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First Five by the Freedom Forum Institute

The First Amendment protects five core freedoms that are under attack every day — from the left, the right, and everywhere in between. First Five strives to foster interest in First Amendment news and provide a platform for discussion among enthusiasts and activists. Column is available weekly for NNA member newspapers to reprint. 

Attention police: Stop attacking journalists for doing their jobs

Gene Policinski talks about another recent press/police incident and how police must recognize that journalists observing arrests are not interfering – they are present to represent all of us, as ...

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‘What comes before freedom of speech?’

David Callaway talks about freedom of speech and what came before that – freedom of conscience, and how the right to believe our deepest beliefs originally separated what we think of as the First ...

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The right to peacefully protest needs better supporters

Laws like the ones proposed by Congressman Banks create what we call a “chilling effect” on First Amendment rights. They don’t outright ban assembly, but create repercussions that intimidate ...

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We march, demonstrate and protest: We’re America

Gene Policinski discusses the history behind the March on Washington taking place tomorrow and how marches, protests and demonstrations, on the street and now online, are how the United States talks to ...

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Harsh words in presidential campaigns: Protected, nothing new

The high legal bar for public figures to successfully sue for defamation, combined with a historical judicial reluctance to intervene in political campaigns, allows candidates and their surrogates to sling ...

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Scoring First Amendment freedoms: One step forward, two back and a draw

For First Amendment freedoms in recent weeks, it has been one step forward, two steps back and at best a draw — and we should be praising the progress and mad as hell about the setbacks.

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Standing up for the First Amendment – and Austin Tice

Lata Nott talks about how safeguarding our First Amendment freedoms – including a free press – is our duty. And continues the call for the release of journalist Austin Tice, missing in Syria ...

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A First Amendment framework for effective dialogue in the classroom

David Callaway and Trey Daniel dive into the details and constitutional framework of the Georgia Rights, Responsibility, Respect Project as many Americans are preparing for their children to return to ...

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US Rep. John Lewis: A First Amendment Champion

Few people in history have so exemplified the hopes of the nation’s founders that the First Amendment’s strong protection for the freedoms of religion, speech, press, assembly and petition ...

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Fighting over the meaning of First Amendment freedoms

Gene Policinski discusses the current fight over the meaning of the First Amendment's 45 words, explaining many arguments and examples of people's theories, opinions and ideas of free expression in today's ...

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The next battle against government funding in religious schools?

By ruling that state governments choosing to subsidize private education must offer equal treatment to religious and secular schools, at least in the context of vouchers and tax credits, the court has ...

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The First Amendment and our rights to speak, assemble and seek change

Through it all, the First Amendment both fuels those voices and protects those rights — at times in collaboration with other amendments in the Bill of Rights.  

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Masks protect protesters in more ways than you think

Lata Nott argues that masks, which protect the health of protestors during the COVID-19 pandemic, also safeguard privacy and anonymity – and therefore our First Amendment freedoms.

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A moment for change: allies can make a difference

We are at another turning point in our nation’s history, and people of good faith want to be part of that change. This week, the Freedom Forum’s Power Shift Project hosted a webinar titled ...

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The First Amendment, Black liberation and you

Everyone should acknowledge one important fact: we are all protected by the First Amendment because of the struggle for Black liberation.

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Floyd protests powered by freedoms of assembly, petition

Gene Policinski talks about our two least-known freedoms, petition and assembly, and how they are powering a deep national conversation on how we should deal with racism, bigotry and criminal justice in ...

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Should courts decide who is a religious minister? Do they have a choice?

Benjamin Marcus discusses the question of whether or not the court should allow religious communities to self-designate ministers and if so, would that eviscerate non-discrimination protections. 

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In its first live-broadcast oral arguments, Supreme Court discusses several First Amendment issues

Lata Nott discusses how the COVID-19 pandemic has forced the court to shift to a remote teleconferencing format, opening up the court's inner workings to a larger audience allowing greater transparency ...

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What words make up a ‘true threat?’ Well, that depends

Gene Policinski discusses the meaning behind what makes up a “true threat” and how the COVID-19 crisis has impacted American’s First Amendment protection of speech.

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You might have the right to gather, but you can choose otherwise

Benjamin Marcus talks about the recent state stay-at-home order lifts and how they are impacting the COVID-19 case numbers. Citizens may be able to start gathering and exercising religious freedom rights, ...

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