Library hosts lecture on freedom of speech in honor of Constitution Day

Taylor Rollins

The University Library celebrated Constitution Day by hosting “Constitution Day: Celebrating X-Rated Movies, Profanity and the Controversial,” a lecture that discussed the history of the first amendment.

Lorraine Baumgardner, an attorney at Cleveland’s Berkman, Gordon, Murray & DeVan law firm and a member of the Kent State Library Advisory Board, spoke at the event

She specializes in first amendment and constitutional law cases.

In her speech, Baumgardner referenced national poll results acquired by The First Amendment Center revealed 34 percent of Americans with 47 percent of Americans between the ages of 18 to 30 believe the First Amendment “goes too far in the rights it guarantees.”

“The first amendment was designed to protect unpopular and controversial speech,” Baumgardner said.

Referencing the creators of the first amendment, Baumgardner went on to quote Supreme Court justice Louis Brandeis, taken from freedom of speech case Whitney v.

California: “They believed that freedom to think as you will and to speak as you think are means indispensable to the discovery and spread of political truth. […] The greatest menace to freedom is an inert people; that public discussion is a political duty and that this should be a fundamental principle of the American government.”

Baumgardner discussed the banning of books, such as “Ulysses” and “The Catcher in the Rye,” pornography, burlesque clubs and court cases in recent years have challenged the First Amendment.

Baumgardner’s interest in the First Amendment began at the College of Wooster where she received her bachelor’s degree.

“I actually was a creative writing major in school, and I found that it’s important in the creative process to be able to explore all sorts of different ideas and feelings,” Baumgardner said. “I felt very strongly about that. It got me thinking that if you have these restrictions, like a lot of writers in say Russia during The Cold War, you have these blocks of things that you can’t say. It just inhibits the art and it inhibits the message. That’s really kind of what attracted me to this area of the law.”

Junior communication studies major Korey Jarrett attended the lecture to learn and honor Constitution Day.

“I attended because I wanted to learn more about the rights that citizens hold and to get a better grip of what Constitution Day is,” Jarrett said.

Contact Taylor Rollins at [email protected] .