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Freedom of Speech

Keynote Address by Richard Epstein - Event Audio/Video

2017 National Student Symposium
Richard A. Epstein, Shiva H. Logarajah March 15, 2017

Professor Richard Epstein delivered the keynote address titled "A common lawyer looks at the constitutional protection for freedom of speech" during the 2017 National Student Symposium at Columbia Law School on Saturday, March 4, 2017.

The theme of this talk is what happens if we think about freedom of speech as an ideal, without any of the standard constitutional glosses—strict scrutiny, purposive interpretations—and then how does it play out. It does differ from the current law, quite radically on some key question that lie at the border line between tortious actions and free speech: offensive behavior, intentional infliction of emotional distress, defamation, deceit, coercion and the like. The answers sometimes overlap and sometimes differ, and I hope to explain why the common law approach is superior.

Banquet Dinner
7:00 p.m. -10:00 p.m. 
Lerner Hall, Roone Arledge Auditorium

  • Keynote: Prof. Richard Epstein, Laurence A. Tisch Professor of Law, New York University School of Law
  • Introduction: Mr. Shiva H. Logarajah, Symposium Chair, Columbia Law School Student Chapter

Columbia Law School
New York, New York

Universities and the First Amendment - Event Audio/Video

2017 National Student Symposium
Robert C. Post, Philip A. Hamburger, Suzanne Goldberg, Michael W. McConnell, Thomas M. Hardiman March 15, 2017

Universities have long been thought of, and cherished, as places for the free exchange of ideas. This idea has, however, come under pressure. Student groups have now routinely exercised pressure to keep people who they disagree with off campus. And safe spaces and trigger warnings—which limit speech that some have deemed offensive—have become regular features at universities across the nation. 

Many see the climate of shouting-down or protesting the expression of others' viewpoints as the symbolic beginning of an era limiting the freedom of speech on college campuses. While surveys seem to show a majority of students disagree with universities curtailing speech, even when it is offensive, vocal minorities with opposing views have been the ones capturing news headlines and the attention of the public at large.

With the accessibility to speech provided by the internet and viral sharing of information, expression and speech spread with more ease than ever, but this same technology creates opportunities for back-lash on social media and gives a larger stage to those who would threaten the free market of ideas at our nation's universities.

The First Amendment protects principles which have always required vigilance to maintain, and today's world makes no exception. This panel will explore how these developments have affected intellectual discourse on campus and if they are conducive to a meaningful learning experience at our universities.

This panel was presented at the 2017 National Student Symposium on Saturday, March 4, 2017, at Columbia Law School in New York City, New York.

Panel 4: Universities and the First Amendment
4:00 p.m. - 5:45 p.m.
Jerome Greene Hall 104

  • Prof. Robert Post, Dean and Sol & Lillian Goldman Professor of Law, Yale Law School
  • Prof. Phillip Hamburger, Maurice and Hilda Friedman Professor of Law, Columbia Law School
  • Prof. Suzanne Goldberg, Executive Vice President for University Life, Columbia University; Herbert and Doris Wechsler Clinical Professor of Law, Columbia Law School
  • Prof. Michael McConnell, Richard and Frances Mallery Professor of Law; Director, Constitutional Law Center; Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution
  • Moderator: Hon. Thomas Hardiman, U.S. Court of Appeals, Third Circuit

Columbia Law School
New York, New York

ABA Model Rule 8.4 - Event Audio/Video

2017 National Student Symposium
Eugene Volokh, Robert N. Weiner, Lavenski Smith March 15, 2017

In August 2016, the American Bar Association (ABA) added new anti-discrimination guidelines for lawyers to its Model Rules of Professional Conduct through section 8.4. This section now binds lawyers to adhere to particular speech codes in the many states that have adopted it.

The provision labels engagement “in conduct that [a] lawyer knows or reasonably should know is harassment or discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status or socioeconomic status in conduct related to the practice of law." The ABA has defined discrimination and harassment to include “harmful verbal or physical conduct that manifests bias or prejudice towards others. Harassment includes sexual harassment and derogatory or demeaning verbal or physical conduct. Sexual harassment includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other unwelcome verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature." The conduct guidelines extend to “the practice of law," including, “representing clients; interacting with witnesses, coworkers, court personnel, lawyers and other while engaged in the practice of law; operating or managing a law firm or law practice; and participating in bar association, business or social activities in connection with the practice of law."

Some have described this section as infringing on the rights on lawyers to speak their mind, while others have argued it is necessary to prevent discrimination within the profession. This debate will discuss the implications of Model Rules of Professional Conduct 8.4 and its impact on workplace discrimination and lawyers' rights.

This debate was presented at the 2017 National Student Symposium on Saturday, March 4, 2017, at Columbia Law School in New York City, New York.

Debate: ABA Model Rule 8.4
11:15 a.m. -12:30 p.m.
Jerome Greene Hall 104

  • Prof. Eugene Volokh, Gary T. Schwartz Professor of Law, UCLA School of Law
  • Mr. Robert N. Weiner, Partner, Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP
  • Moderator: Hon. Lavenski Smith, U.S. Court of Appeals, 8th Circuit

Columbia Law School
New York, New York

Privacy and Freedom of the Press - Event Audio/Video

2017 National Student Symposium
Richard A. Epstein, Irina D. Manta, Jameel Jaffer, Steve Coll, Reena Raggi, Gillian Lester March 15, 2017

The Internet has made information not only much more accessible, it has allowed almost anyone to be a provider of such information. 

This has not been without consequence: the refusal to take down an obscene video led to an eye-popping $140 million jury verdict and the subsequent collapse of Gawker Media. Personal e-mails or national secrets can quickly turn into political ammunition through the amplification of Wikileaks. A wide range of individuals, from Dan Rather to former President Barack Obama, have criticized the spread of misinformation. They claim false information is being dressed up as legitimate online journalism with the intent to deceive and misinform. Technology CEOs have felt the pressure. For example, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is devoting considerable resources to developing methods to regulate speech on his platform— probably the most significant in the world. But, as Zuckerberg himself said, “identifying 'the truth' is complicated." 

This panel will explore this new reality and whether it necessitates new regulation. Will any effort be imprecise, such that protected speech will necessarily be silenced? Does such regulation go against the principles enshrined in the First Amendment?

This panel was presented at the 2017 National Student Symposium on Friday, March 3, 2017, at Columbia Law School in New York City, New York.

Panel 1: Privacy and Freedom of the Press
6:30 p.m. -8:00 p.m.
Jerome Greene Hall 104

  • Prof. Richard Epstein, Laurence A. Tisch Professor of Law, New York University School of Law
  • Prof. Irina Manta, Professor of Law and Director of the Center for Intellectual Property Law, Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University
  • Mr. Jameel Jaffer, Director of the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University
  • Prof. Steve Coll, Dean & Henry R. Luce Professor of Journalism, Columbia Journalism School; Staff Writer, The New Yorker
  • Moderator: Hon. Reena Raggi, Circuit Judge, US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
  • Opening: Dean Gillian Lester, Dean and Lucy G. Moses Professor of Law, Columbia Law School

Columbia Law School
New York, New York