The Marion B. Brechner First Amendment Project is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to current and contemporary issues affecting the First Amendment freedoms of speech, press, thought, assembly and petition.
The Project addresses these issues in multiple ways, including by:
- filing of legal briefs in court cases
- authoring scholarly articles in the nation’s top law journals
- publishing op-ed commentaries in mainstream newspapers
- presenting speeches and papers at conferences and symposia across the country
- providing commentary to news organization and media outlets
- testifying before legislative bodies regarding bills affecting First Amendment rights
Some examples of First Amendment issues on which the Project’s director has written, published and/or otherwise opined include:
- speech rights of public school students
- FCC regulation of broadcast indecency and profane language
- laws targeting violent video games
- federal obscenity prosecutions
- privacy rights of individuals confronted by the news media
- anonymous, defamatory expression on the Internet
- shield laws to protect journalists from revealing sources
The First Amendment Project’s greatest supporter and benefactor was Marion B. Brechner, who passed away in January 2011. Her son, Berl Brechner, maintains an active role with the College and is a true supporter of the Project. Read more about the life and legacy of Marion B. Brechner.
The First Amendment protects “the freedom of speech.” It does not protect only one side of the debate. It is does not protect only polite or politically correct speech. It does not protect only popular speech.
The core values of the Marion B. Brechner First Amendment Protect thus pivot on:
- Protecting a robust, uninhibited marketplace of ideas
- Defending the right to engage in controversial expression
- Educating the public about First Amendment freedoms
First Amendment Project Staff
Clay Calvert, Director
- Brechner Eminent Scholar in Mass Communication
- Professor, Department of Journalism, UF College of Journalism and Communications
- Professor of Law at the UF Levin College of Law
Clay Calvert, a member of the State Bar of California and the Bar of the Court of the United States Supreme Court, is Professor and Brechner Eminent Scholar in Mass Communication at the University of Florida in Gainesville. He previously served as the inaugural John & Ann Curley Professor of First Amendment Studies at The Pennsylvania State University in University Park, where he taught for thirteen years.
He has authored or co-authored more than 150 law journal articles, publishing in journals affiliated with the law schools at Columbia, Georgetown, Harvard, New York University, Notre Dame, Penn, UCLA, USC, Northwestern and Vanderbilt, as well as the universities of Florida, North Carolina, Texas and Virginia. Calvert is a frequent commentator in the national press, having been quoted The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, and USA Today and having authored or co-authored several dozen op-ed commentaries published in newspapers such as the Chicago Tribune, Sacramento Bee, San Francisco Chronicle, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Philadelphia Inquirer, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Christian Science Monitor.
He is co-author, along with Dan Kozlowski and Derigan Silver, of the market-leading undergraduate media law textbook, Mass Media Law (20th ed. McGraw-Hill 2018), and is author of the book Voyeur Nation: Media, Privacy, and Peering in Modern Culture (Westview Press, 2000/2004).
Calvert received his J.D. with Great Distinction in 1991 from the University of the Pacific’s McGeorge School of Law and then earned a Ph.D. in 1996 in Communication from Stanford University, where he also completed his undergraduate work with a B.A. in Communication in 1987.
Jasmine E. McNealy, Associate Director
- Associate Professor, Department of Telecommunication, UF College of Journalism and Communications
Dr. McNealy studies information, communication, and technology with a view toward influencing law and policy. Her research focuses on privacy, online media, and communities.
She holds a Ph.D. in Mass Communication with and emphasis in Media Law, and a J.D. from the University of Florida, and a Bachelor of Science degree in both. Journalism and Afro-American studies from the University of Wisconsin.