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Legal News Roundup: February 29, 2016

by Marie Claire

on 29 February, 2016

Let’s take a look at this week in legal news.


Appeals Court strikes down Ohio laws banning political lies

Ohio laws banning political lies in campaigns were struck down this week in the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. The laws attempted to prohibit statements made about candidates that are knowingly false. The court ruled this to be a violation of the First Amendment, stating that the laws “are content-based restrictions that burden core protected political speech and are not narrowly tailored to achieve the state’s interest in promoting fair elections. Thus, influencing an election by lying about a political candidate’s shoe size or vote on whether to continue a congressional debate is just as actionable as lying about a candidate’s party affiliation or vote on an important policy issue, such as the Affordable Care Act.”

While a win for the First Amendment is to be commended, it’s hard not to wish there were a legal way to limit political lies. A novel idea for future Ohio candidates – tell the truth without needing the threat of law.

U.S. government settles lawsuit with Native American tribes for nearly $1 billion

Native American tribes will receive a nearly $1 billion settlement from the U.S. government, settling claims that the U.S. Interior Department underpaid multiple tribes for their oversight of programs within the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Michael Gross, a lawyer for the tribes said that the intertribal cooperation during the lawsuit “showed a unity among Indian tribes that is absolutely astounding.”

Class action lawsuit asks the MPAA to put out cigarette smoking in movies

A class action lawsuit is set to hit the Motion Picture Association of America, alleging that images of smoking in films rated G, PG, and PG-13 have led to an increase in smoking rates amongst children, which they state will lead to a large percentage of their deaths. The lawsuit hopes to prevent films with a rating lower than R from showing images of tobacco.

The case may face an uphill battle – the Supreme Court has already struck down a California law banning the sale of violent video games to children, stating there was no compelling government interest in limiting free speech.

Stay tuned to see if future X-Men, Spider Man, and other super heroes will be tobacco-free.

Foolish Facebook posts cost drug offenders time

Two brothers in the UK made a social media faux pas that cost them time – mocking the judge who gave them probation instead of time in prison after their conviction for dealing illegal drugs. While they expressed remorse before the judge, brothers Daniel and Samuel Sledden expressed entirely different sentiments on their personal Facebook pages. Once their statements came to the attention of the judge, Beverley Lunt called the offenders back before the court to answer to their outside remarks. The two suspects have been remanded into custody while the judge determines their fate.

Note to future offenders – check the privacy settings on your Facebook page, and make sure your friends aren’t friends of judges. Even better – be grateful for leniency from the start.

Biker gang wants their badges back

Members of the Outlaw Motorcycle Club in Illinois were told once more by the courts that they could not have back the motorcycle vests worn in a bar fight, in spite of a year of a litigation seeking their return. Their lawyer attempted to claim a violation of free speech rights because the patches on the vests seized belonged to the Club at large and not just the individuals. But the appellate court didn’t buy the argument, stating that, “wearing the vests facilitated the violence.”

Biker boys take note – leave your vests at the table before you join the brawl at the bar.

Justice Judge Judy?

If you’ve been secretly feeling that President Obama’s best replacement for Justice Scalia would be TV celebrity judge Judge Judy, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Read here as Jon Pfeiffer, writer for the blog Above the Law, makes the case for Supreme Court Justice Judy.