Often times the corrupt system preys on those that are ignorant of their rights. It’s extremely important for activists to be aware of all their civil rights. One important law that UH SAS has learned is the Texas law on taping phone calls and other forms of electronic communication. Texas is known as a one party consent state. That means only one party has to give their consent to tape a conversation.
For example, if you were being harassed by a bill collector and thought that the speech veered into a criminal violation you could tape the conversation without asking bill collector’s permission. See this website for more information on the specific law in Texas: summary of Texas laws on one party consent.
Probably the most important right for activists is the First Amendment to the United States Constitution which is also known as freedom of expression. Freedom of expression consists of the rights to freedom of speech, press, assembly and to petition the government for a redress of grievances, and the implied rights of association and belief.
The First Amendment protects the freedom to speak your mind and protest in peace without being bridled by the government. It also protects the freedom of the media, as well as the right to worship and pray without interference. In other words, Americans cannot be silenced by the government.
The University of Texas, the flagship school in our state even has an explicit policy recognizing this important right:
“First Amendment Rights
In general, expressions of opinion by members of the university community that do not otherwise violate state and federal laws or university rules are protected as “free speech.” This is true even though the opinions expressed may be unpopular or offensive to some. With a population of 71,000, UT Austin encompasses a wide array of opinions and views. We encourage all those associated with the university to exercise their constitutional rights and freedoms responsibly. We do not, however, punish people who express views that may be unpopular or offensive, but who break no laws or university rules while doing so.”
Recently a lawyer with the Texas Attorney General’s office filed an extremely useless motion in a lawsuit that our member Tim filed for some shenanigans around his graduate education. We thought it would be instructive to post it to see how unfamiliar this silly lawyer is with the First Amendment… read and enjoy, very little of what is written in the motion is actually factual or based on any law, but that does not stop this silly man. It’s important to keep in mind the fact that this guy has to work for the public is because he couldn’t get a job at a big firm. Since he has very few legal skills (he has not been able to get Tim’s federal lawsuit against our University [now a year old] dismissed either) he has to spend his time imagining the First Amendment does not exist and wasting the taxpayers time and money by filing frivolous motions like this.
Here’s the silly motion: Motion for Sanctions