Why NYT v. Sullivan Matters More than Ever
Conservative politicians want to use libel laws to intimidate critics. One Supreme Court case stands in their way.
SOURCE: Washington Post
Cracking Stasi Puzzles is Key to Some Germans Finding the Truth
by Katja Hoyer
With an informant for every 90 citizens, the East German secret police left behind 16,000 sacks of shredded documents. Can information technology help reconstruct a record of what happens when a government commits to spying on its own citizens?
Law Prof. Joanna Schwartz on How the Police Became Untouchable
Policies that protect individual officers from civil liability, and departments from financial responsibility, have developed into a legal architecture of impunity for American police.
SOURCE: Religion Dispatches
For "Religious Freedom Day," Take Back the Term's Revolutionary Meaning
The religious right has hijacked the story of Virginia's Statute for Religious Freedom, obscuring the law's intention to prevent the domination of the religious preferences of the powerful.
SOURCE: The New Republic
Michael Kazin on J. Edgar Hoover, and Beverly Gage's Acclaimed Biography
by Michael Kazin
The signal contribution of Gage's book is not to examine Hoover's ideology or the details of his personal life, but to show how the FBI director built power and broad support, among even liberal Americans, for intrusive surveillance and repression of activists.
SOURCE: The China Project
The 1979 Formosa Incident Sparked Taiwan's Democracy Movement
by James Carter
An explainer of the wave of protests that began on December 10, 1979, that disrupted the one-party authoritarian rule of the Kuomintang in Taiwan.
Beverly Gage: When J. Edgar Hoover Tried to Destroy the Left, Liberals Helped Him
by Michael Brenes
Liberals enamored of Hoover's performance professionalism and efficiency, plus his fervent anticommunism, allowed many powerful liberals to remain on board with the repression his FBI unleashed against the political left.
SOURCE: The New Yorker
Beverly Gage on J. Edgar Hoover—Enemy of Democracy
Beverly Gage's book explains the FBI director's longevity not to dark arts of blackmail and secret-keeping, but to a more straightforward and disturbing explanation: many Americans shared Hoover's reactionary views and liked how he cracked down on dissenters.
Are Americans Ready for their Neighbors to Turn Them In?
From abortion to classroom teaching, state laws are increasingly incentivizing people to report other members of the community for violating new restrictions. Experts say this has worked in the past to erode trust and enable further authoritarianism.
SOURCE: New York Times
Released FBI File Shows Extent of Government Spying on Aretha Franklin
Beverly Gage says the surveillance was par for the course under J. Edgar Hoover's leadership, when Black figures with any suspected links to civil rights or militant politics was a target.
Will Biden Finally Pardon Callie House?
Callie House led an organization that sought pensions as a form of reparation and relief for formerly enslaved people. In 1917 unfriendly federal officials prosecuted her for mail fraud for circulating her organization's materials.
SOURCE: ACLU Florida
ACLU, Educators and Students File to Block Florida's "Stop WOKE" Law
" The bill specifically targets and places vague restrictions on educators’ ability to teach and discuss concepts pertaining to systemic inequalities, including the legacy of slavery in America, white privilege, and anti-racism."
SOURCE: Los Angeles Review of Books
Review: David Sehat on the Struggle to Make a Secular America
by Johann N. Neem
In "This Earthly Frame," Sehat examines the way that activists in the 20th Century pushed the nation from an implicit privileging of Protestant Christianity toward a posture of "negative secularism" that separated the functions of government from doctrinal belief, and the transience of that victory.
SOURCE: Made By History at the Washington Post
The Coming Pregnancy Surveillance State Will Bring "Homeland Security" to Women's Bodies
by Natalie Fixmer-Oraiz
The Dobbs ruling puts longstanding racist and nationalist beliefs that white women's reproductive labor is the price of their citizenship, and punitive controls on women of color, on collision course with the modern capacity of digital surveillance, threatening the criminalization of any miscarried pregnancy.
SOURCE: Boston Globe
The Demise of the Church-State Wall
by Steven V. Mazie
A political scientist and court correspondent says that SCOTUS has adopted a radical version of the "free exercise" clause of the First Amendment that makes a mockery of the historic separation of religious and political authority.
SOURCE: Religion News Service
Influence of David Barton Resurfaces in New Attacks on Church-State Separation
Since the early 1990s ascendancy of the Christian Right, the movement has drawn on David Barton's assertion that the separation of church and state is bogus. A new generation of conservatives is embracing this line on the campaign trail today.
SOURCE: PEN America
Event: Entangled Histories of Free Speech and Civil Rights
A panel including historian Tara Y. White will discuss the connection between First Amendment rights and the struggle for Black freedom.
Mary Ziegler: Right Won't Stop at Roe
Law professor Mary Ziegler explains how the anti-abortion movement upended the GOP establishment and helped push the courts to the right. Her new book is Dollars for Life.
We're Facing the Results of the Dems' Retreat from Secularism
by Jacques Berlinerblau
By trying to match the Republicans on bringing Christian faith into policy, Democrats abandoned the difficult but necessary struggles to define how a diverse society protects religious freedom for majority and minority faiths – and those of no faith.
SOURCE: PEN America
Virtual Event: Scholars Discuss Free Speech at American Writers Museum May 18
This event looks at historical moments where strident expressions of political thought, widely perceived to be anti-democratic in their own place and time, provoked new strictures.
- Graduate Student Strikes Fight Back Against Decades of Austerity, Seek to Revive Opportunity
- When Right Wingers Struggle with Defining "Woke" it Shows they Oppose Pursuing Equality
- Strangelove on the Square: Secret USAF Films Showed Airmen What to Expect if Nuclear War Broke Out
- The Women of the Montgomery Bus Boycott
- US House "Parental Rights" Bill Threatens to Take Book Banning Nationwide
- New Books Force Consideration of Reconstruction's End from Black Perspective
- Excerpt: How Apartheid South Africa Tried to Create a Libertarian Utopia
- Historian's Book on 1970s NBA Shows Racial Politics around Basketball Have Always Been Ugly
- Kendi: "Anti-woke" Part of Backlash Against Antiracist Protest Movements
- Monica Muñoz Martinez Honored for Truth-Telling in Texas History