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General News    H3'ed 9/29/10

Universities Wrestle With Bloggers and the First Amendment

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Message Roger Shuler
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Cross Posted at Legal Schnauzer

Does the freedom of expression guaranteed by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution apply to people who write blogs and work at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB)?

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The answer seems to be, "It depends on what you are writing about." That, of course, means the UAB administration has serious problems abiding by the Constitution. And we suspect UAB is not the only organization that has such problems around the country. In fact, we have written before about people who encountered workplace problems because of their blogs--here and here.

Regular readers know that I was unlawfully terminated at UAB, primarily because I write a blog about public corruption in Alabama, especially the Bush Justice Department's political prosecution of former governor Don Siegelman. So imagine my amazement the other day when I discovered that UAB had issued a press release touting one of its employees' personal blog.

Stephanie Rauterkus, an assistant professor in the UAB School of Business, writes a blog called 365 Days on a Budget. What's the blog about? Here is how UAB describes it in a press release:

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"I wanted to revisit my family's budget and see how we could improve, and I wanted to keep a written record so that we would have something to look back on in the future," Rauterkus says. "I thought about it some more and the educator in me said 'I'll write about it on a blog so that others can learn what I learn as I go through the process.'"

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I live in Birmingham, Alabama, and work in higher education. I became interested in justice-related issues after experiencing gross judicial corruption in Alabama state courts. This corruption has a strong political component. The corrupt judges are (more...)
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