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For those who are opposed to imposing any restrictions on private actors like chess.com, consider the following. Phone companies (while monopolies or at least an oligopoly) are private actors. Arguably, the Constitution should not bar any actions taken by the phone companies. What if a phone company published terms and conditions of use that allowed them to monitor your phone calls and censor your calls (e.g., bleep out your words or cut off your call) if the phone company deemed your conversation "inappropriate." Some would argue that a phone company would never do that since they would lose customers. However, given that there are a limited number of competitors (especially for local phone service) in many areas, it is quite possible for all of the phone companies to promulgate the same rules and policies, which would mean that a customer would have to accept censorship if he/she wanted phone service. Do you think that this would be a proper outcome (i.e., censorship by the phone company, which is a private actor)?
Actually there is a US Supreme Court case that deals with similar facts, namely a "company town". Marsh v. Alabama 326 U.S. 501 (1946).
pt22064....'er Counsel....Thank you for your 1st Amendment insight....it's been very interesting and just really good stuff !
Why do players pay money to have their free speech rights violated by arbitrary and capricious rules of chess.com? Who elected chess.com as the ruler of what we can and cannot say? What will chess.com do next? Thank you FICS!
Your free speech rights to not extend to a privately-owned internet site whose Terms of Service you contractually agreed to when you signed up. The site has the sole discretion to regulate its content.
While it is true that there is no case law that holds the internet sites cannot restrict the speech of users of the site, it is possible to construct a legal theory based on prior US Supreme Court and state supreme court precedents that would suggest that there are constitutional limits on actions by private actors.
As noted in my prior post, the US Supreme Court has held that so-called "company towns" (basically entire towns owned by a private company) are subject to First Amendment restrictions. See Marsh v. Alabama. The Court held that the "business district" of a company town (although technically private property) is equivalent to a public sidewalk/street. (There are also a number of cases that hold that a private company cannot bar picketing on a public sidewalk next to the company's business.)
The US Supreme Court extended Marsh in 1968 to apply to shopping centers, holding in Amalgamated Food Employees Union v. Logan Valley Plaza,that a privately owned mall was the equivalent to a "business district." However, in 1976, the US Supreme Court, in Hudgens v. NLRB, reversed course, overruling Logan Valley, holding that the First Amendment does not prohibit private mall owners from restricting picketing or pamphleting at their malls.
Subsequently, in 1980, the California Supreme Court held in Pruneyard v. Robins, that the California state constitution barred private mall owners from restricting the free speech rights of the public. The US Supreme Court later upheld the California Supreme Court's decision in Pruneyard, holding that California's ruling did not infringe the free speech rights of the mall owners under the federal Constitution.
Since then, a handful of state courts, including the NJ Supreme Court, have held that their state constitutions require that mall owners allow the public to exercise their free speech rights on private mall property.
It is not too much of a stretch to suggest that certain internet websites are the functional equivalent to a public forum or semi-public forum, and that the private website owners may be subject to constitutional restrictions. Moreover, state and federal governments can certainly pass laws that require internet sites to allow unfettered speech on their sites.
I understand your arguments made in theory. However, chess.com is not a "company town." There are other sites that provide similar opportunities.
Rather than argue the esoteric, consider the relationship between the owner and operators of the site, and its membership, to be regulated under the contract known as the "Terms of Service." This contract was agreed to voluntarily by the registrant.
Yes, I believe that I cite Marsh in one of my posts, although I did not include the full citation. Also, I had remembered it as being a much older case (1800s), but it is apparently of more recent vintage (but still old).
Anyone arguing that Chess.com is anologous to a company town is a moron plain and simple.
Well, I did note that it was merely a potential legal theory -- not necessarily a winning legal theory. However, the fact that the TOS was "voluntarily" agreed to by the user is not necessarily dispositive. There was a recent NJ Supreme Court decision holding that homeowners associations could not restrict its members from posting political campaign signs on their lawns even though the homeowners signed agreements stating that they agreed to follow all of the rules of the homeowners association. Notably, the association is a private entity (not a governmental entity), and the Court held that the state constitution limited what restrictions it could impose on its homeowners.
"Why do people pay money to have their free speech rights violated?". A hooker did that to me last week, and she violated more than my free speech rights.
She was a very nice hooker. All I did was ask for a cigarette.
I agrre with sonic. just play, why chat. Chess .com is a very good site for hobby. players have to be sportsman and not bloggers. i receive many undigestble comments. i just wither them off my coat.
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