First Amendment Rights and the Values Behind Them

October 20, 2:30-5:00 p.m.

  1. Steve Simpson (Pacific Legal Foundation) — Chair
  2. Tara Smith (University of Texas, Austin, Department of Philosophy)

“The First Amendment: What it Means and Why it Matters”

The First Amendment encompasses activities of different types – most notably, involving speech, religion, and the press. What is the underlying idea that unites these? Why carve out such activities for distinct legal status?

This lecture will examine the basic rationale and meaning of the First Amendment. In doing so, it will also illuminate its value – what we gain, by protecting First Amendment freedoms. Time permitting, we will also untangle a few of the common conceptual confusions that frequently muddle contemporary debates (confusions concerning the meaning of “freedom,” of “censorship,” and the place of legal exemptions).

Tara Smith