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September 16, 2021 CONSTITUTION DAY 2021

How Free is the Free Press?

Building on longstanding ABA commitment to the First Amendment, highlighted most recently by former ABA President Bob Carlson and the 2019 ABA Law Day, which focused on the theme “Free Speech, Free Press, Free Society,” this Constitution Day celebration focuses on current challenges and threats to the freedom of the press in the United States, including the arrest and harassment of reporters covering demonstrations, both Black Lives Matter and other protests; the concerns raised by now two Supreme Court Justices about the need to reform libel law and overrule the landmark 1964 decision of New York Times v. Sullivan; harassment of journalists, especially women and minority journalists online; and other issues reporters have encountered, including surveillance by the federal government, denial of access to courts during the 16 months of courthouse closures for the pandemic, and denial of access to public records and hearings and trials.

Welcome and Introduction



  • Frank D. LoMonte, Director, Brechner Center for Freedom of Information, University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications; Co-Chair, Free Speech and Free Press Committee, ABA Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice

Joint Sponsors: American University Washington College of LawBrechner Center for Freedom of Information

Co-Sponsors: ABA Division for Public EducationABA Standing Committee on Public EducationABA Standing Committee on the Law Library of Congress


A Racial Reckoning, Reporter Arrests, and Court Access: The Inside Story of a Minneapolis Media Lawyer

Orange is the News Blackout: The First Amendment and Media Access to Jails

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