Free Speech Under Attack

If we are to remain a free people, we need the foundation of the First Amendment. Free Speech guarantees every individual the freedom to express private opinions and beliefs publicly. Without public discourse and the freedom of associations, we will lose the greatest gift from our founding fathers.

Pillar of Law

Pillar of Law

Pillar of Law Institute. Restore Free Speech.

CHICAGO, IL – The Pillar of Law Institute won summary judgment today in the case Ball v. Madigan, striking down an Illinois state law that prohibits medical marijuana cultivation centers and dispensaries from making campaign contributions. Judge John Z. Lee of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois ruled that the law violates the First Amendment right to free speech.

DENVER, CO. – Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper signed House Bill 1014 yesterday, amending the state’s election law to allow voters to take and share photographs of their own marked ballots, an activity known as taking a “ballot selfie.” The bill followed a preliminary injunction in the case Hill v. Williams in November, which ruled that the previous version of the law—which prohibited ballot selfies—was unconstitutional. Pillar of Law Institute attorney Stephen Klein serves as co-counsel for the plaintiffs in the case.

“This is a big win for a simple but important act of free speech,” said Klein. “It’s no longer a crime to take a ballot selfie in Colorado.”

AUSTIN, Tex. – The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, the state’s highest criminal court, issued two decisions late yesterday in the cases of David and Stacy Cary, both appeals for bribery convictions relating to political campaigning. Both decisions acquit the Carys, ruling that the evidence was legally insufficient to uphold their convictions. The Pillar of Law Institute filed an amicus curiae (friend-of-the-court) brief in Stacy Cary’s case, which was cited in the court's opinion.

DENVER, CO – The Pillar of Law Institute won a preliminary injunction this evening against the enforcement of a Colorado law against “ballot selfies,” photographs of one’s own marked ballot usually displayed on social media.

“This is a big victory for Coloradoans, allowing them to unquestionably express their support for candidates and causes in this election,” said Stephen Klein, Pillar attorney and co-counsel in the case. “Today, free speech won.”

DENVER, CO – Pillar of Law Institute joined a team of attorneys to represent several Colorado citizens in federal court today, arguing for a preliminary injunction against the enforcement of Colorado’s ballot exposure law. Three voters—Scott Romano, Colin Phipps and state senator Owen Hill—argued that the law unconstitutionally prohibits “ballot selfies,” photographs of one’s own ballot that are usually posted to social media.

CINCINNATI, OH – The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit granted a request this evening from Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson to stay a preliminary injunction against enforcing election prohibitions again “ballot selfies,” photographs voters take of their own marked ballots and often post online. The ruling, in the case Crookston v. Johnson, followed an emergency appeal from the injunction, which was issued Monday by Judge Janet T. Neff of the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan.

“Ballot selfies are once again illegal in Michigan,” said Stephen Klein, Pillar attorney and lead counsel to Crookston in the case. “I congratulate the Michigan Attorney General and Secretary of State for their successful effort to uphold censorship.”

GRAND RAPIDS, MI – Judge Janet T. Neff of the United States District for the Western District of Michigan issued a preliminary injunction in the case Crookston v. Johnson today, ruling that state law must not prohibit plaintiff Joel Crookston and other Michigan voters from photographing their own marked ballots and posting them on social media.

In other words, the opinion rules that Michigan voters may take “ballot selfies” under the First Amendment.

DENVER, CO – The Pillar of Law Institute filed a lawsuit on behalf of Colorado voters Owen Hill and Scott Romano in federal court today, challenging a state law that officials believe prohibits photographing one’s own marked ballot and displaying it on social media —commonly known as a “ballot selfie.” The lawsuit responds to a stern declaration late last week from the Denver District Attorney warning that ballot selfies are illegal in Colorado and punishable as a misdemeanor.

“Ballot selfies are not a problem to be solved; they’re an exciting new form of free speech,” said Stephen Klein, Pillar attorney and counsel on the case. “Despite thousands of citizens taking and posting ballot selfies nationwide, with no documented problems, some states continue to dig in and argue that they are dangerous.”

GRAND RAPIDS, MI – Pillar of Law Institute attorneys filed a motion for preliminary injunction in Michigan federal court today on behalf of Joel Crookston in the case Crookston v. Johnson. The case is a challenge against state laws and rules from Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson that prohibit citizen photography in polling places, including photographing and posting a picture of one’s own ballot on social media.

“We’re asking the court to allow Joel Crookston and other Michigan residents to simply do what many are already doing—snapping and posting voting selfies and ballot selfies on social networks,” said Stephen Klein, lead counsel in the case. “This is an exciting new form of free speech that should be welcomed by the State of Michigan, not prohibited.”

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