First Amendment Rights

First Amendment Rights

This course is designed to achieve three primary objectives: (i) to familiarize students with the basic principles of First Amendment law; (ii) to improve students' analytical thinking, creative thinking, research, writing, and advocacy skills; and (iii) to encourage students to consider more deeply the values protected by the First Amendment. To achieve these ends, the course will provide an in-depth analysis of traditional First Amendment subjects including freedom of expression, freedom of association, and freedom of religion. Specific subtopics will include: advocacy of illegal action; reputation and privacy; obscenity; fighting words; speech vs. conduct; content-based vs. content-neutral regulations; time, place, and manner restrictions; commercial speech; public vs. private forum; government support of speech; the right not to speak; the Establishment Clause; and the Free Exercise Clause. The course also will explore contemporary First Amendment issues including regulation of the Internet, pornography, flag burning, cross burning, hate speech, and school prayer. In order to encourage lively discussion and debate, class attendance, preparation, and participation will be factored into the final grade.