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Can the Constitution Save Us from Big Tech Censorship?

Special guests Eugene Volokh, the Gary T. Schwartz Distinguished Professor of Law at UCLA, and Philip Hamburger, the Maurice and Hilda Friedman Professor of Law at the Columbia University School of Law and President of the New Civil Liberties Alliance, engaged in a spirited discussion of what limits, if any, the Constitution places on Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. The discussion was moderated by Commissioner Brendan Carr, commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission.

About our guest moderator:

Commissioner Brendan Carr is the senior Republican on the Federal Communications Commission, and he served previously as the agency’s General Counsel. Described by Axios as “the FCC’s 5G crusader,” Carr has led the FCC’s work to modernize its infrastructure rules and accelerate the buildout of high-speed networks. His reforms cut billions of dollars in red tape, enabled the private sector to construct high-speed networks in communities across the country, and extended America’s global leadership in 5G.

About our panelists:

Professor Eugene Volokh is a leading American legal scholar known for his scholarship in American constitutional law and libertarianism. Prof. Volokh teaches First Amendment law and a First Amendment amicus brief clinic at UCLA School of Law, where he has also often taught copyright law, criminal law, tort law, and a seminar on firearms regulation policy. Before coming to UCLA, he clerked for Justice Sandra Day O’Connor on the U.S. Supreme Court and for Judge Alex Kozinski on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Volokh is the author of the textbooks The First Amendment and Related Statutes (7th ed. 2020), and Academic Legal Writing (5th ed. 2013), as well as over 90 law review articles. In his recent article, “Might Federal Preemption of Speech-Protective State Laws Violate the First Amendment?,” published in his prominent legal blog, The Volokh Conspiracy, Prof. Volokh addresses whether it is proper for federal laws to enable such censorship when the states have already taken a stand against it.

Professor Philip Hamburger is one of the preeminent scholars writing today on constitutional law and its history. Prof. Hamburger teaches and writes on wide-ranging topics, including religious liberty, freedom of speech and the press, academic censorship, the regulation of science, judicial duty, administrative power, and the development of liberal thought. In two recent books—Is Administrative Law Unlawful? and The Administrative Threat—he argues that the Administrative State is unconstitutional and a threat to civil liberties. In his latest book, Liberal Suppression: Section 501(c)(3) and the Taxation of Speech, he shows that the revenue code’s restrictions on the political speech of churches are unconstitutional. In his recent article, “The Constitution Can Crack Section 230,” Prof. Hamburger challenges the government’s ability to circumvent the First Amendment by privatizing censorship.