War and the First Amendment

What are the protections of the First Amendment during a time of terrorism and two foreign conflicts? Though that question encompasses the most contemporary of controversies - wiretapping and WikiLeaks, state secrets and the placement of an Islamic center near Ground Zero - it also implicates the most traditional issues at the intersection between law and communication in a democratic society: the proper balance between freedom and security, the conflict between societal concerns and individual rights, and the importance of communication to democratic governance and individual fulfillment. The American experience during times of war or foreign threat - and corresponding attempts to determine the contours of the First Amendment -- has involved each of these issues. In this course, we will examine the intellectual rationales for dissent in a democratic society, canvass current issues, and then engage in an examination of several episodes: the passage and application of the Alien and Sedition Acts, the Civil War, World War I, World War II, the Cold War and Vietnam. Students will be encouraged to find similarities and differences between these episodes, in order to better understand: (1) the legal dimensions of America's history of dissent during wartime; (2) contemporary First Amendment controversies; (3) the role of free expression (and worship) in a democratic society; and (4) the purposes of communication itself.

Catalog Number: CONPUB 712
Practice Areas: Constitutional Law

Course History

Winter 2014
Title: War and the First Amendment
Faculty: DeSanto, Jason C. (courses  |  homepage)
Section: 1     Credits: 2.0
Capacity: 15     Actual: 15

Winter 2011
Title: War and the First Amendment
Faculty: DeSanto, Jason C. (courses  |  homepage)
Section: 1     Type: Lecture     Credits: 2.0
Capacity: 15     Actual: 13