CHARLESTON, S.C.—Furman University president Rodney A. Smolla will be keynote speaker at this week’s third Law and Society Series Symposium hosted by the Charleston Law Review of the Charleston School of Law and the Riley Institute at Furman.
Smolla, who became Furman’s president last year after serving as dean of the Washington & Lee Law School, is a nationally-recognized First Amendment scholar and author. He will offer remarks entitled “Free Speech and Civil Discourse in Law and Society” at 5 p.m. Feb. 17 at the Charleston Music Hall on John Street in Charleston. Smolla’s commentary frequently appears in national media.
On Feb. 18, the “Free Speech and Civil Discourse” symposium continues with a day full of panels from scholars, judges, lawmakers, advocates and attorneys. It starts at 8:30 a.m. at the Charleston Museum Auditorium on Meeting Street and continues through 4 p.m.
While Thursday’s keynote address is free, Friday’s events are $50 for those who work in the nonprofit sector and $75 for private-sector attorneys, who may get a continuing education credit. Admission is free for students.
To register and see a complete schedule, visit www.charlestonlawreview.org.
During the symposium, professionals will explore ways that the right to free speech intersects with other disciplines in the law. Although speech is a fundamental right, it is not absolute in the age of news involving WikiLeaks and national security, and legislative attempts to limit some types of speech, explained Assistant Professor Will Cook of the Charleston School of Law.
“The delicate balance between protecting free speech and the need for civil discourse will be measured against the backdrop of current events,” said Cook, a coordinator of the third Law and Society Series symposium. “Protests at military funerals, Facebook in the workplace, library Internet filters, student texting and calls for civility after the recent Tucson shootings are examples.
“It’s our intent that this symposium will remind us of the need for constructive debate and deliberation in law and other disciplines. Problems can’t be solved when stakeholders use extreme rhetoric and no one listens.
Furman professor Don Gordon, executive director of the Riley Institute, said the symposium could not come at a more appropriate time.
“The symposium represents an opportunity for a common-sense discussion about the importance of free speech and how to balance that right against the need for civil discourse at a time when the need to solve complex problems is high,” he said.
About the Charleston Law Review
The Charleston Law Review is the flagship journal of the Charleston School of Law. In its past issues, the Charleston Law Review has published significant public figures ranging across the political spectrum from President-elect Barack Obama to John Yoo, former presidential legal advisor to President George W. Bush. The Law Review will publish a companion issue to the symposium that may be ordered at www.charlestonlawreview.org.
About the Riley Institute at Furman
The Riley Institute at Furman, named for Furman graduate and former S.C. Gov. Richard Riley, offers an array of programs designed to engage students and citizens across South Carolina in the various arenas of politics, public policy and public leadership. It is associated with the university’s Department of Political Science. More information is available at riley.furman.edu.