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All Posts for First Amendment Blog

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.

Moguls and the media

January 2nd, 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:

Among President-elect Donald Trump's many ill-informed campaign statements was that he was "going to open up libel laws." 

Where to begin? First, libel law was, and remains, state law. Second, while federal legislation does impact pockets of libel law (most notably, the Communications Decency Act protects websites from liability for merely hosting defamatory statements posted by third parties), the primary reason why politicians have trouble winning libel actions is not federal statutes but rather the First Amendment.  

Roger Williams has much yet to teach us

December 20th, 2016 by efitzpatrick

Taylor Stoermer, professor who teaches the history and modern practice of democracy at RWU and public history at Harvard University:

Roger Williams’ 413th birthday gives us the perfect opportunity to step back and ask “so what?” about his past and his present. It’s an especially appropriate occasion given the fractious nature of modern American politics, and something of a drift in our collective memory. But the perfect opportunity presented itself this semester when 75 undergraduate students at Roger Williams University actually became excited about a long and dry legal document written centuries ago, the Rhode Island Charter of 1663, and by Roger Williams himself.