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7th Circuit hears arguments on judicial free speech

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The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments Friday morning in the case of Indiana Right to Life vs. Randall T. Shepard, et al., 06-4333, in which the state's Commission on Judicial Qualifications and Disciplinary Commission want the court to reverse the District Court's ruling that granted a permanent injunction against provisions in Indiana's Code of Judicial Conduct.

Representing the appellants, George T. Patton Jr. argued the plaintiffs in the case, Indiana Right to Life, do not have standing to bring the suit, stating Indiana Right to Life isn't a judge or judicial candidate and not subject to the canons, and are free to say and publish whatever information they want.

The question of why Indiana Right to Life was bringing the suit instead of a judge or judicial candidate was asked several times by the Circuit judges.

The Circuit judges also asked why Indiana Right to Life filed the suit instead of the judges. In response, the appellees argued the judges declined to answer the questionnaire because they feared facing disciplinary actions.

The judges also questioned how the canons affect Indiana Right to Life in their ability to publish the results of the two judges who did answer the organization's questionnaire.

The appellee argued the listener has an equal constitutional right to receive free speech and cited Shimer v. Washington, 100 F.3d 506 (7th Cir. 2003) and Penny Saver Publications, Inc. v. Village of Hazel Crest, 905 f.2d 150 (7th Cir. 1990). The person injured by not receiving speech brought the suits, in which the 7th Circuit held they had standing. Indiana Right to Life has constitutional right to receive speech as a listener and their speech has been chilled because of the prospect of punishment of those judges or judicial candidates who answered the questionnaires or declined to answer for fear of sanctions, the appellee argued.

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  1. The appellate court just said doctors can be sued for reporting child abuse. The most dangerous form of child abuse with the highest mortality rate of any form of child abuse (between 6% and 9% according to the below listed studies). Now doctors will be far less likely to report this form of dangerous child abuse in Indiana. If you want to know what this is, google the names Lacey Spears, Julie Conley (and look at what happened when uninformed judges returned that child against medical advice), Hope Ybarra, and Dixie Blanchard. Here is some really good reporting on what this allegation was: http://media.star-telegram.com/Munchausenmoms/ Here are the two research papers: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0145213487900810 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0145213403000309 25% of sibling are dead in that second study. 25%!!! Unbelievable ruling. Chilling. Wrong.

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  5. From the article's fourth paragraph: "Her work underscores the blurry lines in Russia between the government and businesses . . ." Obviously, the author of this piece doesn't pay much attention to the "blurry lines" between government and businesses that exist in the United States. And I'm not talking only about Trump's alleged conflicts of interest. When lobbyists for major industries (pharmaceutical, petroleum, insurance, etc) have greater access to this country's elected representatives than do everyday individuals (i.e., voters), then I would say that the lines between government and business in the United States are just as blurry, if not more so, than in Russia.

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