Welcome to the First Amendment Center’s Web site, featuring comprehensive
research coverage of key First Amendment issues and topics, daily First
Amendment news, commentary and analyses by respected
legal specialists, and a First Amendment Library of legal cases and related materials.
Who operates this site
The First Amendment Center, at Vanderbilt
University in Nashville, Tenn., and in Washington, D.C. (see About the First
Amendment Center), operates this Web site. See FAQs about the First Amendment Center.
Copyright the First Amendment Center. The text and images
on this Web site are copyrighted and may not be reposted, republished, copied or
reproduced without permission. Where an Associated Press byline appears,
copyright is held by The Associated Press. First Amendment Center Online cannot
give permission to reproduce Associated Press material. Nat Hentoff, likewise,
holds the copyright to his bylined articles. Although you may not copy the
text and repost or reproduce it elsewhere without permission, you may link to
any page on this site without asking permission.
See more information
below on using material from this site.
Regarding legal advice
This site offers news and information on how
the courts understand and apply the First Amendment in various types of
situations. It offers general information on First Amendment issues with the
understanding that the authors are not providing legal advice or other
professional services. The First Amendment Center and its Web site cannot
provide legal advice, representation or funding for litigation. For answers to
specific legal questions or concerns about a legal incident or issue, consult a
qualified, licensed attorney in your community. Martindale, Findlaw and other online legal services offer
ways to find specialized lawyers by locale.
How to use this site
The research materials on this site are
organized by topic under the five freedoms of the First Amendment: speech,
press, religious liberty, assembly and petition.
For a list of all of our topics, see the red "First Amendment topics" graphic
on the home page. From there you can reach either the entire list or just those
topics under one of the freedoms.
Within each topic you will generally find several subtopics. For example, if
you are interested in student expression in the public schools, you’ll see an
overview of that issue in general along with a number of important aspects —
dress codes, student newspapers, yearbooks, clubs and more.
The information in the topics and subtopics is updated as needed. Topics will
grow in number as news and legal developments warrant.
Keep in mind that many First Amendment issues overlap. To return to the
example of public school free expression, you’ll find information about student
religious expression in the religious-liberty section.
The First Amendment research material on this site is written by First
Amendment Center staff and guest analysts.
Each subtopic includes one or more Frequently Asked Questions,
available through a button so labeled. All of the subtopic FAQs are gathered in
the main topic FAQ area.
FAQs will be added as needed. If you have an idea for an FAQ, please send it to the editors.
Cases & resources
First Amendment-related Supreme Court and
lower court cases are mentioned throughout the site. They appear within
individual research articles and news stories, as well as in lists found at the
buttons labeled Cases & resources. As with the FAQs, the smaller lists of
Cases & resources in the subtopics are combined in the topic page Cases
& resources area.
Whenever possible, cases are linked within articles and lists to more
information contained within the site’s First Amendment Library. Available
information about any case may be a link to a case summary on another site, a
case summary within the First Amendment Library itself, links to related
analyses and/or other articles, and other information.
"Resources" may include traditional bibliographic information along with
links to other Web sites and online materials.
First Amendment Library
This online library aspires to become the
preeminent clearinghouse for information concerning the five First Amendment
freedoms — speech, press, assembly, petition and religion. A vast array of
judicial, legislative, historical, analytical, journalistic, editorial and other
material has been collected and organized, including, for the first time, all of
the First Amendment opinions of the Supreme Court.
A directory for the two main categories of materials (Freedom of Expression
and Freedom of Religion) in the online library will help the user identify
subjects of interest and thereby navigate accordingly. The library search engine
can also assist users.
The First Amendment Docket Sheet, which is updated regularly and archived
yearly, provides current information related to the Supreme Court’s work
concerning freedom of expression and religion.
The First Amendment Center posts daily news stories by the
Associated Press on a variety of First Amendment issues. First Amendment Center
staff edit the AP stories, at times amplifying explanations of First Amendment
After posted news items disappear from the firstamendmentcenter.org home
page, they can still be seen for a time at the "More news" link. Even when they
are no longer visible on that page, however, they can be found through the
site’s search engine. (See the More link near the search bar for information on
getting the best search results.) To look for news stories that pertain only to
speech, press or one of the other five freedoms, use the "Browse" feature on the
"More news" page.
Depending on the nature of the later
development, Associated Press and First Amendment Center Online staff-written
news stories may be updated either with completely new stories or with editor's
notes in italics at the top. When a new story updates a previous item, you will
see an "Update" header toward the bottom of the older story. The newer story
will link back to the older under a "Previous" header.
At the bottom of news stories, you’ll often see
headline links labeled "Related." A "Related" story is not an update (see above)
but rather a story about a similar subject that may interest you.
Analysis and commentary
The First Amendment Center’s columnists,
Gene Policinski and Charles C. Haynes, alternately write a weekly commentary
called Inside the First Amendment. David L. Hudson Jr. and Ronald K.L. Collins
frequently write analyses and commentaries. Douglas Lee also writes
Regular analyses of First Amendment-related Supreme Court rulings are
provided by Tony Mauro, a legal correspondent for the First Amendment Center.
Mauro’s articles are generally posted on the site within a day of a Supreme
Court decision, in addition to an AP news story about the case.
The Associated Press also offers occasional analyses of First Amendment
Using material from
The First Amendment Center Online presents news
stories by the Associated Press concerning First Amendment issues by paid
permission. We do not hold the rights to Associated Press material. We do hold
the rights to material under other bylines. We do not post unsolicited material.
The contents of this Web site are copyrighted but are available for use under
- Articles carrying an Associated Press byline may not be reproduced
electronically or copied in quantities. You may link to them or quote brief
passages from them, crediting the Associated Press. The First Amendment
Center has purchased the right to publish Associated Press material, but cannot
give permission for others to do so. See the Associated Press for all information and inquiries
concerning AP material, including photos.
- Articles with bylines (or that have no byline) may be printed out and copied
in quantity for educational use. Please do not electronically copy articles onto
another Web site, as the material may change in subsequent updating.
- If you wish to reprint an article in a publication, or use an image, please
get in touch with the First Amendment Center using
this e-mail form and specify the material you are interested in.
Send us your thoughts
We will continually update, add and improve
material and functions on this site. If you have any questions, suggestions or
problems, please contact us.
Brian J. Buchanan, managing
For press inquiries:
Contact Gene Policinski, vice
president/executive director, First Amendment Center
Nashville, Tenn., offices
Nikki Troia, news
Eugenia Harris, Web editor
Tiffany Villager, director/First
David L. Hudson
Jr., First Amendment scholar
Washington, D.C., offices
Charles C. Haynes, senior
Brian Nishimura Lee, Web developer/senior
Brian Frickert, programmer
Matt Lester, programmer