Assignment 1: Spring 2016 One of the best ways, COM 440/POL S 461

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Assignment 1: Case Problems Involving the First Amendment

COM 440/POL S 461 Assignment 1: Spring 2016

of the best ways to learn the rules of law is to apply them to
hypothetical situations. That’s why I’m asking you to analyze one case
problem with several parts involving material discussed in Lessons 1 and
2 (including the discussion forums) and chapters 1 -3 of the textbook.
Please refer to Practice Exercise 2-2 for examples of this type of legal

The first step is to read the facts of the case
problem carefully and e-mail me if you have any questions. The next step
is to identify the correct area (or category) of law that is applicable
to each question of the case problem. In other words, does the question
deal with sedition or fighting words or prior restraint or time, place
and manner rules or another area (or category) of law covered in Lesson
2? This part of the analysis is essential because the legal rules differ
depending on the area of law under consideration. Once you determine
the area/category of law that’s applicable (and sometimes it’s given),
then the last step is to apply the correct legal rules to the facts of
the case problem and to state your conclusions. Here’s the case
hypothetical, followed by instructions on how to prepare your

Case Hypothetical

Let’s assume that Gloria
Santos is the Green Party nominee, campaigning for the open
congressional seat held by Representative Jim McDermott, who decided not
to run for re- election this year. People opposing her candidacy have
already created a website dedicated to her defeat. The website’s domain
name is, and it is the first website that
comes up in an Internet search for information about her candidacy. The
website labels her a Communist and includes false statements about her
positions on the environment, workers’ rights, low-income housing and
police accountability, among other issues. The website also attacks her
character and fitness to hold political office, calling her a liar, a
thief and an illegal immigrant. It promises to publish detailed accounts
of her anti-business policies and illegal activities throughout the
campaign season.

Gloria Santos and her supporters are outraged
and contact the city prosecutor, who is her friend, asking for his help
in shutting down the website. The city prosecutor asks a local judge to
order the website’s creator to shut down the website immediately before
most voters become aware of it because of its lies, deception and
character assassination.

1. Would such an order be
constitutional? In other words, should the local judge, using equity
law, order the website’s creator to shut down the website? First,
identify the specific area (category) of law that directly relates to
this situation; second,

identify the theory or interpretation of the First Amendment that is most

applicable to this type of situation; third, apply the relevant legal rules; and,

fourth, explain your conclusion. (35 points)

this case hypothetical, let’s assume that Gloria Santos’ supporters
want to hold a political rally in Red Square on the UW-Seattle campus
from noon to 1 p.m. on Monday, Memorial Day. They asked the appropriate
university administrators for a permit, and some administrators
expressed concern that people would assume that the university was
supporting her candidacy if they allowed the political rally in Red

2. Should university administrators allow this
political rally? In other words, would this political rally be
constitutionally protected under the First Amendment? First, identify
the specific area (category) of law that relates to this situation;
second, apply the correct legal rules to the facts of the case problem;
and, third, explain your conclusion. (25 pts)

assume Santos’ supporters did hold the political rally, and Santos spoke
at it. During her speech, she called for a political revolution where
ordinary citizens would unite to overthrow the billionaires and
capitalists who control this country’s economy and political system.
Several opponents to her candidacy attended the rally and were offended
by her call for a revolution. One man shouted that she and her
supporters should be arrested for sedition because they were advocating
the overthrow of the U.S. government and the country’s economic system.

Should Santos and her supporters be arrested for sedition? In other
words, would such arrests be constitutional? Please apply the correct
legal rules and explain your conclusion. (20 pts)

man yelled that Santos was a dangerous Communist and would be a threat
to the Seattle way of life if she were elected to Congress. He then
tried to push his way to the podium, and when two of her supporters
stopped him, he screamed insults directly at them for several minutes.
Several bystanders urged police officers on the scene to arrest the man
for fighting words.

4. Should the police arrest the man
for fighting words under these circumstances? In other words, would such
arrests be constitutional? Please apply the correct legal rules and
explain your conclusion. (20 pts)

Here’s how to prepare and submit your assignment.

  1. Create a Word document and enter your full name at the beginning of your assignment.
  2. Begin
    each of your answers with the specific question number that you’re
    answering. For example, when you answer question 1, please start your
    answer with “Question 1.” or 1. This will help me grade your assignment.
  3. Refer back to the question after you finish a draft
    of your answer to make sure that you answered the question completely
    and didn’t get side tracked into discussing other unrelated areas of
    media law.
  4. Proofread carefully (double-check spelling, grammar, accuracy).
  5. Upload
    your assignment to the website. You are responsible for making sure
    that your assignment is posted on the website by the deadline so please
    double check

that it uploaded successfully. If you have trouble uploading your assignment,

please e-mail me before the deadline.
6. Save a copy of your work in case something happens to the uploaded file.

i can give a example for this type of legal analysis

  1. The student editor of theMountain High Gazette,
    a monthly newspaper published in print and online as part of a
    journalism class at the local public school, has written a thoughtful
    article about abortion and teenage pregnancy. The article includes
    interviews with two current students,each of whom describes her problems
    as a teenage mother and full-time student.It also contains an interview
    with a third student who talks about her decision to have an abortion.
    All three students are willing to be identified in the article. The
    article is balanced and carefully researched. The faculty adviser
    approves the contents of the article, but the principal overrules his
    decision,saying the article is inappropriate for a school paper and
    should not be published. The principal fears that the students named in
    the story will be bullied by other students and harshly criticized by
    parents. The students identified want to share their stories to help
    other young people in similar situations. The student editor believes
    that the principal is violating her First Amendment rights by censoring
    the story. Does the principal have the authority to stop the publication
    of the article? Why or why not?
  2. Assume that a city council in Washington State has adopted the following ordinance: “The mayor shall have the authority to impose reasonable restrictions on groups that use the city’s parks for activities critical of the U.S. military.” Would this ordinance be constitutional? Why or why not?


  • 1. With
    any type of legal analysis, it’s important to address all of the
    elements before reaching a conclusion. In a case involving censorship of
    a student newspaper and website, the first question that should be
    asked is: “Is the newspaper/website published at a public or private
    high school?” The second question, assuming it’s a public school, is
    “what kind of newspaper/website is it?” In this case problem, the facts
    state thatMountain High Gazetteis a public school and that the newspaper/website is part of a journalism class. Given these facts, theHazelwoodruling
    applies,which gives school administrators the authority to censor
    student media for what the courts have broadly defined as “legitimate
    pedagogical concerns.” It is likely that the principal does have the
    authority to censor the article.
  • 2. This is an example of time,
    place, and manner restrictions. The first step is to determine the type
    of forum. Courts have ruled that public parks are considered traditional
    public forums. Given that designation, you then need to apply the test
    for evaluating time, place and manner restrictions to the ordinance. The
    criteria are as follows: 1) the rule must be content neutral; 2)the
    rule must not constitute a complete ban on communication; 3) the rule
    must be justified by a substantial state interest; and4) the rule must
    be narrowly tailored. The ordinance is not constitutional for many
    reasons. First, it is not content neutral because it limits only speech
    and activities critical of the U.S.military. Second, it is overly broad
    because it limits activities in all public parks. Third, the city has
    not demonstrated that it serves a substantial state interest. Fourth,
    it’s vague because it doesn’t define what activities are covered and
    what constitutes a group; and it gives too much discretion to the mayor
    to determine what would be a “reasonable restriction” in administering
    the law.
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