ACLU Holds Symposium on Free Speech

September 20, 2007

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: media@dcaclu.org

Releases Report on First Amendment Grievances

Washington, DC - The American Civil Liberties Union, American University Washington College of Law and American University Law Review have joined together to host a two-day symposium titled Left Out in the Cold? The Chilling of Speech, Association, and the Press in Post-9/11 America. Topics including government surveillance, reporters' shield legislation and academic freedom will be discussed by members of Congress, First Amendment scholars, and government officials.

"Preserving the Constitution in trying times is both our legacy and obligation as Americans," said James T. Tucker, ACLU First Amendment Policy Counsel. "The First Amendment is a cornerstone of what makes us Americans. Our democracy would be incomplete and inoperable without it. We must do everything thing we can to protect this bedrock principle."

Left Out in the Cold will identify what barriers, if any, exist to promoting speech and government accountability, and will identify possible legislative solutions to remove them. These discussions will reinvigorate the public debate on these important issues through panels featuring government officials, policy makers, nationally known experts, scholars, journalists and other interested parties. Speakers include Congressmen Bobby Scott (D-VA), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Mike Pence (R-IN), ACLU President, Nadine Strossen, ACLU Washington Legislative Office Director, Caroline Fredrickson, Duke Law School professor, Erwin Chemerinsky, and Rodney Smolla, Dean of the Washington College of Law.

The symposium will also serve to launch a new ACLU report authored by Tucker. Reclaiming Our Rights: Declaration of First Amendment Rights and Grievances outlines the ways in which Americans' speech has been restricted, particularly since September 11, 2001, and the steps Americans must take to reclaim their rights.

"Our government routinely subjects Americans to unconstitutional searches, unlawful surveillance and unjustified interception of their communications," said Nadine Strossen, ACLU President, in her foreword to the report. "Every communications medium is threatened with censorship. Illegal or embarrassing programs are hidden from judicial review, congressional oversight, and media and public scrutiny under the false guise of ‘state secrets.' Information vital to self-governance is denied in defiance of open government laws. Elected officials ignore their representative mandate by governing in the shadows."

Left Out in the Cold marks the beginning of a national conversation on ways to promote the First Amendment in post-9/11 America. The dialogue will continue in a symposium edition of the American University Law Review to be published in Spring 2008, along with post-symposium chats with panelists as legislation is introduced in Congress.

To register and view a complete schedule and list of speakers, please go to: www.aclu.org/symposium

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