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Free Speech Recordings

Free Speech Out Loud

Free Speech Out Loud is a podcast releasing recordings of free speech-related Supreme Court opinions, often read by famous First Amendment lawyers and scholars.

This reading series from FIRE is dedicated to increasing accessibility to the First Amendment jurisprudence that serves as the backbone of the free speech rights we enjoy today. We hope that these recordings will be useful for lawyers looking to refresh their knowledge, law students on the go, and other individuals looking to educate themselves using an audio medium.

Due to changes in citation styles over the years and for ease of listening, we have abridged some citations and removed string citations. For more information, visit our explanation.

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Recent Podcasts

Free Speech Recordings
Widmar v. Vincent, 454 U.S. 263 (1981) 

Jul 20, 2021

Legal Question: Whether a public university’s interest in maintaining a “strict separation of church and state” allows it to bar religious student groups from reserving facilities for worship. Action: The Court held that the policy was not content-neutral, violating the student group’s First Amendment rights.

Legal Question: Whether a public university’s interest in maintaining a “strict separation of church and state” allows it to bar religious student groups from reserving facilities for worship.

Action: The Court held that the policy was not content-neutral, violating the student group’s First Amendment rights.

Mr. Justice Powell delivered the opinion of the Court, at 00:44

Mr. Justice Stevens, concurring, at 30:07

Mr. Justice White, dissenting, at 40:10

This opinion’s citations have been edited down for ease of listening. For more information, visit our explanation.

For more on Widmar, visit FIRE’s First Amendment Library.

For more episodes, visit thefire.org/outloud.

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Free Speech Recordings
Updated: Mahanoy Area School District v. B.L., 594 U.S. __ (2021) 

Jul 12, 2021

The opinions in Mahanoy Area School District v. B.L.’s are read by Dylan Moore and Jeff Murphy, FIRE Law Clerks from the University of Chicago Law School. Held: “While public schools may have a special interest in regulating some off-campus student speech, the special interests offered by the school are not sufficient to overcome B.L.’s interest in free expression in this case.”

The opinions in Mahanoy Area School District v. B.L.’s are read by Dylan Moore and Jeff Murphy, FIRE Law Clerks from the University of Chicago Law School. 

Held: “While public schools may have a special interest in regulating some off-campus student speech, the special interests offered by the school are not sufficient to overcome B.L.’s interest in free expression in this case.”

Mr. Justice Breyer delivered the opinion of the Court, at 1:07.

Mr. Justice Alito concurring, at 20:05. 

Mr. Justice Thomas dissenting, at 57:53.

This opinion’s citations have been edited down for ease of listening. For more information, visit our explanation.

For more on Mahanoy, visit FIRE’s First Amendment Library.

For more episodes, visit thefire.org/outloud.

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Free Speech Recordings
Breaking Majority Opinion: Mahanoy Area School District v. B.L., 594 U.S. __ (2021) 

Jun 24, 2021

Mahanoy Area School District v. B.L.’s majority opinion is read by Dylan Moore, FIRE Law Clerk from the University of Chicago Law School.  A full reading of the concurrence and dissent in this case is forthcoming.  Held: “While public schools may have a special interest in regulating some off-campus student speech, the special interests offered by the school are not sufficient to overcome B.L.’s interest in free expression in this case.”

Mahanoy Area School District v. B.L.’s majority opinion is read by Dylan Moore, FIRE Law Clerk from the University of Chicago Law School. 

A full reading of the concurrence and dissent in this case is forthcoming. 

Held: “While public schools may have a special interest in regulating some off-campus student speech, the special interests offered by the school are not sufficient to overcome B.L.’s interest in free expression in this case.”

Mr. Justice Breyer delivered the opinion of the Court, at 00:53.

This opinion’s citations have been edited down for ease of listening. For more information, visit our explanation.

For commentary from FIRE on this case, visit FIRE’s Newsdesk.

For more episodes, visit thefire.org/outloud.

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Free Speech Recordings
Stromberg v. California, 283 U.S. 359 (1931) 

Jun 18, 2021

Stromberg v. California’s majority opinion is read by Judy Branfman, Research Affiliate at the UCLA Institute for Research on Labor & Employment and producer and director of “The Land of Orange Groves & Jails,” a film about her great aunt Yetta Stromberg and this landmark Supreme Court case. The dissents are read by Ryan Edwards, a student at USC.

Stromberg v. California’s majority opinion is read by Judy Branfman, Research Affiliate at the UCLA Institute for Research on Labor & Employment and producer and director of “The Land of Orange Groves & Jails,” a film about her great aunt Yetta Stromberg and this landmark Supreme Court case. The dissents are read by Ryan Edwards, a student at USC.

Legal Question: Does a California statute that prohibited the display of a red flag as a statement of “opposition to organized government” violate the First & Fourteenth Amendments?

Action: The Supreme Court reversed the conviction, holding that because the verdict did not specify what clause it was based on, the conviction could not be upheld if any of the statute’s three purposes was unconstitutional. The Court ruled that the first part of the statute prohibiting the display of the flag as a sign of opposition to organized government was unconstitutional.

Mr. Chief Justice Hughes delivered the opinion of the Court. at 00:44

Mr. Justice McReynolds, dissenting, at 23:56

Mr. Justice Butler, dissenting, at 26:42

This opinion’s citations have been edited down for ease of listening. For more information, visit our explanation.

For more on Stromberg, visit FIRE’s First Amendment Library.

For more episodes, visit thefire.org/outloud.

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Free Speech Recordings
West Virginia v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624 (1943) 

May 25, 2021

Barnette's majority opinion is read by Nadine Strossen, professor of law at New York Law School, member of FIRE’s Advisory Council, and former president of the ACLU. Legal Question: Whether a compulsory flag-salute law for school children violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments. Action: The injunction against the state’s enforcement of the law at issue was granted.

Barnette's majority opinion is read by Nadine Strossen, professor of law at New York Law School, member of FIRE’s Advisory Council, and former president of the ACLU.

Legal Question: Whether a compulsory flag-salute law for school children violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments.

Action: The injunction against the state’s enforcement of the law at issue was granted.

Mr. Justice Jackson delivered the opinion of the Court, at 01:02

Mr. Justice Roberts and Mr. Justice Reed adhere to the views expressed by the Court in Gobitis, at 50:39

Mr. Justice Black and Mr. Justice Douglas, concurring, at 50:53

Mr. Justice Murphy, concurring, at 55:19

Mr. Justice Frankfurter, dissenting, at 1:00:42

This opinion’s citations have been edited down for ease of listening. For more information, visit our explanation.

For more on West Virginia v. Barnette, visit FIRE’s First Amendment Library.

For more episodes, visit thefire.org/outloud.

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