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Week in Review: Goldwater Keeps up the Free Speech Fight in Oregon

February 27, 2021

Late this week, the Goldwater Institute scored an important win in court to protect the right to speak—or not to speak, if one so chooses.

In a unanimous decision, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals declared that a Goldwater Institute lawsuit against Oregon’s mandatory bar association can proceed to trial. The case, brought on behalf of lawyers who object to being forced to join the association and fund its politically oriented publications, had been thrown out by a trial court judge who concluded that Supreme Court precedent allows states to require bar association membership. But the Court of Appeals has now reversed that decision, holding that the question of whether the government can force lawyers to join bar associations that engage in political and ideological speech that isn’t related to regulating the practice of law—is “an issue that neither the Supreme Court nor we have ever addressed.”

As Goldwater Institute Vice President for Litigation Timothy Sandefur writes at In Defense of Liberty, many states, including Oregon, “still require lawyers to join bar associations and pay them dues if they want to practice law. Many lawyers object to this, since bar associations often take political positions that lawyers disagree with and don’t want to be forced to fund (to the tune of several hundred dollars a year). The First Amendment protects a person’s right to associate—or not to associate—yet state bar associations often disregard this right entirely, using mandatory dues to fund partisan political activities.”

The Goldwater Institute has filed similar lawsuits in North Dakota, Louisiana, and Oklahoma challenging the constitutionality of mandatory bar associations. You can read more about the Oregon case from Sandefur here.

Goldwater Working to Remove Red Tape for Patients

This week, the U.S. moved one step closer to having a third COVID-19 vaccine on the market. But are we moving fast enough to get Americans the innovative treatments we need to fight the virus?

On Friday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee met and recommended that the FDA authorize Emergency Use Authorization for the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, a one-shot vaccine that does not require frigid temperature storage. Emergency Use Authorization could happen almost immediately, meaning that Americans will likely have another vaccine options in mere days.

As Goldwater Institute Director of Healthcare Policy Naomi Lopez writes at In Defense of Liberty, this is great news. However, she writes, “the process of getting to this point is a reminder that the U.S could—and should—be doing more to get medical innovations to the public more quickly.”The impending Emergency Use Authorization of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a positive development in the U.S.’s fight against COVID-19, but “it’s important to remember that too much red tape and risk aversion in the drug approval process can end up harming patients rather than helping them.” Goldwater is a leader in cutting this red tape: Our landmark Right to Try legislation, which helps give terminal patients access to investigational treatments, was adopted by 41 states and signed into federal law in May 2018, and we’re working to expand telemedicine and free medical professionals to communicate about cutting-edge treatments so doctors have the most complete information available to effectively care for patients.

You can read Lopez’s full post here.

Goldwater’s American Freedom Network Scores Free Speech Win

Yesterday, the Goldwater Institute’s American Freedom Network secured a victory to protect an Arizona college student’s right to free speech.

Last fall, Arizona State University tried to silence student Rae’Lee Klein by punishing her for sharing information on social media. The school removed Klein—a journalism student—from her job as the University’s student radio station manager. Her offense? Simply sharing a New York Post article on her personal Twitter account about the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The article discussed Blake’s history, including his criminal record, and in her tweet, Klein encouraged her followers to consider all the facts surrounding this event. 

Now, thanks to Network attorney Jack Wilenchik, Klein has settled her case against the school in exchange for seven times the statutory penalty for violations of free speech—compensating for lost wages and publicly acknowledging the University’s error of exposing her to harassment and criticism, including from the dean of the journalism school.  

This win “is significant for students everywhere—thought-policing has no place in our schools,” said Klein’s attorney and Network member Wilenchik. “Rae’Lee Klein stood up to harassment and acted on journalistic principle.” According to Klein, “Without the Goldwater Institute and its American Freedom Network, I may never have been able to stand up for my and my fellow students’ rights.”

Goldwater’s American Freedom Network, our pro bono network of attorneys litigating for liberty, is committed to defending free speech on campuses around the country, and you can read more about these efforts here.

Pulling Back the Curtain on Government Theft

It may be hard to believe, but it’s true: The government really does seize and auction off many innocent Americans’ property and keep the profits for themselves. It’s a practice known as civil asset forfeiture, and in a Goldwater Institute webinar last Wednesday, Goldwater President and CEO Victor Riches and Paul Avelar, Managing Attorney of the Institute for Justice’s Arizona office, discussed this big nationwide problem that’s causing many innocent Americans to suffer—and how Goldwater is standing up for those unfairly targeted by this form of government theft.

Civil asset forfeiture is an unfair and unconstitutional practice—and the Goldwater Institute is working to stop it, through both litigation and legislative means. You can learn more about the efforts to stop this form of government theft by watching the full webinar above. And to learn more about Goldwater’s ongoing work to stop civil asset forfeiture, click here.



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