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All Posts for First Amendment Blog

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.

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.

Blocking Women's March from key D.C. sites risks infringing on First Amendment rights

December 12th, 2016 by efitzpatrick

Jenna Wims Hashway, professor of legal practice at the RWU School of Law:

The president-elect’s respect for (and indeed, grasp of) First Amendment rights has been a source of concern for many.  Now, with the announcement that the National Park Service (on behalf of the Presidential Inauguration Committee) has issued a massive omnibus block permit — barring access to the National Mall and Lincoln Memorial for days or weeks before, during and after the inauguration — the right of peaceful assembly is also at risk. 

45 Words, 5 Freedoms, 1st Amendment: Add your voice

December 5th, 2016 by efitzpatrick

Edward Fitzpatrick, RWU director of media and public relations, New England First Amendment Coalition board member and former Providence Journal columnist:

Absolutely!

The 45 words in the First Amendment guarantee five freedoms: freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom to assemble and freedom to petition the government. But those constitutional guarantees are paper thin if not defended and championed by each generation.

In his book “Freedom for the Thought We Hate,” Pulitzer Prize winner Anthony Lewis noted that in 1798 (just seven years after the First Amendment was added to the Constitution), Congress passed a law punishing disrespectful comments about the president, and editors went to the hoosegow for mocking President John Adams. And a century later, men received 20 years in prison for criticizing a policy decision by President Woodrow Wilson.