On Tuesday, FIRE conducted our first-ever Continuing Legal Education (CLE) course in Manhattan. I’m pleased to report it was a striking success.
The course, entitled "Free Speech 101: Protecting Free Expression and the First Amendment at our Nation’s Colleges and Universities," provided participating attorneys with an in-depth survey of the state of the law on campus free speech. After a primer in the Supreme Court case law on collegiate speech, Azhar and I discussed the differences between public and private institutions in regulating expression, detailed the types of mistakes most commonly seen in speech restrictions, reviewed the string of decisions invalidating speech codes, and explained the different standards governing the expressive rights afforded high school students and college students. We ended with an overview of FIRE’s methodology for fighting free speech violations and the role of our Legal Network in winning cases.
Azhar and I took questions from participants throughout the session, and as several attendees commented on their evaluation sheets, we easily could have continued the session for another hour or more. Perhaps next time we will. We’re already at work planning our next session, which will likely be held later this fall in Philadelphia. We have plans, too, to conduct an online, pre-recorded CLE, so that interested attorneys across the country will be able to participate. We will of course keep you posted here on The Torch.
In the meantime, we’ve uploaded a portion of our annotated outline for the course to FIRE’s website. I encourage interested readers to check out our "State of the Law: Speech Codes" section, now available here.