Rhode Island First Amendment Case Informs Trump, NFL Clash

By Edward Fitzpatrick The First Amendment has become a political football. Conservatives pile on when liberals try to shut down conservative speakers on campus, and liberals lash out when President Trump calls for sacking those who take a knee during NFL national anthems or dare to call him a bigot. So will Little Rhody come […]

Trump’s Dangerous Attack

By Joseph W. McQuaid “It is frankly disgusting the press is able to write whatever it wants to write.” Does that statement betray its speaker’s ignorance of the First Amendment to the Constitution? Was it made with the intent of undermining one of America’s most precious and important freedoms? Either way, when the President of the United […]

Nation Needs First Amendment Refresher Course

By Edward Fitzpatrick We, the people, don’t know the first thing about the First Amendment. Well, some of us do. But according to a new survey by the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Public Policy Center, 37 percent of Americans can’t name any of the five freedoms protected by the First Amendment — not a single […]

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 […]