Below the Fold

Gene Policinski & Lata Nott Commentary: School Walkouts In the Wake of ‘Parkland’ – Protected By The First Amendment or Not?

Gene Policinski & Lata Nott Commentary: School Walkouts In the Wake of ‘Parkland’ – Protected By The First Amendment or Not?

The Newseum Institute’s First Amendment experts, Gene Policinski and Lata Nott, originally published this commentary on the Newseum blog, and have given First Amendment Watch permission to reprint.   ____________________________________________________________________________ FAQ FOR STUDENT ACTIVISTS NEWSEUMED RESOURCES The national walkouts that students are currently organizing to call for new gun control legislation are commendable examples of “Generation Z” exercising its First[Read More…]

February 23, 2018 Assembly, Below the Fold, Speech
Gene Policinski, Chief Operating Officer, Newseum Institute and First Amendment Center of Newseum Institute

Gene Policinski Commentary: Protect Journalists With The Same Laws That Protect All Of Us

The Newseum Institute’s First Amendment expert, Gene Policinski, originally published this commentary on the Newseum blog, and has given First Amendment Watch permission to reprint. ___________________________________________________________________ I understand the motivation behind the just-proposed Journalist Protection Act, which would make it a federal crime to attack those involved in reporting the news. The legislation comes at a time of particularly vocal attacks[Read More…]

February 9, 2018 Below the Fold, Threats
Colin Kaepernick warms up on the field.

Taking A Knee: Rally Outside of Superbowl Stadium

It started with Colin Kaepernick, a quarterback who played for the San Francisco 49ers in 2016. To protest what he saw as oppression of people of color, he refused to stand for the National Anthem before his NFL games. His symbolic expression of dissent spread to other players and continued into the 2017 season, exploding into fiery controversy when President Donald Trump urged the NFL and its owners to fire players who refused to honor the National Anthem. The practice of taking a knee even spread to high school football players. Does the First Amendment protect the players when they refuse to stand for the National Anthem? And how does taking a knee fit into America’s history of political protest? We provide historical perspective in From Liberty Tree to Taking a Knee: America’s Founding Era Sheds Light on the NFL Controversy.

February 1, 2018 Below the Fold, Speech, Symbolic Speech
A liberty tree with effigies.

From Liberty Tree to Taking a Knee: America’s Founding Era Sheds Light on the NFL Controversy

Symbolic speech as a form of protest, like taking a knee at a football game while others stand for the National Anthem, enjoys a long history in America. It’s been a powerful form of political expression going back to the protests in the colonies in the 1760s against British oppression. Various forms of symbolic expression—liberty trees, liberty poles, effigies of hated politicians, even the use of the number 45—brought multitudes into the political sphere and was critical in building opposition to British rule. Much of this symbolic expression was controversial and even offensive but a powerful form of protest then and now.

January 25, 2018 Assembly, Below the Fold, Speech, Symbolic Speech
Gene Policinski, Chief Operating Officer, Newseum Institute and First Amendment Center of Newseum Institute

Gene Policinski Commentary: ‘Weakening’ Libel Laws Is Not The Right Tactic – For Anyone

The Newseum Institute’s First Amendment expert, Gene Policinski, originally published this commentary on the Newseum blog, and has given First Amendment Watch permission to reprint. ___________________________________________________________________ Making it easier to sue people for libel is not a good idea — for our democracy in general, and even for President Trump and a few of his personal lawyers, in particular. Trump[Read More…]

January 18, 2018 Below the Fold
First Amendment: By the Numbers

First Amendment: By the Numbers

With controversies swirling daily about the freedom of speech and press, what is the state of public support for the First Amendment? Several nonprofit organizations—the Newseum First Amendment Institute, the Brookings Institution, and the Knight Foundation—conduct surveys of public attitudes about the freedom of expression. Most recently, the Newseum Institute has also initiated a First Amendment Report Card, enlisting a[Read More…]

Gene Policinski, Chief Operating Officer, Newseum Institute and First Amendment Center of Newseum Institute

Gene Policinski Commentary – To Trump On NBC ‘License’ Tweet: NO!

The Newseum Institute’s First Amendment expert, Gene Policinski, originally published this commentary on the Newseum blog, and have given First Amendment Watch permission to reprint. There’s only one appropriate, spirit-of-freedom response to the “Trump tweet” on Wednesday asking when it’s “appropriate” for the government to punish NBC News for a story the president didn’t like: NEVER. And yes, the repetition of “appropriate” and[Read More…]

October 12, 2017 Below the Fold, News Gathering, Threats
States Rush to Pass Anti-Protestor Laws

States Rush to Pass Anti-Protestor Laws

America was born in the protests of 1765 to 1776. Large crowds assembled around liberty trees and liberty poles, hanging British officials in effigy, and thousands of people paraded through the streets of colonial towns voicing loud dissent against British taxes and other measures they considered oppressive. Today’s lawmakers seem much more squeamish about the right to assembly, which is[Read More…]

September 19, 2017 Assembly, Below the Fold
States Move to Protect Journalist Sources

States Move to Protect Journalist Sources

Journalists have recently gotten a boost to use reporter’s privilege to keep news sources confidential.

April 19, 2017 Below the Fold, News Gathering, Subpoenas