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Speech Codes

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

Ninth Annual Rosenkranz Debate: Hostile Environment Law and the First Amendment - Event Audio/Video

2016 National Lawyers Convention
Deborah L. Rhode, Eugene Volokh, Jennifer Walker Elrod, Eugene B. Meyer November 24, 2016

RESOLVED: Hostile Environment Law, On and Off Campus, Often Violates the First Amendment.

The Ninth Annual Rosenkranz Debate was held on November 19, 2016, during The Federalist Society's 2016 National Lawyers Convention.

Ninth Annual Rosenkranz Debate & Luncheon
12:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.         
Grand Ballroom

  • Prof. Deborah L. Rhode, Ernest W. McFarland Professor of Law; Director, Center on the Legal Profession; Director, Program in Law and Social Entrepreneurship, Stanford Law School
  • Prof. Eugene Volokh, Gary T. Schwartz Professor of Law, UCLA School of Law
  • Moderator: Hon. Jennifer W. Elrod, U.S Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit
  • Introduction: Mr. Eugene B. Meyer, President, The Federalist Society

The Mayflower Hotel
Washington, DC

Speech Code for Lawyers? - Podcast

Free Speech & Election Law, Litigation, and Professional Responsibilities & Legal Education Practice Groups Podcast
Eugene Volokh June 06, 2016

The American Bar Association (ABA) model rules of conduct have long wrestled with regulating the intersection of discrimination and the law of lawyering. The current model rules forbid discrimination in the practice of law only as a comment to the prohibition on lawyer conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice. After much discussion and pressure, the ABA has proposed expanding the language to become new model rule 8.4 (g). If enacted, this rule would prohibit (in its own right) discrimination or harassment by a lawyer engaged in the practice of law against a list of protected classes, including ethnicity, gender identity, and marital status. Perhaps anticipating a challenge, the new rule's comment states that the new rule does not apply to non-lawyer conduct or activities protected by the first amendment and also exempts times when references to such protected groups and facts are needed to effectively represent a client. However, this new rule would apply to all conduct at primarily firm and legal events, including firm related social events.

What is discrimination or harassment over socioeconomic status? Since this rule applies to social settings, where is the line to be drawn and what chilling effect might be created? What about free speech and free association?

Featuring:

  • Prof. Eugene Volokh, Gary T. Schwartz Professor of Law, UCLA School of Law