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First Amendment


  • Originally published 10/02/2017

    Flip-Flopping on Free Speech

    Jill Lepore

    The fight for the First Amendment, on campuses and football fields, from the sixties to today.

  • Originally published 02/13/2017

    Partisan at the pulpit: The Johnson amendment

    Randall Balmer

    Donald Trump’s promise to “totally destroy” the Johnson Amendment, delivered at the National Prayer Breakfast last week, is a totally bad idea, one that compromises the First Amendment.

  • Originally published 08/07/2013

    Student's simple stand made history in Abington v. Schempp

    He was a 16-year-old junior at Abington Senior High School, just making a statement, utterly unaware that he was about to make legal history.It was in 1956 that Ellery Schempp staged the classroom protest that yielded Abington v. Schempp, the landmark 1963 U.S. Supreme Court decision banning mandatory Bible readings in public schools.When Schempp's homeroom teacher read aloud 10 verses from the New Testament at the start of the day, as required by Pennsylvania law, Schempp brazenly paged through a Quran he had borrowed from a friend.When a student read the Lord's Prayer over the public address system, another daily requirement, Schempp refused to stand.Those actions earned him trips to the principal and guidance counselor, and triggered years of litigation over his belief that such readings were unconstitutional....

  • Originally published 04/03/2013

    State religion in NC?

    Raleigh, N.C. — A bill filed by Republican lawmakers would allow North Carolina to declare an official religion, in violation of the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Bill of Rights, and seeks to nullify any federal ruling against Christian prayer by public bodies statewide.The bill grew out of a federal lawsuit filed last month by the American Civil Liberties Union against the Rowan County Board of Commissioners. In the lawsuit, the ACLU says the board has opened 97 percent of its meetings since 2007 with explicitly Christian prayers.Overtly Christian prayers at government meetings are not rare in North Carolina. Since the Republican takeover in 2011, the state Senate chaplain has offered an explicitly Christian invocation virtually every day of session, despite the fact that some senators are not Christian....