Advocacy > Amicus Briefs
Zieper v. Metzinger - VLA files brief in support of preventing government officials from chilling artists’ protected speech.
February 9, 2006 – VLA submitted an amicus brief to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in support of artist Michael Zieper. Mr. Zieper alleged that two federal investigators violated his first amendment rights by making impliedly threatening comments towards him in order to persuade Mr. Zieper to remove his controversial film from his website. The appeal comes from the District Court’s ruling that in their roles as government officials the investigators had a “qualified immunity” from the first amendment claim. VLA believes that the government should not be allowed to use qualified immunity as an end-run around first amendment protections. This case is still under review by the court. The brief was prepared by volunteer attorneys at Jenner & Block LLP.
Phillips v. Pembroke - VLA files brief in support of protecting the integrity of public works of art.
April 9, 2004 – VLA previously submitted a brief to the Massachusetts Supreme Court in support of artist David Phillips. Mr. Phillips helped to design a public park on the South Boston waterfront, and installed twenty-seven sculptures within the park that were tied to the site’s specific landscaping. When Pembroke Real Estate, Inc., the company that originally hired Mr. Phillips for the project, later announced a re-design of the park which included removing the sculptures, Mr. Phillips sought an injunction barring the removal of his work. VLA argued that the Massachusetts Art Preservation Act (MAPA) protects site-specific art, which is inextricably tied to its location. Unconvinced, the court ruled that even though the MAPA prohibits the destruction of the sculptures, protection does not extend to their removal. VLA believes that removing site-specific art from its location is an alteration of the work which threatens both the work’s integrity and the artist’s reputation. The brief was prepared by volunteer attorneys at Hughes, Hubbard and Reed LLP.
Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences v. The City of New York and Rudolph W. Guiliani - VLA files brief in support of Brooklyn Museum’s free speech rights.
November 1, 1999 – In 1999, the city of New York threatened to revoke the Brooklyn Museum’s funding if it did not remove from an anticipated exhibit a painting that the city found offensive and sacrilegious. VLA advises many artists who receive funding from the city of New York and was concerned about the First Amendment issues implicated in the case. VLA filed a brief urging the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit to uphold the District Court’s finding that: (1) the Museum’s free speech claims would likely be successful on the merits, (2) the City Administration had discriminated based on content and viewpoint, (3) the City had no official procedures or regulations to safeguard free speech, and (4) that the City had violated the Establishment Clause of the Constitution by taking a position on religious value. After agreeing to the museum’s terms, the City settled the case and withdrew their appeal.