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Freedom of Speech

Non-Media Speech: Is it Free? - Podcast

Free Speech & Election Law Practice Group Podcast
Eugene Volokh, Sonja R. West May 18, 2015

The First Amendment reads, in part, "Congress shall make no law . . .abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press . . ." Are there, and should there be, different levels of freedom of speech for media and non-media speakers? If so, how should "media" and "non-media" be defined, and who should decide? Our experts debated a recent Texas Court of Appeals decision that surprised some observers.

  • Prof. Eugene Volokh, Gary T. Schwartz Professor of Law, UCLA School of Law
  • Prof. Sonja R. West, University of Georgia School of Law

Williams-Yulee v. The Florida Bar - Post-Decision SCOTUScast

SCOTUScast 5-14-15 featuring Brian Fitzpatrick and Erik Jaffe
Erik S. Jaffe, Brian T. Fitzpatrick May 14, 2015

On January 20, 2015, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in Williams-Yulee v. The Florida Bar. This case asks whether Florida’s rule of judicial conduct that prohibits candidates for judicial office from personally soliciting campaign funds violates the First Amendment.

In an opinion delivered by Chief Justice Roberts, the Court held by a vote of 5-4 that Florida's rule does not violate the First Amendment. The judgment of the Supreme Court of Florida was affirmed. Justices Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan joined the Chief Justice’s opinion in full and Justice Ginsburg joined all except Part II. Justice Breyer filed a concurring opinion. Justice Ginsburg filed an opinion concurring in part and concurring in the judgment, which Justice Breyer joined as to Part II. Justice Scalia filed a dissenting opinion, which Justice Thomas joined. Justices Kennedy and Alito also filed dissenting opinions. 

To discuss the case, we have Prof. Brian T. Fitzpatrick, a Professor of Law at Vanderbilt University Law School and Erik Jaffe, who is a sole practitioner at Erik S. Jaffe, PC.

Political Contribution Limits, Labor Unions, and Businesses - Podcast

Litigation and Free Speech & Election Law Practice Groups Podcast
James Manley March 26, 2015

The laws of six states prohibit businesses—but not unions or other groups—from contributing to political parties, committees, or candidates. On February 24, 2015, the Goldwater Institute filed suit on behalf of two family-owned Massachusetts businesses to challenge Massachusetts’ political contribution ban. Since 1908, businesses have faced a total contribution ban, but special rules implemented in 1988 allow unions to contribute as much as $15,000 before any disclosure requirements or other contribution limits apply to the union. After unions have donated $15,000 to campaigns, their PACs can continue to contribute up to the ordinary limits. Meanwhile, business-funded PACs are banned from contributing. Does the Massachusetts law violate state and federal constitutional guarantees of equal protection, free speech, and free association?

  • Jim Manley, Senior Attorney, Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation, The Goldwater Institute

The “Hecklers’ Veto” - Podcast

Free Speech & Election Law Practice Group Podcast
Zuhdi Jasser, Nina Shea, Eugene Volokh March 13, 2015

Two American Muslim professors have been targeted by ISIS for criticizing the Charlie Hebdo attacks. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation has redoubled efforts to criminalize expressions of “Islamophobia” in Western nations. The most recent Intelligence Squared debate revealed heightened concern about restrictive speech codes on American campuses (e.g., the blacklisting of distinguished speakers who are labeled controversial by some people). What speech is, and what speech should be, protected in these and other contexts?

  • Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser, Founder and President, American Islamic Forum for Democracy
  • Nina Shea, Senior Fellow and Director, Center for Religious Freedom, Hudson Institute
  • Prof. Eugene Volokh, Gary T. Schwartz Professor of Law, UCLA School of Law

Danish Publisher: Charlie Hebdo and Free Speech in Europe and US - Podcast

Free Speech & Election Law Practice Group Podcast
Lars Hedegaard, Karen J. Lugo February 23, 2015

Lars Hedegaard was prosecuted under the European “incitement to hate” law all the way up to the Danish Supreme Court. Upon a full court re-hearing he was unanimously acquitted of intending his comments for public dissemination. He then survived a terrorist assassination attempt. Mr. Hedegaard will discuss why he has devoted so much to the cause of free speech and his deep belief that robust speech is vital to the survival of Western civilization. He assessed the long-term prospects for reform of speech laws in Europe, post Charlie Hebdo, and commented on what the United States might learn from developments in Europe.

  • Lars Hedegaard, Founder, International Free Press Society
  • Interviewer: Karen J. Lugo, Member, Federalism & Separation of Powers Practice Group Executive Committee