Last month, Facebook’s independent Oversight Board, created to adjudicate disputes over takedowns by Facebook, issued its first five substantive opinions:

These are, of course, just the beginning of the Board’s “jurisprudence,” but because these cases do have precedential value (indeed, they are considered “highly persuasive”), it’s worth picking out some of their common threads.

While several are outlined below, the top line is this: The Board will be extremely…


The Supreme Court did not, in 1964, create a fundamental free speech protection out of thin air as Justice Thomas has argued. But will Thomas’ colleagues give him a chance to convince them it did?

Four votes to put a case reconsidering New York Times v. Sullivan in front of the Court?

This is the sixth installment in an ongoing multi-part series On Freedom Of Press In The United States; each installment can stand alone.

#1: The Attack on N.Y. Times v. Sullivan

#2: Justice Thomas and the First Fake News Statute

#3: A Republic, If You Can Keep It

#4: William Blackstone Is The Most Powerful Person You’ve Never Heard Of

#5: Originalism and a Constitutional Right to Your Opinions

#6: Actual Malice: The Bit That Justice Thomas Left Out

Justice Clarence Thomas has called on the Supreme Court to overrule New York Times v. Sullivan — the case that occasioned…


After days of rage tweeting, I reflect on how thousands of people suffering from mass delusion succeeded in incapacitating an entire branch of the U.S. government.

Union soldiers stand outside the Capitol, during their Civil War residency there in 1861. The basement was turned into a kitchen to feed the troops.

Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn in as the 36th President of the United States two hours and eight minutes after John F. Kennedy was shot. On Wednesday, of this past week, thousands of people, at least hundreds of whom stormed the U.S. Capitol building, incapacitated another branch of government — the U.S. Congress — for six hours and thirty four minutes. And it was easy.

After all, they walked right in — or, in some cases, were let in by the very people, the U.S. Capitol Police, who took an oath to protect it. They then broke windows, ransacked offices…


Matthew Lyon spit in the face of Federalists — literally. He also beat them on the floor of Congress with fireplace tongs. They had, after all, tossed him in jail for his opinions.

This is the fifth installment in an ongoing multi-part series On Freedom Of Press In The United States; each installment can stand alone.

#1: The Attack on N.Y. Times v. Sullivan

#2: Justice Thomas and the First Fake News Statute

#3: A Republic, If You Can Keep It

#4: William Blackstone Is The Most Powerful Person You’ve Never Heard Of

#5: Originalism and a Constitutional Right to Your Opinions

#6: Actual Malice: The Bit That Justice Thomas Left Out

Depending on who you asked in the 1790s, Matthew Lyon was either a patriot or a traitor. There was no middle…


The 10th Justice was a radical monarchist who despised the Colonists and American Independence. Why does the Supreme Court give this guy 👇 a vote?

I’ve filled this article with every (uncopyrightable/public domain) depiction of William Blackstone I was able to find. You’re welcome.

This is the fourth installment in an ongoing multi-part series On Freedom Of Press In The United States; each installment can stand alone.

#1: The Attack on N.Y. Times v. Sullivan

#2: Justice Thomas and the First Fake News Statute

#3: A Republic, If You Can Keep It

#4: William Blackstone Is The Most Powerful Person You’ve Never Heard Of

#5: Originalism and a Constitutional Right to Your Opinions

#6: Actual Malice: The Bit That Justice Thomas Left Out

William Blackstone is the most important legal commentator of all time. In the 1760s, he wrote a four-volume book called the…


What a nineteenth century U.S. Supreme Court case over taxes on a bushel of green tomatoes tells us about truth in an era of fraying reality.

A tomato might be a fruit in a horticulture textbook. But on the docks of western Manhattan? Well there it is most definitely a vegetable. (Photo by Mary Gober)

Every few years, an old Supreme Court case, Nix v. Hedden, pops up in the press. It even found its way into a dissenting opinion in the landmark case Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, where the Supreme Court concluded that an employer who fires an individual for being gay or transgender violates federal anti-discrimination laws.

The dispute in Nix was nothing special. It was a story as old as civilization itself: a dispute over…


In the early United States, Americans confronted a pressing issue: how can democratic debate and the brutish English law of libel coexist?

It was once said of Elizabeth Willing Powel that “her Patriotism causes too much Anxiety.”

This is the third installment in an ongoing multi-part series On Freedom Of Press In The United States; each installment can stand alone.

#1: The Attack on N.Y. Times v. Sullivan

#2: Justice Thomas and the First Fake News Statute

#3: A Republic, If You Can Keep It

#4: William Blackstone Is The Most Powerful Person You’ve Never Heard Of

#5: Originalism and a Constitutional Right to Your Opinions

#6: Actual Malice: The Bit That Justice Thomas Left Out

Out with the old, in with the new. The year is 1787 and the delegates to the Philadelphia Convention had just…


In this Part, we challenge Thomas’ reliance on a set of dusty medieval English statutes.

It took centuries before scandalum magnatum and libel cases were dealt with by the same courts and, in earnest, it would not be until the Star Chamber (pictured) was constituted in the sixteenth century.

This is the second installment in an ongoing multi-part series On Freedom Of Press In The United States; each installment can stand alone.

#1: The Attack on N.Y. Times v. Sullivan

#2: Justice Thomas and the First Fake News Statute

#3: A Republic, If You Can Keep It

#4: William Blackstone Is The Most Powerful Person You’ve Never Heard Of

#5: Originalism and a Constitutional Right to Your Opinions

#6: Actual Malice: The Bit That Justice Thomas Left Out

We now know that Justice Clarence Thomas wants to make it easier for public people to use defamation litigation to harass…


A battle plan for coming jurisprudential upheaval.

This is the first installment in an ongoing multi-part series On Freedom Of Press In The United States; each installment can stand alone.

#1: The Attack on N.Y. Times v. Sullivan

#2: Justice Thomas and the First Fake News Statute

#3: A Republic, If You Can Keep It

#4: William Blackstone Is The Most Powerful Person You’ve Never Heard Of

#5: Originalism and a Constitutional Right to Your Opinions

#6: Actual Malice: The Bit That Justice Thomas Left Out

In early 2019, Justice Thomas called on the Court to overrule New York Times v. Sullivan, the case that adopted the…

Matthew Schafer

Media Lawyer. Adjunct Professor/Mass Media Law at Fordham University School of Law.

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