Ian Drake, PhD, Associate Professor of Political Science and Jurisprudence, Montclair State University
Benjamin Franklin once said, “Without freedom of thought, there can be no such thing as wisdom—and no such thing as public liberty without freedom of speech.” The United States provides protections for free speech. Not only is actual speech protected, but so too is “expressive behavior” such as spending money on elections, burning a flag, and even nude dancing. Yet it has not always been this way. A fluid concept until the early twentieth century, it’s only been since the time of World War I that the First Amendment’s Free Speech Clause was reviewed in depth by American courts. Through an exploration of case law, participants will consider how the US Supreme Court has defined and redefined what free speech means, whether in wartime or peacetime and in many controversial contexts.