Actions Taken by ASJA in 2017 on First Amendment Issues

January-February 2017: Requested to sign onto letter protesting an Oregon school district’s banning of the book “Eleanor and Park” without review. However, in view of our decision not to become involved in local issues with few exceptions, we did not join this action on the grounds that we don’t have enough time to respond to every local issue of “soft” book banning. However, we named two ASJA members to deal with local issues of this sort. We would still like to recruit more.

January 19, 2017: Signed onto statement issued by the National Coalition against Censorship condemning a decision to remove a student painting from the U.S. Capital Building. The allegorical painting protesting police actions was created by St. Louis high school student David Pulphus and was among the winners of a student competition. In December NCAC, working with a team of attorneys, drew up an amicus curiae brief to protest the painting’s removal and argue for its reinstatement. The brief makes the argument that the court incorrectly applied the "government speech" doctrine to the student art competition (as opposed to applying the "forum" analysis under which viewpoint discrimination is prohibited), which allowed the court to then rule that the issue was entirely outside the First Amendment. 

February 24, 2017: Signed on to letter circulated by the National Fair Housing Alliance, which urges Congress to Stop Assault on Fair Housing Rule and preserve Access to Public Data. The statement emphasizes the importance of preserving important government data collection efforts, and preserving public access to the data collected.

March 2 , 2017: Signed on to letter in support of Freedom of the Press circulated by the National Coalition against Censorship and the American Society of News Editors. We then posted this statement on the ASJA website.

March 12, 2017: At the request of the Media Coalition, we signed on to amicus brief in support of Higginbotham vs. City of New York, 2nd circuit, supporting the right of photographers to photograph the actions of police in a public place.

March 7, 2017: Signed on to letter to John Kelly, Secretary of Homeland Security, in response to his statement at the House Homeland Security Committee hearing on February 7th, 2017, that the Department of Homeland Security would consider requiring visa applicants to provide log-in information (passwords or other credentials) for their social media accounts.  We joined other human rights and civil liberties organizations, business, and trade organizations, urging him to reject any proposal to require visa applicants or others wanting to enter the United States to provide log-in information to their online accounts as a condition of entry into the United States. Demanding log-in information is a direct assault on fundamental rights and would weaken national security.

Signed on to a letter to the United Nations, urging an investigation of reports that the United States is demanding visitors provide access to their electronic devices as well as passcodes to those devices and online accounts. These practices persist in violation of the United States human rights treaty obligations and UN action is needed to hold the government accountable for the protection of human rights at U.S. borders, which are not zones of exclusion or exception.

October 6, 2017: Signed onto a letter supporting amicus curiae brief in case of Gravano vs Take-Two, initiated by the Media Coalition, urging retention of the right to use real persons in fictional depictions. Although ASJA members largely write nonfiction, some of our members do write fiction, including fictionalized accounts of history, and thus need to have the freedom to use this information.

November 2017: Wrote to The Independent of Malta, seeking information on getting information about the family of investigative reporter Daphne Caruana Galizia, so that we can award the Conscience in Media award to her posthumously in recognition of her courageous reporting, which ultimately led to her murder. Have been in contact with members of her family, who plan to come to New York in May during our annual conference to accept the Conscience in Media award on her behalf.

December 4, 2017: Signed onto the amicus brief that Reporters Committee of Freedom of the Press in support of Jamie Kalven's motion to quash a subpoena seeking information about his confidential sources for his reporting about the shooting of Laquan McDonald. The amicus brief argues that the Illinois Reporter's Privilege provides strong protections for confidential source information and emphasizes the policy reasons underlying the privilege. It also argues that the privilege cannot be overcome by speculative arguments and that the public policy behind the act weighs in favor of quashing the subpoena in this case. The court quashed the subpoena for his testimony, which could have forced him to reveal confidential sources.

December 19, 2017: Signed onto an open letter to the Baltimore (MD) City Public Schools seeking to learn more about the district’s decision-making process about books in the curriculum or in school libraries, after the removal of a book following one parent’s voiced objection to it. The book was Buck, a widely acclaimed memoir by Professor M.K. Asante. After weeks of inquiry, which the district has either dodged or dismissed, the National Council against Censorship filed a Freedom of Information request to learn more about the district's decision-making process. 

News Release Archive

  • A blank piece of paper is God's way of telling us how hard it is to be God.
    – Sidney Sheldon
  • A critic is a man who knows the way but can't drive the car.
    – Kenneth Tynan
  • A good many young writers make the mistake of enclosing a stamped, self–addressed envelope, big enough for the manuscript to come back in. This is too much of a temptation to the editor.
    – Ring Lardner
  • A young musician plays scales in his room and only bores his family. A beginning writer, on the other hand, sometimes has the misfortune of getting into print.
    – Marguerite Yourcenar
  • All the words I use in my stories can be found in the dictionary – it's just a matter of arranging them into the right sentences.
    – Somerset Maugham
  • Asking a working writer what he thinks about critics is like asking a lamppost how it feels about dogs.
    – Christopher Hampton
  • Being a writer is like having homework every night for the rest of your life.
    – Lawrence Kasdan
  • Copy from one, it's plagiarism; copy from two, it's research.
    –Wilson Mizner
  • Everywhere I go I'm asked if I think the university stifles writers. My opinion is that they don't stifle enough of them.
    – Flannery O'Connor
  • I just wrote a book, but don't go out and buy it yet, because I don't think it's finished yet.
    – Lawrence Welk
  • I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.
    – Douglas Adams
  • I'm writing a book. I've got the page numbers done.
    – Stephen Wright
  • It took me fifteen years to discover I had no talent for writing, but I couldn't give it up because by that time I was too famous.
    – Robert Benchley
  • It's a damn poor mind that can only think of one way to spell a word.
    – Andrew Jackson
  • Most writers can write books faster than publishers can write checks.
    – Richard Curtis
  • No fathers or mothers think their own children ugly; and this self–deceit is yet stronger with respect to the offspring of the mind.
    – Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
  • There are three rules for writing the novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.
    –Somerset Maugham
  • Writing a novel is like paddling from Boston to London in a bathtub. Sometimes the damn tub sinks. It's a wonder that most of them don't.
    – Stephen King
  • Writing a novel is like spelunking. You kind of create the right path for yourself. But, boy, are there so many points at which you think, absolutely, I'm going down the wrong hole here.
    – Chang–rae Lee
  • Your manuscript is both good and original, but the part that is good is not original, and the part that is original is not good.
    –Samuel Johnson