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Does The First Amendment Still Protect Free Speech?


The First Amendment of the United States Constitution is supposed to provide the world’s strongest protections of free speech and a free press. But you wouldn’t know that from reading the news. Public officials routinely pressure tech companies to censor content. Conservative lawmakers are moving to ban more books, limit protests, and curb school curriculums. Progressive leaders and activists are successfully pressuring employers to punish and fire people for expressing views seen as harmful or dangerous. Even the ACLU is retreating from its unequivocal support of free speech. What are the consequences of these shifts, and do they threaten the First Amendment’s survival? Does a digital world require more limits on speech and media?

Legal scholars Jody David Armour of USC and Eugene Volokh of UCLA, attorney Jean-Paul Jassy and Battinto L. Batts Jr., dean of the ASU Cronkite School, visit Zócalo to discuss how we might protect free expression while also protecting our society from the misuse of that freedom.

Zócalo invites our in-person audience to continue the conversation with our speakers and each other at a post-event reception with complimentary drinks.

Image credit: Illustration by Joycelyn Cabrera. From left to right: Eugene Volokh, Jean-Paul Jassy, Battinto L. Batts Jr., Carla Hall, and Jody David Armour.