Legal Magazine

Alabama's Staunch Support of Free Speech Has Roots That Go Back More Than 100 Years

Posted on the 29 April 2014 by Rogershuler @RogerShuler
Alabama might not be seen as a favorable spot for progressive ideas, but the state's strong support of free speech goes back more than 100 years. Case law from both state and federal courts in Alabama show that preliminary injunctions that restrict free speech--the kind that led to my recent incarceration--are unlawful.
We have found several such cases, with the help of the authors at the Popehat blog, which seems to present a right-of-center view on legal and political issues. An October 27, 2013, post at Popehat puts it simply:
The order underlying Shuler's arrest is unconstitutional. There is a strong and venerable rule in American law against pretrial injunctions prohibiting defamation.

The post then points out that this notion doesn't just find support in parts of the country that are considered moderate to liberal. It also has strong support right here in Alabama, and it conflicts with Judge Claud Neilson's preliminary injunction in my case. Writes Popehat:
This is not some mere Yankee affectation. The courts of Alabama — where Judge Neilson issued his injunction — have long recognized the principle. "Nor can an injunction be granted to restrain the publication of a libel." Montgomery & W.P.R. Co. v. Walton, 14 Ala. 207 (1848).

Popehat notes that an injunction is an equitable remedy, one that is only supposed to apply where legal remedies, such as money damages, are unavailable or inadequate. Popehat then shines light on these principles by citing a federal case that was heard in Alabama in 1909.
We will take a look at that case, and what it says about my 2014 situation, in an upcoming post.

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog