Freedom of Speech and False Statements


United States v. Alvarez

The Court agreed on Monday, October 17 to hear arguments in a case addressing whether patently false statements are protected by the Freedom of Speech clause of the First Amendment. Specifically, the Court will examine the Stolen Valor Act of 2005, which makes it a crime for an individual to falsely claim that they have received a military decoration. The case is particularly noteworthy because, while the Court has previously tolerated laws forbidding libel and other forms of false statements in specific contexts, it remains unclear whether false statements, in general, can be prohibited.

The case is No. 11-210, United States v. Alvarez

SCOTUS Audio+Transcripts Now Available


Douglas v. Independent Living Center of Southern California

The audio + transcripts are now available for the cases argued in the session beginning October 3, 2011. The expanded player offers additional functions such as search, speaker locations in the time line, and clip creation.

We have identified transcription errors but we have not corrected the transcripts. You may wish to send us details on the errors. We will update the transcripts at a later date.

Review: Five Chiefs by John Paul Stevens

John Paul Stevens’ tenure as an associate justice of the Supreme Court lasted 34 years, 6 months, and 11 days, the capstone of a career that included time as a law clerk to Supreme Court justice Wiley Rutledge, judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, and private attorney. Throughout his lifetime of legal service, Stevens interacted with some of the most respected and prolific legal minds in modern American history, including five Chief Justices of the United States.

Five Chiefs, as the name implies, relays Stevens’ experiences with these jurists. But these anecdotes about Chief Justices Fred Vinson, Earl Warren, Warren Burger, William Rehnquist, and John Roberts are merely scenery, serving as a (successful) motif by which Stevens conveys the origins and evolution of his own jurisprudence. And this is what makes Stevens’ newly released memoir so fascinating: It offers an extraordinary glimpse into the mind of a man who once wielded one-ninth of the legal might of America’s highest court.

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Troy Davis

Prof. Carolyn Shapiro comments on the role the Court played in the controversial execution of Troy Davis on September 21.

Davis was convicted for the 1989 murder a police officer in Savannah, Georgia, based largely on eye witness testimony. Many of these witnesses, however, recanted their testimony. After a series of hearings and appeals, including an order by the Court directing a federal district court to review the case, Davis was set to be executed.

A last minute petition for stay of execution to the Supreme Court drew intense public interest, especially in social media. The Court, however, declined to intervene a second time.