Free to State: A New Era for the First Amendment
The First Amendment guarantees freedom of expression as a foundation of our democracy, and serves as a model for democracies around the world. Yet, the boundaries of these protections are being challenged by modern technology, political tension and changing social norms.
The Washington Post brought together journalists, scholars, business leaders and advocates to explore how the interpretation of our First Amendment rights have evolved in principle and practice, and what it means for a modern democracy.
Free to State: Opening Remarks
Publisher and Chief Executive of The Washington Post, Frederick J. Ryan, and Executive Editor, Martin Baron, deliver opening remarks for The Washington Post’s “Free to State” program.
  • Jun 20
Digital Democracy: Media, Politics and Speech in the Digital Era
Ross LaJeunesse, Global Head International Relations at Google, Jameel Jaffer, Executive Director of Knight First Amendment Institute, and Floyd Abrams, Senior Counsel at Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP, discuss how the digital age has transformed modern society and created new forms of communication. From leaks to disinformation to hate speech, they talk about how platforms, publishers and members of the media navigate their responsibilities and the unprecedented challenges to the protections of free speech.
  • Jun 20
Jameel Jaffer, Executive Director of Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, argues that President Trump’s twitter account is part of a public forum, and since he uses it for official use, he can not exclude Twitter users on basis of their viewpoints.
  • Jun 20
Jameel Jaffer, Executive Director of Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, Ross LaJeunesse, Global Head International Relations at Google and Floyd Abrams, Senior Counsel at Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP, discuss what defines free speech.
  • Jun 20
Floyd Abrams
Cahill Gordon & Reindel
Floyd Abrams is an attorney at Cahill Gordon & Reindel. Abrams has argued frequently in the Supreme Court, particularly in cases raising issues of the First Amendment. He is the author of “The Soul of the First Amendment”
Jameel Jaffer
Knight First Amendment Institute, Columbia University
Jameel Jaffer is the Executive Director of Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University. He is the former deputy legal director of the ACLU, and former director of its Center for Democracy.
Ross LaJeunesse
Google
Ross LaJeunesse is the Global Head of Free Expression and International Relations at Google. LaJeunesse oversees the company’s efforts to advance a free and open Internet around the world.
Moderated by: Margaret Sullivan
Margaret Sullivan is the media columnist for The Washington Post. She was a member of the Pulitzer Prize Board from 2011 to 2012, and was twice elected as a director of the American Society of Newspaper Editors, where she led the First Amendment committee.
Setting the Agenda: The First Amendment on College Campuses
Brown University President Christina Paxson and University of Chicago President Robert Zimmer discuss the role of campuses as venues of First Amendment freedoms, the use of “safe spaces” and the future of universities at the forefront of social and civic debate.
  • Jun 20
Christina Paxson, President at Brown University and Robert Zimmer, President at University of Chicago, give their assessment of the terms of "trigger warnings" and "safe spaces" and discuss how defining these terms shape the expectations of freedom of speech on a college campus.
  • Jun 20
Christina Paxson
Brown University
Christina Paxson is the President of Brown University since 2012. Paxson is also a professor of economics and public policy.
Robert Zimmer
University of Chicago
Robert Zimmer is the President of the University of Chicago since 2006. Prior to his role as president, Zimmer was a University of Chicago administrator and served as Chairman of the Mathematics Department, Deputy Provost, and Vice President for Research and for Argonne National Laboratory.
Moderated by: Nick Anderson
Nick Anderson joined The Washington Post in 2005 as an education editor and currently writes about college and education.
Religious Liberty: Freedom of - and from - Religion
Stephen Prothero, Chair of the Department of Religion at Boston University, Wajahat Ali, Op-Ed Contributor at the New York Times and  Russell Moore, President of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of Southern Baptist Convention, examine how the First Amendment might protect religious groups at a moment when some feel empowered and others embattled. They discuss the relationship between religious entities and politics, and the limits that define religious expression.
  • Jun 20
Stephen Prothero, Chair of the Department of Religion at Boston University, Wajahat Ali, Op-Ed Contributor at the New York Times and Russell Moore, President of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of Southern Baptist Convention, each have different definitions of religious freedom based on personal experiences and individual beliefs.
  • Jun 20
Wajahat Ali, Op-Ed Contributor at the New York Times, draws parallels between Muslim and Christian groups historically feeling isolated. Ali argues that unlike Catholics and Jews, Muslims will “never be absorbed into whiteness.” He says in terms of American politics, Muslim’s feel stuck in the middle.
  • Jun 20
Wajahat Ali
The Lavin Agency
Wajahat Ali is a speaker on the Muslim-American experience at the Lavin Agency and an op-ed contributor for The New York Times. Ali is also a lawyer, playwright, TV host and a consultant for the U.S. State Department.
Russell Moore
Southern Baptist Convention
Russell Moore is president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. Prior to his current role, Moore served as provost and dean of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he also taught as professor of theology and ethics.
Stephen Prothero
Boston University
Stephen Prothero is a professor of religion and the Chair of the Department of Religion at Boston University. He is the author of numerous books, including, “Religious Literacy” and was the chief academic adviser for the WGBH-TV series, "God in America.”
Moderated by: Sally Quinn
The Washington Post
Sally Quinn is a columnist at The Washington Post and Founding Editor of “OnFaith.”
Moderated by: E.J. Dionne
E.J. Dionne is a columnist at The Washington Post. He is also a senior fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution.
Free Speech: On Offense
Ann Coulter, conservative commentator, and Nadine Strossen, former ACLU President, discuss whether provocative speech can be deemed too offensive, and where to draw the line drawn between the court of public opinion and people’s Constitutional rights.
  • Jun 20
Ann Coulter, whose recent appearance at the University of California at Berkeley was cancelled, says that college campuses have “gone insane.” Former ACLU President, Nadine Strossen, comments that the violent rhetoric on college campuses extends to American politics.
  • Jun 20
Professor Nadine Strossen, who served as president of the ACLU from 1991 to 2008, stresses the importance of defending a broad range of free speech and explains how those who challenge the status quo are often criticized for using provocative speech.
  • Jun 20
Ann Coulter
Conservative Commentator
Ann Coulter is a conservative commentator, syndicated columnist and author, most recently of, "In Trump We Trust: E Pluribus Awesome!"
Nadine Strossen
New York Law School
Nadine Strossen is the John Marshall Harlan II Professor of Law at New York Law School. From 1991 through 2008 she served as president of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Her forthcoming book, "HATE: Fighting it With Free Speech, Not Censorship" will be published by Oxford University Press in 2018.
Moderated by: Charles Lane
Charles Lane is a columnist at The Washington Post. In 2009 he was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Editorial Writing.
About Washington Post Live
Washington Post Live is the newsroom’s live journalism platform. Top-level government and business leaders, emerging voices and newsmakers discuss the most pressing national and global issues of the day.
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