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Author: Edward Fitzpatrick

R.I. First Amendment case informs Trump/NFL clash

R.I. First Amendment case informs Trump/NFL clash

Edward Fitzpatrick, RWU director of media and public relations, a New England First Amendment Coalition and Common Cause Rhode Island board member, and a former Providence Journal columnist: The First Amendment has become a political football. Conservatives pile on when liberals try to shut down conservative speakers on campus, and liberals lash out when President Trump calls for sacking those who take a knee during NFL national anthems or dare to call him a bigot. So will Little Rhody come into…

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The value of a vibrant, free press

The value of a vibrant, free press

June Speakman, RWU political science professor and former president of the Barrington Town Council: During an on-camera forum with students in early October, Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo answered a question about the press by saying that local broadcast news was increasingly “like talk radio” and that the only daily statewide newspaper, The Providence Journal, couldn’t be relied on anymore because of dramatic decreases in the numbers of reporters working there. Her comments provoked a strong reaction by local media,…

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Is the Wall Between Church and State Crumbling?

Is the Wall Between Church and State Crumbling?

Diana Hassel, law professor and associate dean for academic affairs at the RWU School of Law: The First Amendment provides that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”  This clause has been understood to both keep religion out of government and to keep the government out of religion. That is, to erect a wall of separation between church in state. In recent years, this prohibition against the mingling of government and…

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Nation needs First Amendment refresher course

Nation needs First Amendment refresher course

Edward Fitzpatrick, RWU director of media and public relations, a New England First Amendment Coalition and Common Cause Rhode Island board member, and a former Providence Journal columnist: We, the people, don’t know the first thing about the First Amendment. Well, some of us do. But according to a new survey by the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Public Policy Center, 37 percent of Americans can’t name any of the five freedoms protected by the First Amendment – not a single one….

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Maintain freedom for the thought we hate, but speak up

Maintain freedom for the thought we hate, but speak up

Edward Fitzpatrick, RWU director of media and public relations, a New England First Amendment Coalition and Common Cause Rhode Island board member, and a former Providence Journal columnist: In 1929, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it was OK to deny citizenship to a pacifist from Hungary because she refused to swear that she’d take up arms to defend the United States. But Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. dissented. As a former lieutenant colonel who fought in the Civil War, Holmes…

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RI’s Conversion Therapy Ban Protects LGBTQ Youth and it’s Constitutional

RI’s Conversion Therapy Ban Protects LGBTQ Youth and it’s Constitutional

Jared A. Goldstein, RWU law professor who teaches constitutional law and former U.S. Department of Justice attorney: This year, Rhode Island joined eight other states in prohibiting “conversion therapy” — attempts to change a minor’s sexual orientation or gender identity through therapeutic techniques. Some organizations have argued that such bans might violate protections for freedom of speech and religion. As I testified before committees of the Rhode Island House and Senate, the ban protects Rhode Island youth from a harmful practice…

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Free press, open meetings laws survive State House standoff

Free press, open meetings laws survive State House standoff

Edward Fitzpatrick, RWU director of media and public relations, a New England First Amendment Coalition and Common Cause Rhode Island board member, and a former Providence Journal columnist: On June 30, an epic impasse between Rhode Island House and Senate leaders left the state’s $9.2-billion budget in limbo along with scores of other pieces of legislation. But amid the State House’s marble maze of power politics and clashing priorities, two bills managed to emerge at the last minute that will…

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Deadline pressure: Rhode Island should pass student press freedom law

Deadline pressure: Rhode Island should pass student press freedom law

Edward Fitzpatrick, RWU director of media and public relations, New England First Amendment Coalition board member and former Providence Journal columnist: Earlier this year, student journalists at a Kansas high school decided to write a profile about their newly hired principal. As they researched the principal’s background, they began unearthing questions about her educational credentials. For example, the young reporters found that she had received master’s and doctoral degrees from a school, Corllins University, that was not currently accredited and…

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First Amendment protects the right to give and to receive

First Amendment protects the right to give and to receive

Andrew Horwitz, professor of law, assistant dean for experiential education and director of the Criminal Defense Clinic at the RWU School of Law: Sadly, Cranston, R.I., has recently joined the ranks of those jurisdictions that have decided that the best way to deal with homelessness is to make it a crime. This national phenomenon, fostered in an environment of ignorance, fear and hatred, is nothing new, but it is suddenly becoming much more pervasive. Jurisdictions around the country have moved…

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Donald Trump vs. Roger Williams

Donald Trump vs. Roger Williams

David A. Logan, professor of law and former dean of the RWU School of Law, who has studied and written extensively about First Amendment issues: One of the many surprises of the 2016 presidential election was the support that the “religious right” or “evangelicals” gave to Donald Trump, a candidate with a well-documented and, indeed, audacious disrespect for traditional family values, especially the sanctity of marriage. Observers ascribe that support to Trump’s often-made promise to appoint conservatives to the Supreme…

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