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As of October 1, 2011 the Jennings Project blog has moved and joined forces with Constitution Daily, the Center’s daily digest of smart conversation on the Constitution. All new posts will be published there, so be sure to subscribe and follow Constitution Daily on Twitter. If you are interested in submitting a post to Constitution Daily, please email Stefan Frank at JenningsProject@constitutioncenter.org.
Monday, November 29, 2010
Friday, November 19, 2010
As we react to the (merciful) end to one of the nastiest campaign seasons in memory, no one is suggesting that we should resort to censorship of political candidates. People are rightfully debating whether allowing corporate money is a good thing – a door opened by the Supreme Court in the Citizens United v. F.C.C. case last year – and whether disclosure requirements for donors should be imposed as a check on undue influence, but no one is suggesting that the government pass laws to limit candidates’ speech in order to promote civility and truthfulness, both of which seem in short supply.
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
When an employer restricts an employee’s right to speak, by banning employee blogs or limiting what employees can say on social media sites, it is common for people to say it is a violation of the First Amendment right to free speech. This is not true. The First Amendment only protects people from government restrictions on speech. Private employers have no First Amendment limitations. They can fire employees for their speech without any constitutional consequences. (Employees are protected from being fired for some speech – like whistleblowing or union involvement – but these are statutory and unrelated to the First Amendment.)
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
Monday, November 1, 2010
Can the use of the word "boy" by a white supervisor addressing a black employee in a work situation be deemed an act of discrimination?
2006 PJP Fellow Bill Rankin, writing in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution examines an interesting case that was recently heard by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta. The suit was brought by John Hithon, a worker at the Tyson's chicken processing plant in Gadsden, Alabama, who claimed that his supervisor had addressed him as "boy," a term with historical racial overtones recalling the relationship between master and slave. Indeed, the trial court twice awarded Hithon damages on his claim that such slurs represented the racism that led to his being passed over for promotion. But in both cases, the circuit court overturned the decision, most recently when a three judge panel heard the case and dismissed it in Tyson's favor. As Rankin reports, now a distinguished group of civil rights pioneers -- including former Atlanta mayor Andrew Young, Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth (co-founder of the Southern Christian leadership Council) and former SCLC president Rev, Joseph Lowery -- is asking the 11th Circuit to reconsider the case en banc; that is, as a twelve-judge panel including all of the judges of the 11th circuit.