Freedom of Expression®

the american way

COM 429 -- Spring 2010

TR 12:30-1:45 p.m. | Laughlin 113 (and other places)

Professor: Dr. Brian Carroll
LAU 100
Office phone:
Office hours:
MWF 10-noon

Lose your syllabus? Download another one, no extra charge

Online class help desk | Case abstract example | BerryLaw blog | U.S. Supreme Court blog

>>Course <<
(it's tentative, so go with the flow)

Class session
Topics & Software
Texts, Readings, Resources
Week 1: Jan. 13

Introduction to the course, seminar style, syllabus and Web page

The nature of law? What is law? Philosophies of law

The rule of law | The role of law | "Doing" law

Read (for Tuesday): The Nature of Law AND People v. Ceballos | DeShaney v. Winnebago County Dept. of SS

Familiarize yourself with the prof's law blog

Week 2: Jan. 19, 21

Google mapping the law

Introduction to the USSC (video) & judicial review

>>Meet Tuesday in the library seminar room

Due by midnight Monday: reaction to BC's blog post at WanderingRocks (Law & Morality)

Read (for next Tuesday): Lewis, introduction & chapters 1-3

Week 3: Jan. 26, 28

Intro to freedom of press & expression in United States

Evolution of USSC and awareness of the role of the First Amendment

Discuss/brainstorm FIP projects & ideas

Cases for this week:
Barron v. Baltimore | Schenck v. U.S. | Abrams v. U.S.

Need FIP ideas? Download the Media Reform Action Guide; Visit BerryLaw blog; visit Opposing Views

FIP instructions (Word .doc download)

Due midnight Wednesday: reaction to blog post at Wandering Rocks (Citizens United v. F.E.C.)

Week 4: Feb. 2, 4

The First Amendment is (re-)born | Sedition - Libel & freedom of the press | FIP discussion

Reading quiz Thursday (meet in LAU 113) | Meet Justice Anton Scalia

Cases for the week:
Stromberg v. California | Whitney v. California | Gilbert v. Minnesota | Gitlow v. New York | Near v. Minnesota | New York Times v. Sullivan

Read: Lewis: Chapters 4 & 5; from Free Speech on Trial, the Whitney and Near cases

(for Tuesday) and Times v. Sullivan (for Thursday)

View: the actionable Times ad

Due Thursday, Feb. 4: FIP proposals, solo or group. Typed up, printed out & turned in (no email).

Week 5: Feb. 9, 11

Privacy and Freedom of the Expression (First v. Fourth) | Censorship

Just for funsies | Role playing | Washingtonienne (warning: graphic language and descriptions) | Background at Wikipedia | Case notes

Cases for the week:
Time v. Hill | Barber v. Time | Sidis v. F-R Publishing Corp. | Olmstead v. U.S. | Kleindienst v. Mandel

Read: Lewis, chapter 5; Privacy (.ppt download) | Brandeis and Warren, The Right to Privacy

Due Thursday, Feb. 11: FIP proposal re-submits. Typed up, printed out and turned in (no email)

>>Georgetown Law panel on Citizens United (audio only); Colbert and Senator Dodd on Citizens United.

Week 6: Feb. 16, 18

Shield law, source confideniality & freedom of the press

Cases for the week:
Branzburg v. Hayes | U.S. v. Libby (Miller, Cooper, Plame) | and a whole bunch of others

State-by-state rundown of shield laws

Full text of Senate-propsed federal media shield law

Read: Lewis, chapter 6; Toobin article in New Yorker on protecting sources; Caldwell's biographical account, from Branzburg case (handout)

Legal Guide for Bloggers
; CQ special on federal shield law (pps. 1-15)

Read: Three Principles of Academic Honesty (Word .doc)
View: Plagiarism tutorial

Week 7: Feb. 23, 25

Finishing source protection, shield and reporter's privilege

Freedom for the thoughts we hate & balancing interests

Read: Lewis, chapters 9-12 (Tuesday); Chiquita story Thursday)

Week 8: March 2, 4

Expression on the college campus, and student expression off of it

How to do a legal brief (.doc download)

Also read for Thursday:

USSC update: CLS v. Martinez

For Tuesday: Brandenburg, Kleindeinst cases in Parker book

For Thursday: Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier in Free Speech on Trial (250-262) and Reno v. ACLU (298-312).

Due Thursday, March 4: First case abstract/legal brief. No outside sources allowed; no Googling. Typed up, printed out and turned in, with honor pledge (no email).

Week 9: March 9, 11

Establishment Clause | Separation of Church & State

March 13-21: Spring Break!

Read for Tuesday: Introduction to Establishment Clause (and six subsidiary topics pages linked near the bottom, left side)

Read for Thursday: Pleasant Grove City v. Summum background

Week 10: March 23, 25

Tuesday: Dr. Briggs's visit, community and character building in tension with personal freedom

No class: BC in Chapel Hill

Read for Tuesday: Protest case before the Supreme Court; Prom controversy

Week 11: March 30, April 1

Tuesday: Freedom of religion issues and tensions | Litigate CLS v. Martinez

Thursday: Freedom of Information Act, Gathering Information, Sunshine and Access

FOIA Sunshine and Access

Read for Tuesday: 1. Madison's "Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments"; 2. Jefferson's Virginia Bill for Religious Freedom in Virginia; 3. John F. Kennedy's Address to Greater Houston Ministerial Association

Read: Georgia Sunshine Laws; Freedom of Information Act | How to File a FOIA Request | How to use FOIA (.pdf download) | Study on FOIA exemptions (.pdf download)

Surf: Searching public records

Due Monday, March 29: Wandering Rocks blog post

Week 12: April 6, 8 Resistance & Represssion in the Age of Intellectual Property

Sample law paper bibliography (need at least 5 peer-reviewed or refereed law review/journal articles)

Read for Tuesday: McCleod, Foreward, Introduction, Chapter 1

Read for Thursday: McCleod, Chapters 2, 3; BC's column on "orphan" works

Week 13: April 13, 15

60 Minutes of Freedom: Practice run Tuesday in Laughlin 113, the real deal on Thursday, Spruill ballroom, 11am.

60 Minutes of Freedom: April 15, 11-noon, Spruill ballroom

Due Tuesday, April 13: Second case abstract/legal brief. No outside sources allowed; no Googling. Typed up, printed out and turned in, with honor pledge (no email).

Week 14: April 20, 22

McLeod, IP and culture | Post 60 Minutes of Freedom wrap

Read: McCleod, Chapters 2-3 (Tuesday); 4,5 (Thursday); op-ed on judicial activism
Week 15: April 27, 29

McLeod, conclusion | wrapping up

Graduation: May 8

Final Exams due Monday, May 3, 5pm, in my office or in my mail slot in the COM office

McLeod, chapter 6, afterword, epilogue (Tuesday

pepp patty

keep your eyes on the prize!

Course Description: Freedom of Expression® (HON 251) examines the origins and uniqueness historically of the First Amendment, the evolution in interpretations of its freedoms over time, and the contemporary challenges to one of the United States’ most basic laws. These challenges include technological change, a seemingly endless war, religious influence in the political sphere, and, as Neil Postman persuasively argued, the ignorance that results from a society’s members “amusing ourselves to death.”

Course Purpose & Objectives: By the end of this course, my goal is for students to demonstrate an understanding and appreciation of the:

  • First Amendment and its role in society
  • legal and philosophical principles underlying the freedom of expression
  • scope and applicability of the First Amendment "free speech" clause, including freedom of expression on the Internet
  • lawful limits on freedom of expression
  • tensions in society, law and policy that challenge the First Amendment’s vitality
  • importance of research for adding new knowledge, and an ability to employ a variety of research techniques for analysis and interpretation

What you will need (required):

  • Kembrew McLeod, Freedom of Expression®: Overzealous Copyright Bozos and Other Enemies of Creativity (Doubleday, 2005)
  • Anthony Lewis, Freedom for the Thought We Hate: A Biography of the First Amendment (Basic Books, 2007)
  • Richard A. Parker (ed.), Free Speech on Trial (U. of Alabama Press, 2003)
  • What you may want (recommended but not required):

  • Black’s Law Dictionary
  • Christianity and American Democracy, Hugh Heclo
  • Freedom of Speech in the United States, Thomas L. Tedford & Dale A. Herbeck
  • Free Speech on Trial: Communication Perspectives on Landmark Supreme Court Decisions, Richard A. Parker (ed.)
  • Religious Freedom and the Constitution, Christopher Eisgruber & Lawrence G. Sager
  • Restoring Free Speech and Liberty on Campus, Donald Alexander Brown
  • Taking on the Pledge of Allegiance, Ronald Bishop

      Stuff you need to know:

      Professor: Dr. Brian Carroll
      Office: Laughlin Hall 100
      Office phone: 368.6944 (anytime)
      Home page:
      Blog: Wandering Rocks


      • Attendance: Attendance is a part of your grade. Be here every day on time, just as you would for a job, surgery or even a haircut. Everyone gets one unexcused absence >> no questions asked. Stuff happens. After that, unexcused absences will result in deductions from the "professionalism and participation" portion of your grade -- one point for each unexcused absence and/or lateness to class. What is excused is at the instructor's discretion, so you are best served by discussing situations and extraordinary circumstances prior to class whenever possible.

      • Distractions: This instructor is easily distracted. Ringing cell phones, therefore, will be lobbed out of the classroom window or run over with a car. Chatter during lecture will result in "professionalism and participation" point deductions, as will Facebooking, texting or any other Internet use during lecture or topic presentations, particularly after warnings have been issued. Do homework for other classes somewhere else. If you have to arrive late or leave early, clear it with the instructor beforehand whenever possible. Basic civility is what is expected. If you are at all unclear as to what “basic civility” implies, the professor would be more than happy to elaborate.

      • Preparation: Complete the assignments and be ready to tackle the activities of the day. Be ready to discuss and debate ideas, approaches and opinions.

      • Deadlines: When an in-class/in-lab assignment is due, it is due. This reflects the reality of many mass communication professions and work environments. Late in-class assignments will not be accepted unless permission for extension had been granted prior to deadline. Turn in whatever has been done by deadline. If we have out-of-class assignments, they will be accepted for up to one week after deadline, but late assignments will be penalized. Remember, penalized work is not necessarily the same as 0 (zero) points. Complete out-of-class assignments and learn from them, even if they are turned in late. After an assignment is more than a week late, however, that work is not eligible for points. Please note: If a student misses a class when an assignment is due and that student has a legitimate excuse, the professor will accept the late assignment without penalty at his discretion. The professor defines what constitutes a legitimate excuse and reserves the right not to grant full credit for assignments turned in under these circumstances.

      Academic integrity: Because academic integrity is the foundation of college life at Berry, academic dishonesty will result in automatic failure on the assignment in question. Academic dishonesty includes, but is not limited to, the following: cheating, unauthorized collaboration, plagiarism, fabrication, submitting the same work in multiple courses, and aiding and abetting. For definitions of these terms, please consult the instructor. Additionally, violators will be reported in writing to the Provost. Students who are sanctioned for violating the academic integrity policy forfeit the right to withdraw from the class with a grade of “W.”

      How you will be graded:

      Blog posts & reading quizzes 25%
      Abstracts 10%
      Professionalism, participation, attendance 10%
      First Amendment in Practice 25%
      Research project 30%

      To compute your final grade, add up your point totals, apply the appropriate percentages, then refer to the grading system summarized here:

      59 and below

      Definitions of the grades can be found in the Berry College Bulletin. “A” students will demonstrate an outstanding mastery of course material and will perform far above that required for credit in the course and far above that usually seen in the course. The “A” grade should be awarded sparingly and should identify student performance that is relatively unusual in the course.

      Berry Viking code
      Academic dishonesty in any form is unacceptable because any breach in academic integrity, however small, strikes destructively at the college’s life and work. The code is not just policy, it is foundational to the academic environment we enjoy and in which scholarship thrives. It is in force in this classroom.

      For the complete Viking Code, please consult the student handbook. In short, each student is “expected to recognize constituted authority, to abide by the ordinary rules of good conduct, to be truthful, to respect the rights of others.” The College’s mission, in part, commits to a community of integrity and justice. During an era when ethics are sometimes suspect, there seems no higher goal toward which students ought to strive than that of personal honor.

      Students with special needs
      If you have special needs of any kind, including learning disabilities, please let me know. Come discuss it with me. I want to make sure on the front end that we prevent any problems associated with the course. Martha Van Cise, director of the Academic Support Center, suggests: “Students with disabilities who believe that they may need accommodation in this course are encouraged to contact the Academic Support Center in Krannert Room 301 as soon as possible to ensure that such accommodations are implemented in a timely fashion.”

      Finally, I believe we are here for a good time, not a long time, so let’s have some fun!

  • bc home | berry home | email the prof

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