11/9: Philippa Strum on “Speaking Freely: Whitney v. California and American Speech Law”

The United States has the world’s most permissive speech laws. That wasn’t always true, however, and leading constitutional scholar Philippa Strum explains how and why it happened. The story involves both a radical descendent of Mayflower Pilgrims named Anita Whitney and Supreme Court Justice Louis Dembitz Brandeis. Strum also explores the question of whether such a liberal approach to speech is the right policy in today’s world, given cyberbullying, terrorist recruitment on the Internet, sexting, and the absence of gatekeepers in the world of the Web.

Philippa Strum is Professor Emerita of the City University of New York and a Senior Scholar at the Wilson Center, where she directed the Division of U.S. Studies. Her numerous prize-winning volumes include Presidential Power and American Democracy (l972), The Supreme Court and “Political Questions”(l974), Louis Dembitz Brandeis: Justice for the People (1984), When the Nazis Came to Skokie: Freedom for the Speech We Hate (1999), Women in the Barracks: The VMI Case and Women’s Rights (2002), and Mendez v. Westminster: School Desegregation and Mexican-American Rights (2010). She is the recipient of honors including awards from the Guggenheim Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, the American Philosophical Society, and the Supreme Court Historical Society.

The seminar meets at 4:00 p.m. at the Woodrow Wilson Center, 6th Floor Moynihan Board Room, Ronald Reagan Building, Federal Triangle Metro Stop.

The seminar is sponsored jointly by the National History Center of the American Historical Association and the Wilson Center. It meets weekly during the academic year. See www.nationalhistorycenter.org for the schedule, speakers, topics, and dates as well as webcasts and podcasts. The seminar thanks the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations and the George Washington University History Department for their support.  Reservations requested because of limited seating.