Class 2: First Amendment (2017/09/14)

Class Preparation:

  1. WRITE reflection #1 (On Intellectual Freedom) and turn in on Tuesday Sept. 12.
  2. WRITE course expectations to instructor. (What do you want to learn? What skills do you, personally, want to improve? What kinds of feedback would you like to get?)
  3. READ (or at least skim) each of the information in “Course Grading and Notices”, and send me an email promising me that you have read them, and letting me know any pieces that are unclear.
  4. NEWS – find a couple of pieces of news; post links & note in class bulletin board BY MONDAY, and raise the issue for discussion in class. This is standard each week. 
  5. READ one or all of these, to feel comfortable reading legal opinions:
  6. READ: Ken White, “How to Spot and Critique Censorship Tropes in the Media’s Coverage of Free Speech Controversies”, PopeHat, May 19, 2015
  7. READ First Amendment cases 
    1. Miller v. California, 413 U.S. 15 (1973) – Obscenity!
    2. Brandenburg v. Ohio (1969), 395 U.S. 444 (1969) – Threats! 
    3. New York Times v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254 (1964) – Defamation! 
    4. Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, 393 U.S. 503 (1969) – Kids! 
    5. Cohen v. California, 403 U.S. 15 (1971) – Fuck the draft t-shirt!
  8. Make a Wikipedia edit. (Your user page, or small fixes, or whatever else.)

Topics Covered:

  1. Class Business.
    1. check-in: Basic course materials & information; any questions?
      1. Email is great. pdf, rtf, MS Word, etc. (Not using Moodle for assignments.)
      2. Brief overview of anonymizing and scrubbing data. 
    2. review of reflections & what you want from me.
      1. Class participation. On-call dates or topics? 
      2. Quite a few of you on reasoning / logic – interesting! Note: It’s not a philosophy or argumentation class. If I had to characterize it, I’d call the orientation legal; applied ethics; and practice.  
      3. Speaking clearly. Practice! 
      4. Writing feedback 
      5. Organizational skills. 
      6. Legal Research: How to start with a particular topic and go from there.
    3. a little more on Wikipedia. Some skepticism; some confusion. 
    4. reading cases – any problems?
  2. News.
  3. Lecture / Discussion: First Amendment Case Studies: Student speech (Tinker); Expressive conduct (Cohen); Threats (Brandenberg); Defamation (NYT v. Sullivan); Obscenity (Miller).
  4. Class Workshop : Work through some potential First Amendment situations. Are these First Amendment violations?
    1. The White House publicly states that a private party who has been critical of the President should be fired from their job. First Amendment violation?
    2. A (US) public library’s meeting room is reserved by a white power group to commemorate an attorney that had defended white supremacists in free speech cases. The library rejects the request. First Amendment violation?
    3. A public high school administrator prohibits a student newspaper from publishing articles about racial and sexual violence experienced by students. First Amendment violation?
    4. Various science agencies of the US government decline to fund grants for university scientists that conduct research on climate change. First Amendment violation?
    5. Congress prohibits the CDC (Centers for Disease Control & Prevention), a federal agency, from collecting data on gun violence. First Amendment violation?