First Amendment News 293: Genevieve Lakier to join Knight Institute as visiting research scholar

First Amendment News 293: Genevieve Lakier to join Knight Institute as visiting research scholar

2021-04-07 14:04:02

The Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University continues to expand its presence in the emerging world of free speech issues, in both public and quasi-public domains. In addition to the release of new essays and reports, the Institute remains involved with groundbreaking litigation

Now, Jameel Jaffer and his colleagues from the institute have brought a leading free speech scientist to their team, albeit as a visiting scientist. This from the Knight First Amendment Institute press release

Genevieve Lakier, a law professor at the University of Chicago, and evelyn douek, a lecturer and PhD student at Harvard Law School, will join the institute later this year as a visiting researcher. Their work with the institute will focus on disinformation and the First Amendment, as well as the regulation of speech on and through social media platforms.

"We are thrilled to have the opportunity to work closely with these two brilliant scientists," said Jameel Jaffer, Knight Institute Executive Director. Professor Lakier will help us explore some of the assumptions underlying contemporary discourse and the doctrine of free speech; Evelyn Douek will help us better understand and respond to the impact that large social media companies have on our speech environment. We are delighted that both scientists are involved in all aspects of the Institute's work. "

Lakier will begin her term as a Senior Visiting Research Scholar in September 2021, leading an interdisciplinary study on "Disinformation, Disinformation and the First Amendment in the Public Mass." One of the fundamental assumptions of the modern First Amendment law is that the best remedy for harmful speech – including harmful false or misleading speech – is more speech. Lakier will explore whether this assumption can hold true given our contemporary, fragmented and highly polarized public mass sphere, and what can be done if it doesn't. During her tenure at the Institute, Lakier will bring together scientists from different disciplines to explore these issues in a series of workshops, culminating in a major symposium in spring 2022.

evelyn douek

evelyn douek will join the institute this summer as an Associate Research Scholar. She will write and host events on questions related to content moderation by social media platforms and proposals for regulating big tech. She will also work closely with the Institute's staff to support and expand the research program.

"We have been fortunate to have published the work of both Professor Lakier and Evelyn Douek as part of previous research projects at the Knight Institute," said Katy Glenn Bass, research director of the Knight Institute. "I look forward to deepening this commitment and expanding the reach and scope of the Institute's research program with input from both of these incredibly talented scientists."

"Furious debates over the problem of disinformation and disinformation in the public sphere of the masses have not yet dealt much with First Amendment doctrine and theory," Lakier said. "I look forward to engaging First Amendment scholars with media studies, sociologists and historians, for an interdisciplinary exploration of the difficult question of how to regulate lies as a democratic society."

“I couldn't be more excited to join the Knight Institute, which works at the absolute intersection of the First Amendment and technology intersection, the topics I study, love and criticize,” Douek said. "I have followed closely the work and impact of the institute and can't wait to participate."

The current Visiting Research Scholar of the institute is Ethan Zuckerman, Associate professor of public policy, information and communications at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and director of the Institute for Digital Public Infrastructure. Previous visiting researchers at the Institute include Amy Kapczynski, Professor of law at Yale Law School; Jamal Greene, Dwight Professor of Law at Columbia Law School; and David Pozen, Charles Keller Beekman Professor of Law at Columbia Law School. More information about their projects is available here

For more information contact Lorraine Kenny: [email protected]

Court dismisses verdict and dismisses Trump's Twitter case

According to SCOTUSblog: “The petition for a writ of execution is granted. The verdict is dropped and the case is remanded to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit with instructions to dismiss the case as disputable. So the case ended Trump v Knight First Amendment Institute. Judge Clarence Thomas nevertheless weighed in with a long but lonely concurrence. (More on this in a future issue of FAN.)

Reaction from Knight Institute:

“We are happy with what we have been able to accomplish in this lawsuit – not only forcing President Trump to unblock our clients and dozens of others from his Twitter account, but also setting a precedent that other courts have set to ban other government officials from theirs. silencing critics on social media, ”said Katie Fallow, Senior Staff Attorney at the Knight Institute, who took the case to the district court. "The social media accounts of government officials play an increasingly important role in our democracy. As multiple courts have now recognized, the teachings of the public forum apply to these accounts in the same way as to expressive forums offline."


As I read it, Judge Thomas is not arguing that according to existing legal principles, platforms are generally already ordinary carriers or state actors; that argument is rather cumbersome, and his analysis seems to me to largely reject that argument, except perhaps when the platforms restrict speech in response to government threats.

Eugene Volokh (UCLA law)Eugene Volokh (UCLA law)

Rather, he anticipates what could be done through legislation, and whether new state laws that regard platforms as regular carriers (more or less) will be seen as blocked by the First Amendment or 47 U.S.C. § 230. (His analysis of the interests involved may also be relevant to whether such state laws violate the dormant trade clause.) That is an issue that the court is likely to face in the years to come.

I also read Judge Thomas' position here as somewhat tentative, and it is of course far from clear that four other judges will eventually agree. But I think the analysis is interesting and useful for the debate on this topic. The opening symposium number of our new faculty has been edited Journal of Free Speech Law everything will be about this general question; we expect the papers to be out around July, and I suspect Justice Thomas' opinion will be heavily cited.

34 amicusbriefs filed in an off-campus speech case

While the judges prepare for the oral arguments of April 28 in Mahanoy Area School District v B.L., they have a variety of 34 amicus briefs in front of them. Some of the more notable instructions are:

Amicus slip

Paul Clement files cert. petition in access to information case

  • Boardman v InsleeThe question raised in the case is, “Whether a law that skews the debate on the value of trade unions in the public sector and undermines the opt-out rights of public sector workers through established trade unions exclusive access to provide information necessary to communicate with the public sector. workers is consistent with the first amendment. "

Utah's new law blocks pornographic content

This from Review first amendment

On March 23, Utah Governor Spencer Cox signed a bill to restrict minors' access to pornographic content.

House Bill 72 states that “As of January 1 of the year following the year this bill goes into effect, a manufacturer will manufacture a device that, when activated in the state, automatically activates a filter that … if enabled, the user prevents access to or downloading of material that is harmful to minors. "

The new law is the latest step in an ongoing campaign by conservative lawmakers in the state to combat online pornography. Lawmakers have declared porn a "public health crisis" and mandated warning labels for print and online pornography.

While parents can remove the restrictions on filtered websites, critics have expressed concern that the laws infringe on freedom of expression.

The Utah ACLU, which opposed the rule, tweeted that it "infringes the First Amendment rights of the general public to free access to the Internet."

FIRE is releasing new modules for the orientation program for freshmen 2021

This from Azhar Majeed at FIRE:


With the end of the current semester fast approaching, FIRE is already anticipating this fall's freshman orientation season on U.S. college campuses.

Together with our partners at NYU & # 39; s Review first amendment, we are proud to release the latest modules and materials for our freshman orientation program on freedom of speech on campus. The program, which debuted in 2020, is designed to help college administrators, leaders, and faculty educate incoming students about their freedom of expression – and how to respect the freedom of speech and academic freedom of their fellow students and professors.

This year's crop includes:


First Amendment Watch's mission "is to document threats to the freedom of speech, the press, assembly and petition of the First Amendment, all rights critical to self-government in a democratic society."

As with last year's first batch of orientation materials, we plan to release video versions of each of the new modules, for use in external or hybrid freshman experience programs or as part ofuniversities & # 39; Resources for the first amendmentThe 2020 program featured six written modules and their video counterparts, all of which can be found on FIRE's website and on Youtube, respectively.

Next Friday: Webinar Symposium Brooklyn Law Review: "The Roberts Court & Free Speech"

Brooklyn Law Review

The Roberts Court and Free Speech

John Roberts has been Chief Justice for almost 16 years. One of the many doctrinal milestones of his tenure is the Court's assertive approach to numerous questions about freedom of expression, including, among others, campaign funding and the methodology for enforcing freedom of expression claims. At the same time, in areas ranging from speeches by government employees to national security issues, the Court has more accepted government restrictions.

This webinar symposium (with CLE credit) will examine the Roberts Court's freedom of expression, taking into account both the expansionism of the Court's freedom of speech and the status of speech that the Court has left unprotected. It features prominent academic scholars and First Amendment practitioners who will share their knowledge of where the Court was on issues of freedom of expression and their speculations as to where it might go.

Friday April 9, 2021 12:00 pm to 3:30 pm

Welcome Comments

  • Michael T. Cahill, President, Joseph Crea Dean, and Professor of Law, Brooklyn Law School


Session I: Overview: The Free Speech Record of the Roberts Court


  • Ronald K. L. Collins, History Book Festival co-director and former Harold S. Shefelman Scholar, University of Washington Law School.
  • David L. Hudson, Jr., Assistant Professor of Law, Belmont University College of Law


  • Floyd Abrams Senior Counsel, Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP
  • Ellis Cose, Acclaimed author and journalist

Session II: First Amendment Expansionism and the Roberts Court


  • Robert Corn-Revere, Partner, Davis Wright Tremaine LLP
  • Genevieve Lakier Assistant Professor of Law, Herbert and Marjorie Fried Teaching Scholar, University of Chicago


  • Joel Gora, Professor of Law, Brooklyn Law School Break

Session III: Speech left unprotected by Roberts Court


  • Helen Norton Professor and Ira C. Rothgerber, Jr. chair of constitutional law, University of Colorado Law School
  • Nadine Strossen John Marshall Harlan II Professor of Law, Emerita, New York Law School


  • William D. Araiza, Stanley A. August Professor of Law, Brooklyn Law School

Session IV: Concluding Observations


  • Erwin Chemerinsky Dean; Jesse H. Choper Distinguished Professor of Law, UC Berkeley School of Law

Register here

Upcoming books on subversive literature and campus culture war

Read Dangerously: The Subversive Power of Literature in Troubled Times cover

The New York Times bestselling author of Reading Lolita in Tehran returns with a guide to the power of literature in turbulent times, armed readers with a reading list for resistance ranging from James Baldwin to Zora Neale Hurston to Margaret Atwood.

What is the role of literature in an era when a political party is in constant war against writers and the press? What is the connection between political struggles in our daily life and the way we meet our enemies on the page in fiction? How can literature, through its free exchange, influence politics?

In this resistance guide about resistance literature, Nafisi tries to answer these questions. Based on her experiences as a woman and gluttonous reader who lived in the Islamic Republic of Iran, her life as an immigrant in the United States, and her role as a literature professor in both countries, she comes up with an argument why, in a true democracy, we must fight deal with the enemy, and how literature can be a means to that end.

Structured as a series of letters to her father, Baba, who taught her as a child how literature can save us in times of trauma, Nafisi explores the most poignant questions of our time through the works of Toni Morrison, Salman Rushdie, James Baldwin, Margaret Atwood and more.

Free Speech and Koch Money: Manufacturing a Campus Culture War cover

In recent years, hundreds of high-profile "freedom of speech" incidents have turned American college campuses upside down. Milo Yiannopoulos, Ben Shapiro, Ann Coulter and other right-wing speakers have faced significant protests, with many refusing to speak. These incidents are widely circulated as examples of the academy's intolerance to conservative views. But this response is not the spontaneous outrage of the liberal colleges.

There is a darker element causing the crisis, funded by political agents and designed to achieve specific political results. If you follow the money, the crux of the matter is the infamous and ultra-libertarian Koch donor network. Taking care of extremist celebrities, funding media platforms promoting these controversies, setting up legal organizations to sue universities, and corrupting lawmakers, the Koch network has a huge influence. We need the story of & # 39; free speech on campus & # 39; leave and instead follow the money if we ever want to eradicate this dangerous network from our universities.

Four upcoming scientific articles

Caroline Mala CorbinCaroline Mala Corbin

Government utterance alarm is not new. In earlier decades, scientists feared the government's speech could monopolize a market and drown out opposing views. But today, I use a move I call "First Amendment capture ”, the government does not have to be the loudest speaker, because it can become the only speaker. First Amendment Arrest has been made possible by the evolving doctrine of the Supreme Court government speech, which states that government utterances are not subject to the Free Speech Clause. Thus, once the speech has been declared governmental statement, the government can censor positions it does not like.

First Amendment imprisonment – categorizing disputed speech as government speech and then eliminating opposing views – is becoming more common, and there is a risk that the government will gain too much power to suppress those who would criticize or blow the whistle. While one solution is to resist the label of the government speech, this essay also proposes recognizing "mixed speech" as a possible means of limiting the breadth of the government's speech doctrine.

YouTube: The Limits of Free Speech and Effects on Free Speech

The freedom of speech debate usually takes place on both ends of a spectrum – people feel they should be able to say what they want, or they feel that certain things (eg, hateful language) should be censored. Who is right and who decides?

While they recognize that speech is a powerful weapon that can do infinite good and infinite damage, says former ACLU president Nadine Strossen, sociologist Nicholas Christakis, author and skeptic Michael Shermer, and others agree that the principle should be defended for everyone, not just those who share our views. “I don't defend the Nazis,” says Strossen, “I defend a principle that is especially important for those of us who want the freedom to raise our voices, to protest against the Nazis and everything they stand for. "

However, like Strossen and Advocate Floyd Abrams pointed out that there have always been limits when it comes to freedom of expression and the First Amendment. There are rules, set by the Supreme Court, designed to ensure that speech is not used to inflict "imminent, specific harm" to others.

On March 5, 2021, the Federalist Society's Delaware and Pittsburgh Lawyers Chapters co-hosted a discussion between Todd Zywicki and Walter Olson about anti-discrimination laws and its implications for freedom of expression in the workplace.

As always, the Federalist Society does not take a position on any particular legal or public policy issue; all opinions are those of the speakers.

With: Introduction: Ryan Costa, Assistant Unit Head, Defensive Litigation Unit, Delaware Department of Justice; The Delaware Lawyers Chapter of the Federalist Society – Walter Olson, Senior Fellow, Cato Institute – Prof. Todd Zywicki, George Mason University Foundation Professor of Law, George Mason University Antonin Scalia School of Law; Senior fellow, Cato Institute.

More in the news

2020-2021 SCOTUS Term: Free Speech and Related Matters

Business decides

  • McKesson to Doe (per curium, 7-1 with Thomas, J., dissent) (verdict cleared and remanded to 5th Cir.)
  • Facebook, Inc. against Duguid (OA: December 8, 2020) (Telephone consumer protection law robocall case – decided on legal grounds)

Cases quarrel

Cert. granted

Pending petitions

Cert. denied

First amendment related

Last scheduled FAN

This article is part of First Amendment News, an editorially independent publication edited by Professor Ronald K. L. Collins and hosted by FIRE as part of our mission to educate the public on First Amendment issues. The views expressed are those of the author (s) of the article and may not reflect the views of FIRE or Professor Collins.


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