January 16, 2014 12:20:19 PM by
On January 15, 2014, the Supreme Court heard opening arguments in McCullen v. Coakley concerning the abortion clinic buffer zone law in Massachusetts. Passed in 2007, this statute establishes a 35-foot perimeter around the entrances of reproductive health facilities in order to limit what is perceived as the harassment by anti-abortion protesters of employees and patients entering clinics. While I support a woman’s right to choose to terminate her pregnancy, this law extends beyond what is necessary to protect women accessing these facilities (numerous other laws already protect against harassment and violence) and infringes on the First Amendment rights of anti-abortion protesters. This case represents yet another example of the “free speech for me but not for thee” attitude. A free society assures liberty, but not necessarily comfort, for its citizens.
For more insight on this issue please read my argument against the constitutionality of this law, presented alongside Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley’s argument in support, on the WGBH/News page.
The column after the jump...
December 13, 2013 2:57:30 PM by
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), www.thefire.org , of which I am a co-founder and current Board of Directors chair, has produced a short (12 minutes long) video on my work in civil liberties in higher education. You may agree, or disagree, with my pessimistic assessment of the current state of the culture on our campuses, and with my optimistic assessment of our chances of restoring fairness, academic freedom, and rationality to these campuses. But in any event I think you’ll find this of interest...
You can find the video here: http://thefire.org/article/16547.html .
I hope you enjoy this piece and I encourage you to follow the important work FIRE is doing.
November 27, 2013 2:06:16 PM by
On November 13th the United States Court of Appeals in Boston affirmed the conviction of young Sudbury pharmacology student Tarek Mehanna. Mehanna was convicted on charges of rendering “material support” to terrorism – a dangerously broad and vague provision of the Patriot Act – though nothing Mehanna did came close to posing actual danger. In our op-ed for the Boston Globe, my paralegal Juliana DeVries and I argue that the tragic Mehanna verdict was made possible by the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Humanitarian Law Project v. Holder. The Humanitarian Law Project decision opened the door for federal prosecutors to criminalize a wide range of previously protected expressive activities, such as those in which Mehanna engaged.
You can read our op-ed at: http://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2013/11/27/ruling-terrorism-that-throttles-civil-liberties/LXmml8hiFCkugBmvmYEt5J/story.html
November 15, 2013 3:49:19 PM by
A contretemps currently taking place at Boston’s public broadcasting network WGBH is one of the more recent examples of pressure applied by interest groups to enforce ideological conformity. This latest such controversy involves billionaire industrialist and philanthropist David Koch, who sits on the WGBH board. Climate change activists are calling for his dismissal from that post. Without any evidence that Koch – who donates generously to the station – has attempted to influence, much less actually influenced and corrupted the network’s programming, these voices believe that he has no place serving as a board member on account of his minority-held views on the nature of climate shift. A loud and very public campaign, including picket lines outside of the network’s headquarters in Boston, is taking place.
In my recent piece for Forbes.com, I explain the stunted logic of this kind of campaign. Citing Justice Robert Jackson’s famous and moving 1943 Supreme Court opinion in the West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette case, I remind those intolerant of Koch’s role in the public arena that unpopular opinions must be protected against the majority-held or “official” view of the day, particularly with regards to issues as important to all of us as the health of our planet. I invite you to read the full column here: http://www.forbes.com/sites/harveysilverglate/2013/11/15/david-koch-and-the-wgbh-controversy-pledging-allegiance-to-the-flag-of-the-day/.
May 14, 2013 4:22:57 PM by
Want to openly discuss gender discrepancies in the workplace? Want to listen to uncensored rap music? How about put on a comedy show? Not on our campuses! And what if you or a friend or family member has to pursue a defense to an unmeritorious charge of sexual harassment? Forget it!
On May 9th, the Department of Justice and the Department of Education jointly issued a letter to the University of Montana, which the government called “a blueprint for colleges and universities throughout the country,” and which mandates changes to campus sexual harassment policies that will effectively make each of the above actions punishable offenses and will turn hearings into even worse kangaroo courts than exist today. This is a very serious development that everyone who thinks our universities play an important function in society will want to know about.
In my latest column for Minding the Campus, co-authored with my research assistant Juliana DeVries, we argue that the federal government’s unconstitutional mandate will obliterate free speech and fair process on campuses and make every student guilty of “harassment” several times a day. You can read the column on the Minding the Campus website.
An excerpt after the jump...