Democracy and Free Speech
Last Updated: 05/11/2010
Faculty: Jose Gomez constitutional law
Academic web site: academic.evergreen.edu/curricular/freespeech/home.htm
Major areas of study include freedom of expression, legal history of free speech, critical legal reasoning, legal research and writing, and oral advocacy.
Class Standing: This all-level program accepts up to 25% freshmen as well as supporting and encouraging those ready for advanced work.
Prerequisites: American government
May racists burn crosses to express their supremacist views? May protesters burn flags to express their opposition to government policy? The First Amendment is most vulnerable to erosion when we fail to protect expression that some or many find unpopular, offensive, repugnant, indecent, subversive, unpatriotic, heretical, blasphemous, etc. This program will be a comprehensive and critical examination of the wide range of issues implicated by the protection and censorship of expression.
We will use the case method to study every major free speech opinion issued by the courts. This intensive study necessarily focuses on the last 90 years, since it was not until well into the 20th century that the United States Supreme Court began to protect speech from governmental suppression. Our study of controversies will include the new challenges presented by hate speech, government-subsidized art, political campaign spending, and new technologies such as the Internet. Students will be expected to examine critically the formalist free speech paradigms that have evolved and to question the continuing viability of the "free marketplace of ideas" metaphor.
Working in legal teams, students will develop appellate briefs on real free speech cases decided recently by the U.S. Court of Appeals and will present oral arguments before the "Evergreen Supreme Court." Students will also rotate as justices to read their peers' appellate briefs, hear arguments and render decisions. Reading for the course will include court opinions, Internet resources, and various books and journal articles on our subject. Study will be rigorous; the principal text will be a law school casebook.
Credits: 16 per quarter
Program is preparatory for careers and future studies in social sciences, constitutional law, education, journalism, public policy, political theory, history and political science.