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Want to know what is on our minds? Find blog posts written here, by the City Club staff, members, and partners. Every week you can find a new edition of #FreeSpeech in the News — a collection of related stories, commentary, and opinions on free speech in the 21st century that’s making the news. You’ll also find takes on current events, past forums, and issues surrounding Northeast Ohio. Read on for all things City Club.

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Monday, February 12, 2018

#FREESPEECH IN THE NEWS: February 12, 2018

Bliss Davis, Content Coordinator, The City Club of Cleveland

#FREESPEECH IN THE NEWS: February 12, 2018

As the Citadel of Free Speech here in Cleveland, we work to protect and promote the basis of our democracy by sharing related stories, commentary, and opinions on free speech in the 21st century. Here's what's making the news – and what you should know about – in the past week.

How did modern precedents in first amendment cases in the Supreme Court cases making headlines today, such as the case of whether or not workers should pay union fees, come to be?

The answer is Thurgood Marshall, the first black justice to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. After graduating from Howard University School of Law at the top of his class in 1933, he went on to become a successful lawyer before being appointed to the Supreme Court by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1967.

Marshall was known for his unwavering support for the first amendment, namely Tinker vs. Des Moines in which he sided with students. In this case, he gave students the same rights to free speech as adults.

Black history: Thurgood Marshall and the First Amendment, The University Star

When do first amendment rights not apply? How should the Supreme Court apply the protections given by the Constitution?

Nowadays, the answers to these questions vary from person to person depending on where their political views lie. With the political balance of power in Washington shifted toward the right, there is a fear that enforcement of the first amendment may stall in some cases.

“’If you go back three decades or more, conservative justices tended to be very reluctant to enforce the First Amendment, accusing the liberals of being activists on that constitutional provision and others,’" Smith writes.”

Court cases aren't always so cut and dry, such as the recent ruling involving the baker who refused to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple, citing it violates his first amendment rights.

The Right’s First Amendment Push, U.S. News

A clash in the interpretation of what entails free speech has college students and first amendments advocates concerned, but for different reasons.

Public university campuses are especially popular with groups with controversial messages because they have both an audience and a constitutionally protected opportunity to do so. Students on these campuses, however, do not want speakers with hateful messages and many believe hate speech isn’t protected by the first amendment.

Advocates caution that hate speech is protected, and the true culprit (threats, slurs, epithets, etc…) are not being considered.

“’I’m very disconcerted about how very uninformed — frankly dangerously uninformed — many college students are about the First Amendment,’ said Lawrence Walters, a Longwood-based attorney who focuses on First Amendment issues.”

Free speech on campus: Some students want schools to limit what's said, Orlando Sentinel

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