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All Posts for First Amendment Blog

First Amendment protects the right to give and to receive

May 23rd, 2017 by efitzpatrick

Andrew Horwitz, professor of law, assistant dean for experiential education and director of the Criminal Defense Clinic at the RWU School of Law:

Sadly, Cranston, R.I., has recently joined the ranks of those jurisdictions that have decided that the best way to deal with homelessness is to make it a crime. This national phenomenon, fostered in an environment of ignorance, fear and hatred, is nothing new, but it is suddenly becoming much more pervasive. Jurisdictions around the country have moved to criminalize activities that are inherently associated with homelessness, such as sleeping in public, sleeping in vehicles, loitering and panhandling. Of course, criminalizing these activities doesn’t resolve the underlying problems, but it does sometimes move the problems out of public view; to some, that seems to be a worthy objective.

Donald Trump vs. Roger Williams

May 8th, 2017 by efitzpatrick

David A. Logan, professor of law and former dean of the RWU School of Law, who has studied and written extensively about First Amendment issues:

One of the many surprises of the 2016 presidential election was the support that the “religious right” or “evangelicals” gave to Donald Trump, a candidate with a well-documented and, indeed, audacious disrespect for traditional family values, especially the sanctity of marriage. Observers ascribe that support to Trump’s often-made promise to appoint conservatives to the Supreme Court of the United States, which could roll back abortion rights and the long-standing recognition of a stout “wall” separating church and state, which is traced to the writing and preaching of the namesake of my employer, Roger Williams University. President Trump delivered on the first item by nominating Judge Neil Gorsuch to the high court.

Exercising First Amendment rights is a team sport

March 1st, 2017 by efitzpatrick

Rachel Bimonte, junior journalism major at Roger Williams University:

At a New England First Amendment Coalition event on Feb. 24, Washington Post media columnist Margaret Sullivan began her keynote address by thanking the many journalism students in attendance, including eight students from Roger Williams University.

“I admire the fact that you are making the foray into our somewhat treacherous waters at this particular time,” Sullivan said. “We need you more than ever.”

Sullivan received the Stephen Hamblett First Amendment Award during the luncheon at the Boston Marriott Long Wharf. And as she spoke, it clicked: Much like basketball, football and dance choreographies, journalism is a team sport, too. And we each must do our part to exercise our First Amendment rights, to speak truth to power, to deliver the truth.

Trademark law clashes with the First Amendment

February 10th, 2017 by efitzpatrick

Niki Kuckes, RWU professor of law who had a Washington, D.C, litigation practice encompassing copyright, First Amendment, legal malpractice and white-collar criminal matters:

Should a term like “the slants,” which is deeply offensive to many Asian-Americans, be granted the benefits of heightened legal protection afforded to federally registered trademarks? Or should the Trademark Office have the power to refuse to register such a “disparaging” trademark?

Trump's order violates bedrock principles of Roger Williams and RI

January 30th, 2017 by efitzpatrick

Jared A. Goldstein, RWU professor of law who teaches constitutional law, former U.S. Department of Justice attorney:

President Donald Trump issued an executive order on Friday, Jan. 27, that violates the bedrock principles upon which Roger Williams founded Rhode Island. I’ve always been proud to work at a university named for Roger Williams, whose commitment to religious liberty for all peoples formed the basis for our nation’s commitment to separation of church and state and its dedication to the principle that the government should never favor or disfavor any religion. The president’s order, however, prohibits the issuance of visas to anyone from one of seven specified predominately Muslim countries. The order also blocks entry by refugees from any of the seven countries. The order attempts to put into effect Trump’s campaign promise to ban immigration by Muslims and to close the door to Muslim refugees.