• Michelle Marchante

Q&A with Tom Julin, First Amendment lawyer

This Q&A was published in FIU Student Media's PantherNOW. Image by Nicole Malanga.

Michelle Marchante/News Director

Student Media collected questions from students for a Q&A session with Tom Julin, First Amendment lawyer.

Q: Who has the right to say what and to what certain extent? Are there any limitations or is it like say whatever you want..that’s a talking point, the NFL and the First Amendment?

-Cristhian Placencia, broadcast journalism, senior

A: We have the right to say many things but we don’t have the right to defame others. We don’t have the right to say words that will incite violence. We don’t have the right to make true threats that people can believe to be carried out, physical threats that is. Often times, free speech is defined in terms of what we can’t do and I think that’s important to understand.

There are a few things you don’t have a right to do: defame people, publish obscenity… engage in fighting words, incite violence….you don’t have a right to threaten people, but beyond that, there are very little else you are restricted from saying.

[The athletes] are employees of the National Football League and right now the NFL does not have any limits on the players doing that, as far as I know, but the NFL is a private employer and is not subject to the same sort of restrictions that the First Amendment imposes upon on governmental agencies….so the NFL can take action against the players if they are allowed to do that under their contract and the players do have contracts that set up their rights there.

Q: What’s the difference between the legal rights of students in public and private universities?

-Kejsi Shuaipi, biology, sophomore

To read the full Q&A, please click here.


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