mheins

About Marjorie Heins

Director, Free Expression Policy Project; attorney and author (New York, NY)

Untangling the Steven Salaita Case

By |2017-10-05T11:13:32-04:00August 6th, 2015|FEPP Articles|

By now, the controversy over University of Illinois Chancellor Phyllis Wise's August 1, 2014 decision to terminate the faculty appointment of Professor Steven Salaita has gone viral. A multitude of opinions have poured forth from blogs, news stories, editorials, and protest letters. The debate brings into focus the continuing problem of efforts by adamantly pro-Israel groups to suppress campus protests [...]

Untangling the Steven Salaita Case

By |2016-01-14T11:34:39-04:00September 5th, 2014|Blog|

By now, the controversy over University of Illinois Chancellor Phyllis Wise's August 1, 2014 decision to terminate the faculty appointment of Professor Steven Salaita has gone viral. A multitude of opinions have poured forth from blogs, news stories, editorials, and protest letters. The debate brings into focus the continuing problem of efforts by adamantly pro-Israel groups to suppress campus protests [...]

“What Ails the Agencies for Which They Work”: The Parlous State of Public Employee Free Speech Law

By |2016-01-14T11:37:16-04:00June 25th, 2014|Blog|

Commentary The Supreme Court last week took a small step toward limiting the damage done to the First Amendment by its controversial 2006 decision in Garcetti v. Ceballos. The Court in Garcetti denied First Amendment protection to a public employee (there, an assistant prosecutor) who had blown the whistle on police misconduct (in that case, fraudulent search warrants). The prosecutor was punished [...]

“What Ails the Agencies for Which They Work”: The Parlous State of Public Employee Free Speech Law

By |2017-10-05T11:03:58-04:00June 25th, 2014|FEPP Articles|

The Supreme Court last week took a small step toward limiting the damage done to the First Amendment by its controversial 2006 decision in Garcetti v. Ceballos. The Court in Garcetti denied First Amendment protection to a public employee (there, an assistant prosecutor) who had blown the whistle on police misconduct (in that case, fraudulent search warrants). The prosecutor was punished for [...]

Trading Academic Freedom for Foreign Markets

By |2017-10-12T14:07:00-04:00July 30th, 2012|FEPP Articles|

The current controversy over Yale University’s planned campus in Singapore is, at bottom, an argument over how much compromise on free speech is justified in exchange for the presumed benefits of locating branches of U.S. universities within authoritarian regimes. For although the champions of global ventures like Yale’s often claim that academic freedom will be available at the foreign outposts, [...]

The FCC and Indecency: The Supreme Court Decides Not to Decide

By |2017-10-18T16:48:02-04:00June 27th, 2012|FEPP Articles|

The potentially momentous case of Federal Communications Commission v. Fox Television ended on June 21 not with a bang but a whimper. True, a unanimous Supreme Court vacated the FCC's rulings that the "fleeting expletives" in two TV programs and the fleeting nudity in a third were "indecent." But it did so on the narrow ground that the agency violated [...]

Requiem For California’s Video Game Law

By |2017-10-10T12:26:53-04:00June 28th, 2011|FEPP Articles|

On June 27, 2011, the Supreme Court put an end to the attempts of state and local lawmakers to censor violent video games. Or at least, one hopes so. After two decades of political grandstanding, vaguely drafted laws, and unproven claims that “excessive” or “gratuitous” violence in this particular medium of entertainment has harmful effects on children and teenagers, Justice [...]

Fact Sheet on Sex and Censorship

By |2017-10-18T16:49:01-04:00April 1st, 2009|FEPP Articles|

"I know it when I see it" - This famous phrase, by former Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart,1 nicely summarizes the way that American law defines criminally punishable "obscenity." Yet the First Amendment to the Constitution states unequivocally that "Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech." So where did the exception to the First Amendment for "obscenity" [...]

Fact Sheets on Media Democracy

By |2017-10-23T14:30:11-04:00April 1st, 2009|FEPP Articles|

Most Americans today get their information and entertainment from the mass media - radio, television, newspapers, movies, and the Internet. The companies that own these mass media outlets thus have a powerful influence over our culture, our political system, and the ideas that inform public discourse. In the past half-century, media companies have grown into large conglomerates. With this growth [...]

Blanche DuBois Meets the Copyright Cops

By |2017-10-12T14:08:56-04:00September 22nd, 2008|FEPP Articles|

Blanche DuBois, the fragile, self-deluding southern belle in Tennessee Williams’s 1947 play, “A Streetcar Named Desire,” is one of the great tragic characters in American literature. But who owns Blanche, and can the holder of the copyright in “Streetcar” stop a creative artist from impersonating her, as the author and performer Mark Sam Rosenthal does in his recent performance piece, [...]

“Pall of Orthodoxy”: The Insidious Persistence of Loyalty Oaths

By |2017-10-05T11:14:27-04:00May 24th, 2008|FEPP Articles|

A recent incident in California has dramatized the insidious persistence of loyalty oaths for public employment in America. These oaths of allegiance originated in the days of King Henry VIII of England, when treasonous plots and religious wars threatened royal hegemony. They survive today as coerced rituals of political orthodoxy, and as threats to free thought. The latest casualty is [...]

Supreme Court Carves Out a New Exception to Student Free Speech

By |2017-10-10T12:29:24-04:00June 25th, 2007|FEPP Articles|

In a fractured decision, the Supreme Court today approved the punishment of a high school student for unfurling a banner with the nonsense message "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" across the street from his school while the U.S. Olympic Torch Relay passed by. Eighteen year-old Joseph Frederick insisted that his banner had no particular message except to assert his right to [...]

Of Threats, Intimidation, Sensitivity, and Free Speech: The Muhammad Cartoons

By |2017-12-04T15:51:57-04:00February 22nd, 2006|FEPP Articles|

Countless words have been spilled over the Danish newspaper JyullandsPosten's publication last September of 12 cartoons commenting on journalistic self-censorship and Islamic beliefs, including several that caricatured the prophet Muhammad. Surely, everything has been said by now. Yet the controversy rages on: Is this an easy case for freedom of expression? Should there be no acquiescence in demands by some Muslims, [...]

Not in Front of the Children: A Reply to the Critics

By |2017-07-05T16:52:30-04:00October 1st, 2001|Blog|

A number of critics have taxed Not in Front of the Children with being insufficiently sensitive to the concerns of parents about sexual explicitness and graphic violence in popular culture. It's true that the book doesn't decry all the gross and offensive entertainment that is available—there is already a vast literature on that subject. My purpose instead was to stimulate [...]

Helmsmanship in the Arts

By |2019-02-25T12:33:34-04:00August 7th, 2000|Blog|

    The Nation August 7-14, 2000 by Marjorie Heins Command Performance: An Actress in the Theater of Politics. By Jane Alexander. Public Affairs. 335 pp. $25. When Jane Alexander took charge of the National Endowment for the Arts in 1993, hopes were high among the cultural elite that the much-loved actress's glamour, status and theatrical skills would disarm the [...]