Free Speech Rights
Academic and political debates are a vital cornerstone of our democracy and should not be the basis of defamation litigation.
Upholding Speech Rights
In today’s world, where schools regularly struggle with censorship, a DWT team secured a crucial victory for speech rights in Oregon.
Arguing on behalf of a teacher who hung a rainbow flag in the window of her classroom, Meagan Himes successfully persuaded a state court judge that a Newberg School District policy prohibiting teachers and other school staff from displaying messages supporting or opposing “political, quasi-political, or controversial” topics violates the Oregon Constitution.
DWT served as co-counsel along with the ACLU of Oregon. Alan Galloway provided supervision and expertise on the Oregon Constitution’s free expression rights.
Shining a Light on a
Human Rights Tragedy
DWT was honored to represent The Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR) and be recognized in the launch of The National Security Archive’s Ayotzinapa Investigations Special Exhibit Page to draw attention to a 2014 tragedy in which 43 college students from Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers’ College in Guerrero, Mexico, disappeared.
Since 2017, the National Security Archive has filed hundreds of Freedom of Information Act requests for U.S. documents related to the case, the U.S.-Mexico “war on drugs” and its consequences, and U.S. security assistance to Mexico, and partnered with CIR in an investigation of what happened. Sam F. Cate-Gumpert and Thomas R. Burke represented CIR in this extremely challenging FOIA litigation.
Standing Up for
Kennedy v. Bremerton School District involved a high school football coach who publicly prayed with his team on the 50-yard line at the conclusion of games. Our team’s amicus brief, submitted on behalf of former NFL players, collegiate athletes, and coaches, highlighted the uniquely coercive nature of the coach-athlete relationship in high school sports.
We argued that the record demonstrated that players felt compelled to participate in the coach’s expressions of faith. Although the court ruled 6-3 in favor of the coach, we will look for more opportunities to influence the law on this critical issue.
Defending the Right to Speak Out on Political Controversies
The fate of non-Hindu minorities in India is a significant human rights concern. That’s why it came as no surprise that when Dr. Audrey Truschke, a professor of South Asian History at Rutgers University, criticized a U.S.-based political advocacy group called the Hindu American Foundation, she and other activists were immediately sued for defamation.
The Cornell First Amendment Clinic, working with DWT’s Eric Feder, represented Dr. Truschke in the case.