Constitutional Law Expert Sujit Choudhry Presents an Analysis of Freedom of Speech

Understanding Freedom of Speech 

It’s important to comprehend the legal parameters of the freedom of expression in particular jurisdictions. The right to freedom of speech is recognized as a human right under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Human Rights Law. Freedom of speech is basically the right to articulate opinions and ideas without fear of government retaliation or societal sanctions. The United States Constitution is a document understood best in context form. There have been 27 amendments to the United States Constitution since its inception as America’s founding political document. The First Amendment primarily focused on protecting political as well as religious expressions. In essence, this Amendment was designed to protect the people from government pressure. As late as 1798, the scope of free speech was still up in the air when President John Adams signed the Alien and Sedition Acts. Based on the First Amendment, Americans receive protections from exercising their spiritual beliefs freely without government restrictions. Free speech and a free press are protected under the Constitution on citizens assembling peacefully, but the confusion in this scenario arises when people don’t understand what each of those two things means.

Understanding Hate Speech 

Americans across the board are widely in support of the idea of freedom of expression and yet there is a growing movement that is promoting social justice as well hate speech restrictions. From a legal point of view, those ideas entirely contradict. In a broader sense, there is no constitutional prohibition distinctively addressing hate speech despite the fact that some states have enacted laws that target hate speech. Hate speech may fall under the category of “Fighting Words and Offensive Speech.” According to the First Amendment of the Supreme Court of 1942, the spoken or written works that would likely cause violence are not protected under the law. The general statement against a group that causes emotional distress under the umbrella of free speech cannot be restricted.

Free Speech and College Campuses 

In the United States College Campuses, free Speech is more volatile. It’s believed that colleges are strongholds of democratic deliberation and critical thinking. Moreover, in the last decade dramatic shift in mutual attitudes at institutions of higher learning has been noticed. College environment illustrates why free speech is important and some universities remain devoted to protecting the free exchange of ideas. Many institutions in America are in support of freedom of expression simply because student activism has indeed changed school policies. The concept of human nature apparently helps people to relatively narrow the range of thought and ideas. The only way to broaden these perspectives is to challenge them with competing ideas in favor of emotional growth along with human understanding. Therefore, free speech is fundamental.

Role of Social Media 

The transfer of information was a slow process for the most of America’s history. It’s evident that the transmission of information from coast to coast took weeks before the existence of radio, telegram, and telephones. In the last 50 years, the internet has turned the world into universally acknowledged social standards and people can interact with an increasingly different pool of acquaintances. However, social media exposes a variety of political opinions in real time by bringing new as well different ideas right on your front door. The United States Constitution lawfully protects your fundamental human rights by valuing free speech and advocating generation of new ideas. This promotes respect and creates the safest public atmosphere for all citizens transversely to every political stripe and social issue.

Who is Sujit Choudhry? 

Sujit Choudhry is the Director of the Center for Constitutional Transitions. He is the I. Michael Heyman Professor of Law California University, Berkeley school of Law, where he served as a dean. Choudhry is an expert in comparative constitutional law. Previously Choudhry was the Cecelia Goetz Professor of Law at New York University, and the Scholl Chair at the University of Toronto. Born in New Delhi in 1970, Sujit is an internationally recognized authority on comparative constitutional law and politics. He holds law degrees from Oxford, Toronto, as well from Harvard. Professor Sujit was a Rhodes Scholar in which he served as law clerk to Chief Justice Antonio Lamer of the Supreme Court of Canada. He combines a wide-ranging research agenda with in-depth field experience as an advisor to constitution building processes since he has lectured in over two dozen countries including Jordan, Nepal, Libya, South Africa, Egypt, Sri Lanka, Tunisia, and Ukraine. Professor Choudhry generates and mobilizes knowledge in support of constitution building by assembling as well as leading international network of experts to produce thematic research projects that offer evidence-based policy options to practitioners and agenda-setting research. Up to date, the Center for Constitutional Transitions has worked with more than fifty professionals from more than twenty-five countries whereby it partners with a global network of multilateral organizations such as think tanks and NGOs.

Professor Choudhry’s research addresses a wide range of issues in comparative constitutional law along with politics. He has written extensively on Canadian constitutional law. The fields he has concentrated more includes; constitutional design as an instrument to manage the change from violent conflict to diplomatic democratic politics, constitutional design in ethnically divided into societies, constitutional design in the context of transition from authoritarian to democratic rule, basic methodological questions in the study of comparative law, minority and group rights, official language policy, Bills of rights and proportionality. He also discussed issues related to federalism, decentralization, and secession. Professor Choudhry has published over 90 articles, book chapters, working papers, along with reports. Central to such an endeavor, the books include; “The Migration of Constitutional Ideas” (Cambridge, 2006), “Constitutional Design for Divided Societies: Integration or Accommodation?”(Oxford, 2008), “The Oxford Handbook of the Indian Constitution” (Oxford, 2016), and “The Constitution Making” (Edward Elgar, 2016). In collaboration with the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, Professor Sujit Choudhry is currently co-leading three global collaborative research projects. The projects are; “Dealing with Territorial Cleavages in Constitutional Transitions,” “Security Sector Reform and Constitutional Transitions in Emerging Democracies” and “Security Sector Oversight” which will yield a series of research and policy outputs to be published in 2017.

Interviews with Sujit Choudhry: 

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CEO/CFO

Daniel Budzinski Podcast

I-CONnect

Further Analysis Of Dakota Access Pipeline’s Environmental Impact Ordered

The Dakota Access Pipeline has been a major source of debate in the political and environmental spheres as of late. Now, a U.S. federal judge had ordered that debate to continue.

U.S. District Judge James Boasberg in Washington determined that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers did not analyze the possibility of a catastrophic oil spill to satisfactory levels. Such an oil spill could have negative effects on the livelihood of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, he claims. The judge found that federal permits issued for the pipeline violated the law by not thoroughly completing this investigation.

As of now, the pipeline has not been stalled again, but pending the results of an investigation, it could find itself dead in the water again. The Corps will be required to resume their investigation and will need to reconsider certain aspects of its past investigation.

People on both sides of the issue are disturbed by this outcome. Those against the pipeline are upset that the pipeline hasn’t been definitively stalled to allow the investigation to run its course. Those in support of the pipeline are worried that the findings in the Corps investigation could persuade the court to take further action to dismantle the pipeline once and for all, killing their considerable investment.

The Corps themselves believe they will be able to persuade the court to allow construction to continue while they address the discrepancies in their analysis. They believe that the errors found can be addressed quickly and will not require much time or effort to warrant a halt to construction.

Donald Trump famously pushed the pipeline through with an executive order shortly after he was sworn into office. However, that rush he placed upon the Corps has now been found to be unlawful and may not only endanger the pipeline but come back to bite him politically as well.

 

Cosby Case Called a Mistrial

Over the past few months, one of the most followed criminal cases in the world has been the case against Bill Cosby. Cosby, who is one of the most successful actors and comedians of all time, was charged with assaulting several women over the past twenty years. After several weeks of deliberations, and over a year of case preparation, the jury finally finished their discussions and announced a verdict (https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/17/arts/television/bill-cosby-trial-day-11.html?_r=0).

While many people were expecting that the jury would be able to come to a conclusion, it appears that the 12 person jury has ended in a deadlock and was not able to come up with a conclusion. After the jury spent 50 hours discussing the case, the 12 people ended up declaring a mistrial.

The result of the case was a surprise to many people, but the lack of a decision was expected by others. While there were several different women that came forth, the lack of physical evidence made it hard for people to convict. It is believed that this is the main reason why some jurors were not willing to vote guilty during the deliberations.

While Cosby is now considered a free man, it is not yet clear whether his legal troubles are behind him. The prosecuting attorneys have stated that they will likely pursue another case against him, which is possible given the fact that it was a mistrial and that he was not proven not guilty. However, while the prosecutors may want to pursue another case, there is a chance that they will not be given the opportunity to do so by the state given the amount of resources that go into high-profile criminal cases.

At this point, the criminal legal process is still up in the air, but Cosby could still face some civil charges and convictions. Even though there was a mistrial in the criminal court, he could still be found guilty in the civil court system. While this would not result in a criminal penalty, it could result in a very severe financial penalty that he will be required to pay to the plaintiffs in any civil court trial.

 

Trump’s Legal Team goes after James Comey

The Trump legal team has said that it has filed a complaint about James Comey, the former FBI director. The legal team led by his personal lawyer Marc Kasowitz said that this will be done through the department of justice office and will be addressed to the inspector general. Trump’s legal team are accusing the former FBI director of leaking a conversation with the president of the United States. He is also accused of leaking important memos regarding these conversations. This information was provided by a source close to the president’s legal team. This complaint will not only be sent to the department of justice, but it will also be sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Kasowitz said that the draft sent to the Senate committee would consist of other issues other than leaking conversations.

This comes after the president of the United States accused Comey of being a leaker and giving false statements about the president. Trump legal team had accused Comey of handing his memos to a close friend with the aim of circulating them widely. However, Comey did not deny these allegations and said that he had shared the memos. He said that he felt compelled to reveal the memos to the public and this is why he asked a friend to share the memos. The said friend then shared them with a reporter. However, Comey said that he refused to share the memos because of various reasons that he could not disclose.

Legal experts say that the former FBI director did not commit crime through the act of revealing the memos. Legal experts say that it would only have been a crime if the reports were classified which was not the case. However, legal experts also say that he violated norms that had existed for a long period and thus acted improperly. Mr. Trump’s legal team say that Comey had leaked the documents earlier as New York Times had referenced the memos a day earlier. They accuse him of revealing thees documents as a retaliatory move to the fallout with the president. However, it has also been proved by independent legal experts that Trump’s legal team was not honest and gave an inaccurate chronology.

Comey was threatened by a tweet by the president who said that there might be some recordings of the proceedings cautioning Comey to be selective about what he says. The memos that Comey shared were leaked to the media by a Columbia Law Professor.