Wake Forest Law Review sponsors inaugural Fall Symposium

The Wake Forest School of Law, the Provost’s Office, and Women’s & Gender Studies program will host “Equality-based Perspectives on the Free Speech Norm: 21st Century Considerations” from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday, Oct. 31, in the Worrell Professional Center, Room 1309.

Sponsored by the Wake Forest Law Review, the Symposium is designed as an international and interdisciplinary discussion of how a commitment to free speech should intersect with a commitment to equality, diversity and multiculturalism under the Constitution.

The Symposium’s keynote speaker is Professor Kathleen Mahoney, who will present “The Free Speech Debate: Whatever Happened to the Equal Rights Perspective?” Mahoney, who is a professor at the University of Calgary, has helped secure several landmark women’s rights and speech cases in the Supreme Court of Canada, including the case banning pornography on equality grounds.

The Symposium also includes two panel discussions: “Democracy & the Limits of Speech” and “Teaching Hate?: Confronting Assaultive Speech in Schools & Education.”

The events are open to the Wake Forest community.

“I’m truly excited about this Symposium and its gathering of some international, interdisciplinary, and very accomplished folks at Wake Forest,” said Shannon Gilreath (JD ’02), Wake Forest Fellow for the Interdisciplinary Study of Law, professor for interdisciplinary study at the Law School and director of the event. “A conversation of this type is particularly timely and will be especially relevant to students and scholars of constitutional law and the First Amendment.” Q & A with Shannon Gilreath »

The catalyst for the Symposium, Harper v. Poway Unified School District (9th Circuit Court of Appeals, upholding a ban on anti-identity speech in schools on equality grounds), marks the first time in recent history that a court has embraced a decidedly victim-centered approach to interpreting the First Amendment. The case, which dealt specifically with homophobic speech in public schools, is an opportunity, especially in light of recent upsurges in racism, sexism, and homophobia, for a reconsideration of the harms of anti-identity, anti-equality speech and what might be done about the problems.

The Symposium features a lineup of U.S. and international scholars, well-known as inventive and imaginative thinkers in the areas of constitutional law and minority rights.

More info about the Symposium and its participants can be found at the Law Review’s website.