For this assessment you must research a current or recent First Amendment case by visiting the American Library Association . You will find a list of Notable First Amendment Court Cases you can use for this assignment.
You may want to review the tutorial on conducting research in order to effectively gather information. Read about a case that you find interesting.
Ask yourself the following questions about the case you are researching, and keep notes on your answers:
- Has any similar case come before courts in the past? If so, how was it resolved?
- Does this case deal with a person’s or a group’s freedom of speech?
- Should the activity in question be restricted in all situations or just this one? It depends on the situation.
- Would you want someone to take this right away from you? No
- Who could be hurt if this right is upheld? I this right was upheld, there could be a lot of slander and libel flying around. Who could be hurt if it is removed? No one would be hurt if it was removed, but it would certainly be unconstitutional.
Once you have answered these questions, use your notes to draft a multi-paragraph (3-5 paragraphs) essay describing the case. You should include the following: summary of case, significance of case, and your opinion on the case/outcome. List any sources you consult.
For this assignment I will be using the Tory vs. Cochran case of 2005.
In 2005, A famous defense attorney by the name of Johnnie Cochran, famously noted for the defense of his client O.J. Simpson, was targeted by a former client of his with libelous accusations and protests, for withdrawing as his defense attorney 20 years prior. Cochran’s former client, Ulysses Tory, spread his libelous accusations by picketing with signs and other types of slanderous material, displayed in front of Cochran’s office. Cochran sued Tory for damages.
The outcome was a trial judge issuing an injunction ordering Tory to discontinue his pickets and slanderous speech against Cochran, permanently. Tory came back with an appeal, arguing that the order was a direct violation of his First amendment right to free speech, but the California Court of appeals ruled that the order was constitutional. On May 31, 2005, the court ruled 7–2 that in light of Cochran’s death, the injunction limiting the demonstrations of Ulysses Tory “amounts to an overly broad prior restraint upon speech”. Two justices, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, said that Cochran’s death made it unnecessary for the court to rule.
This case represents a very important angle of the argument for and against free speech. On the Pro side, as citizens of the United States, it is our right to be able to picket and expose the evils of another person, organization or administration. Whether our opinions are in favor or against the individual, organization, or administration. On the Cons side, I think it was very disrespectful and wrong of Tory to claim untrue things about Cochran. To picket his office, with signs claiming lies about Cochran, in my opinion was a very juvenile thing to do.
I agree with the judge who, instead of awarding damages to Tory, he wisely ordered Tory to stop picketing and saying lies about Cochran. I think that the judge taking away that right, in that instance was constitutional. We should not take away this right, in all cases, though. Look at all the things that have been made better and fixed by a few picketing folks. Women’s rights, women’s right to vote, civil rights, the list goes on. Tory abused his own right to free speech, and thus suffered the consequences.