Teacher Guides

First Amendment Watch Teacher Guide: Can First Amendment Defenses Save Provocateur Alex Jones From The Sandy Hook Libel Suits?

First Amendment Watch Teacher Guide: Can First Amendment Defenses Save Provocateur Alex Jones From The Sandy Hook Libel Suits?

People whose reputation has been harmed by a publication may decide to sue for libel. In today’s highly charged political environment, a number of high-profile libel suits have been filed as a result of public controversies. Among them, Sandy Hook Elementary School parents sued Alex Jones and Infowars; coal mogul Robert Murray sued Last Week Tonight host John Oliver; Stormy Daniels, a porn star, sued Donald Trump; and a woman who claimed Bill Cosby assaulted her sued him for libel.

Sandy Hook parents, who suffered the trauma of losing their children to a mass murderer, and their lawsuit against conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, provides a compelling case study for teaching defamation law.

September 6, 2018 Libel, Teacher Guides
FAW First Amendment Teacher Guides

FAW First Amendment Teacher Guides

First Amendment Watch will offer a series of Teacher Guides to help educators both at a high school and college level teach important First Amendment cases and concepts. The guides will also support teaching First Amendment history and the defense of a free press by James Madison and other writers throughout history. This is critical at a time when few Americans can name the five freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment according to the most recent “State of the First Amendment” survey by the Freedom Forum Institute.

August 29, 2018 Teacher Guides
First Amendment Watch Teacher Guide: Prior Restraints—and the Threat of Printable 3-D Guns

First Amendment Watch Teacher Guide: Prior Restraints—and the Threat of Printable 3-D Guns

Startling advances in technology raise free speech and press issues in ways that we could not have anticipated even ten years ago. Such is the case with 3-D printable guns—handguns that people can manufacture at home using a software code and a special printer that makes three-dimensional objects. Printing guns at home can evade laws intended to keep guns out of the hands of unauthorized people. The plastic guns would be untraceable, and federal law prohibits guns that are undetectable by walk-through metal detection scanners at airports and other security checkpoints. If that’s the case, can the government prohibit the posting of computer code that makes possible the printing of guns?

August 29, 2018 Press, Teacher Guides
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?

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
First Amendment Watch Teacher Guide: How are NFL Protests Related to Symbolic Speech and the First Amendment?

First Amendment Watch Teacher Guide: How are NFL Protests Related to Symbolic Speech and the First Amendment?

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.

The NFL protests—players taking a knee during the playing of the National Anthem before NFL games—provides an extraordinary opportunity for teaching about the law and history of the First Amendment.

July 9, 2018 Symbolic Speech, Teacher Guides
First Amendment Watch Teacher Guide: Can Public Officials Block Critics from Their Social Media Accounts Consistent with the First Amendment?

First Amendment Watch Teacher Guide: Can Public Officials Block Critics from Their Social Media Accounts Consistent with the First Amendment?

Today’s students are growing up connected – tweeting, live streaming, posting on a seeming 24-7 cycle. The many controversies involving Facebook, Twitter, and other social media provide an excellent opportunity to teach First Amendment principles in a relatable way.

President Donald Trump’s blocking of some critics from his Twitter account, @realDonaldTrump, is one such opportunity to engage students in the First Amendment.

July 9, 2018 Speech, Teacher Guides