Speech

Louis Michael Seidman

First Amendment Watch Roundtable: Louis Michael Seidman on “Can Free Speech Be Progressive?”

In his provocative essay forthcoming in Columbia Law Review, Georgetown Law Professor Michael Seidman writes, “Free speech cannot be progressive. At least it can’t be progressive if we are talking about free speech in the American context, with all the historical, sociological, and philosophical baggage that comes with the modern, American free speech right. … But the notion that our free speech tradition might be weaponized to advance progressive ends is fanciful.”

Freedom of speech pushed progressive causes forward in the second half of the 20th century—it protected civil rights demonstrators, shielded artists from suppression, and safeguarded antiwar protestors. But is it less aligned with progressive goals now? After all, the First Amendment was used to invalidate some campaign financing regulations in Citizens United v. FEC, for example, and protects hate speech.

We are devoting a First Amendment Roundtable to discuss Seidman’s question. Today, we present his essay and will follow in the coming days with challenging commentaries by leading scholars. We invite readers to join the discussion: send us your thoughts at fawroundtable@gmail.com.

June 21, 2018 Seidman Roundtable, Speech, Top Stories
James Wolfe, a longtime staffer of the Senate Intelligence Committee, arrives on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., October 25, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein/Files

Ex-Senate Intelligence Staffer Seeks Gag Order On Trump

June 19, 2018: Staffer Charged With Lying To FBI About Reporter Contact Doesn’t Want Trump And Others To Comment On Case James Wolfe, the former security director for the Senate Intelligence Committee charged with lying to FBI about his contact with reporters, is asking the court to issue a gag order to prevent President Trump and others from commenting on[Read More…]

June 21, 2018 Leaks, Speech, Top Stories
Floyd Abrams

First Amendment Watch Roundtable: Floyd Abrams Responds to Louis Michael Seidman

In his provocative essay forthcoming in Columbia Law Review, Georgetown Law Professor Michael Seidman writes, “Free speech cannot be progressive. At least it can’t be progressive if we are talking about free speech in the American context, with all the historical, sociological, and philosophical baggage that comes with the modern, American free speech right. … But the notion that our free speech tradition might be weaponized to advance progressive ends is fanciful.”

Freedom of speech pushed progressive causes forward in the second half of the 20th century—it protected civil rights demonstrators, shielded artists from suppression, and safeguarded antiwar protestors. But is it less aligned with progressive goals now? After all, the First Amendment was used to invalidate some campaign financing regulations in Citizens United v. FEC, for example, and protects hate speech.

We are devoting a First Amendment Roundtable to discuss Seidman’s question. Today, we present Floyd Abrams’ response. We invite readers to join the discussion: send us your thoughts at fawroundtable@gmail.com.

June 21, 2018 Seidman Roundtable, Speech
Fane Lozeman Wins Free Speech Case In Supreme Court

Fane Lozeman Wins Free Speech Case In Supreme Court

June 18, 2018: U.S. Supreme Court Sides With South Florida Activist For Second Time In a First Amendment victory, the United States Supreme Court will allow South Florida activist Fane Lozman to pursue his claim against the City of Riviera Beach in Palm Beach County. Lozman says that the city retaliated against him when he was arrested on November 15,[Read More…]

June 20, 2018 Assembly, Speech, Top Stories
Classes Are Over But The Campus Free Speech Debate Still Rages

Classes Are Over But The Campus Free Speech Debate Still Rages

U.S. campuses have been hotbeds of political and social debate since the colonial era. By the 1960s, rising civil unrest bouyed the Free Speech Movement at the University of California, Berkeley. As protests spread, universities and law enforcement cracked down leading to fatalities in separate incidents at Kent State University and Jackson State University. Today campus protests are once again eliciting an escalated police presence. Both public and private universities are struggling how to balance the free exchange of ideas, but public universities have a legal obligation to protect campus freedom of expression. What does this mean for students, campus free speech and speaker’s right to free speech when it is suppressed by the fear of disruption?

June 14, 2018 Campus Speech, Speech
Colin Kaepernick warms up on the field.

Taking A Knee Discouraged With Player and Team Fines Threatened In Upcoming NFL Season

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.

June 13, 2018 Below the Fold, Speech, Symbolic Speech
University of Michigan Clarifies Speech Codes On Same Day DOJ Declares Opposition

University of Michigan Clarifies Speech Codes On Same Day DOJ Declares Opposition

June 15, 2018: UM Asks Judge To Dismiss Suit Calling It “False Caricature” UM argues that the lawsuit against them is moot because they tightened their speech codes and because their policies have been mischaracterized.   June 11, 2018: Feds File “Statement Of Interest” In Case Arguing UM’s Speech Codes Are Unconstitutional  The Department of Justice filed a “Statement of[Read More…]

June 11, 2018 Campus Speech, Speech, Top Stories
The mic is on...

Judge: Comment Policy At School Meeting Likely Unconstitutional

June 6, 2018: Committee Suspends Public Speak Portion At Meetings A judge granted a preliminary injunction temporarily preventing a local school committee from enforcing restrictions on public comments at its meetings. The lawsuit was filed by two parents of former students who were barred from expressing their concerns at a school committee meeting. The judge said that the policies restricting[Read More…]

June 8, 2018 Censorship, Speech, Top Stories
Laura Ingraham, Samantha Bee – If They Are Exercising Their Free Speech Why Should Advertisers Flee?

Laura Ingraham, Samantha Bee – If They Are Exercising Their Free Speech Why Should Advertisers Flee?

  June 7, 2018: Samantha Bee Issues Apology on Show With Notably Less Advertisers A week after Samantha Bee sparked national outrage over an epithet she used to describe Ivanka Trump on her late-night show “Full Frontal”, she issued an apology but the episode had notably less advertisers than the previous week. Commercials slots were mostly taken up by TBS[Read More…]

June 8, 2018 Speech, Top Stories
Georgia Court Rules Teacher Cannot Challenge Suspension Over Facebook Comments

Georgia Court Rules Teacher Cannot Challenge Suspension Over Facebook Comments

June 11, 2018: Tifton Teacher Eyeing Supreme Court According to her attorney, Kelly Tucker plans to petition the U.S. Supreme Court to hear her case. June 4, 2018: Georgia Supreme Court Says Teacher Suspension Stands, But Considers Free Speech Ramifications The Supreme Court of Georgia upheld a Court of Appeals decision that a teacher could not sue over a suspension[Read More…]

June 7, 2018 Offensive Speech, Speech, Top Stories