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Speech and Silence in American Law

Speech and Silence in American Law

February 27, 2009

In the aftermath of 9/11, we were reminded that speech alone may be troubling or dangerous. For some, the continuing threat of terrorism requires new attitudes toward speech. Others believe we can strike a better balance between freedom and security. This symposium studies the relationship between speech and silence in American law. We examine how the law values silence, focusing on the right not to speak, as well as the decision not to select a speaker, in both private and government discourse. We analyze compelled speech, in contexts ranging from the flag salute to the Solomon Amendment cases, as well as instances where individuals are forced to be identified with a particular message.

Organized by Professor Austin Sarat, William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Jurisprudence and Political Science at Amherst and Justice Hugo L. Black Visiting Senior Faculty Scholar at the University of Alabama School of Law.

Participants include:
Marianne Constable, University of California, Berkeley
Louis Seidman, Georgetown Law Center
Danielle Allen, Institute for Advanced Study
Martin Redish, Northwestern University
Peter Brooks, Yale University

Welcome and Introduction

Dean Ken Randall and Professor Austin Sarat

Session I
Our Word is Our Bond

Marianne Constable, Professor of Rhetoric, University of California, Berkeley
Moderator/Commentator: Professor Grace Lee, University of Alabama School of Law

Session II
Sticking It Out or Getting Out: The Law and Morality of Speech, Silence, and Resignation by High Government Officials

Louis Seidman, Carmack Waterhouse Professor of Constitutional Law, Georgetown Law Center
Moderator/Commentator: Professor Ronald Krotoszynski, University of Alabama School of Law School of Law

Lunch and Keynote

Danielle Allen, UPS Foundation Professor, Institute for Advanced Study
Moderator/Commentator: Professor Heather Elliott, University of Alabama School of Law

Session III
The First Amendment and the Dilemma of Anonymity

Martin Redish, Louis and Harriet Ancel Professor of Law and Public Policy, Northwestern University
Moderator/Commentator: Professor Paul Horwitz, University of Alabama School of Law

Session IV
Speech, Silence, the Body

Peter Brooks, Professor, Yale University
Moderator/Commentator: Professor Fred Vars, University of Alabama School of Law