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Author: Edward Fitzpatrick

Ruling could destroy labor unions as we know them

Ruling could destroy labor unions as we know them

Michael J. Yelnosky, dean of the RWU School of Law and professor of law: On Feb. 26, the Supreme Court of the United States heard arguments in Janus v. AFSCME. A ruling in favor of the petitioner could destroy America’s public sector labor unions as we know them. It may come as a surprise that this existential threat comes not from labor law but from the First Amendment. The high court is poised to rule that state laws authorizing unions…

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Gerrymandering case may hinge on First Amendment

Gerrymandering case may hinge on First Amendment

June Speakman, RWU political science professor: In a recent Slate.com article, Mark Joseph Stern poses an intriguing question: Does partisan gerrymandering violate the First Amendment? His answer is yes, and I agree. Gerrymandering is the practice of drawing lines around legislative districts for the purposes of influencing electoral outcomes by packing like-minded voters together or dividing them into tiny groups (called “cracking” by political scientists). This task of line-drawing is assigned to state legislatures by the Constitution. It takes place every…

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Free Press Helps Make America Great

Free Press Helps Make America Great

Edward Fitzpatrick, RWU director of media and public relations, a New England First Amendment Coalition and Common Cause Rhode Island board member, and a former Providence Journal columnist: The First Amendment needs allies. It needs people like you: Republicans, Democrats and independent Rhode Islanders. It needs people who aren’t going to buy the self-serving “Fake News” narrative being spun by President Trump. It needs people who aren’t going to applaud when the President of the United States uses his bully pulpit…

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How Will Supreme Court Slice Wedding Cake Case?

How Will Supreme Court Slice Wedding Cake Case?

Diana Hassel, law professor and associate dean for academic affairs at the RWU School of Law: The U.S. Supreme Court recently heard arguments in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, a case that pits the First Amendment right of expression of a cake maker against the right not be discriminated against based on sexual orientation. The high court must determine whether the right to be free from discrimination takes priority over religious objections. As part of its growing solicitude…

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U.S. must remain beacon as world jails more journalists

U.S. must remain beacon as world jails more journalists

Edward Fitzpatrick, RWU director of media and public relations, a New England First Amendment Coalition and Common Cause Rhode Island board member, and a former Providence Journal columnist: The bayonet scar on Omar Bah’s left hand reminds him of the dangers faced by journalists worldwide. The scar reminds him of what dictators and other authoritarian leaders think of a free press. The scar reminds him of how crucial it is for the United States to stand as a beacon of press…

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Net Neutrality Protects Free Flow of Ideas

Net Neutrality Protects Free Flow of Ideas

Edward Fitzpatrick, RWU director of media and public relations, a New England First Amendment Coalition and Common Cause Rhode Island board member, and a former Providence Journal columnist: Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai wants you to believe that killing net neutrality would be a big win for the little guy. The former Verizon lawyer wants you to believe he’s acting in the best interest of the public – not in the interest of big broadband companies such as Verizon, AT&T…

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R.I. First Amendment case informs Trump/NFL clash

R.I. First Amendment case informs Trump/NFL clash

Edward Fitzpatrick, RWU director of media and public relations, a New England First Amendment Coalition and Common Cause Rhode Island board member, and a former Providence Journal columnist: The First Amendment has become a political football. Conservatives pile on when liberals try to shut down conservative speakers on campus, and liberals lash out when President Trump calls for sacking those who take a knee during NFL national anthems or dare to call him a bigot. So will Little Rhody come into…

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The value of a vibrant, free press

The value of a vibrant, free press

June Speakman, RWU political science professor and former president of the Barrington Town Council: During an on-camera forum with students in early October, Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo answered a question about the press by saying that local broadcast news was increasingly “like talk radio” and that the only daily statewide newspaper, The Providence Journal, couldn’t be relied on anymore because of dramatic decreases in the numbers of reporters working there. Her comments provoked a strong reaction by local media,…

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Is the Wall Between Church and State Crumbling?

Is the Wall Between Church and State Crumbling?

Diana Hassel, law professor and associate dean for academic affairs at the RWU School of Law: The First Amendment provides that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”  This clause has been understood to both keep religion out of government and to keep the government out of religion. That is, to erect a wall of separation between church in state. In recent years, this prohibition against the mingling of government and…

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Nation needs First Amendment refresher course

Nation needs First Amendment refresher course

Edward Fitzpatrick, RWU director of media and public relations, a New England First Amendment Coalition and Common Cause Rhode Island board member, and a former Providence Journal columnist: We, the people, don’t know the first thing about the First Amendment. Well, some of us do. But according to a new survey by the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Public Policy Center, 37 percent of Americans can’t name any of the five freedoms protected by the First Amendment – not a single one….

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