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Free speech debated as Duquesne University hosts conference on First Amendment

November 9, 2018

Experts gathered in Pittsburgh on Sunday and Monday to discuss the past, present and future of the First Amendment and issues surrounding the basic freedoms it enshrines.

Hosted by Duquesne University, the Pittsburgh Foundation and Philadelphia’s National Constitution Center, the two-day conference touched on the role of the internet, artistic expression and free speech on college campuses.

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg appeared Sunday afternoon via video. Ginsburg opened with a line from the World War II-era song “Ballad for Americans” by Paul Robeson: “The right to speak my mind out - that’s America to me.”

“That right is the first guaranteed by our Bill of Rights: The right to think, speak and write as we believe without fear that Big Brother Government will retaliate against us because we don’t toe the party line,” she said.

Former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security and former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge and former CIA Director Gen. Michael Hayden spoke Monday morning on free speech versus national security.

Other speakers Monday included Dean P. Baquet, executive editor of The New York Times; Martin Baron, executive editor of The Washington Post; Pittsburgh Judge Thomas Hardiman, twice on President Trump’s shortlist for the Supreme Court; Richard Gingras, vice president of news at Google, and Mary Beth Tinker, a plaintiff in a landmark First Amendment case in the 1960s.

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and Valley News Dispatch Editor Luis Fabregas will speak on a panel discussing political correctness, fake news and the function of the editorial.

The event is being live-streamed by Duquesne University here.

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