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Posted Oct. 18, 2011

Inaugural Jefferson Symposium Will Focus on Free Speech, Campaign Gift Law

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Symposium Schedule/Program

Legal experts will address free-speech rights and the controversial requirement to disclose campaign gifts during the inaugural Jefferson Symposium at the University of Virginia School of Law on Oct. 29 in Caplin Pavilion.

The symposium, "Disclosure, Anonymity, and the First Amendment," is sponsored by the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression and the Law School's Journal of Law & Politics, a student-run publication. Following morning panels with some of the nation's foremost constitutional scholars, leading First Amendment lawyers Bruce W. Sanford and Bruce D. Brown will deliver the keynote address, “Disclosure and the Press” at 12:15 p.m. (Full Schedule).

In the controversial U.S. Supreme Court decision Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the court held that corporations could spend unlimited sums to support or oppose electoral candidates.

"As a barrier against the corruption that money might bring, the majority relied on mandatory disclosure of the source of all campaign expenditures," said symposium organizer and Virginia law professor John C. Jeffries Jr., Resident Scholar at the Thomas Jefferson Center. "Yet cases from the civil rights era protect anonymity. The context has changed, but there may still be circumstances where disclosing a speaker’s identity may lead to retaliation."

Experts will address whether anonymity is still a First Amendment right and whether requiring disclosure — and maintaining the bureaucracy necessary to enforce such requirements — raises constitutional issues.

Bruce Sanford, chairman of the board of the Thomas Jefferson Center, a partner at the law firm Baker Hostetler and general counsel to the Society of Professional Journalists, has defended more than 1,000 libel, intellectual property and First Amendment cases. Sanford has represented most national news media companies, including The New York Times, E.W. Scripps Co., Tribune Co., Hearst Corp., ABC, NBC, Fox Television, AOL/Time Warner, National Geographic, Random House, Simon & Schuster and Bertelsmann, A.G.

Brown, who co-directs the First Amendment Clinic at the Law School and is also a partner at Baker Hostetler, is one of Washington, D.C.’s top media and First Amendment lawyers. His practice focuses on libel and invasion of privacy defense, copyright and the law of newsgathering.

The conference will also feature a discussion on “Disclosure and the Constitution,” with panelists including law professors Richard Briffault of Columbia and Helen Norton of the University of Colorado, as well as Virginia Law professors Leslie Kendrick and Frederick Schauer.

Another panel, “Disclosure and the Political Process,” will feature Joseph M. Birkenstock of the law firm Caplin & Drysdale; law professors Pamela S. Karlan of Stanford and Richard L. Hazen of the University of California, Irvine; and Virginia Law professors Michael Gilbert and Daniel R. Ortiz.

The symposium is made possible by support from Baker Hostetler and the Scripps Howard Foundation. The event is open to the public, and parking is available in Law School lots. Registration is recommended, but not required, at jeffersonsymposium.eventbrite.com. Virginia Continuing Legal Education credit for this event is pending.

More information on panelists

SCHEDULE

Register at jeffersonsymposium.eventbrite.com.

Saturday, Oct. 29
University of Virginia School of Law
Caplin Pavilion

8:30-9 a.m.
Continental Breakfast
Introduction and Welcome by John C. Jeffries Jr.

9-10:20 a.m.
"Disclosure and the Constitution"

Panelists:

10:30 a.m.-12 p.m.
"Disclosure and the Political Process"

Panelists:

12:15-1:45 p.m.
Lunch and Keynote Address, "Disclosure and the Press"