Yale Law School’s Floyd Abrams Institute for Freedom of Expression Conference

On Tuesday, Yale Law School is putting on this conference on the internet and the First Amendment. Nate Persily and I are participating in sessions on election issues and online platforms. For access to the Zoom conference, for which you must get registered, contact Heather.Branch@yale.edu.


June 2, 2020

8:45 – 9:00        Welcome by Sandra Baron and Introduction by Floyd Abrams

9:00 – 10:30       The Supreme Court’s Framework for Commercial Speech: Shifting? Unmoored?


  • Robert Post – Sterling Professor of Law, Yale Law School, New Haven, CT
  • Beth Brinkmann – Partner, Covington, Washington, DC
  • Genevieve Lakier – Assistant Professor of Law, Herbert and Marjorie Fried Teaching Scholar, University of Chicago Law School, Chicago, IL


  • Amanda Shanor – Assistant Professor, Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA

10:30 – 10:45    Break

10:45 – Noon    Regulating Political Advertising Online:  Is disclosure still the key? 

In the wake of the 2016 election, states are getting more aggressive in regulating online political advertising, including by trying to shift some of the disclosure and record-keeping burdens onto the media platforms that host political ads, as opposed to just the advertisers themselves.  The Fourth Circuit recently held that Maryland’s attempt to do so was unconstitutional.  What are the boundaries of the state’s power to require disclosures under the First Amendment?


  • Richard H. Pildes – Sudler Family Professor of Constitutional Law, NYU Law School, New York, NY
  • Daniel I. Weiner – Deputy Director, Election Reform Program, Brennan Center for Justice, Washington, DC
  • Allen Dickerson – Legal Director, Institute For Free Speech, Washington, DC


  • Paul Safier – Of Counsel, Ballard Spahr LLP, Philadelphia, PA

12:00 – 12:30    Break

12:30 – 1:15       From Across the Atlantic:  A heads-up on what EU Influence to anticipate on the U.S. Internet Law, Policy and Practice

  • Remy Chavannes – Partner, Brinkhof, Amsterdam, NL

1:30 – 2:45         Where Algorithms Meet The First Amendment

Digital platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google are increasingly crucial spaces for public discourse. But they are also the sites of great conflict over election interference, misinformation, discriminatory and false advertising, and the future of free speech values. The platforms shape the discourse they host through rules on “content moderation” and through black-box algorithms that invisibly decide what users will see and in what order.

Should free speech values inform the ways in which platforms moderate the speech they host? If so, which, and how should the platforms resolve conflicts between competing free speech values or between free speech values and other democratic ideals? Is regulation desirable, and if so, what kind? Would the First Amendment permit this kind of regulation?


  • Jack Balkin – Knight Professor of Constitutional Law and the First Amendment, Yale Law School, New Haven, CT
  • Daphne Keller –  Director, Program on Platform Regulation, Cyber Policy Center, Stanford Law School, Palo Alto, CA
  • Nathaniel Persily – James B. McClatchy Professor of Law, Stanford Law School, Palo Alto, CA


  • Alex Abdo – Litigation Director, Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, New York, NY

2:45 – 4:00         Milk from Nuts.  Burgers from Soybeans.  Can the states regulate what you call them?

As alternative food products have grown in popularity, states have passed laws limiting what such products can be named. These laws’ proponents view them as promoting truth in labeling, but opponents see a violation of First Amendment rights.


  • Sarah Roller – Partner, Kelley Drye and Chair of Food and Drug Law practice, Washington, DC
  • Justin Pearson – Florida Office Managing Attorney, Institute for Justice, Miami, FL
  • Claudia Haupt – Associate Professor of Law and Political Science, Northeastern University School of Law, Boston, MA


  • Brendan Healey – Partner, Baron Harris Healey, Chicago, IL
  • Jonah Knobler – Partner, Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler, New York, NY


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