Protest

Violations Without Vindication: How the Supreme Court’s Decision in Nieves v. Bartlett Permits Retaliatory Arrests and Threatens to Undermine the Fight For Racial Equality

(Source) In May 2019, the Supreme Court handed down its decisions in Nieves v. Bartlett. For the most part, the decision flew under the radar, garnering little media attention (with some exceptions). However, this seemingly innocuous Supreme Court decision now threatens to undermine what has been described as “a defining moment in the future of American politics” and a “turning point against police brutality”—the George Floyd protests. As a general matter, the Constitution prevents the government from retaliating against an individual for exercising her constitutional rights. As a recent example, President Donald Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, was released from prison after a judge determined Cohen’s house arrest was revoked as punishment for writing a tell-all book about Trump. Since Cohen had a First Amendment right to write a book about Trump, the government could not retaliate against him for writing it. Likewise, a police officer violates the First Amendment when she arrests an individual because she dislikes his speech—known as a retaliatory arrest. But what does it matter if the officer violates the First Amendment when there are no consequences? One incredibly important remedy is to sue the officer under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Section 1983 allows victims of [read more]

Today’s Media Landscape: Legal Protections For The Press From Arrest and Police Violence

(Source) Journalism is often referred to as the Fourth Estate because of the central role it plays in the political system. From the beginning of the United States, the importance of a free press has been recognized and given special consideration. From Thomas Jefferson’s famous words: “[W]ere it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter[,]” the importance of a free press has been repeatedly affirmed by the nation’s leaders. The importance of journalism to our society is never more visible than during periods of civil unrest. Brave journalists risking their safety to tell the stories of protestors is essential to achieving wide-reaching change through protest. The work of journalists in these situations both amplifies the voices of the protestors and serves as a check on the government’s ability to limit the rights of the protestors. In many cases, police officers who commit violent misconduct would not face consequences if not for video evidence recorded by journalists or ordinary citizens. However, for journalists to serve their essential role during acts of protest, their constitutional right to report must not be [read more]

Taking on the National Football League

On October 15, 2017, several news and media outlets reported that former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick would be filing a grievance against the National Football League. Kaepernick, following the requisite procedure, filed his grievance under the National Football League’s Collective Bargaining Agreement alleging collusion amongst the 32 owners of NFL teams. What started out as an individual practicing his right to protest, particularly to shed light on specific social injustices, has escalated rapidly into a national debate centered on players kneeling during the national anthem. As a result of his protest, and in combination with both the immense media coverage and fellow athletes who joined in protest, Colin Kaepernick remains unsigned a year later. In what is undoubtedly a monumental task taking on the NFL, Kaepernick still stands on the verge of making more history if an arbitrator finds the allegations are true. Article XVII(a)(1) of the NFL collective bargaining agreement states that no NFL team or employee “shall enter into any agreement, express or implied, with the NFL or any other club, its employees or agents to restrict or limit individual club decision making as to . . . whether to negotiate or not to negotiate with [read more]