First Amendment – A celebration of African American history and the First Amendment (Introductory)

First Amendment - A celebration of African American history and the First Amendment (Introductory)

In this session, students will examine the historical context and the drafting of the First Amendment—focusing especially on the factors motivating America’s Founding generation. Students will also examine various types of speech, including symbolic speech, hate speech, and political speech. Students will learn that in America, speech can only be limited when it is intended to and likely to cause imminent violence. Students will also explore how many groups who were denied rights used the First Amendment to fight for equality for all and in celebration of Black History Month, how key African Americans used the First Amendment to advance the cause of equality.

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We are ready to get rolling so let me do The official start So hello everybody and welcome to class It is February 1st which is the kickoff Of Black History Month and we are so Excited to talk about some amazing People in American history today and We’re going to do this conversation Today in this class today all around the First amendment and Free Speech my name Is curry sotner I’m Chief learning Officer at the national Constitution Center I’m here as kind of your guide And also your support in the chat so if You have questions if you have things You want to share feel free to do that In the chat and I will pull them into Our conversation today I am not alone Thank goodness I’m here with our chief Content officer Tom Donnelly Tom want to Say hi to everybody to get us started Absolutely hi everyone thanks so much For being here So Tom we did this on purpose we wanted To talk about the first amendment but we Also wanted to talk about Black’s History Month an African-American History in America why were they such a Perfect fit to go together Absolutely so I mean in part it’s the Story of black history is a story of Using key parts of the Constitution like The first amendments free speech and Free Press rights to push for our nation

To get closer to the values written in The Declaration of Independence so to Make sure that we become faithful to the Declaration of independence’s Promise of Freedom and equality and it’s waves of Advocates over the course of American Constitutional history from the very Beginning from petitioners like Prince Hall of free African-American in Boston All the way up to Big Advocates like Frederick Douglass and Francis Harper in The 19th century and onward up to the Civil rights movement and Dr King and His allies in the 20th century using Free speech and Free Press to push us as A country to change and to improve and To make our constitution even better Fantastic I love that idea of who has Used the First Amendment to make change To make us a more perfect union and Really focusing on so many great African-American leaders over time from Beginning before we were a country with Prince Hall to today Um we’re gonna break this class down in Kind of three kind of big areas I Thought this would be helpful for our Students today one we’re going to start With like what it says what the actual First Amendment says and all the Different parts that are in that first Amendment that thing is packed full of Lots of things and ideas so we love to Talk about it second we’re going to talk

About what it means and kind of what it Covers that’s how Pam always says and What is this part of the First Amendment Cover and in what setting and that’s Really important when thinking about Speech about who who are we talking About and where is it because that does Play into the conversations through the Courts and then finally we’re going to Do a walkthrough of American History we Love a good timeline and we’re going to To Colonial period all the way today so One two three pretty late on the first Two and then we’ll dive into that Timeline but if you have questions Always feel free to put them in the chat And to pose them some of the questions That we like to start off with is like What did the founding generation even Want to mean when they’re talking about Speech and press what are these major Time periods that make a turn or a Change in how we understand and use the First Amendment and then finally how the Courts play into this so lots to cover Tom you know you kind of laid out that Big idea of the First Amendment do you Think we should start off with what’s in The First Amendment and unpacking what It says and what it means absolutely Okay I’ll give you the visual you walk Us through it absolutely so what we have On the screen here really are the five Freedoms of the First Amendment religion

Speech press assembly petition so it Really is a bundle of Rights all there In the First Amendment a bundle of Freedoms and the way we usually think About it is the big idea that unifies Them all is the idea of the freedom of Conscience this is the idea that the Freedom for us to believe what we’d like Without the government interfering and So the First Amendment brings this Together with the religion Clauses it’s The freedom to believe in what you want Or not Um so it sets freedom of the belief that You would have in your brain and in your Heart then we also have the these other Rights of speech press assembly and Petition which are all really important Ways in which we communicate our ideas To one another Um and so it’s a combination of sort of A freedom of conscience and freedom to Think as you’d like without government Interference and then a broad set of Freedoms that allow us to communicate Those ideas to other people today we’re Going to focus especially on freedom of Speech and of the press Fantastic so that kind of big layout and Walk through Um so here are the words of the First Amendment all the words of the First Amendment and I mean to be honest with You like it’s pretty short Tom it’s a

Really tight summary of all these Freedoms that you just laid out and We’re just gonna focus on one of the Sections or one of the Clauses of the First Amendment do you want to narrow in On that and just give us any information That would be helpful let’s start with The text as we always do and here it is Congress shall make no law abridging the Freedom of speech or of the press and so Here we have the two freedoms in their Freedom of speech and of the press a few Things to note about the text itself one The text there says Congress but one Thing to notice that over time what we See is that the First Amendment doesn’t Just apply to Congress it also applies To other parts of the national Government and eventually because of Later amendments and Supreme Court Decisions it also has come to to apply To also the state governments and local Governments so the first amendment Applies to all forms of government That’s a process known as incorporation The other thing to notice the other word There is the other two words are no law And so on the one hand this expresses Something really important about free Speech and press rights in America and That’s that today they’re really really Strong today free speech and Free Press In America is stronger than it’s ever Been in our nation’s history and the

United States itself has the strongest Protections of free speech and Free Press in the entire world the general Big rule here is that generally this Generally speaking the government cannot Prohibit punish speech unless it is Intended to and likely to cause Immediate violence and so this comes From a case called Brandenburg but it’s A really strong test and so it protects All sorts of speech on popular speech Speech that we hate even hateful speech It’s all protected by the First Amendment but the other thing to note Here is that although it says no law not Even these freedoms that we see in the First Amendment are absolute there are Limits on both free speech and a free Press and over the time over time the Supreme Court has defined them in a few Different categories so what what they Look like well one is there a certain Context in which the government has Greater authority to regulate speech so Think about if you’re in a courtroom The judge the court they can require you To tell the truth we have perjury laws You don’t just have a free speech he Doesn’t lie in a courtroom the Government in that context can punish You if you lie another one is if you’re In a public school classroom in that Context school officials teachers Principals the first amendment applies

But that but the government can step in To punish or regulate speech if it’s Going to disrupt what’s happening in the Classroom we’re in the classroom to Learn and so the government has some Authority to limit speech if that speech Is interfering with the learning that’s Happening in the classroom there’s also Certain forms of speech that over time The Supreme Court is called Low value Speech and so this is speech that the Government can also attack things like Defamation laws so these are laws that Uh that that protect people’s Reputations Um there’s so there’s a sort of limited Context of this low value speech and Then finally the last one is what’s Known as uh time place and manner Regulations and so in the in the end This is just a fancy way of saying the Government can say something like you Know if you’re in the neighborhood and You want to speak you can’t use a Megaphone at two o’clock in the morning It doesn’t matter what you say I don’t Even care what you’re saying in the end People in the neighborhood have to be Able to sleep that’s an important Government interest so the government Can step in to enforce it so those are Some of the limits on Free Speech rights The last thing I’ll note is that also The first event that covers more than

Just you know newspaper printing or the Spoken word over time the Supreme Court Has said it applies to technologies that Didn’t exist in the founding generation Technologies like the internet film Television radio the other is that it’s Not just speaking and printing Newspapers but it’s also things like Symbolic expression is also protected so You see here these are armbands that two Students very bad thinker and her Brother wore into their Public School Classrooms to protest the Vietnam war That sort of symbolic speech that’s Protected by the First Amendment or for Instance even hateful speech speechless People find offensive like burning an American flag the Supreme Court said in Texas Johnson that’s protected by the First Amendment as well so that’s a bit Of an overview Curry of sort of the land Of the landscape a book Oh that’s really helpful it’s almost Like a decoder ring of how it applies And I think when we think about it for Our students we think about the who who Who can regulate speech who cannot Regulate regulate speech and who does it Matter so it’s different for you maybe Inside your public school classroom than It would be you walking down the street Um we can talk about where again going Back to location where does it matter in A school in a jail in a courtroom all

Those things changes and then what what Are you saying that if you have an Opinion about your government that’s Going to be high value that’s going to Be the stuff that is not allowed to be Touched and then things that are maybe Like bad words are going to be low value And then when I think that time place And manner thanks for that one that’s Really helpful and yes it is very Important that we all get our sleep so Having a megaphone own outside your House at 2AM is not okay that something Can be regulated and we know that we’ve Seen people have parties and at a Certain point in time you know shut down The party because they know they want to Be good neighbors and so when we’re Students think about Free Speech think About the who the where the what and the When all those classic questions you ask Yourself all the time really apply here So nicely and our students were asking a Few questions about you know when They’re writing this first amendment What was the government like and so uh The Clark class wanted to know were Their laws back then and did they have a President so I think that kicks us off Perfectly into talking about the Founding era and kind of jumping into What were they all setting up and what Was the what was the community in America like at the time

Yeah so I mean for the founding Generation there are a few things I mean The other AD the other question I’d add To your list query which I loved is also The why why do we have the First Amendment and in part the reason why This goes back to the founding Generation and it moves all the way up Till today part of the reason the why is We don’t trust the government to tell us What’s true and false we don’t trust the Government to tell us which opinion is Right instead we trust to a free Exchange of ideas to lead to better Ideas and so it’s a preference for more Speech rather than less speech and it’s Generally speaking a lack of trust in The government to serve as a sensor or As someone who’s moderating our Discussions and so for the founding Generation you know two of the big Things that are in their minds are one We don’t want to go back to a world Where the government can censor speech And so we don’t want to go back to a World where if you want to publish a Newspaper you have to ask the government Whether it’s okay for you to do so this Was known as prior restraints that’s the Fancy word but part of what the founding Generation is saying no no we don’t like Those we want the free circulation of Ideas in America and why what’s the big Purpose there part of it is the purpose

Is we want to give the people the power To criticize their government we think It’s really really important for the People to be able to criticize their Government when it goes astray that’s The only way you can maintain a Connection between what the people want And what the government does you have Boating that’s one part of it but Another is the free exchange of ideas Over time and the power to criticize the Government and that’s the key issue that Is the flash point here all the way back In 1798 and this is a really really Famous historical episode it’s the Controversy over the Alien and Sedition Acts you can see the cast of characters On the screen here really really famous People we have John Adams who’s the President Thomas Jefferson who’s the Vice president and then we also see James Madison there and so one thing to Note is it’s 1798 John Adams is President Um but what’s happening in America is We’re already seeing the rise shortly After the ratification of the Constitution of early political parties And so we have a precedent affiliated With one party the Federalists and a Vice president affiliated with a Different political party the Jeffersonians or the Democratic Republicans so think about it this is

Kind of like having Joe Biden as President and Donald Trump as vice President it’s not the ideal situation In many ways and so there’s this there’s A big partisan atmosphere we have Newspapers associated with each of the Two parties we see a lot of attacks Going you know the access support is Attacking Thomas Jefferson Thomas Jefferson supporters attacking John Adams and it’s in the atmosphere of some Big political issues the biggest one on The global stage is military conflict Between Great Britain and France and Americans divide over who we should Support in this context the Federalist John Adams party typically they support The British and Thomas Jefferson the Vice president and his party tend to Support the French and what they what The Congress and President Adams respond With is they pass something known as the Sedition Act of 1798 8 effectively what It does is it criminalizes it punishes People if they criticize the national Government but as Curry just had on the Screen there there was a little Quirk to How this law worked it wasn’t entirely Fair it was a crime you could be thrown In jail for criticizing the president The Federalist but you but there was no Protection for the vice president the President and the other political party And so here we already see in America

Today we would immediately look at the Sedition Act and say what can more Clearly violate the first amendment’s Free speech and Free Press protection This is going to the people’s ability to Criticize their government how on Earth Can this happen how can a federalist Congress and President John Adams Support this law and at that time there Were people’s you know echoing that Argument the people advancing this Argument attacking this Edition act as Unconstitutional or Thomas Jefferson and James Madison and so they in secret they Author something known as the Virginia And Kentucky Resolutions of 1798. these Are Arguments for why why the Sedition Act was unconstitutional they were Passed by the legislatures of Virginia And Kentucky and the argument is exactly What you can imagine James Madison is in His Virginia resolutions looks at the Sedition Act and says what is more Clearly unconstitutional the first Amendment’s there to make sure that People can criticize their government This is one of the most important rights That exist in the Constitution and here Is what uh Madison said in the Resolution he argued the Sedition Act It’s the exercise of power this ought to Produce Universal alarm because it is Leveled against the right of freely Examining public characters and measures

And a free communication among the People they’re on which has ever been Justly deemed the only effectual Guardian of every other right we the People have to have the power to Criticize our government that’s why the Sedition Act is unconstitutional and a Final final cool little Quirk about this Story is that in the end this issue over The constitutionally of the Constitutionality of the Sedition Act it Doesn’t end up inside the Supreme Court In the end it’s just cited by the American people in the election of 1800 They elect Thomas Jefferson Thomas Jefferson then allows the citizen act to Its expire and then pardons all of the People who are in prison because they Wound up criticizing the national Government Awesome I love that quote Tom it’s like My favorite and I feel like we’ve looked At it before but it’s just amazing to us So if we look at the big words from this Is Madison is saying you should freak Out universal alarm you should freak out Over this this is a big deal and if we Can’t speak freely about our government And what it’s not doing well then Remember that we have that right the People have that right and the reason we Have that right is we’re protecting all Of us we are the guardians of our Constitutions and the Guardians of each

Other and so that’s calling to you all And saying you have a job you have a job To watch like a guardian and you have a Job to speak up like a guardian and if Somebody tries to stop you from that you Need to make sure you’re you’re creating Universal alarm either in your classroom Tell your parents take your family like Whatever it is in each way now a couple Questions come as we go through this one And I think uh Warren you’re right was Madison the shortest president five four Because I thought it was five two but You’re right I think he’s my height Either way he either way yes he was the Shortest president okay good either way And then you’re right Warren I think it Is five four um I think maybe I think I’m taller than him and I’m just lying To myself and then second question from Mr H’s class Great kind of lived experience question They’re wondering if the founders put This into the Constitution and we’re Using this like belief that of the First Amendment the freedom of conscience to Speak out against your government Because of the Revolution and because of What they experience in the revolution Um and their question is do you think The first amendment was made just for The fact of seeking Independence Um or is that how it came about so a Little foundation around where did it

Come from yeah I mean I think it’s Coming from a few different places one Like a lot of the Bill of Rights is Coming from the Revolutionary War Experience they see the value of Political dissent and the value of also Having a government that listens to the People and what the consequences can be If the government doesn’t listen to the People it could lead to Revolution They’re thinking of earlier examples Like the trial of John Peter Zenger in Colonial New York in the early 1700s Where the royal governor of New York Censors the speech I’m a printer and the Jury steps in and protects that Printer’s right to criticize the Governor and they’re thinking back also To some of the lessons of English History Um and so it’s sort of all of those Ideas being packaged together end up in The First Amendment Fantastic great question Mr H’s class Great questions the Clark class now when We think about this power of the First Amendment and using it to Build a more perfect union to make us Stronger and to live up to the values That we believe in that really brings us Right to the Abolitionist Movement so We’re going to talk about speech in the Abolitionist Movement but give us a Ground set What does abolitionist mean

Tom what does that word mean and what Are they clearly fighting and talking About in this scene Yeah absolutely so the abolitionists These are people who are fighting Against the institution of slavery and So we’re talking about it’s the 1800s um A lot of the speaking we’ll be talking About us from sort of the 1820s Especially up until the Civil War in 1860 and so one thing to note is like When we think about American history we Clearly think of the abolitionists They’re the heroes of the story they’re The good people they’re the ones Fighting to make our country better but For Americans in their own time they Were seen as troublemakers their speech Was seen as dangerous abolitionists were Attacked both physically and through the Law for the ideas that they were Presenting because from many white Americans they thought abolitionist Speech this is the path to this is the Path of breaking up America it’s going To literally tear the nation apart so Please please don’t use this dangerous Speech and so we see for instance laws Especially in the Southern United States Would make abolitionist speech speech Saying slavery is wrong and we should Get rid of it they would make that that It would make that sort of speech Illegal and so we see the laws being

Used to shut down abolitionist speech And meetings but importantly and this is What we’ll get to in our example here is It wasn’t just the laws it was also mob Violence as you would see my violence in The south in the west but also in the Northeast in places you know like New York City in places like Philadelphia And ultimately as we are in in our Example here we even see it up in Boston In Boston up in Massachusetts and that Brings us to one of the most famous Speeches in favor of free speech ever Given Frederick Douglass plea his plea For free speech in Boston so what Happens here is it to set the stage it’s December 3rd 1860 Frederick Douglass and A group of other abolitionists met in Tremont Temple Church in Boston Massachusetts they wanted to have a Discussion the framing question was how Can slavery be abolished and so they’re Holding this meeting it’s the one year Anniversary of uh John Brown’s death and So John Brown was the Abolitionist who Tried to take out arms and incite a Violence that would ultimately overthrow Slavery in the South and he was Eventually apprehended and executed and So this is the one year anniversary of John Brown it’s also occurring just a Month after President Lincoln is elected As the first anti-slavery president in The United States and the South Carolina

Has already expressed its its intention To secede to leave the United States Ultimately this would help spark the Civil War Um so in this context the Abolitionist Meeting they meet in the Tremont Temple And ultimately a violent mob shows up And it shuts down the meeting so they’re Not allowed to have their abolitions Meaning there’s literally just a mob of People come in and throw them out of the Stage and throw them off and so the Abolition abolitionist meeting is shut Down six days later Douglas delivers a Previously scheduled lecture at Boston’s Music Hall and this is his plea for free Speech in Boston and so in part what Douglas is doing in this speech is one He’s noting this he’s noting the Location he’s saying look we’re in Boston this speech is taking place in Boston nowhere more than in Boston and The principles of human Freedom been Expounded it’s the birthplace of the American Revolution it’s at the Vanguard Of wanting the end-to-end slavery and Also for wanting African Americans to be Treated fairly and he says even here Quote the moral atmosphere is dark and Heavy even here in abolition this Meeting can be shut down by a mob and Douglas uses this occasion to then Defend the importance of free speech to Pushing for change like the end of

Slavery and so what what uh what Douglas Says here is one the founders cared a Lot about Free Speech it was one of the Most important rights that they placed In the Constitution why did they care About it in part it’s because free Speech is so important to pushing for Change if we want to end slavery part of The way in which we could end slavery is By making sure that we can speak our Mind to make sure our ideas are heard Douglas said slavery cannot tolerate Free Speech five years of its exercise Would banish The Auction Block and break Every chain in the South what is this Vision of free speech it’s a vision of Speech not just for the powerful not Just but for the rich not just for the White people but it’s for everyone it’s For the poor as well as the rich it’s For you know the the educated and the Uneducated the white and black it’s for Everyone it’s the great leveler because In the end what the founders believed in Is we all have to be able to express our Ideas so we can reason together and come To better decisions and so finally the Last Point here and this is a powerful Point that you’d see echoed from a lot Of constitutional scholars in the 20th Century is that Douglas says speech it’s Not just important to the speaker that’s Part of it us being able to express our Views is important to our dignity and

Our ability to function as active Citizens and Republic but it’s also Really important for the audience it’s Important that all ideas that are worth Hearing can be heard so the audience can Then here are all of the ideas of Various speakers think about them on Their own reason together with their Neighbors and fellow citizens and Ultimately pursue the course that they Think is best decide for themselves the Best course for America the course the Best course to ensure that that happens Is not censorship it’s not mob violence It’s free speech and reasoning together A ton that’s so powerful and we hear our Students we do a lot of conversations With high school students around the Country and it’s oh it’s almost what Douglas was saying is summed up in what They share they always share that when They come into a dialogue they have a Rule and it’s called you step up and Then you step back and the reason for That is you step up and you say what you Think but then you step back so you can Listen to others so that’s so much of Douglas’s point is like we need to talk About it we need to share these ideas What’s wrong what’s right and what how We need to change but it’s also not just The act of speaking but the act of Listening and learning from each other That is so unbelievable to making

Ourselves better so how can we widen the Door and make more voices heard as they Come in and sometimes that’s remembering That you can be silent and let a turn go To somebody else so I love that kind of Idea and then put into action even like At our own breakfast tables like how do We make sure that we let Let each other Speak and share as well so lots of great Questions going on in the chat as well You’ll tell them there’s we’ve got about Like five minutes left I think there’s So many good stories about how this you Know goes over time but we can you where I was gonna jump to Um the Whitney case and like homes and Talk about where we see a big change but For a while there our government really Didn’t Protect free speech Um and so we we don’t want to pretend That it’s always been like oh we always Believed in free speech and the Government always supported it there was A lot of ups and downs in this story so Maybe tell us a down and then let’s go Back to where it started to turn around Yeah absolutely I mean so yeah for a lot Of American History the First Amendment Does very little inside American courts They broke the really strong Free Speech Protections we know today didn’t really Come until the 1960s so it’s very late In the game when it comes to American History and Curry’s right we’d see

Another wave of governments attacking Free Speech during World War 1 and so During the the Wilson Administration There Woodrow Wilson and Congress they Pass another They passed the Espionage Act and Another Sedition Act and so these again Are laws that end up making it uh Criminal for people to criticize the Government’s war effort in this context And interestingly there are Supreme Court decisions during this period but The Supreme Court ends up saying those Acts those restrictions on Free Speech They’re constitutional the government Has the power to do this and these are Famous cases like Shenk versus United States written by Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes where it’s where he talks about Um you know the sort of the limits on Free Speech rights the famous quote There is the most stringent protection Of free speech would not protect the man And falsely shouting fire in a theater And causing panic but the big Point here Is that you know in this was 1917 during World War One or 1919 rather during World War One the Supreme Court is Saying no The Government Can restrict Speech in all sorts of ways in ways that We wouldn’t tolerate today that would be Unconstitutional today but we’d see as We get to the end of the 1910s and into The 1920s you’re right Curry there’s a

Series of opinions separate opinions Dissents written by Oliver Wendell Holmes and Lewis Brandeis that begin to Change things and so they present some Big ideas that we still think are so Important today for justice homes you Know one of his big Ideas was we have to Protect the speech we hate It’s not just popular speech that’s Protected we have to have freedom for The thought that we hate that’s the only Way we could show our commitment to free Speech Um and we want robust Free Speech Protections he also laid out a big Theory about why free speech is so Important to American democracy and That’s it’s known as his Marketplace Theory of free speech he said the best Test of Truth is the power of thought to Get itself accepted in the competition Of the market the idea here is that There are all sorts of ideas out there Some are good some are lousy we don’t Trust the government to tell us which Ideas are good and which are lousy the Best thing we can do is to let everyone Speak and eventually through that Conversation through US reasoning Together the best ideas the truest ideas Will win out And then finally the other big Vision Here is from Justice Louis Brandeis from A case called Whitney versus California

And in this case Brandeis Kaizer Together a lot of the big theories that Support the First Amendment but as big His big argument is that American Democracy requires free liberty-loving Citizens committed to deliberation uh And the public good and so his big idea Here is that if there be time to expose Through discussion the falsehood and Fallacies to avert the evil by the Processes of Education remedies we Applied is more speech not in force Silence so if someone says something Hateful if someone says something you Don’t like if someone says something That you think is really really wrong The answer isn’t to go to the government And tell the government throw that Person in jail the answer is for you to Speak the answer is you to talk to your Fellow citizens build a movement and Speak back against those that you think Are wrong over time that’s how our System is supposed to work and that’s The importance of free speech to the Broader constitutional system in America But it’ll take Curry an another what 40 Years until the Supreme Court really Commits to this idea in its case law Eventually the Supreme Court in a case Called the Brandenburg case will Basically write this big idea from Justice Brandeis into constitutional law That case involved hateful speech you

Could see here and involves speech at a KKK rally But ultimately what the Supreme Court said is we were wrong During World War One we were wrong to Let the government suppress speech to Attack speech Justice Brandeis and Justice Holmes were right we need to Commit a strong Free Speech protections And so generally speaking in America the Rule is we’re going to perspect to Protect speech unless it’s intended to And likely to cause immediate uh uh Illegal action and so it’s a really Really broad speech protective idea and In the end it’s a commitment to robust Free Speech rights and again that brand I see Envision that if someone says Unpopular something unpopular hateful Wrong the better remedy is for us to Speak back talk back to organize rather Than turning to the government and Asking the government to throw that Person in jail Our students You to counter that speech and just for Our students a distant so when the Supreme Court comes down with their Decision they they have to explain Themselves and they put that into a Written opinion imagine if your parents And your adults in your life always had To explain themselves in a written Opinion I wonder we’re thinking about That we need to totally turn that on the

Adults in our lives and that they have To write up their reasoning and it’s Good you know that’s what your teachers Make you write up your reasoning Sometimes because going through the Process of writing it up and and many People believe with the Supreme Court Having to say it out loud is really Important and Powerful so there’s always The opinion of why they made this Decision but not everybody always agrees There’s nine people on the Supreme Court And then the vote isn’t always 9-0 Sometimes it’s five four and so the Other people say the four part of that Group is the scent and they have the Right the reasons why they don’t agree And share that as well and sometimes They can be the most powerful keys to Unlock understanding when you’re looking At history where the change moment was Happening and they may have laid the Seeds in one year and it doesn’t take Till 40 years later for that plant to Sprout but what I love and this image is Really hard to look at to look at kind Of those costumes of violence that we See in front of us from the people that Are part of the KKK and what they stood For but I remember and I’ll send it out To everybody this great uh clip this Video clip but we have of Justice Kagan Talking about the speech we protect the Speech we protect sometimes is the worst

Speech the speech that none of us like And the reason for it is we want to make Sure we protect all speech so if you can Protect the speech that you hate then You’ll make sure that you’ll protect the Speech that’s going to help us learn and Move forward so Tom that was really Powerful And amazing to really help us go through That Um can anything else you want to wrap up Our students as we end class with all Their amazing and really awesomely hard Questions in the chat yeah the only Other thing I’ll note is you know during These same years the 1960s it’s also the Height of the civil rights movement and What we see is a supreme court the Warren court it’s led by Chief Justice Earl Warren and the Civil Rights Movement really in lockstep throughout This period a lot of the big Free Speech Decisions First Amendment decisions During this period were not in favor of The KKK but instead we’re meant to Protect the activities of the Civil Rights Movement as the Civil Rights Movement itself tried to get to expel Hate from America and also dismantle the Legacy of Jim Crow so these are cases Like New York Times versus Sullivan many Of those landmark Supreme Court cases on The First Amendment during this period Grow out of the Civil Rights Movement

It’s Southern government’s trying to Shut down the civil rights movement and It’s the Supreme Court stepping in and Saying no Southern governments you can’t Do that the civil rights movement has to Be able to speak because of the first Amendment’s commitment to free speech And a free press Fantastic now we have two follow-up Questions at least at the end so what I’m going to do students if you have to Jump that’s totally cool you can jump Um I’m gonna stop the recording now Thank you Tom that was perfect And I’m gonna ask the two questions and This one was earlier and and it was Really brilliant so if a public school I Think it was Amelia who asked us if a Public school bans a book Are they allowed to do that is that Illegal under a free speech It’s a really difficult question it’s a Very tough question it’s one the supreme Court has only addressed once and it Addressed it Like 40 years ago in a really divided Opinion known as I forget the entire Case name but the name is Pico Um and so there you know what it ends up Doing it exposes it’s such a hard Question like so many constitutional Questions because it pits two things That the court over time has said are Important constitutional values one of

Those values is federalism and the power Of state and local governments including Schools and school systems to define a Lot of the curricular decisions that are Happening at the state and local level And we think as a constitutional system We’ve committed to that being an Important value the flip side is we get From Landmark Supreme Court decisions Like the Barnett decision which we Didn’t discuss today Um this idea that the government also Can’t be allowed with the uh through the First Amendment to prescribe with what’s Orthodox in America and so this was a Case from 1943 during World War II Involving Jehovah’s Witnesses two Students and eight-year-old an 11 year Old can you imagine the courage who are Sitting there in West Virginia and say We are not going to salute the flag it Goes against our religion we know the Rules are that we have to do that in the End they’re punished by the school but They stand by their beliefs and by their Religion and ultimately the Supreme Court stands by them in West Virginia Barnett in an opinion by Justice Robert Jackson with one of the most famous Passages in the history of the Supreme Court uh in Supreme Court decisions I’ll Read it um it said if there is any big Star in our constitutional constellation It is that no official higher Petty can

Prescribe what shall be Orthodox in Politics nationalism religion or other Matters of opinion or Force citizens to Confess by word or act uh Faith therein And so this is an idea it’s a broad idea Of sort of a freedom of conscience and Sort of a scope of protection that even Against Um uh you know something like having to Salute the flag in the middle of a war And so you can see those two values are Intention the Supreme Court itself over Time Seems reluctant to take on a lot of Constitutional issues that are happening Inside the classroom so it’ll be Interesting as those sorts of debates go On in politics and it continue to happen You know among political leaders Um and also percolate and lower courts Whether the Supreme Court will weigh in At any particular point in time Fantastic Um a couple more questions and it’s I Love that idea of this fixed star like I Don’t know I’m always a great writer Great reader but like what any of our Scholars use constellations to explain How we work I love it because then you See like the whole system and how it all Works together so another question two Other questions I’m going to get back to Vanessa’s question and here oh I love This question who were the abolitionists

Influenced by so when we think of early Abolitionists like Prince Hall and we Know that you know he’s influenced by The fact that he is watching people be Enslaved and thinks how wrong it is but Was there other kind of predecessors to The American abolitionist great question Uh one one final night on Robert Jackson He was the last Supreme Court Justice Not to go to law school so he wasn’t uh He wasn’t affected by some of the Pathologies of going to law school what It could do to your writing yeah Tom Knows firsthand Um what was his degree in Just had an under uh he had an Undergraduate degree and then an Apprenticed like people usually would so He was you know professional training Which is how you know many lawyers prior To the 20th century including Lincoln For instance uh did it but that’s a Great question about abolitionist Thought if you’re looking at the American abolitionist Really big strains in their thought that You see and this goes back Curry Mentioned Prince Hall who that’s 1777. He’s a free African-American he Petitions the Massachusetts legislature To end abolish slavery in Massachusetts And during his in his petition one of Those influences is he’s drawing on the Idea of natural rights and so this is

The idea that there are certain rights That we have we get them just for being Born we get them for being human beings And these are the rights that you see Written into the Declaration of Independence the idea we’re born free And equal we have certain unalienable Rights like the right to life liberty And the pursuit of happiness so on the One hand you see abolitionists from Prince Hall all the way up to Douglas And Sojourner Truth and plenty of people In the 1800s influenced by natural Rights and influence by the Declaration Of Independence natural rights Theory Goes back to a bunch of different Political theorists that are earlier but I think a lot of it people are reading It especially through the prism of America’s national Creed the Declaration Of Independence the other is that Throughout this period you see plenty of Abolitionists also inspired by their Religious belief and so you see a lot so David Walker would be an example of this He was a great African-American Abolitionist speaker in the 1820s and if You read his appeal to African Americans Which is a very famous writing that Circulated really broadly part of it is He’s deriving what he’s saying we need To end slavery because it’s inconsistent With natural rights and it’s Inconsistent with the Declaration of

Independence but by the way all you Christians who support slavery how is That consistent with with Jesus Christ Teachings and so there’s a way in which It’s a combination there are other Influences too but you see sort of those Twin Um influences of sort of religion and The Declaration of Independence Influencing a lot of abolitionists of Course the last thing Curry is exactly What you said which is that you know Especially for a lot of African-American Abolitionists it’s just the experience Out of the experience of having been Enslaved yourself or you being a free African-American in America and Observing Slavery existing in your country it’s Important it’s morally important so it’s Not even a you know uh susceptible to Reason it’s just you feel it it’s Common Sense this is how Frederick Douglass is What to the slave is the Fourth of July Part of what he said there is I’m not Going to reason with you do you doubt The institution of slavery is wrong my White audience then how would you like To be enslaved you know we don’t have to Reason about this we just know it’s Wrong And I think that’s such a like an Unbelievably valid point but it works Both ways so somebody one of the

Students in the Clark class earlier is Like well so why were people so racist Back then and I’m like and there’s this Brilliance of the human mind that says We can see things that are just wrong But also we can do things that are just Wrong and so I think it’s that like hard Balance of like maybe you don’t need to Be influenced and you just see like this Is not right Um but at the same time you know how do You describe if that were so true all The time how do you then say but you Know we created a different form of Enslavement here in America and then put It into the laws um so I think that’s That’s really fascinating to think of That that again two sides of that same Coin and how it works for good or it can Work for Um Evil yeah I mean especially you know Within the thinkers in the 1800s I mean Part of the debate is like on the one Hand who’s the Declaration of Independence speaking of is it all Americans or is it only white Americans Who is like welcomed into this universe Of expansive rights and so that’s part Of the debate that’s happening but you Would say even within the Abolitionist Community there is a debate about you Know all of them agree all of the Abolitionists agree let’s end slavery

It’s a brutal terrible practice it’s Un-American let’s get rid of it but There’s even divisions within Abolitionists as to how broadly then Freedom inequality should sweep once Slavery ends and so you see a lot of Those divisions after the Civil War After the Emancipation Proclamation After the 13th amendments ratified which Abolished slavery then debates about you Know these broader questions about Equality and about equal treatment it Goes everything from you know laws that Treat people differently when it comes To jobs Um to laws that treat people differently As to whether or not they can vote um so These end up being a separate set of Issues for a lot of these people as well But again it’s a completely different Way okay almost if thinking about the Issue than we do today but that’s just a Place in context that’s some of the Things that they would have been Reasoning and debating about Fantastic and yeah lots of lots of Trying to understand and also the one Thing that you know when we talk about People of the past there’s also an Evolution to them as well so like They’re not thick Stars so they’re kind Of almost sometimes when they cut come Into our storyline and we start reading About them they have one perspective on

Say women’s rights or enslavement and Then over time it changes so that’s Something I constantly have to remind Myself when I’m reading about people From the past what is that kind of Tapestry that they’re really made up of As individuals but also over time Um so it is it’s history is a moving Target and that’s what makes it so Interesting too Lincoln I mean Lincoln how much he Changes during the Civil War but it’s True like I you know as you know Curry I Study closely the Reconstruction period That comes after the Civil War and it’s Always amazing when you read about Things happening in the late 1860s so Many of the people that are heroes of The story then five years later you end Up really disliking what they say Because they backtrack and all of their Broad commitment to equality and freedom That they said in the late 1860s so it Goes both ways it’s a as a historian Alan gelzo says it’s a zigzag I mean History is a zigzag it can be Unpredictable in certain ways but it Often things change so if you’re ever Just totally dissatisfied with your Current moment a lot can change quickly Doesn’t mean it’s going to get better Necessarily but you know It could zag down before it zigs back up Yeah I always think about it like the

Ebb and flow of the tides and sometimes We have giant like spring tides and We’ve got tons of flooding and then Sometimes we have like real pools out as Well but I think that’s so unbelievably Powerful Um to think about it as that constant Fluid and people are that constant fluid Thing and they keep us on our toes but You’re right it’s so often you’re Reading like an opinion of somebody and You’re reading the opinion you’re like Yeah I’m with you and then like the next Paragraph there’s like a total change of Perspective so always good to read the Whole primary source as well and not Just parts of it thank you Tom this was So helpful great questions in class Today I really appreciated everybody’s Questions Um I hope I did a good job it’s really Hard to answer some of those questions In the chat Um but the kids were really having Awesome questions today Um but thank you all so much glad to Have you all in the adults were asking Good questions too so not just the Students everybody was thanks Tom and we Are going to have a two o’clock class Today Um where we probably go into a little Bit more court cases so want to come Back and dive into the court cases we’re

Going to do that too so thanks Tom all Right thanks Carrie very Lively thanks Everyone bye Colin good to see you are Very fun I know

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