Moderated by Professor Tara Grove, director of the Program in Constitutional Studies at Alabama Law, the roundtable included a strong lineup of scholars including Martha Minow (Harvard Law School), Jack Balkin (Yale Law School), Jane Roberta Bambauer (University of Arizona Law), Leslie Kendrick (University of Virginia School of Law), Genevieve Lakier (University of Chicago Law School), Helen Norton (Colorado Law), Robert Post (Yale Law School), Geoffrey Stone (University of Chicago Law School), Nadine Strossen (New York Law School), Eugene Volokh (UCLA Law), and Jeremy Waldron (NYU School of Law). Dean Mark Brandon (Alabama Law) provided introductory remarks.
Based on the content in Professor Minow’s book, this group discussed the importance of the First Amendment and what role the government can and should play at a time when our culture has transitioned from relying on traditional fact-checked publications to consuming news through social and online media platforms.
Civic Engagement: Coming Together Across Ideological Lines
One of the main purposes of the First Amendment Roundtable was to offer an experience that supports the Program in Constitutional Studies’ larger Civic Engagement Initiative. In this case, the roundtable created a space for a diverse group of legal scholars, who hold differing opinions and come from various backgrounds, the opportunity to work together to discuss the government’s potential role in regulating the private enterprises whose platforms facilitate the spread of information and, in some cases, misinformation.
According to Professor Grove, “The Civic Engagement Initiative aims to facilitate meaningful conversations across political and ideological lines. That can be more challenging when people disagree about the ‘facts on the ground.’ So, it’s important to think about where people are getting their information. This event was one opportunity to consider the role of the media in our society.”
The September Roundtable was just one of several Civic Engagement Initiative events the Alabama Law Program in Constitutional Studies plans to host. On January 18, 2022, the Program will be holding a panel featuring free speech experts Nadine Strossen—professor at New York Law School and former president of the ACLU, and Keith Whittington—professor of politics at Princeton University. The panel will be moderated by Professor Bryan Fair of Alabama Law, and the event will be open to the public. Additional details about this event are forthcoming. If you are interested in learning more about this panel or about the Program in Constitutional Studies, please contact Professor Tara Grove (firstname.lastname@example.org).