Abrams Institute Conversations: What does "Freedom of Speech" Really Mean?

Jan. 20, 2023
12:00PM - 1:30PM
Open to the Public

A provocative new article by Yale Law School’s Robert Post tackles a perceived “growing pessimism about the future of free speech in the United States”—in the words of a recent New York Times editorial, the fear that Americans are losing hold of their right “to speak their minds and voice their opinions in public without fear of being shamed or shunned.”  Professor Post challenges the Times’ call for greater toleration and its belief that more speech can help heal our politics as embracing “a cruel delusion of the free speech principle” since “more speech of the wrong kind can exasperate, not heal (our) terrible divisions.”

Floyd Abrams will consider this thesis and explore its significant implications with Professor Post and Nadine Strossen, former Chair of the American Civil Liberties Union.  This promises to be a thought-provoking and timely conversation you won’t want to miss.  REGISTER HERE: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/512068850717

Robert Post is Sterling Professor of Law at Yale Law School and served as the School's 16th dean from 2009 until 2017. Professor Post is one of America’s leading scholars of the First Amendment. He is also a legal historian who is currently writing Volume X of the Oliver Wendell Holmes Devise History of the Supreme Court of the United States, which will cover the period 1921-30 when William Howard Taft was Chief Justice. Post has written and edited numerous books, including Citizens Divided: A Constitutional Theory of Campaign Finance Reform (2014), which was originally delivered as the Tanner Lectures at Harvard in 2013; Democracy, Expertise, Academic Freedom: A First Amendment Jurisprudence for the Modern State (2012), which was originally delivered as the Rosenthal Lectures at Northwestern University; For the Common Good: Principles of American Academic Freedom (with Matthew M. Finkin, 2009), which has become the standard reference for the meaning of academic freedom in the United States; and Prejudicial Appearances: The Logic of American Antidiscrimination Law (2001), which was original delivered as the Brennan Lectures at Berkeley. Post publishes regularly in legal journals and other publications; his articles have appeared in the Yale Law Journal, Harvard Law Review, Duke Law Journal, California Law Review, and William & Mary Law Review, among others. Post is a member of the American Law Institute and a fellow of both the American Philosophical Society and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Nadine Strossen is the John Marshall Harlan II Professor Emerita at New York Law School and a leading expert in constitutional law, civil liberties, and international human rights. From 1991 to 2008, she served as President of the American Civil Liberties Union, the first woman to head the nation’s largest and oldest civil liberties organization. Professor Strossen is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression and serves on the Advisory Boards of the ACLU, Academic Freedom Alliance, Heterodox Academy, National Coalition Against Censorship, and the University of Austin. Her 2018 book, HATE: Why We Should Resist It With Free Speech, Not Censorship, has been widely praised by ideologically diverse experts. Her earlier book, Defending Pornography: Free Speech, Sex, and the Fight for Women’s Rights, was named by The New York Times as a “Notable Book” of 1995. The National Law Journal has named Strossen one of America’s "100 Most Influential Lawyers," and several other publications have named her one of the country’s most influential women. Her many honorary degrees and awards include the American Bar Association’s prestigious Margaret Brent Women Lawyers of Achievement Award.

Floyd Abrams is senior counsel at Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP and has taught courses in First Amendment law at Yale Law School, Columbia Law School and the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. He is the author of three books about the First Amendment of which the most recent was “The Soul of the First Amendment“ (2017). Mr. Abrams has argued numerous cases involving the First Amendment in the Supreme Court and lower courts. Among others, he was co-counsel to the New York Times in the Pentagon Papers case, counsel to the Brooklyn Museum in its litigation against New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, and counsel to Senator Mitch McConnell in the Citizens United case. Former Yale Law School Dean Robert Post has observed that “no lawyer has exercised a greater influence on the development of First Amendment jurisprudence in the last four decades.”

The Floyd Abrams Institute for Freedom of Expression at Yale Law School promotes freedom of speech, freedom of the press, access to information and government transparency. The Institute’s activities are grounded in the belief that collaboration between the academy and the bar will enrich both scholarship and practice.

Sponsoring Organization(s)

Abrams, ISP