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First amendment freedom of speech rights violation here ?

Wilmington, DE |
Filed under: Civil rights

Just to keep this very sad and sordid story brief, I was unable to attend my own mother's funeral. She died last week and due to deep hurt from a family lawsuit, I did not attend. It would have been a 300+ mile trip as well.
She and the family were well known in that area because of the business they had been running. So I wanted to tell the people there why I didn't attend my mother's own funeral service. However, when I sent the ad to the local newspaper which explained my reasons , they refused to run it only because of the potential for a lawsuit against them if it were published.
Do I have a case here ?

Attorney Answers 4


  1. Best answer

    Just to add a general concept that many members of the public seem to be unaware of. The First Amendment prohibits government control of speech, not private control of speech. There are some nuances to that, but it is a significant difference. The First Amendment does not prohibit ANYONE from telling you what you can say, just government.

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  2. No case. The newspaper retains the right to accept or reject any matter that is offered for paid advertising.

    My responses to questions on Avvo are never intended as legal advice and must not be relied upon as legal advice. I give legal advice only in the course of an attorney-client relationship. Exchange of information through Avvo's Questions forum does not establish an attorney-client relationship with me. That relationship is established only by individual consultation and execution of a written agreement for legal services.


  3. Dear ?,

    Atty. McCall is, as usual, completely correct as well as concise. The First Amendment does not give you a right to force a newspaper to accept your advertising. If there were such a right it would be violating the newspaper's 1st Amendment rights as well as other rights.
    But, nothing is preventing you from expressing yourself on this issue in other ways. If you haven't already done so, you can submit a letter to the editor of the local papers there. Since most news and information spreads electronically these days, you are perfectly free to publish your own website and put anything on it you want. (These are the only things I can think of just now, but there are certainly more.)

    Yours sincerely,
    Tim Provis
    Cal. Bar No. 104800
    Wis. Bar No. 1020123
    Member: U.S. Supreme Court Bar


  4. No. You have no case. As stated papers as private entities retain the right to publish or not publish.

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