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First Amendment Blog

Attacks on the media only making them stronger

March 5th, 2017 by efitzpatrick

Harrison Connery, senior journalism major at Roger Williams University:

 

Jon Keller, political analyst for WBZ-TV, welcomed people to the New England First Amendment Coalition awards ceremony on Feb. 24 in Boston, saying: "Ladies, gentlemen, fellow enemies of the people -- glad you could make it out today."

 

RWU journalism Prof. Prado traces history of propaganda, "fake news"

March 2nd, 2017 by efitzpatrick

Paola Prado, RWU associate professor of journalism and adviser to the university's chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, spoke with Bruce Newbury on WADK-1540 in Newport on March 1 about propaganda, "fake news" and Walter Lippmann's 1922 book, "Public Opinion."

 

Listen to the podcast by clicking here:

http://wadk.com/assets/podcaster/464/2017_03_01_464_54959_4434.mp3

 

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.

Enemy of the American People? Undermining a free press

February 20th, 2017 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 Trump administration appears to be springing more leaks than the Oroville Dam spillway. And that’s a good thing. Otherwise, the public would be drowning in the cascade of “alternative facts” pouring from the White House.

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.

The First Amendment and public sector union "dues"

January 9th, 2017 by efitzpatrick

Michael J. Yelnosky, dean of the RWU School of Law and professor of law:

In all likelihood, sometime in 2017 a new U.S. Supreme Court justice will take the bench and fill the vacancy created by the death last year of Justice Antonin Scalia. Sometime thereafter, I am confident, the court will reverse almost 40 years of precedent and rule that the First Amendment prohibits provisions in public sector collective bargaining agreements requiring all covered employees to compensate the union for the costs associated with the union’s negotiation and administration of that agreement.

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.  

RI can help build a free press in The Gambia

December 22nd, 2016 by efitzpatrick

Omar Bah, founder and executive director of the Refugee Dream Center, in Providence, who earned a master’s degree in public administration from RWU in 2014:

I only have to look at the bayonet scar on my left hand to remember how Gambian President Yahya Jammeh treats a free press: The dictator’s soldiers beat, kicked and tortured me when I attempted to cover a secret trial in The Gambia, my native country. And I barely escaped with my life, fleeing the smallest nation on the African mainland before finding refuge here in America’s smallest state.

I thought I would never set foot in The Gambia again. But Jammeh, the authoritarian president for the past 22 years, lost the presidential election on Dec. 1. While it remains unclear if he’s going to willingly step aside, I hope to establish a private, independent newspaper there.

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.