Given our increasingly polarized society, it’s important to remember what should unite us: respect for freedom of speech, press, religion, and the right to assemble and petition. — Ken Paulson (Sept. 14, 2017)
It’s online now: The First Amendment Encyclopedia. Among other things, it is a impressive collection of more than 1,500 articles on First Amendment topics, court cases, and history. The online encyclopedia was culled and updated from the two-volume Encyclopedia of The First Amendment edited by John R. Vile, David L. Hudson, Jr. & David Schultz.
Two of the three original editors of the volumes — John Vile and David Hudson — spent the past several months reviewing and updating entries and adding new ones.
This online treasure trove of information was originally published by Congressional Quarterly in 2009 and listed for $355.00. The online encyclopedia (now free of charge) comprehensively examines the political, historical, and cultural significance and development of freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, the right to peaceably assemble, and the right to petition the government.
→ The rights to the Encyclopedia were purchased by Dean Ken Paulson of Middle Tennessee State University.
“We’ve found the now out-of-print two-volume edition,” said Paulson, “to be an extraordinary resource, so we purchased it, digitized it and updated the content. It’s a remarkable resource for those interested in First Amendment freedoms and it’s written in a style that makes it useful to both students and scholars.”
“The encyclopedia,” he added, “is part of an ongoing expansion of the Seigenthaler Chair of Excellence in First Amendment Studies at Middle Tennessee State Univeristy. The chair honors John Seigenthaler and his lifelong commitment to the First Amendment. Expanded programing and the revitalization of the website are among the steps we’re taking to address John’s lifelong goal of preserving and protecting the First Amendment through education and information.”
“This is a living, breathing project that will continue to grow in a way that promotes awareness and understanding of the First Amendment and its role in American history,” said Deborah Fisher, director of the Seigenthaler Chair of Excellence.
→ Video of press conference here
→ Disclosure: Many years ago Ken Paulson hired me to work at the First Amendment Center.
→ Related Resource: FIRE’s First Amendment Online Library
On Compelled Artistic Expression: Judge Breyer circa 1988
If you want to get a sense of First Amendment law and compelled artistic expression, a good case to consult is Redgrave v. Boston Symphony Orchestra, 855 F.2d 888 (1st Cir. en banc, 1988).
The case involved actress Vanessa Redgrave who “brought suit against the Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO) for cancelling a contract for Redgrave’s appearance as narrator in a performance of Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex. The cancellation occurred in the wake of protests over Redgrave’s participation because of her support of the Palestine Liberation Organization. She sought recovery both for breach of contract and for violation of her civil rights under [a Massachusetts civil rights law.”
Writing for the Court sitting en banc Judge Frank Coffin declared:
- “Protection for free expression in the arts should be particularly strong when asserted against a state effort to compel expression.”
- Judge Coffin then added: “We see no reason why less protection should be provided where the artist refuses to perform; indeed, silence tradi- tionally has been more sacrosanct than affirmative expression.”
- The court was “unable to find any case, involving the arts or otherwise, in which a state has been allowed to compel expression,” and observed that doing so would be “completely unprecedented.”
- “All three groups indicated, in tones ranging from strong suggestion to outright certainty, a view that the BSO should not be held liable under the [state civil rights law] for exercising its free speech right not to perform.”
Judge Stephen Breyer was one of the judges who joined Judge Coffin’s opinion.
→ See Amicus brief of First Amendent Lawyers Association in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission.
ACLU Brief in Masterpiece Cakeshop Case Rejects Free Speech Claim Read More