Guns vs. Speech: Does the 2nd Amendment Threaten the 1st
Over the last year, peaceful demonstrators across the United States have been met by armed individuals and self-proclaimed “militias.” Between January 2020 and June 2021, at least 560 protests included the presence of armed individuals other than law enforcement. One out of six of those demonstrations reported violent or destructive activity, according to research from Everytown for Gun Safety.
Can speech be free when armed counter-protesters mix with unarmed protesters? What does this tension between the freedoms protected by our Constitution’s First and Second Amendments bode for democracy? And should state laws regarding the presence of guns at polling places be strengthened?
To answer these questions — and look at what this looming conflict may mean in the Supreme Court — Brennan Center Fellow Eric Ruben (SMU Dedman School of Law) joins a group of prominent legal scholars: Mary Anne Franks (University of Miami School of Law), Darrell Miller (Duke University School of Law), Eugene Volokh (UCLA School of Law), and Timothy Zick (William & Mary Law School).
This event is produced in partnership with the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law.
Dr. Mary Anne Franks, Professor of Law and Michael R. Klein Distinguished Scholar Chair, University of Miami School of Law; Author of The Cult of the Constitution: Our Deadly Devotion to Guns and Free Speech
Mary Anne Franks, Professor of Law and Michael R. Klein Distinguished Scholar Chair, is a nationally and internationally recognized expert on the intersection of civil rights and technology. She teaches classes on criminal law, criminal procedure, First Amendment law, Second Amendment law, family law, and law and technology. Professor Franks is also an Affiliated Faculty member of the University of Miami Department of Philosophy and an Affiliate Fellow of the Yale Law School Information Society Project (ISP).
Dr. Franks is the author of the award-winning book, The Cult of the Constitution: Our Deadly Devotion to Guns and Free Speech (Stanford Press, 2019). In 2020, she was awarded a grant from the Knight Foundation to support research for her second book, Fearless Speech (expected 2022). Her scholarship has appeared in the Harvard Law Review, the California Law Review, and UCLA Law Review, among others. Dr. Franks has also authored numerous articles for the popular press, including the New York Times, the Atlantic, the Washington Post, and Newsweek. She has delivered more than a hundred lectures to a range of audiences around the world, including law schools, domestic violence organizations, law firms, and tech companies. She was named a member of the American Law Institute in October 2018.
Dr. Franks is the President and Legislative & Tech Policy Director of the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative, a nonprofit organization dedicated to combating online abuse and discrimination. In 2013, she drafted the first model criminal statute on nonconsensual pornography (sometimes referred to as “revenge porn”), which has served as the template for multiple state laws and for pending federal legislation on the issue. She also served as the reporter for the Uniform Law Commission’s 2018 Uniform Civil Remedies for the Unauthorized Disclosure of Intimate Images Act. Dr. Franks is a principal investigator for a 2020 National Science Foundation grant project, COVID-19 and sexual cyberviolence: Impact on general users and vulnerable populations. She regularly advises legislators, tech industry leaders, and advocacy organizations on issues relating to online privacy, sexual exploitation, extortion, harassment, and threats.
Dr. Franks holds a J.D. from Harvard Law School as well as a doctorate and a master’s degree from Oxford University, where she studied as a Rhodes Scholar. She previously taught at the University of Chicago Law School as a Bigelow Fellow and Lecturer in Law and at Harvard University as a lecturer in social studies and philosophy.
Darrell A.H. Miller, Melvin G. Shimm Professor of Law, Duke University Law School; Author of The Positive Second Amendment: Rights, Regulation, and the Future of Heller
Darrell A. H. Miller writes and teaches in the areas of civil rights, constitutional law, civil procedure, state and local government law, and legal history. His scholarship on the Second and Thirteenth Amendments has been published in leading law reviews such as the Yale Law Journal, the University of Chicago Law Review, and the Columbia Law Review, and has been cited by the Supreme Court of the United States, the United States Courts of Appeals, the United States District Courts, and in congressional testimony and legal briefs. With Joseph Blocher, he’s the author of The Positive Second Amendment: Rights, Regulation, and the Future of Heller (Cambridge University Press, 2018).
Miller began his academic career at the University of Cincinnati College of Law, where he twice received the Goldman Award for Excellence in Teaching. Prior to joining the academy, Miller practiced complex and appellate litigation in Columbus, Ohio. He is a former clerk to Judge R. Guy Cole, Jr. of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.
Miller graduated cum laude from Harvard Law School and served as an editor of the Harvard Law Review. In addition to his law degree, Miller holds degrees from Oxford University, where he studied as a Marshall Scholar, and from Anderson University.
Eugene Volokh, Gary T. Schwartz Distinguished Professor of Law, UCLA Law; Founder and Coauthor of The Volokh Conspiracy, a leading legal blog
Eugene Volokh teaches First Amendment law and a First Amendment amicus brief clinic at UCLA School of Law, where he has also often taught copyright law, criminal law, tort law, and a seminar on firearms regulation policy.
Before coming to UCLA, he clerked for Justice Sandra Day O'Connor on the U.S. Supreme Court and for Judge Alex Kozinski on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
Volokh is the author of the textbooks The First Amendment and Related Statutes (6th ed. 2016), and Academic Legal Writing (5th ed. 2013), as well as over 90 law review articles. He is a member of The American Law Institute, a member of the American Heritage Dictionary Usage Panel, and the founder and coauthor of The Volokh Conspiracy, a leading legal blog. His law review articles have been cited by opinions in eight Supreme Court cases and several hundred court opinions in total, as well as several thousand scholarly articles.
Volokh worked for 12 years as a computer programmer. He graduated from UCLA with a B.S. in math-computer science at age 15, and has written many articles on computer software. Volokh was born in the USSR; his family emigrated to the U.S. when he was seven years old.
Tim Zick, John Marshall Professor of Government and Citizenship and William H. Cabell Research Professor of Law, William & Mary Law School
Professor Zick graduated summa cum laude from Indiana University and summa cum laude from Georgetown University Law Center, where he received the Francis E. Lucey, S.J. Award for graduating first in his class. While at Georgetown, Professor Zick was a Notes and Comments editor of the Georgetown Law Journal. Following law school, Professor Zick was an associate with the law firms of Williams and Connolly in Washington, D.C., where he assisted in the defense of congressional term limits in the Supreme Court of the United States, and Foley Hoag in Boston. He served as a law clerk to the Honorable Levin H. Campbell of the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. Professor Zick also served as a Trial Attorney in the Federal Programs Branch of the United States Department of Justice, where he defended the constitutionality and legality of a variety of federal programs and statutes.
Professor Zick has written on a variety of constitutional issues, with a special focus on the First Amendment. He is the author of four university press books on the subject: Speech Out of Doors: Preserving First Amendment Liberties in Public Places (Cambridge University Press, 2009); The Cosmopolitan First Amendment: Protecting Transborder Expressive and Religious Liberties (Cambridge University Press, 2013); The Dynamic Free Speech Clause: Free Speech and Its Relation to Other Constitutional Rights (Oxford University Press, 2018); and The First Amendment in the Trump Era (Oxford University Press, 2019).
Professor Zick has been a frequent commentator in local, national, and international media regarding public protests and other First Amendment concerns. He testified before Congress on the Occupy Wall Street protests and rights of free speech, assembly, and petition. Professor Zick has been the recipient of the Plumeri Award for Faculty Excellence in 2011, 2013 and 2017.
Moderator: Eric Ruben, Assistant Professor, SMU Dedman School of Law; Fellow, Brennan Center for Justice
Eric Ruben is an assistant professor of Law at SMU Dedman School of Law and a Brennan Center fellow. His work focuses on criminal law, legal ethics, and the Second Amendment. He is a frequent commentator on the right to keep and bear arms, publishing articles in the California Law Review (forthcoming), Duke Law Journal, Yale Law Journal Forum, and Journal of Law and Contemporary Problems, as well as popular outlets such as The Atlantic, New York Times, Vox, Jurist, and various legal blogs.
Prior to joining the faculty at SMU, Professor Ruben was a fellow at the Brennan Center and an adjunct professor at NYU School of Law, where he taught a course on weapons regulation. He also worked as a criminal defense attorney at Morvillo Abramowitz Grand Iason & Anello, P.C. Before that, he served as a law clerk for the Honorable Julio M. Fuentes of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Professor Ruben received his J.D. from NYU School of Law, where he was an articles editor for the NYU Law Review. He received his undergraduate degree from Dartmouth College.
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