Democracy and Free Speech


Fall 2014 quarter

Taught by

immigration law, criminal law, immigrant rights

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 virtual technologies. 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.

Program Details

Fields of Study

Preparatory for studies or careers in

social sciences, constitutional law, education, journalism, public policy, political theory, history and political science.

Location and Schedule

Campus location



Offered during: Day


Buy books for this program through Greener Bookstore.

Online Learning

Hybrid Online Learning < 25% Delivered Online:


Date Revision
September 10th, 2014 Jay Stansell will teach this program.

Registration Information

Credits: 16 (Fall)

Class standing: Sophomore–Senior

Maximum enrollment: 25


Course Reference Number

So - Sr (16 credits): 10075

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