Tweet of the week
"Emmett Louis Till" — Sen. Missy Irvin (R-Mountain View and @ARSenMissyIrvin), tweeting in response to a statement tweeted by state Rep. Clarke Tucker (D-Little Rock), who is running for Congress in the 2nd District. Tucker said he commended Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and others for coming forward with their credible allegations of sexual assault and abuse by Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh. Till was infamously lynched in 1955 when he was 14 years old by Mississippi racists after he was falsely accused of flirting with a white woman. Irvin later deleted the tweet.
The American Atheists nonprofit has sued state Sen. Jason Rapert (R-Conway) in federal court for his practice of blocking critics from his Facebook and Twitter accounts.
The lawsuit contends the blocking is a violation of the U.S. Constitution and state law. It says people were blocked for expressing different viewpoints on his official social media accounts and also because the plaintiffs were atheists.
"The senator's conduct constitutes viewpoint discrimination, which is prohibited under the First Amendment. Government officials cannot take hostile actions — like limiting participation in public forums — against someone simply because they have different beliefs," Alison Gill, American Atheists' legal and policy director, said in a news release.
"The Supreme Court has been clear that social media platforms are perhaps the most powerful mechanisms for citizens to make their voices heard," Gill added. "And now multiple federal courts have ruled that blocking citizens from participating in this forum is an unconstitutional violation of their freedom of speech."
Matt Campbell of Little Rock is the lawyer in the case. He is also the man behind Blue Hog Report, a muckraking website. Said Campbell: "Sen. Rapert's own comments demonstrate that his actions were motivated by animus toward atheists and those who support the constitutional separation of religion and government."
The suit seeks access to Rapert's public forums, nominal damages, punitive damages and attorney fees.
End of the road for Suhl
The United States Supreme Court has denied a request to hear an appeal of Ted Suhl's conviction for bribing an Arkansas Human Services Department official to help his behavioral treatment business.
Suhl, who operated both residential and community-based services for youths, was convicted in July 2016 and sentenced to seven years for funneling money to Steven Jones, a former legislator and top DHS official. Jones pleaded guilty and served a federal sentence. The money passed through a West Memphis church and local politician. Suhl contended he'd just made charitable contributions. He argued that the government hadn't proved a specific quid pro quo, though the trial court and 8th Circuit Court of Appeals said the jury was instructed under a law making it a crime to attempt to influence a public servant.
Suhl's case had drawn support from a prominent conservative lawyer, James Bopp, a key player in the Citizens United ruling on money in politics.
The case against Jones and Suhl ended Medicaid funding of his businesses and they were forced to close.
The website NEA Report has a stunner for these times: Jonesboro Police Officer John Shipman, once a Republican candidate for Craighead County sheriff, said on social media that 80 percent of rape reports are false, a figure he produced in defense of his assertion that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh's accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, was "lying."
Shipman was suspended for 30 days without pay for the comments. Jonesboro Assistant City Attorney Jessica Thomason said statements like Shipman's intimidate victims from coming forward. Second Judicial District Prosecutor Scott Ellington said, "An attitude like that is exactly why many victims don't feel comfortable coming forward and reporting a sexual assault."
Shipman hasn't responded to NEA Report about his Facebook comments. Studies put false reports of rape at about 5 percent (and that's of reports, never mind all those that are NOT reported.) The article also says Shipman offered no evidence, other than his purported experience, for presuming Ford's dishonesty.