How does the Sterling decision affect free speech rights?

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by Michelle Arnold

WHAS11.com

Posted on April 30, 2014 at 6:06 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) – Donald Sterling's comments--most would agree are vile--but some are divided when it comes to the Clippers owner’s punishment.

Is it warranted? Is it legal? When a public figure's statements come into question, we always hear rumblings concerning the First Amendment. Is that an issue here?

The First Amendment protects against speech rights infringed by the government, not the NBA. Commissioner Adam Silver can ban Sterling.

But what about privacy laws? Some people are defending Sterling's right to make comments that he thought were private.

“My understanding from just reading the paper and listening to it on the news, is that it was in California which has wiretapping laws that do not allow recorded phone conversations without both parties consent. So that may be an issue,” attorney Jeremy Rogers said. 

But it still probably won't affect the NBA imposed ban.

"As long as TMZ or the NBA did not themselves break any laws by coming into possession of these recordings, they can still use it and rely on that in making their decisions here," Rogers said.

But that doesn't mean there won't be lawsuits surrounding this situation.

"I think it's way too early to really tell what the ultimate impact is going to be. This thing is going to play out for months or longer to come," Rogers said.

But one thing is for certain, the internet and social media make news travel a lot faster than ever before. They also blur the lines between public and private.
 

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