FAN 52 (First Amendment News) Corn-Revere signs with Cambridge to do Censorship Book

Bob Corn-Revere

Bob Corn-Revere

Noted First Amendment lawyer Robert Corn-Revere will soon rejoin the ranks of practicing free speech lawyers who have written books on the subject. The never-tiring lawyer has just signed a contract with Cambridge University Press to do a book entitled The Mind of the Censor and the Eye of the Beholder: The First Amendment and the Censor’s Dilemma.

The book will cover a variety of censorship-related topics — from the life and times of Anthony Comstock (1844-1915) to indecency regulations and campus speech codes and much more. The manuscript should be completed in a year or so.      

Anthony Comstock

Anthony Comstock

In 1999 Mr. Corn-Revere (a former legal advisor to an FCC Commissioner) co-authored Modern Communications Law (with Harvey Zuckman & Robert Frieden), and in 1997 edited Rationales & Rationalizations: Regulating the Electronic Media  (introduction by Senator Patrick Leahy).

In 2005 he prepared a report for the First Amendment Center entitled Implementing a Flag-Desecration Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

In 2003 he successfully petitioned the governor of New York to posthumously pardon the comedian Lenny Bruce (the first and only such pardon in the history of New York).

* * * *

Other practicing lawyers who have edited or authored books (other than casebooks) on free speech and related topics include:

  1. Floyd Abrams: Speaking Freely: Trials of the First Amendment (2005) & Friend of the Court: On the Front Lines with the First Amendment (2012)

    James Goodale

    James Goodale

  2. James C. Goodale: Fighting for the Press (2013), & Rob Frieden, All About Cable and Broadband (2014)
  3. Lee Levine (and Stephen Wermiel): The Progeny: Justice William Brennan’s Fight to Preserve the Legacy of New York Times v. Sullivan (2014)
  4. Mike Goodwin: Cyber Rights: Defending Free speech in the Digital Age (2003)
  5. Marjorie Heins, Priests of Our Democracy: The Supreme Court, Academic Freedom, and the Anti-Communist Purge (2013), and Not in Front of the Children: ‘Indecency’, Censorship, and the Innocence of Youth (2001), and Sex, Sin and Blasphemy: A Guide to America’s Censorship Wars (1993)
  6. Jonathan Emord, Freedom, Technology, and the First Amendment (1991) & Global Censorship of Health Information (2010)
  7. John F. Wirenius, First Amendment, First Principles: Verbal Acts & Freedom of Speech (2000)
  8. Edward J. Cleary: Beyond the Burning Cross: A Landmark Case of Race, Censorship, and the First Amendment (1995)

    Cameron DeVore

    Cameron DeVore

  9. Bruce Sanford: Sanford’s Synopsis of Libel and Privacy (1991) & Don’t Shoot the Messenger: How our Growing Hatred of the Media Threatens Free Speech for All of Us (1999) & The First Amendment Book (1991) (with Robert J. Wagman)
  10. Stephen Brody & Bruce Johnson: Advertising and Commercial Speech, A First Amendment Guide (2004-2014) (originally by P. Cameron DeVore and Robert Sack)
  11. Patrick M. Garry, Scrambling for Protection: The New Media and the First Amendment (1994)
  12. Robert Sack, Libel, Slander, and Related Problems (1997) (with Sandra S. Baron) (since revised while RS was a sitting judge)

    Martin Garbus

    Martin Garbus

  13. Martin Garbus: Tough Talk: How I Fought for Writers, Comics, Bigots, and the American Way (2010)
  14. David O. Stewart, Madison’s Gift: Five Partnerships That Built America (2015)
  15. William Bennet Turner: Figures of Speech: First Amendment Heroes and Villains (2011) (foreword by Anthony Lewis)
  16. Elliott C. Rothenberg, The Taming of the Press: Cohen v. Cowles Media Company (1999)
  17. Leon Friedman, editor, Obscenity: The Complete Oral Arguments before the Supreme Court in Major Obscenity Cases (1970)
  18. Richard Kuh: Foolish Figleaves: Pornography in and out of Court (1968)
  19. Albert B. Gerber, Sex, Pornography and Justice (1965)
  20. Elmer Gertz: Gertz v. Robert Welch, Inc: The Story of a Landmark Libel Case (1992) & Henry Miller Years of Trial and Triumph, 1962-1964: The Correspondence of Henry Miller and Elmer Gertz (editor, 1978)
  21. J.W. Ehrlich: Howl of the Censor (1961)
  22. Charles Rembar: The End of Obscenity(1968)

    Morris Ernst

    Morris Ernst

  23. Margaret C. Jasper, The Law of Obscenity and Pornography (2011)
  24. Morris L. Ernst, To the Pure: A Study of Obscenity and the Censor (1928), The First Freedom (1948), and Morris L. Ernst & Alan U. Schwartz: Censorship: The Search For The Obscene (1965)
  25. Lamar T. Beman, editor, Censorship of Speech and the Press (1930)
  26. Walter Nelles, editor, Espionage Act Cases with Certain Others on Related Points — New Law in Making As to Criminal Utterance in War-time (1918)
  27. Theodore Schroeder: Free Speech for Radicals (1916) (& various other books)
  28. Tunis Wortman, A Treatise Concerning Political Inquiry and the Liberty of the Press (1800)

Upcoming Memorial Service for Herald Price Fahringer 

A memorial service for Herald Price Fahringer (1927-2015), a criminal defense and free-speech lawyer, will be held on Saturday, March 28th at 2 p.m. at the Surrogate’s Court, 31 Chambers Street in Manhattan.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in his honor to the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers’ Foundation for Criminal Justice at:

Please contact if you have any questions.

Vintage Volokh — Professor Files Brief in 4th Circuit Government Employee Firing Case

UCLA Law Professor Eugene Volokh recently filed an amicus brief in the Fourth Circuit in the case of Lawson v. Union County Clerk of Court William F. “Freddie” Gault et al. (No. 14-02360). The brief was submitted on behalf of Common Cause, the Brennan Center for Justice, and the Pennsylvania Center for the First Amendment.

Facts: Melanie Lawson was as a deputy clerk of a family court in Union County, South Carolina. In 2012 she went on leave and during that time ran for office against the sitting county clerk of court (her boss!). She campaigned and touted her experience of two decades service in the clerk’s office. She lost. Worse still, she was fired. When she contested her firing as retaliatory, a federal district court ruled against her.

Amicus’ Arguments: “Firing government employees for their political affiliation,” argues Volokh, “is presumptively unconstitutional. This is true not only because of employees’ First Amendment interests, but because of everyone’s interest in foster- ing competition, opportunity, and participation in democratic elections. Broad government power to demand employees’ political allegiance ‘can result in the entrenchment of one or a few parties to the exclusion of others’ and ‘decidedly impairs the elective process.'” (citations omitted)

“Of course, though employees generally may not be fired for political activity that competes with their superiors or the superiors’ parties, a ‘narrow exception’ has been recognized for certain job categories, so that officials can effectively implement the policies for which they were elected.”

“. . . Melanie Lawson’s [job did not demand political allegiance.] Lawson had an important job, but an administrative one. As a Deputy Clerk of Family Court, Lawson collected receipts, managed dockets, issued judges’ or- ders, and aggregated and reported Family Court data. She worked under the daily supervision of several people. Lawson was a midlevel manager with little autonomy. And yet the district court found that hers was a job for which political allegiance was appropriate.”

“By extending the political allegiance exception to include Lawson, the district court’s decision does not merely limit Lawson’s First Amendment rights; it also shrinks political opportunity and chills democratic participation on a wider scale. The district court’s holding lets the government unjustifiably deter some of the most qualified people from running for office—experienced government workers with the expertise and credibility to offer voters viable alternatives to incumbents. By allowing incumbents to threaten such would-be candidates with job loss, the district court’s holding effectively excludes the most qualified newcomers from the political process and costs citizens the accountability, efficiency, and opportunity that arise when incumbents face viable competition for election.”

Read on — there is more in this thoughtfully nuanced brief (vintage Volokh).  [ht: Rick Hasen]

One more thing: UCLA Law School students Sina Safvati, Anjelica Sarmiento, and Sabine Trussed helped with the brief.

Censorship in the Arts — Plays to Focus on Artistic Freedom 

“Planet Connections Theatre Festivity will present an evening of world premiere plays by Erik EhnHalley FeifferIsrael Horovitz and Neil LaBute addressing censorship in the arts in Playwrights for a Cause, to be held at 7:30 pm on June 14, 2015 at the Sheen Center, located at 18 Bleecker Street, New York.”

“‘I’m so happy to be working on a project like this, one that will not only be a fun night of theater but will also directly benefit the National Coalition Against Censorship,” said Neil LaBute. ‘The NCAC is doing really important work at a time when people are actively striving to take away some of our most basic freedoms. I, for one, feel that these are the front lines for an artist — when you are asked to write/fight for what you’ve said you believe in. It is no longer enough to pay lip service to these ideas–it’s time to stand up and be counted.'”

Source here

Mass. Judges Said to be Sealing Court Documents with Increasing Regularity

According to a news story filed by Associated Press reporter Philip Marcelo, “Judges across Massachusetts are sealing court documents with increasing regularity, forcing news organizations and First Amendment groups into costly and time-consuming legal battles to ensure the basic workings of the judicial system remain public.”

“Matthew Segal, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, suggests the tendency toward secrecy stems, in part, from post-9/11 concerns about national security and how that thinking now pervades all levels of government across the country. . . . Justin Silverman, executive director of the New England First Amendment Coalition that counts lawyers, journalists and historians among its members, points to lesser known cases — from child custody disputes and domestic violence incidents — where news organizations across the region have lodged challenges, and, in many cases, won.”

George Gabel (Defender of Public’s Right to Know) Receives First Amendment Award

George Gabel, Jr.

George Gabel, Jr.

Jacksonville attorney George Gabel was recently honored by in Tallahassee with the First Amendment Foundation’s Pete Weitzel/Friend of the First Amendment Award.

As reported by Matt Soergel for “Frank Denton, editor of The Florida Times-Union, nominated Gabel for the award, calling him a ‘warrior for the First Amendment.’ He cited numerous cases in which Gabel tangled with judges and politicians on behalf of the public’s right to know what is going on, noting that Gabel ‘is always there to stand up in court on behalf of the Sunshine Laws and the First Amendment.'”

9th Circuit: Political Ad Can be Barred from Seattle Buses 

Reuters: “County officials in Seattle can prohibit an advertisement criticizing Israeli policies toward Palestinians from appearing on local buses without violating constitutional protections on free speech, a U.S. appeals court said on Wednesday.In a 2-1 ruling, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco found that Kings County acted reasonably when it barred the ad, which sparked threats of vandalism and violence that could have endangered passengers.”

 Seattle Mideast Awarness Campaign v. King County (9th Cir., March 18, 2015) (per Judge Paul Watford joined by Judge Alex Kozinski, with Judge Morgan Christen dissenting) [ht: HowAppealing]

ACLU Defends Anonymous Speech in Campaign Donations Case

In a news release, the ACLU said it has filed a federal lawsuit seeking to overturn Missouri’s requirement that campaign and political communications include the name and address of the communicator. A businessman in Ferguson wants to publish something about the upcoming council race, the group said, but is afraid to put his or her name on the document.

The suit says anonymous speech is protected by the First Amendment.

“From the founding of our nation, anonymous speech has played an important role in political debate,” the ACLU’s Tony Rothert said in a statement. [ Dave Helling, “ACLU claims First Amendment protects anonymous speech,” Kansas City Star, March 18, 2015]

Screen Shot 2015-03-17 at 2.02.27 PM

Harvey Silverglate Debates Peniel Joseph re the Limits of Free Speech

Does the Constitution protect vile, racist speech of the kind chanted by University of Oklahoma fraternity students?

That was the topic debated between FIRE’s Harvey Silverglate and Tufts’ History Professor Peniel Joseph.

Jim Braude of Greater Boston (WGBH TV) moderated the exchange between the two men. (See here)

Upcoming Neuborne-Rosen Book Event 

Announcement: The Brennan Center for Justice presents:

Madison’s Music: On Reading the First Amendment — A Book Talk with Burt Neuborne moderated by Jeffrey Rosen

Date: Friday, March 20, 201511:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

Venue: Constance Milstein and Family Global Academic Center, NYU,  Washington D.C.1307 L Street NW, Washington, D.C. 20005

RSVP by clicking here. If you have any questions, please contact Brennan Center Events Manager, Jafreen Uddin, at

Upcoming Yale Law School Conference on Election Law

The Yale Law and Political Society and Yale Law & Policy Review are hosting a conference on Saturday, April 11 at Yale Law School (127 Wall St., New Haven, CT 06520). The conference will explore the current state of political and electoral legal practice, with an eye to generating new ideas for research and advocacy. Election and political law have undergone radical changes in the past five years. The Supreme Court’s recent decisions in Citizens United v. FECMcCutcheon v. FEC, and Shelby County v. Holder have systematically reshaped our campaign finance and voting rights regimes. We can expect these changes in the law to have significant, long-term effects on electoral politics. Yet most analyses have focused on these decisions’ individual impacts rather than their collective consequences on our political system. Our conference will bring together election administrators, litigators, campaign practitioners, and academics to take comprehensive stock of the state of our electoral regime, uncover opportunities for new scholarship, and discuss likely directions for future campaign practice.

Conference speakers include Robert Bauer, Jennifer Brown, Benjamin Ginsberg, J. Gerald Hebert, Jennifer Heerwig, Dale Ho, Donald McGahn, Nina Perales, Gary Poser, Robert Post, Ann Ravel, Neil Reiff, Paul Ryan, Katherine Shaw, and Ace Smith.

The conference is free for Yale University and New Haven community members. For non-Yale students, the conference fee is $15. For everyone else (general conference attendees), the fee is $30. Please register here:

[ht: Rick Hasen]

Dean Robert Post Joins First Amendment Salon’s Advisory Board

Yale Law School Dean Robert Post recently joined the advisory board of the First Amendment Salon, which works in conjunction with the Floyd Abrams Institute for Freedom of Expression.

The co-chairs of the salon are Ronald Collins, Lee Levine and David Skover. Those on the advisory board are: Floyd AbramsErwin ChemerinskyRobert Corn-RevereRobert O’Neil, Robert PostPaul M. SmithGeoffrey Stone, Nadine Strossen, and Eugene Volokh.

The next salon will be held at the Abrams Institute at Yale Law School on Monday, March 30th and will involve an exchange between Professors Jack Balkin (Yale Law) and Martin Redish (Northwestern Law) with Mr. Abrams moderating.  The topic: “Is the First Amendment Being Misused as a Deregulatory Tool?”

U. Oklahoma — More on Racist Speech, Free Speech & The First Amendment 

Professor Anita Hill

Professor Anita Hill

  1. Kunal Patel, “Upholding freedom of speech includes protecting unpopular ideas,” Daily Bruin, March 17, 2015
  2. Scott Clement, “Americans’ growing support for free speech doesn’t include racist speech,” Wash. Post, March 16, 2015
  3. Gene Policinski, “Racist Oklahoma chant protected as free speech,” The Elkhart Truth, March 16, 2015
  4. Nick Gillespie, “If you only support free speech for ideas you agree with, you’re a hack,” Reason, March 16, 2015
  5. Noah Feldman, “The First Amendment and the Oklahoma Racist Chant,” Bloomberg News, March 16, 2015
  6. Anita Hill, “One Speaker’s Thoughts on Campus Litigation, Free Speech and Hostile Environments,” Huffington Post, March 15, 2015,
  7. Howard M. Wasserman, “University of Oklahoma Expels the First Amendment,” Jurist, March 14, 2015
  8. Kent Greenfield, “The Limits of Free Speech,” The Atlantic, March 13, 2015
  9. Debra Saunders, “I pledge allegiance to the First Amendment,” SFGate, March 13, 2015 (re Oklahoma ACLU’s position on racist speech)
  10. Justin Dillon & Matthew Kaiser, “The First Amendment protects racists, too,” NewsOk, March 13, 2015
  11. Chris Branch, “How First Amendment Arguments In Defense Of SAE Members Is An ‘Excuse To Avoid The Real Issue,‘” Huffington Post, March 12, 2015

New & Forthcoming Scholarly Articles

  1. Larry Alexander, “Free Speech and Speaker’s Intent: A Reply to Kendrick,” Columbia Law Review Sidebar (2015)
  2. Hillary Greene, “Muzzling Antitrust: Information Products, Innovation and Free Speech,” Boston University Law Review (2015)
  3. Tilman Klumpp , Hugo M. Mialon & Michael A. Williams, “Leveling the Playing Field? The Role of Public Campaign Funding in Elections,” American Law and Economics Review (Forthcoming)

Book Reviews etc. of Amy Gajda’s The First Amendment Bubble

Video: “The First Amendment Bubble,” Winter Town Hall Program,” National Constitution Center (discussing Amy Gajda’s book)

Q&A: Author of First Amendment Bubble Discusses Threats to Freedom of the Press,” Newspaper Association of America, Jan. 14, 2015

Noam Chomsky

Noam Chomsky

New YouTube Videos

  1. Ezra Levant vs Noam Chomsky: Free Speech (Part 1 of 3)” (The Rebel)
  2. Clueless cop tells man that free speech is not allowed on campus
  3. Swedish artist Lars Vilks receives free speech award” (Euronews)
  4. Free Speech Series 4 Episode 1 | I’m Ed Miliband, Ask Me
  5. Mark Steyn – Defending Free Speech” (LibertyPen)
  6. Pope Francis Is Wrong About Free Speech: We Must Never Be Afraid To Speak the Truth” (The Rebel)

News Stories, Op-Eds & Blog Posts  

Mary Ann Georgantopoulos, “Penn State Suspends Fraternity For Posting Photos On Facebook Of Unconscious Naked Women,” BuzzFeed, March 17, 2015

Claudia Koerner, “Rapper Tiny Doo, Facing Life In Prison Over Lyrics, Has Charges Dropped,” BuzzFeed, March 16, 2105

Lindsey Adler, “New York High School Will No Longer Use ‘Redskins’ As a Mascot,” BuzzFeed, March 16, 2015

  1. Jeff Jacoby, “Campaign Contributions and Double Standards,Patriot Post, March 16, 2015
  2. Ohio inmates appeal in 1st Amendment lethal-injection case,” Associated Press, March 16, 2015
  3. Anthony L. Fisher, “The First Amendment Challenge to the Death Penalty,” Reason, March 14, 2015
  4. Steven Schwinn, “Groups Sue to Stop NSA’s Upstream Surveillance,” Constitutional Law Prof Blog, March 13, 2015
  5. Scott Bryant, “Graphic images and the First Amendment,”, March 13, 2015
  6. Robby Soave, “Students Attack ‘Triggering’ Anti-Abortion Sign, Cop Says Free Speech Has Limits on Campus,'” Reason, March 13, 2015
  7. Rudy Takala, “FCC: Broadband Providers Not Entitled to First Amendment Protections,” CNS News, March 12, 2015

Next Scheduled FAN Post, #53: Monday, March 25, 2015

Last FAN Posts, #51.1:Oklahoma ACLU Issues Separate Statements on Racist Chants

#51.2: “Larry Tribe unto the Breach — ‘I believe Citizens United was rightly decided’ (But hold on, there is more)

#51.3: “8th Circuit Panel Strikes Down Missouri’s ‘House of Worship Protection Act'”

#51.4: “FCC Ruling: Broadband Internet Providers Have no First Amendment Rights re Access Services

#51.5: “Floyd Abrams on ‘the greatest threats to free speech in this country’

Last Scheduled FAN Post, #50: “Journalists, Scholars & Others Pay Tribute to Anthony Lewis

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