Recent Bylined Articles
Misinformation and disinformation retain the basic characteristics of speech. Unless they fall into one of very few exceptions, they are protected from censorship under the First Amendment.
In each of former President Donald Trump’s four indictments, he has been allowed to stay out of jail before his trial so long as he abides by certain conditions commonly applied to most people accused of crimes in the U.S.
Before Monday’s additional state indictment in Georgia, former President Trump stood accused in federal court of criminal conspiracy to subvert the 2020 presidential election results.
His Words Were So Terrifying the Supreme Court Got Involved, The Daily Beast
It is dicey constitutional business to criminalize words. The courts have done so only in exceptional circumstances, but on April 19, 2023, the Supreme Court will re-examine the constitutional boundaries for criminalizing words that terrorize. On that date, the Court will hear argument in Counterman v Colorado; the case focuses on the true threats doctrine and the right of speakers to invoke First Amendment protection for speech that puts the target in fear of life or limb.
Elon Musk has claimed he believes in free speech no matter what. He calls it a bulwark against tyranny in America and promises to reconstruct Twitter, which he now owns, so that its policy on free expression “matches the law.” Yet his grasp of the First Amendment – the law that governs free speech in the U.S. – appears to be quite limited. And he’s not alone.
There is no First Amendment right to violence, New York Daily News
In his farewell address to Congress, Rep. Adam Kinzinger chastised his Republican colleagues for justifying the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol as “legitimate political discourse.” As the Jan. 6 Committee report made clear, while the message of Trump supporters might be protected political speech, the medium used by the insurrectionists — violent attacks on people and property — stripped the message of its constitutional shield.
Dear Justice Thomas,
I am a professor at Syracuse University. I teach argumentation, advocacy, and First Amendment theory. During oral arguments in the affirmative action cases brought by Students for Fair Admissions against the University of North Carolina and Harvard University you are quoted saying, “I’ve heard the word ‘diversity’ quite a few times, but I don’t have a clue what it means.”
Censorship is a dirty word in America, and so it should be. It imposes silence upon speech, creating an empty void which instead should be filled with debate and discussion. As anti-abortion lawmakers continue to draft legislation to limit abortion access, opponents of new bans are horrified by the sweeping prohibitions lurking within—such as proposals that censor discussion on the topic, or worse, throw those who dare to speak behind bars.
The First Amendment vs. New York’s Second Amendment restrictions, New York Daily News
On June 23, the Supreme Court handed down its decision in New York State Rifle and Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen, and thereby invalidated a New York public carry law dating back to 1905. According to the court, the 1905 law set up unacceptably strict criteria for approval of a gun license in the state. The shockwaves resounding from the decision put the government on high alert, and within weeks Gov. Hochul signed replacement legislation to forestall what many worried would be a rush to legally purchase and carry guns in New York.
In a recent article, “Gun sellers’ message to Americans: Man up,” the New York Times wrote, “Gun companies have spent the last two decades scrutinizing their market and refocusing their message….The sales pitch — rooted in self-defense, machismo and an overarching sense of fear — has been remarkably successful.” That’s correct, but legislatures might have an opportunity to reduce or even eliminate such tactics, which as the article put it, “woo millions of men who liked to buy gear that made them feel like soldiers and the police.”
If (when) federal constitutional protections for abortions fall, each individual state will have the power to craft its own restrictions on the procedure. Still, the First Amendment might be able to offer a bit of cover to those who seek an abortion as a life choice. Justice Alito’s leaked opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization even offers a blueprint.
Depp v Heard: The jury’s burden, The Hill
Millions of dollars were at stake in the voyeuristic defamation case between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard. But if either of them believed this action was going to salvage their reputations and vindicate them, they were sadly mistaken. They were also mistaken if they believed this was going to be a cake walk for either of them. In the United States, successful defamation suits commenced by celebrities are difficult to win — ask Sarah Palin.
What many on the right get wrong about the First Amendment, The Washington Post
Free speech — and the First Amendment — are major topics of debate in 2022. From former president Barack Obama labeling himself “pretty close to a First Amendment absolutist,” to debates over whether Florida’s legislature punished Disney for exercising free speech by revoking the company’s special improvement district, to conservative howls about censorship on social media, it seems that everyone has a take.
Recent Interviews and Quotes
Lynn’s piece “What the First Amendment really says – 4 basic principles of free speech in the US” was selected and quoted as an essential read by editors of The Conversation: “Giuliani claims the First Amendment lets him lie – 3 essential reads.”
Lynn was consulted and quoted in “Is Montana’s Crazed TikTok Ban a Total Waste of Time? Probably,” Lifewire
“Congress has gotten its hand slapped before (by a less conservative Supreme Court) for trying to regulate the internet.”
Lynn was consulted and quoted in “Montana lawmakers vote to completely ban TikTok in the state,” CNN Business
“Only in exceptional circumstances will content-based restrictions be constitutionally permissible under the First Amendment.”
Lynn was consulted and quoted in “First Amendment Confrontation May Loom in Post-Roe Fight,” The New York Times
“If the anti-abortion folks can speak to patients, can’t pro-choice folks counsel women who seek an abortion?”
Lynn was quoted in “Depp Trial Exposes Risks to Media in Airing #MeToo Accusations,” The New York Times
“The fact that actual malice is a such a high bar, and that he was able to overcome that, is kind of shocking,” said Lynn Greenky, a professor who teaches First Amendment issues at Syracuse University.
When Freedom Speaks
When Freedom Speaks was highlighted in What to Read for Banned Books Week from The Chicago Blog
When Freedom Speaks was highlighted in Publishing Perspectives.