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2011: The First Amendment

Law & Society Series

The First Amendment
February 17 - 18, 2011

The Riley Institute at Furman and the Charleston Law Review of the Charleston School of Law hosted the third annual Law & Society symposium and CLE in Charleston, South Carolina, on February 17-18, 2011. This year’s topic was “Free Speech and Civil Discourse in the 21st Century.”  For the program, click here.

Furman University’s president, former law school dean, and First Amendment scholar Rodney A. Smolla delivered the keynote address on Thursday, February 17, at 5 p.m. to kickoff the event. On Friday, February 18, commencing at 9 a.m., there were a series of 50-minute panel discussions, with 10 minutes of audience Q & A.

Panel One: The Legal Impact of Social Media

This panel explored how social media is changing the way we communicate with one another, and examined proposed limits to the use of social media in the workplace, libraries, and our schools.

Panel Two: Wikileaks: Testing the Bounds of National Security

National security is implicated whenever military and diplomatic secrets enter the public domain. Panel 4 discussed the recent controversy surrounding Wikileaks and addressed national security implications.

Panel Three: Speech and the Role of Torts

This panel surveyed recent developments in the law of torts and their impact on limits to speech. It also discussed attempts to limit speech through litigation, including “SLAPP” lawsuits, and measured whether they have a chilling effect on the public’s right to participate in the legislative process on issues involving the public interest.

Panel Four: Political Speech and the Call for Civility

Recent shootings in Arizona took the lives of a dozen people, including a U.S. District Court judge, and nearly claimed the life of U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords, shot at point blank range during a political assembly to inform her constituents. Panel 2 examined recent calls for civility by federal, state, and local officials and explored whether such limits are legally permissible and socially desirable. This panel also discussed the role of the press and its impact on civil discourse.

Panel Five: Legal Speech: Civility Oaths and Attorney Advertising

This panel examined South Carolina’s civility oath and discussed its impact on the conduct of lawyers in South Carolina since its adoption in 2003. Panelists also provided updates on commercial speech and limits to attorney advertising.

The Law and Society Series is a joint effort between the Riley Institute at Furman and the Charleston Law Review.