The First Amendment Meets the Internet: Struggle Trying to Distinguish Wide-Open, Often Vitriolic, Commentary on the Internet

March 21, 2012, 5:30 PM

The program is based on four recent criminal prosecutions around the country where the federal government has alleged that pure speech posted on the Internet constitutes a crime. As you will see, the relevant First Amendment doctrines were developed in an earlier era and pose classic 'square-peg/round-hole' problems for the Government in its recent cases, as well as inevitable trade-offs between the Government's need to investigate and an internet user's legitimate expectation of anonymity (itself a recognized First Amendment value). The program will ask you, the members of the Inn, to act as the finders of fact and law after the presentation of each case - but be prepared to explain why.

Venue: Ernst & Young
5 Times Square
New York, NY 10036

Key case citations 

  • US v. Bagdasarian, 652 F.3d 1113 (9th Cir. 2011)
  • US v. Kelner, 534 F.2d 1020 (2d Cir. 1976)
  • NY Times v. US, 403 U.S. 713 (1971)
  • Citizens United v. Fed Elections Comm., 130 S.Ct. 876 (2010)
  • Watts v. US, 394 U.S. 705 (1969)
  • Brandenburg v. Ohio, 395 U.S. 444 (1969).

Materials specific to our scenarios

  • In re Grand Jury Subpoena, (D.D.C. Feb. 23, 2012) (Lamberth, J.)
  • US v. Cassidy, (D. Md. Dec. 15, 2011), and criminal complaint dated Feb. 2, 2011
  • US v. Morton (E.D. Va.), criminal information filed Feb. 9, 2012 and stipulated facts re guilty pleas, filed Feb. 9, 2012
  • US v. Turner (N.D. Ill.), indictment filed June 22, 2009

Program Material Downloads