MENU

Freedom of Speech

Litigation Update: Exxon Investigation - Podcast

Litigation Practice Group Podcast
Ken Paxton May 10, 2017

On April 20th, eleven state Attorneys General filed a joint amicus brief in support of ExxonMobil and its request to stop an investigation into allegations of fraud and deceptive practices surrounding the relationship between fossil fuels and climate change. Texas AG Ken Paxton was joined by ten other state Attorneys General on the brief in a New York District Court. On May 9, AG Paxton joined us to share his views on the underlying investigation, whether it impinges on Exxon’s free speech protections, and the ramifications a potential lawsuit could have on the fossil fuels industry.     

Featuring:

  • Hon. Ken Paxton, Attorney General, Texas

A Nationwide Speech Code for Lawyers?

Short video featuring Eugene Volokh
Eugene Volokh May 02, 2017

Is it a violation of the first amendment for the American Bar Association to impose a nationwide speech code for lawyers? Professor Eugene Volokh of the UCLA School of Law discusses the newly proposed Rule 8.4(g) of the ABA's Model Rules of Professional Conduct, a set of anti-discrimination guidelines for lawyers that would bind lawyers to adhere to particular speech codes in the states that have adopted it.

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