Panel Discussion on Recent U.S. Supreme Court Free Speech Decisions & the Implications of These Cases for American Society

Article excerpt

MR. BENJAMIN POMERANCE: Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome back to those of you who are returning from the morning session, returning from lunch. And welcome for the first time to those of you who are joining us for the first time today. We are very glad and very proud to have such a good turnout for an excellent afternoon discussion about free speech issues past and present.

Before we begin the afternoon discussion, it is my pleasure to turn the work of giving the introductions over to someone who is new to our Albany Law School community, but someone who has already established a very positive reputation with the Law Review and with the entire student body. We are thrilled to have her here today: Albany Law School's Dean and President, Penelope Andrews.

(Applause)

INTRODUCTION OF THE PANELISTS

DEAN & PRESIDENT PENELOPE ANDREWS: Good afternoon. I want to start by thanking the people who made this possible, and who certainly contributed to making this the success it has been thus far. I want to start obviously by thanking Benjamin, who has done just an amazing job, as we have seen and heard this morning. Thank you.

And Mary D'Agostino, who is the editor-in-chief--who is back there. And then the people from Technical Services. And all the other people in this building who worked behind the scenes to make this possible.

I came here two-and-a-half months ago. And this morning when I was listening to the debate, I thought about one of the things that people tell you and that we experience as we grow older. It is that we lose the "wow factor"; that we become cynical; we've seen it all; and so on. So this morning I thought no, I have not lost the "wow factor." I was so impressed by the debate, and this is thanks to the students.

The second thing I want to say is that I am constantly amazed at the wonderful group of students that we have at Albany Law School. I don't have children of my own, so I don't know what parental love may feel like, but I think it is something that is unfiltered and completely unconditional love. That's what I felt this morning. Our students are just wonderful, and today's event is a reflection of that. And of course I also want to thank the faculty, who have some part, especially when students come to the second and third year, in becoming what they are.

I was going to spend this time talking about growing up in South Africa and the lack of freedom of speech and the First Amendment. But no, I thought--for another time.

This is one of the values of American society that can be exported. It's one of the good things about the United States. In many societies we still struggle with this idea of really giving a voice to people, a real voice, a genuine voice, and not living in fear of government.

So it is my great joy to introduce the speakers. We could talk about them all afternoon. You have the abbreviated bios in the pamphlets and brochures that were handed out, and you can also go on the Web and Google them. Many of them get five million hits at a time. So there is a lot about them.

So let me start by introducing Ronald Collins, who is the Harold S. Shefelman Scholar at the University of Washington School of Law and a Fellow at the Washington, D.C. office of the First Amendment Center.

He writes and lectures on freedom of expression, and developed the First Amendment Center's online Supreme Court Library.

He has served as a law clerk to Justice Hans Linde on the Oregon Supreme Court, and thereafter was a judicial fellow under Chief Justice Warren Burger of the U.S. Supreme Court.

He has taught constitutional law and commercial law at Temple Law School and George Washington Law School. And he has published some fifty articles, as well as a book on the trials of Lenny Bruce.

This is what I found out about Professor Collins when I trolled the Web: that in 1967, before he entered college, Professor Collins appeared on The Dating Game, which ran on ABC television. …