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Category Archives: Civil Liberties

Stubborn Things: An Empirical Approach to Facts, Opinions, and the First Amendment

Herz-Roiphe, Daniel, Stubborn Things: An Empirical Approach to Facts, Opinions, and the First Amendment (November 25, 2014). 103 Michigan Law Review First Impressions (2014 Forthcoming). Available for download at SSRN:

“This essay offers an empirical approach to assessing whether compelled disclosures are “factual” for the purposes of the First Amendment — the central issue at stake in the D.C. Circuit’s upcoming rehearing of National Association of Manufacturers v. SEC (“NAM”). Under the Supreme Court’s holding in Zauderer v. Office of Disciplinary Council, “purely factual and uncontroversial” compelled disclosures receive only minimal constitutional scrutiny. Other forms of commercial speech regulation face more demanding requirements. Whether mandated commercial speech consists of “facts” or “opinions” is therefore an important question — both for NAM and for other related cases. This essay offers a new perspective on the problem by conducting original survey research that assesses whether ordinary consumers understand the compelled disclosures at issue in several recent cases to express facts or opinions. It finds that respondents’ characterizations accord with those of courts in many cases — such as American Meat Institute v. U.S. Department of Agriculture, United States v. United Foods, and United States v. Arnold — but deviate sharply from the D.C. Circuit over the disclosures from NAM and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. v. FDA, which survey participants tended to classify as “purely factual.” The essay argues that while these results do not “prove” or “disprove” any court’s analysis, they could play a valuable role in helping judges understand the disclosures that come before them as NAM, and other similar cases, continue to be litigated.”

Human rights abuses ‘leave a third of Libyans with mental health problems’ – UKGuardian

“Research by Dignity – the Danish Institute against Torture – shared with the Guardian, paints a devastating picture of the human consequences of the regionalism, tribalism and factionalism that have wracked the north African country since the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi three-and-a-half years ago. A fifth of households (20%) had a family member who had disappeared,Continue Reading

Sexual Violence at Institutions of Higher Education

CRS – Sexual Violence at Institutions of Higher Education, Gail McCallion, Specialist in Social Policy; Jody Feder, Legislative Attorney. October 23, 2014. “In recent years, a number of high-profile incidents of sexual violence at institutions of higher education (IHEs) have heightened congressional and administration scrutiny of the policies and procedures that IHEs currently have in place to address campus sexualContinue Reading

The Tightening Web of Russian Internet Regulation

Tselikov, Andrey, The Tightening Web of Russian Internet Regulation (November 20, 2014). Berkman Center Research Publication No. 2014-15. Available for download at SSRN: “Over the past two years, systematic Internet regulation has increased more in Russia than anywhere else in the world. A series of progressively more restrictive legislative developments between the summer of 2012Continue Reading

Engel, Smith Offer Bill to Improve Culture Preservation, Curb ISIL Funding

“Representative Eliot L. Engel (D-NY), the leading Democrat on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, and Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ), chair of the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations today announced that they have introduced legislation to improve American efforts to preserve cultural property around the world and cut offContinue Reading

Immigration Detainers Decline 39 Percent Since FY 2012

“There has been a dramatic drop in the number of detainers issued by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), according to the latest available data from the agency. In the eighteen month period from the end of FY 2012 through March 2014, there has been a 39 percent decrease in the number of ICE detainers sentContinue Reading

Qatar: Background and U.S. Relations

CRS – Qatar: Background and U.S. Relations, Christopher M. Blanchard,  Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs. November 4, 2014. “Qatar, a small peninsular country in the Persian Gulf, emerged as a partner of the United States in the mid-1990s and currently serves as host to major U.S. military facilities. Qatar holds the thirdlargest proven natural gas reserves in the world, andContinue Reading


“Welcome to OpenElections Our goal is to create the first free, comprehensive, standardized, linked set of election data for the United States, including federal and statewide offices. No freely available comprehensive source of official election results exists. The current options for election data can be difficult to find and use or financially out-of-reach for most journalists andContinue Reading

Birth Registration, Legal Identity, and the Post-2015 Agenda

Center for Global Development Policy Paper 046 September 2014 “As the post-2015 process to determine the successor set of goals to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) moves into its final year, much of the UN inter-governmental negotiations will turn to strengthening and quantifying individual targets. Governments, civil society leaders, academics, and policymakers from around the world haveContinue Reading

Oxfam’s new report on global inequalty

“From Ghana to Germany, South Africa to Spain, the gap between rich and poor is rapidly increasing, and economic inequality has reached extreme levels. In South Africa, inequality is greater today than at the end of Apartheid.The consequences are corrosive for everyone. Extreme inequality corrupts politics, hinders economic growth and stifles social mobility. It fuels crimeContinue Reading

FBI Seeks Expanded Access to Surveil Computers Around the World

Ed Pilkington – The Guardian: “The FBI is attempting to persuade an obscure regulatory body in Washington to change its rules of engagement in order to seize significant new powers to hack into and carry out surveillance of computers throughout the US and around the world. Civil liberties groups warn that the proposed rule change amountsContinue Reading

Mapping the Response to Internal Displacement: The Evolution of Normative Developments

The Brookings-LSE Project on Internal Displacement: “According to best estimates, by early 2014, there were over 30 million people who had been internally displaced by conflict and human rights violations. This was the highest number ever recorded and over 25 times the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) counted in 1982. Some of this increaseContinue Reading