March 11, 2002
Court Cannot Prevent Texan from Criticizing Shopping Mall Developer
Critical Web Site Can Stay Online While Court Considers Appeals
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit today suspended an order issued last fall by a district court that had shut down a Web site while appeals on the First Amendment status of the site were considered.
Computer consultant Henry Mishkoff has been involved in a dispute with the nationwide shopping mall developer Taubman Company, which is building a mall in Plano, Texas, near his Dallas home. Mishkoff originally built a “fan site” praising the mall, but after Taubman claimed his site violated its trademark and demanded it be taken down, he developed a site criticizing the company.
Last fall, the Michigan district court ordered Mishkoff to remove both of his sites from the Web, taking a dangerous step toward restricting non-commercial speech on the Internet.
“I was stunned and dismayed when the District Court ordered me to remove my ‘complaint’ site from the Web,” Mishkoff said. “That decision seemed to fly in the face of everything I’ve learned about our First Amendment rights since my high-school civics class. Although this experience has left me feeling a little uneasy about the process, Public Citizen’s help and the Appeals Court decision have gone a long way toward restoring my faith in the American legal system.”
Following the district court’s injunctions, Mishkoff took both sites down, although he has created a third site explaining the case in detail. Mishkoff is in the process of restoring the Taubmansucks site to the Web; however, it may take one or two days for the site to be fully available to the public.
Mishkoff was represented by Paul Alan Levy of the Public Citizen Litigation Group. To learn more about this and other free speech cases, click here.