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Lawyer: Florida senator’s slurs are protected free speech

April 20, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — A lawyer representing a state senator who could be punished for using a racial slur and other vulgarities says he’ll present evidence that other senators have used similar language.

The Senate is reviewing a complaint that Republican Sen. Frank Artiles used the “n-word” and other obscenities in a conversation with two African-American senators at a private club near the Capitol.

Lawyer Steven Andrews wrote to the Senate lawyer reviewing the case and said the complaint shouldn’t be pursued because Artiles’ statements — as offensive as they were — are protected under his constitutional rights to free speech.

He also said the Senate lawyer, Dawn Roberts, shouldn’t handle the case because she’s also represented Artiles and witnesses who would be called to testify.

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