How secure is the First Amendment?

Thursday, November 20, 1997

State of the First Amendment
How safe is the First Amendment? What do ordinary people really think about it? What legal and other challenges chip away at its guarantees of free speech, press, religion, assembly and petition?

The Freedom Forum’s State of the First Amendment conference Dec. 16 will explore all of those questions and more as part of the release of a new and comprehensive report that takes the pulse of the amendment that keeps us free.

The event will take place at The Freedom Forum’s World Center in Arlington, Va. (See agenda.) Participating will be 100 lawyers, scholars, journalists and others interested in First Amendment issues. There is no charge for the conference, which includes a continental breakfast, lunch, and a concluding reception. Participants will receive the new State of the First Amendment report, a copy of The Freedom Forum poll, and a post-conference report.

The State of the First Amendment report is the result of a yearlong research and writing project by Donna Demac as a Freedom Forum fellow. It chronicles current issues and events and examines legal and scholarly trends in free-speech issues. As part of that project, The Freedom Forum commissioned a national survey of American attitudes toward First Amendment rights and values.

Special presentations by nationally known authorities on First Amendment issues will feature “Speech on the Fringe” (violence in the media, hate speech, pornography, and flag desecration), “Institutions Under Fire” (the press, religion, and art), and “The Medium is the Target” (television, the Internet, and videos).

Among the speakers will be Robert Peck, constitutional scholar; Ann Beeson, one of the lead attorneys in ACLU v. Reno; Ronald K.L. Collins, co-author of The Death of Discourse; Robert Corn-Revere, author and telecommunications expert; Robert O’Neil of The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression; Elliot Mincberg of People For the American Way; Chris Finan of the Media Coalition; and many others.

To sign up for the conference, call Virginia Lee at 703/284-3512, or e-mail her at with your name, address, affiliation, and telephone number.

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First Amendment Conference Agenda