Deep Dives

Free Speech on College and University Campuses

U.S. campuses have been hotbeds of political and social debate since the colonial era. By the 1960s, rising civil unrest inspired the Free Speech Movement at the University of California, Berkeley. Today campus protests are once again in the national spotlight, though not always for the best reasons.

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The Alarming Rise in Verbal and Physical Threats to the Press

Many presidents have had contentious relationships with the press. However, the animosity towards the press fostered by President Donald Trump is believed by many to be unprecedented. Is the rise in physical and verbal attacks on the press attributable to Trump's labeling of the media as "enemies of the people"?

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Jeff Sessions

Crackdown on Leakers Ramps Up With NYT Journalist Targeted in Leaks Investigation

Journalists often publish information taken from leaked classified documents. Does the First Amendment protect them from prosecution for doing so? Aggressive prosecution of leakers began under President Obama - with the most famous case, Edward Snowden, still in hiding in Russia - and continues under President Trump.

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Anti-Protest Laws in the United States

Reacting to the demonstrations that have taken place throughout the U.S. over the last few years, many states have moved to restrict public protests by a variety of means. Some measures that are enacted into law will surely be tested in court as violations of the First Amendment.

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The Post

The Pentagon Papers Turn 50

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the Pentagon Papers ruling, one of the most important First Amendment court cases in United States history. In celebration of this legal milestone, First Amendment Watch has put together a special resource with historical information about the case and its contemporary relevance.

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Is Government Censorship Under the Trump Administration the New Norm?

Transparency and openness are essential to democracy. However, administrations have ample motivation for making some information difficult or impossible for the public to obtain. In the early days of the Trump administration, some federal agencies' websites were taken down or not updated. What happens to the public's ability to monitor their government's actions if information is removed from view?

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The Limits of Transparency and the Freedom of Information Act

Since 1967, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) has provided the public the right to request access to records from any federal agency. Administrations, while publicly lauding transparency, can direct how executive agencies respond to requests. What are the consequences of limiting access to public records?

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Liberty Tree

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. Much of symbolic expression has been controversial and even offensive at times, but it is an effective vehicle for citizens to voice their displeasure.

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