Earls V. North Carolina Judicial Standards Commission, The Et Al

Summary: This legal case involves Associate Justice Anita S. Earls of the North Carolina Supreme Court and the North Carolina Judicial Standards Commission, including its members. Justice Earls contends that the Commission's investigation into her comments on the state's court system's lack of diversity infringes on her First Amendment rights. She maintains that her remarks, which critique the operation of the North Carolina judicial system, are safeguarded as essential political speech. The Commission, created under Article 30 of Chapter 7A of the North Carolina General Statutes, holds the responsibility of investigating and resolving inquiries about the conduct of any judge or justice of the General Court of Justice. The Commission's disciplinary measures vary from a private "letter of caution" to a "public reprimand," "censure," "suspension," or "removal," each necessitating a "finding by the Supreme Court." The investigation was initiated following an interview Justice Earls conducted with Law360. In the interview, she highlighted the North Carolina Supreme Court's lack of diversity, attributing it to implicit bias and the court's hiring practices. She further criticized the court's conservative majority for their ideological bias and for dissolving an equity committee established to address these issues. Justice Earls maintains that her comments do not pertain to any specific case decisions, but rather to the wider public policy implications of court administration. She argues that her speech is protected under the First Amendment and Canon 4(A), which allows judges to comment on matters concerning the legal or governmental system. The lawsuit aims to secure a judicial declaration that any attempt to investigate or penalize Justice Earls for expressing her views on matters of public concern infringes on the First Amendment. Additionally, she is seeking an injunction to prevent the Commission from further suppressing her right to voice her opinions on matters of public interest.

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Yelp Inc. v. Ken Paxton

Improved Summary: Yelp has proactively initiated legal action against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to forestall a possible lawsuit that might contest Yelp's right to categorize crisis pregnancy centers on its platform as entities that do not offer abortions or referrals to abortion providers. Yelp maintains that any such lawsuit would violate its First Amendment rights, asserting that its labels accurately represent the services these centers provide. The potential lawsuit from Paxton's office, hinted at last week, could aim to penalize Yelp for purported breaches of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act. Yelp's legal action seeks judicial affirmation that its labels are not misleading and a ban on Texas initiating future lawsuits regarding these labels.