Blog

As Fall Semester Begins, Schools Continue to Wrestle with Free Speech Policies

By Zachary Carlton As a student and a professor, I’ve exercised my First Amendment right to free speech in protests and counter-protests, civil disagreements and heated arguments. Inside classrooms, in panel discussions and one-on-one with students, I’ve discussed the importance of this right and the ways in which higher education administrators draft policies that are […]

Maintain Freedom for the Thought We Hate, But Speak Up

By Edward Fitzpatrick In 1929, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it was OK to deny citizenship to a pacifist from Hungary because she refused to swear that she’d take up arms to defend the United States. But Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. dissented. As a former lieutenant colonel who fought in the Civil War, […]

Suspicion and Secrecy Unavoidable When Public Officials Limit Access to Social Media Accounts

By Tatiana Tway In what may be the first case of its kind, a federal judge in Virginia recently ruled that a politician violated the constitutional rights of a constituent by banning that constituent from his personal Facebook account. “The suppression of critical commentary regarding elected officials is the quintessential form of viewpoint discrimination against which […]

Protecting First Amendment Principles on New England’s Private Campuses

By Tatiana Tway Colleges across the nation are struggling to find a balance between free expression and the safety and comfort of their students. With violent protests leading to the cancellation of events, the creation of safe spaces and trigger warnings and reports revealing students’ complicated viewpoints on speech, the First Amendment and the principles it embodies […]

Free Press, Open Meetings Laws Survive R.I. State House Standoff

By Edward Fitzpatrick | NEFAC and Roger Williams University On June 30, an epic impasse between Rhode Island House and Senate leaders left the state’s $9.2-billion budget in limbo along with scores of other pieces of legislation. But amid the State House’s marble maze of power politics and clashing priorities, two bills managed to emerge […]

Public Officials on Facebook: ACLU Tells Maine Gov. LePage to Stop Censoring Comments

By Scott Dolan Kelli Whitlock Burton of Waldoboro, Maine, asked Gov. Paul LePage a tough question this month: Why did he blame the media for his own false statement about going on vacation as the threat of government shutdown loomed? Gov. LePage responded to Burton with the delete button. He censored her question from his […]

A Precautionary Tale

By Colman M. Herman A year ago last June, I was interested in getting the backstory regarding New England Patriot’s owner Robert Kraft’s efforts to build a soccer stadium on the former Bayside Expo Center property on Columbia Point in Dorchester, Mass., owned by the University of Massachusetts. So I made a public records request for the relevant […]

Public Officials Beware: The First Amendment Implications of Trump’s Twitter Blocks

By Tatiana Tway The nonprofit, nonpartisan Knight First Amendment Institute recently asked President Trump to unblock the accounts of Twitter users who post comments critical of him on his personal Twitter page. If Trump refuses to unblock the users, the institute has threatened to file a lawsuit on First Amendment grounds. In a June 6 letter to the […]