Speech

Lubomir Jastrzebski (L) and Nancy Nembhauser (R) pose with their adult son in front of the house with the "Starry Night" mural painted on it in Mount Dora, Florida, U.S., January 29, 2018 in this handout photo provided July 18, 2018.  Courtesy of Pacific Legal Foundation/Handout via REUTERS   ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY   NO RESALES, NO ARCHIVE

Starry Night House Gets The “Gogh” Ahead From Mayor

July 18, 2018: Family Wins Lengthy Fight Over Painted Home A Florida couple whose house is painted with murals of the famous painting of Van Gogh’s “The Starry Night” reached a settlement with their city council after they were told last year that their house violated a city signage code. The couple faced over $10,000 in fines and were told that[Read More…]

August 4, 2018 Artistic Speech, Speech, Top Stories
County Judge Charged With Misdemeanor For Threatening Sheriff Over Critical Tweet

County Judge Charged With Misdemeanor For Threatening Sheriff Over Critical Tweet

A County that empowers its (department heads) more than their elected officials only divide the effectiveness and full potential of that counties abilities. — Williamson County Sheriff (WilCo) Texas (@SheriffChody) July 13, 2018   July 31, 2018: Hearing Against Judge Over Social Media Spat Is Reset A hearing has been set for September 14. July 18, 2018: Judge’s Alleged Threat[Read More…]

August 2, 2018 Speech, Threats, Top Stories
U.S. President Donald Trump introduces his Supreme Court nominee judge Brett Kavanaugh in the East Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., July 9, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis

In Light of Nomination, First Amendment Experts Weigh In On Kavanaugh’s Record

First Amendment Experts Have Mixed Feelings On Supreme Court Nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s First Amendment Record Damon Root refers to the current Supreme Court nominee’s record on free and commercial speech as “discouraging” in his analysis in Reason.  “Free Speech advocates are likely to be disappointed by the answer when they examine Kavanaugh’s vote in an important 2014 case,” he writes,[Read More…]

August 1, 2018 Below the Fold, Speech
Is The ACLU Retreating On Free Speech? The Controversy and Debate

Is The ACLU Retreating On Free Speech? The Controversy and Debate

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), a non-partisan civil rights organization, has recently been criticized for allegedly retreating from their stance on free expression, as a result of a leaked memo outlining the adoption of new case selection guidelines. A vigorous debate regarding the balance of free speech ideals with the values of equality played out in the pages of[Read More…]

H.S. Cheerleader Dismissed Over Video Won’t Be Reinstated While Case Is Decided

H.S. Cheerleader Dismissed Over Video Won’t Be Reinstated While Case Is Decided

July 24, 2018: Cheerleader Won’t Be Reinstated To Team While Case Is Deliberated A judge won’t order the student cheerleader dismissed from her squad over a profane social media video to be reinstated while the case is deliberated, according to the Associated Press. In response to a motion for a court order to reinstate the student to the team, the judge[Read More…]

July 23, 2018 Speech
Josephine Meckseper Flag. Photo by Guillaume Ziccarelli. Courtesy of Creative Time.

Flag Art Installation At University of Kansas Did Not Sit Well With All Stripes, Including Governor

July 12, 2018: University of Kansas Removes Art Installation Of Altered U.S. Flag, Amid Criticism The University of Kansas removed an altered U.S. flag that was flying on campus as part of an art exhibit amid criticism from politicians, including the state’s governor. The flag, called “Untitled (Flag 2)” was part of the nationwide public art project “Pledges of Allegiance.” This flag was[Read More…]

Lawyers Argue In Appeal That Text Messages Sent In Suicide Case Were Protected Speech

Lawyers Argue In Appeal That Text Messages Sent In Suicide Case Were Protected Speech

July 9, 2018: She May Be The First U.S. Person To Be Convicted Of Involuntary Manslaughter By Words Only Lawyers for Michelle Carter have filed an appeal in the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court to overturn the ruling in her involuntary manslaughter conviction, saying the text messages she sent encouraging her boyfriend’s suicide back in 2014 were protected speech. Her attorneys[Read More…]

July 11, 2018 Speech, Top Stories
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.

July 10, 2018 Seidman Roundtable, Speech, Top Stories
Wisconsin High Court Sides With Professor In Academic Freedom Case

Wisconsin High Court Sides With Professor In Academic Freedom Case

July 6, 2018: Court Rules That Marquette University Breached Contract When Firing Professor Over Blog Post In a much awaited decision, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled that Marquette University breached its contract with a former professor after he lost his job over a critical blog post in which he wrote about how an instructor and graduate student handled a classroom[Read More…]

First Amendment Watch Teacher Guide: Why is James Madison’s Defense of Freedom of the Press Critical Today?

First Amendment Watch Teacher Guide: Why is James Madison’s Defense of Freedom of the Press Critical Today?

Prepared by Stephen D. Solomon, Editor First Amendment Watch, NYU’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute

The press is under attack from many public officials as well as private citizens writing on their blogs and Twitter accounts. President Donald Trump, for one, has accused some news organizations of publishing “fake news” about his administration. Although he may be unusually vociferous in attacking journalists, public officials of all political stripes throughout American history have complained about the press when they are targets of criticism.

This is an opportune time for educators to reach back to James Madison for what may be the most powerful defense of freedom of the press written by any American.

July 9, 2018 History Speaks, Speech, Teacher Guides