First Amendment topicsAbout the First Amendment
Introduction to The First Amendment Library
By Ronald K.L. Collins
First Amendment scholar

Welcome to the First Amendment library.

This online library aspires to become the nation’s preeminent clearinghouse for information concerning the five freedoms — speech, press, assembly, petition and religion — guaranteed by the First Amendment to our Constitution. To that end, a vast array of judicial, legislative, historical, analytical, journalistic, editorial and other materials have been collected, organized and presented, free of charge, to all users of the First Amendment Center’s Web site.

A directory for the two main categories of materials (Freedom of Expression and Freedom of Religion) in the online library will help users identify subjects of interest and thereby navigate accordingly. The site’s 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.

Here, for the first time, all of the First Amendment opinions of the Supreme Court have been collected and presented under various widely used categories. Thus, the user can, for example, go to the "Commercial Speech" category and find all of the Supreme Court’s opinions related to that particular topic. So, too, with the opinions (majority and other) of any Supreme Court Justice who has published a First Amendment opinion either by way of a majority or separate opinion.

In addition to Supreme Court opinions, the library also contains transcripts of select Supreme Court oral arguments and even audio files of some of those arguments. Major historical materials related to the First Amendment are likewise available, as are all of the state constitutional guarantees related to freedom of expression and religion.

Numerous other materials — ranging from a list of noted First Amendment lawyers and scholars to many articles by journalists and academics — can also be found in this library.

I am grateful to a number of people for their help, including Sandra S. Baron, Hannah Bergman, Ambika Biggs, Susan Burgess, Richard Carelli, Robert Corn-Revere, Mike Darner, Marianne Harding, Marjorie Heins, Lily Kim, Lee Levine, Robert Lystad, Tony Mauro, Eric Nelson, Robert L. Oakley, Rebecca Schwartz, Syl Sobel, David Vladeck and Alyssa Work. I am especially indebted to my colleague, Paul M. McMasters, who teaches me more and more about First Amendment freedom every day. Thanks to Ken Paulson, former executive director of the First Amendment Center, for making all of this possible. Finally, thanks to Brian Frickert and Mariel Galvan, two indispensable technological wizards.

The library is very much a work in progress. It will be updated regularly and continue to expand. New categories and sub-categories will also be created and changes made whenever necessary. Please contact us if you have any suggestions and/or comments on how to improve The First Amendment Library.

Ronald K.L. Collins
First Amendment scholar
First Amendment Center

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Last system update: Friday, April 23, 2010 | 12:30:45
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