The Thomas Jefferson Center (with which I’m involved as a member of the board of trustees) has just released its yearly Jefferson Muzzles. You can see the details here, but here’s a summary of the awards (not all are First Amendment violations as such, but all were judged by the center to be improper or excessive reactions to people’s expression):
- The state government of Illinois for prohibiting donations from medical marijuana businesses to political campaigns or political action committees, and prohibiting candidates from receiving such donations.
- The California Legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown for passing a law banning online employment databases from listing the ages of actors and actresses.
- Bradley County (Tenn.) Sheriff Eric Watson for deleting comments by atheists and blocking atheist commentators from the county Facebook page.
- Collier County (Fla.) School District for a policy requiring students who elect not to stand for the national anthem to first obtain parental consent.
- The U.S. Olympic Committee for excessively protecting its trademarks by trying to prohibit non-sponsors of the Games from tweeting about the Olympics, posting pictures or using related hashtags.
- The U.S. Senate for unanimously passing a bill targeting speech on college campuses. The bill would change the definition of prohibited “anti-Semitism” to one that is so broad that it essentially would apply to any speech critical of Israel or its policies.
- Boca Raton Community High School administration (Palm Beach County, Fla.) for giving senior Maxine Yeakle the choice of removing her “Hilary for Prison” T-shirt or serving an in-school suspension.
- Cumberland County (N.C.) School Superintendent Frank Till Jr. for suspending and ultimately dismissing a teacher for stepping on an American flag to illustrate the protections of the First Amendment.
- Pierce College administration/the Los Angeles Community College District for not allowing a student to hand out Spanish-language copies of the U.S. Constitution outside of the college’s tiny (.003 percent of the campus) designated “free speech zone.”