Understanding Free Speech on Campus: The Ten Critical Judgments the Supreme Court Has Made About the Meaning of the First Amendment

Initiative on Freedom of Thought, Inquiry, and Expression

April 11, 2022
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Geoffrey R. Stone, Edward H. Levi Distinguished Professor of Law, University of Chicago 

Join us for the James Madison Program's Initiative on Freedom of Thought, Inquiry, and Expression inaugural event! 

To understand the core principles of free speech on campus, it is helpful to understanding the evolution of First Amendment jurisprudence over the past century. As the Justices of the Supreme Court have struggled to make sense of the Constitution’s vague and open-ended guarantee that “Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech,” it has gradually embraced ten core principles that now define our constitutional understanding of “the freedom of speech.” By exploring the wisdom – or unwisdom – of those ten principles, it is possible to better understand why our nation’s colleges and universities have moved in a similar direction in their commitment to academic freedom – and what they mean by that term.

Geoffrey R. Stone is the Edward H. Levi Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of Chicago. After serving as a law clerk to Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan, Jr., Mr. Stone joined the faculty of The University of Chicago Law School in 1973. In the years since, he has served as Dean of the Law School (1987-1994) and Provost of the University (1994-2002).

Mr. Stone is the author or co-author of many books on constitutional law, including Social Media, Freedom of Speech, and The Future of Our Democracy (forthcoming 2022); National Security, Leaks and Freedom of the Press (2021); Democracy and Equality: The Enduring Constitutional Vision of the Warren Court (2020); The Free Speech Century (2018); Sex and the Constitution (2017); and Perilous Times: Free Speech in Wartime (2004). Mr. Stone’s books have received many national awards, including the Robert F. Kennedy Award for the Best Book of the Year, Harvard University’s Award for the Best Book of the Year in Public Affairs, and the American Political Science Association’s Award for the Best Book of the Year in Political Science.

Mr. Stone is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Law Institute and the American Philosophical Society. He has served as Chair of the Board of the American Constitution Society and as a Senior Advisor to the American Civil Liberties Union. In 2013, in the wake of Edward Snowden’s leaks, President Obama appointed Mr. Stone to serve on a five-member Commission to review the NSA’s surveillance policies and to make recommendations to the President and to Congress. In 2014, Mr. Stone chaired the University of Chicago committee that drafted what has come to be known as The Chicago Free Speech Principles, which have been adopted by more than eighty colleges and universities across the nation.

Video:

Understanding Free Speech on Campus

Location:

Arthur Lewis Auditorium Robertson Hall

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