First Amendment Watch strives to bring leading First Amendment thinkers together in digital roundtables addressing important issues of the day.

Our first Roundtable, focused on a provocative essay forthcoming in Columbia Law Review from Georgetown Law Professor Michael Seidman who 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.” Five writers discuss the question: Can Free Speech Be Progressive.

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