pm Comments Off on Consumerist

Sec. of Defense Robert Gates’ U.S. Naval Academy Address

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates (W&M ’65) delivered the commencement address at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis today. The video of his remarks can be found here; the text here.

I believe that Gates’s speech was not only inspiring for the graduates; it also showed his own personal courage.

Courtesy of TheEagle.comIn a time marked by political leaders who distrust and malign the media–particularly in our current conservative White House–Gates told the 27,000 in attendance at Annapolis to “remember the importance of two pillars of our freedom under the Constitution: the Congress and the press.”

He stressed to the graduates that members of the military “must be nonpolitical,” and that it is important to have openness and truthfulness when reporting to the Congress. He cited the essential nature of the press as a guarantor of information to ‘the people’ (you and me) by pointing to the influential reporting about poor conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, a scandal exposed by the Washington Post.

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Published in: on May 25, 2007 at 4:56 pm Comments Off on Sec. of Defense Robert Gates’ U.S. Naval Academy Address

Some Ask, Is Anonymity Still the Best Policy?

Last Wednesday, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper dropped all charges against the three Duke lacrosse players accused of raping a stripper one year ago. On Thursday, The News & Observer of Raleigh “outed” the accuser, identifying her by name. They were not the only to do so – Fox News, The New York Post, and other major newspapers have followed suit.

The media generally follows a voluntary policy of not identifying accusers or victims of sexual assault. However, The News & Reporter as well as other news agencies have stated that since the Attorney General declared that no rape took place, there is no victim, and thus, no need to protect any victim’s identity. Surely, in this case, they are not wrong. The accuser was given a full year of media protection while her claims were thoroughly investigated, and perhaps even “helped along” by a not-so-ethical district attorney. Her identity was only released after a full investigation which turned up nothing but empty accusations.

But the Duke case is not your typical rape accusation case. The nature of the accusations, parties involved, and social circumstances all combined to create a remarkable anomaly. Despite this case’s divergence from the norm, however, some media outlets, including the Associate Press, have stated that they will review their disclosure policies to determine whether a broad policy of anonymity remains appropriate.

Martin Pinales, president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers supports these evaluations, saying that the function of newspapers is not to be “politically correct” but rather to be accurate. Furthermore, Pinales stated that “[t]he First Amendment is not there for the press to say, ‘We’re going to abide by self imposed restrictions’ – the First Amendment is there for the public’s right to know.” I’m not sure Pinales’ characterization of the First Amendment is completely accurate, as the right to refrain from speaking ought stand on equal footing with the right to speak at all. Furthermore, the First Amendment rights include the right to free speech and press – but not necessarily the right to know.

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Published in: on April 17, 2007 at 3:41 pm Comments Off on Some Ask, Is Anonymity Still the Best Policy?

OurTube…

I contributed a piece to the National ACS Blog about C-SPAN’s copyright policies. Nancy Pelosi recently posted a video of herself speaking at a House Committee meeting onto her YouTube account. It was official C-SPAN footage, and so C-SPAN asked her to remove it.

Want to know how things turned out? Read the blog post over there, and if you feel like it, leave a comment on their blog. Let’s show the rest of the country that our chapter is active and full of insightful progressive thinkers.

I wonder how C-SPAN feels about MC Rove footage being up on YouTube?
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Published in: on April 9, 2007 at 4:21 pm Comments (3)

MADD about Immigration?

Bill O’Reilly and Geraldo Rivera got into a shouting match on television last week. It was very loud, and quite heated.

“This is the courtroom scene from ‘A Few Good Men’ after a case of Red Bull with the volume knob cranked to 11,” said Matthew Felling, an analyst with the Center for Media and Public Affairs. “Add to that the surreality of Geraldo being the voice of reason, and it’s the oddest video you’ll watch a dozen times.”

The issue they were debating was whether or not the immigration status of a drunk driver should have come into play following an accident he caused that killed two teenage girls. The accident happened about 50 miles away from William & Mary, in Virginia Beach, VA.

Rivera emphasized that this is a tragic drunk driving story and has nothing to do with immigration. Bill O’Reilly used it as an opportunity to call Rivera an anarchist who wants “open borders”, as well as calling for the head of police and the mayor of Virginia Beach to be fired.

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Published in: on at 12:00 am Comments Off on MADD about Immigration?

The Daily Show “School House Rock”

Who could possibly argue that Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show isn’t the smartest show on TV?

Check out this “School House Rock” spoof on midterm elections…

(note: the views expressed therein are not those of ACS. But come on, it’s pretty hilarious…)
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Published in: on November 11, 2006 at 12:36 am Comments (1)

Lego Music Video for Evidence Students

A priceless Lego-mation video explaining several of the hearsay exceptions in evidence. A true gem…


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Published in: on at 12:31 am Comments Off on Lego Music Video for Evidence Students