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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. 

Post-Capitol riot: Cellphones, selfies – and Orwell

In response to the quick arrests of the people who ransacked the Capitol, thanks to increasing forensic ability and enhanced surveillance, Gene Policinski talks about how we still need to be wary of the ...

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The First Amendment right to protest has limits

Gene Policinski talks about the limits to the First Amendment and starts by noting that the First Amendment offers no legal shield from criminal prosecution for violent acts, individually or as part of ...

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Protest is how we talk to ourselves as a nation — but violence isn’t protest

Gene Policinski talks about yesterday's events at the U.S. Capitol as a stain upon the fabric of democracy, and how these actions betray the core principles on which the United States was founded and the ...

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Happy new – and old – year: 2020 just won’t go away when it comes to First Amendment issues in 2021

Gene Policinski talks about the challenging year of 2020 and its many issues over First Amendment freedoms that will most likely flop over into the new year.

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American students should learn about Christmas in schools

David Callaway talks about the question of whether or not it is constitutional to teach about religion in public schools, specifically Christmas, and ways educators can enrich students’ understanding ...

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Bill of Rights Day: The ‘right’ day to celebrate our freedom

Gene Policinski talks about our nation’s annual Bill of Rights Day, which had a bit more reality for more of us in 2020 than in most years, and even though it passed again with little-to-no notice ...

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Mr. Biden: How about a new push for First Amendment freedoms?

Gene Policinski talks about the blatant disregard by Chinese officials of free press’ rights in support of democratic principles in Hong Kong and how the U.S. has lost moral high ground globally ...

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Religious Freedom in the Age of a Global Pandemic

Trey Daniel talks about how the practice of Religious Freedom, like most other spheres of human activity, has been radically affected by the coronavirus pandemic. 

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Thankful we can speak our minds this Thanksgiving

Patty Rhule talks about how during this pandemic-era Thanksgiving, all of the freedoms of the First Amendment should be high on the list when counting our blessings and advice on how to keep political ...

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‘Buckle up’ America: We’re in for a wild First Amendment ride

Gene Policinski talks about the wild ride Americans are about to embark on in response to Justice Alito's recent speech listing grievances about the state of individual rights in America, with a special ...

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We cannot allow our First Amendment rights to become ‘wrongs’

Gene Policinski talks about the new law signed into effect in Tennessee that chills the rights to protest by making it a felony to camp overnight without a permit, and implementing stricter penalties and ...

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On behalf of the First Amendment: ‘Dear Mr. President’

Gene Policinski talks about the election and how our First Amendment freedoms empower us to search for the best possible solutions for the greatest number of people, in the shortest amount of time. Noting ...

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Is a Catholic-packed Supreme Court a threat to religious freedom?

David Callaway talks about the question of whether or not a Catholic-packed court is a threat to religious freedom is a different question than whether or not newly appointed Justice Barrett is a threat ...

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Do we live in a post-truth world?

Jessi Hollis McCarthy talks about the recent emergence of the term "fake news" and the importance of fact checking and critiques of the mainstream media. McCarthy lists some media literacy tips to get ...

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Humor, satire: Making the political ‘cut,’ from our earliest days

As Election 2020 approaches, Gene Policinski talks about the great American tradition of humor and satire that has marked virtually every election and focuses us on facts that otherwise might be lost in ...

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Trump and COVID-19: How ‘free’ are/should we be?

Gene Policinski talks about how the First Amendment provides protection for what we "could" say and report about President Trump's COVID-19 illness. The "-ish" questions revolve more around what we all ...

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Say Her Name: Breonna Taylor discussion at the heart of national protests

Trey Daniel talks about how the recent announcement of a grand jury's decision to indict one of the three police officers involved in the shooting death of Breonna Taylor left many feeling outraged to ...

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You have a right to speak, assemble, petition — so now, register to vote

Gene Policinski talks about the importance of National Voter Registration Day and how voting on Nov. 3 is the ultimate expression of our First Amendment right "of the people peaceably to assemble, and ...

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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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