About the Project

The Marion B. Brechner First Amendment Project is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to current and contemporary issues affecting the First Amendment freedoms of speech, press, thought, assembly and petition.

The Project addresses these issues in multiple ways, including by:

  1. filing of legal briefs in court cases
  2. authoring scholarly articles in the nation’s top law journals
  3. publishing op-ed commentaries in mainstream newspapers
  4. presenting speeches and papers at conferences and symposia across the country
  5. providing commentary to news organization and media outlets
  6. testifying before legislative bodies regarding bills affecting First Amendment rights

Some examples of First Amendment issues on which the Project’s director has written, published and/or otherwise opined include:

The First Amendment Project's greatest supporter and benefactor was Marion B. Brechner, who passed away in January 2011. Her son, Berl Brechner, maintains an active role with the College and is a true supporter of the Project. Read more about the life and legacy of Marion B. Brechner.

Core Values

The First Amendment protects “the freedom of speech.” It does not protect only one side of the debate. It is does not protect only polite or politically correct speech. It does not protect only popular speech.

The core values of the Marion B. Brechner First Amendment Protect thus pivot on:

Clay Calvert
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The First Amendment

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Recent Publications

Recent briefs

In 2014, the Marion B. Brechner First Amendment Project, along with the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression at the University of Virginia, filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the United States Supreme Court in the true threats case of Elonis v. United States.

In June 2013, the Marion B. Brechner First Amendment Project, along with the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression at the University of Virginia, filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the United States Supreme Court in the political speech case of Hunter v. Virginia State Bar.

In November 2011, the Marion B. Brechner First Amendment Project, along with the Pennsylvania Center for the First Amendment, filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the United States Supreme Court in the broadcast indecency case of FCC v. Fox Television Stations.

In October 2011, the Marion B. Brechner First Amendment Project filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the United States Supreme Court in the student speech case of Kowalski v. Berkeley County Schools.

In September 2010, the Marion B. Brechner First Amendment Project, along with the Pennsylvania Center for the First Amendment, filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the United States Supreme Court in the violent video game case of Schwarzenegger v. Entertainment Merchants Association.

In July 2010, the Marion B. Brechner First Amendment Project, along with Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression at the University of Virginia, the National Coalition Against Censorship and the Pennsylvania Center of the First Amendment at Pennsylvania State University, filed a friend-of-the-court brief in a free speech case centering on military funeral protests by members of the Westboro Baptist Church.  The case is Snyder v. Phelps.

In March 2010, the Marion B. Brechner First Amendment Project, along with Student Press Law Center and the Pennsylvania Center of the First Amendment, filed a friend-of-the-court brief in a student speech case that tests the ability of school officials to censor online student speech that is created off campus.  The case is J.S. v. Blue Mountain School District.

In early 2010, the Marion B. Brechner Project filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the United States Supreme Court in a case centering on the right of citizens to collect signatures for ballot petitions. The case is called Citizens for Police Accountability Political Committee v. Browning, No. 09-861.

Recent law journal articles

"The Future of Privacy and the Press." Communication Law & Policy, 19 (1), 119 - 128 (2014).

“A Familial Privacy Right Over Death Images: Critiquing the Internet-Propelled Emergence of a Nascent Constitutional Right that Preserves Happy Memories and Emotions.” Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly, 40 (3), 475 – 523 (2013).

“To Defer or Not to Defer? Deference and Its Differential Impact on First Amendment Rights Under the Roberts Court.” Case Western Reserve Law Review, 63 (1), 13 – 55 (2012).

"Past Bad Speakers, Performance Bonds & Unfree Speech: Lawfully Incentivizing 'Good' Speech or Unlawfully Intruding on the First Amendment?" Harvard Journal of Sports & Entertainment Law, 3 (2), 245 - 276.

"Big Censorship in the Big House—A Quarter-Century After Turner v. Safley: Muting Movies, Music & Books Behind Bars." Northwestern Journal of Law & Social Policy, 7 (2), 257 - 300 (2012).

“Framing a Semantic Hot-News Quagmire in Barclays Capital v. Theflyonthewall.com: Of Missed Opportunities and Unresolved First Amendment Issues.” Virginia Journal of Law & Technology, 17 (1), 50 – 74 (2012).

“Defining 'Public Concern' After Snyder v. Phelps: A Pliable Standard Mingles With News Media Complicity.” Villanova Sports & Entertainment Law Journal, 19 (1), 39 – 71 (2012).

“Dying for Privacy: Pitting Public Access Against Familial Interests in the Era of the Internet.”  Northwestern University Law Review Colloquy, 105, 18-30 (2010).

"Judicial Erosion of Protection for Defendants in Obscenity Prosecutions?: When Courts Say, Literally, Enough is Enough and When Internet Availability Does Not Mean Acceptance."  Harvard Journal of Sports & Entertainment Law, 1 (1), 7-37 (2010).

“Contrasting Concurrences of Clarence Thomas: Deploying Originalism and Paternalism in Commercial and Student Speech Cases.”  Georgia State University Law Review, 26 (2), 321-359 (2010).

"All the News That's Fit to Own: Hot News on the Internet and the Commodification of Digital Culture."  Wake Forest Intellectual Property Law Journal, 10 (1), 1-29 (2009).

“Sex, Cell Phones, Privacy, and the First Amendment: When Children Become Child Pornographers and the Lolita Effect Undermines the Law” CommLaw Conspectus, 18, 1-65 (2009).

“Tinker’s Midlife Crisis: Tattered and Transgressed But Still Standing” American University Law Review, 58, 1167-1191 (2009).

Recent op-ed commentaries

"Supreme Court Should Decide Whether Rap Lyrics Are Free Speech" (Huffington Post, Apr. 3, 2014).

"Blackout Rules Keeping Pro Football Fans in the Dark" (Gainesville Sun, Jan. 11, 2014, at 7A).

“Students Can Speak Up, Too” (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Feb. 11, 2010).

About the Director

Clay Calvert

Clay Calvert, a member of the State Bar of California and the Bar of the Court of the United States Supreme Court, is Professor and Brechner Eminent Scholar in Mass Communication at the University of Florida in Gainesville. He previously served as the inaugural John & Ann Curley Professor of First Amendment Studies at The Pennsylvania State University in University Park, where he taught for thirteen years.

He has authored or co-authored more than 120 law journal articles, publishing in journals affiliated with the law schools at Columbia, Georgetown, Harvard, New York University, Notre Dame, UCLA, USC, Northwestern and Vanderbilt, as well as the universities of Florida, North Carolina, Texas and Virginia. Calvert is a frequent commentator in the national press, having been quoted The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, and USA Today and having authored or co-authored several dozen op-ed commentaries published in newspapers such as the Chicago Tribune, Sacramento Bee, San Francisco Chronicle, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Philadelphia Inquirer, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Christian Science Monitor.

He is co-author, along with Don R. Pember, of the market-leading undergraduate media law textbook, Mass Media Law (18th ed. McGraw-Hill 2013), and is author of the book Voyeur Nation: Media, Privacy, and Peering in Modern Culture (Westview Press, 2000/2004).

Calvert received his J.D. with Great Distinction in 1991 from the University of the Pacific’s McGeorge School of Law and then earned a Ph.D. in 1996 in Communication from Stanford University, where he also completed his undergraduate work with a B.A. in Communication in 1987.

Calvert's Faculty Profile
E-mail: ccalvert@jou.ufl.edu

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Contact

Professor Clay Calvert
2060 Weimer Hall
P.O. Box 118400
Gainesville, FL 32611
Telephone: (352) 273-1096
E-mail: ccalvert@jou.ufl.edu

Donate

If you would like to make a financial contribution (no matter how small or large) to support the work of the Marion B. Brechner First Amendment Project, please kindly contact Margaret Gaylord, director of development, at mgaylord@jou.ufl.edu or 352-273-0193. Thanks very much for your consideration of a possible donation.

The Marion B. Brechner First Amendment Project, which was organized in 2010, is the new evolution and iteration of what was previously known as the Marion Brechner Citizen Access Project. The MBCAP focused narrowly and exclusively on questions of access to information. It was disbanded in 2010. You can find its content at www.citizenaccess.org.