Fall 2018 Silha Bulletin

Volume 24, Number 1

The Silha Center Bulletin
Fall 2018: Volume 24, No. 1

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Cover Story: Facebook, Google Fail to Protect Users’ Date; Tech Companies and Federal Government Pursue Federal Data Privacy Frameworks

Throughout 2018. Social network platform Facebook was the target of investigations and widespread criticism over allegations that it failed to adequately protect users’ data.  

First Amendment: President Trump Continues Anti-Press Rhetoric and Actions

In fall 2018, President Donald Trump and his administration continued to use and promote anti-press rhetoric and actions.  

Reporters in Danger: Journalists in the United States and Abroad Face Threats of Violence and Incarceration

Throughout 2018, several journalists in the United States and abroad faced murder, incarceration, and threats of violence. 

First Amendment: President Trump Prevails in Two Federal Courts’ First Amendment Rulings, Faces New First Amendment Lawsuit

In fall 2018, President Donald Trump prevailed in two First Amendment cases in federal court.  

FOIA: First Amendment Coalition Sues Department of Justice Over Secret Collection of Journalist’s Telephone and Email Records

On Sept. 19, 2018, the First Amendment Coalition (FAC) filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) in an effort to force the disclosure of records related to the seizure of New York Times reporter Ali Watkins’ confidential telephone and email records by President Donald Trump’s administration. 

Supreme Court News: Brett Kavanaugh Sworn in as the 114th U.S. Supreme Court Justice

On July 9, 2018, President Donald Trump nominated U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit Judge Brett Kavanaugh to fill the vacant seat on the U.S. Supreme Court after Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement two weeks earlier.  

Net Neutrality: Repeal of Net Neutrality Rules Continues to Face Legal Uncertainty

The repeal of the Federal Communication Commission’s net neutrality rules on Dec. 14, 2017 continues to be fraught with legal challenges.  

Leak Investigations: Investigations, Prosecutions, and Sentencing Continue in Government Leak Cases

In fall 2018, investigations and prosecutions related to leaks of secret government information and documents continued in different stages around the United States. 

Tech Censorship: Trump Administration Threatens Regulation of Social Media Companies and Google for Alleged Political Bias

On Aug. 28, 2018, President Donald Trump posted a pair of tweets alleging that Google search results were biased against right-wing media outlets and individuals, prompting criticism from some observers.  

Privacy: Stearns County Releases State Documents from the Wetterling Investigation

On Sept. 20, 2018, multiple news outlets reported that following a press conference by Sheriff Don Gudmundson, the Stearns County Sheriff’s Office (Stearns County) released a 41,787-page investigative file related to the 27-year investigation into the 1989 abduction and muder of Jacob Wetterling.  

Law Enforcement: Ninth Circuit Ruling and Federal Lawsuit Target U.S. Customs and Border Protection for First and Fourth Amendment Violation

In the second half of 2018, a circuit court ruling and a federal lawsuit addressed First and Fourth Amendment concerns prompted by actions by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents.  

Access: Federal Judge Indications the Public and the Press Have a First Amendment Right to Witness All Portions of California Executions

On Aug. 17, 2018, multiple news outlets reported that Judge Richard Seeborg of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California denied a motion by California officials seeking to dismiss a lawsuit challenging state protocols barring the public and the press from viewing portions of an inmate execution, including the preparation and injection of lethal drugs, as well as medical assistance provided to an inmate if an execution fails.  

Defamation: Defamation Cases Continue for Right-Wing Radio Host and Buzzfeed; Former Political Candidates Bring Defamation Lawsuits

In summer and fall of 2018, several prominent individuals faced or filed defamation lawsuits.  

Copyright: Ninth Circuit Declines a Second Look at the Monkey Selfie Case

On Aug. 31, 2018, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit declined to rehear en banc what became known as the “Monkey Selfie” case, which arose after and Indonesian monkey named Naruto took a selfie of himself using photographer David John Slater’s camera in 2011.  

Ag-Gag Laws: Fourth Circuit Allows Lawsuit Targeting North Carolina Ag-Gag Law to Continue; District Court Rules Wyoming Law Unconstitutional

In summer and fall 2018, two federal courts ruled on North Carolina’s and Wyoming’s “ag-gag” laws, which generally prohibited individuals or organizations from gaining access to areas restricted to the general public, among other provisions.  

Silha Center Events: 33rd Annual Silha Lecture Addresses the Free Speech Implications of the #MeToo Movement

On Oct. 17, 2018, First Amendment attorney Theodore J. Boutrous Jr., the global co-chair of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP’s Litigation Group, discussed the interplay between the First Amendment and the #MeToo movement during the 33rd Annual Silha Lecture, “The First Amendment and #MeToo,” at the University of Minnesota’s Cowles Auditorium, with more than 250 people in attendance.