“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” – The First Amendment
“Restriction of free thought and free speech is the most dangerous of all subversions. It is the one un-American act that could most easily defeat us.” — Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas
*Co-produced by the Government Lawyers Division of the State Bar of Wisconsin
Decoding the First Amendment
The Act 10 protests, Occupy Madison, Solidarity Sing Along – situations in Wisconsin involving First Amendment rights abound.
Navigate the possibilities and pitfalls of First Amendment cases in today’s politically-charged world by attending The First Amendment and the Government. From panhandlers and public property to strip clubs and government employee speech, examine how local governments are working to find a balance between rights and regulations.
Begging the question
Vagrancy and begging laws face constitutional challenges under the First Amendment and have been criticized as attempts to criminalize the poor and homeless. Explore the history of these laws and the resulting lessons for lawyers and public officials.
Does “public” equal “protected”?
If a group protests on public property, are they protected from legal ramifications? Learn the current restrictions governing free speech on public property using examples from the Act 10 demonstrations and Occupy Madison movement.
Exposing the rights of adult businesses
Although erotic dance is a form of protected expression under the First Amendment, questions remain regarding where and how strip clubs can operate. The power of municipalities to license and zone these businesses is under fire from potential civil rights litigation. Delve into the debate and see how communities are learning to exercise their authority within the confines of the First Amendment.
Free speech and government employees
Due to the public nature of their jobs, government employees face increased scrutiny of their speech and expression. Examine employer restrictions on the content and consequences of government employee speech.