Former ACLU President Nadine Strossen to Present 14th Annual Alfange Lecture at UMass Amherst

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Attorney Nadine Strossen, former president of the American Civil Liberties Union and John Marshall Harlan II Professor of Law at New York Law School, will deliver the annual Dean Alfange, Jr. Lecture in American Constitutionalism at the University of Massachusetts Amherst on Friday, Sept. 27 at 4 p.m. in the Great Hall of the Old Chapel. The lecture, “Free Speech on Campus: What Limits Should There Be?,” is free and open to the public.

Surveys show declining student support for First Amendment protection for controversial speech and speakers whose ideas students find offensive or hateful, leading students to such measures as calling to disinvite provocative speakers, and asking professors to exclude such material from courses. While a staunch champion of the objective—to provide equal educational opportunities for all students—Strossen lays out the case that limiting even the most offensive, hateful, provocative speech will do more harm than good for the essential causes of equality and social justice. Tapping into themes covered in her new book, HATE: Why We Should Resist It With Free Speech, Not Censorship (Oxford University Press, May 2018), she recommends other measures that will effectively advance those goals, which are also consistent with free speech values.

Strossen was the first woman to be named national president of the ACLU, a position in which she served from 1991-2008. In 2017, she was presented with the Margaret Brent Women Lawyers of Achievement Award by the American Bar Association, which “celebrates the accomplishments of women lawyers who have excelled in their field and have paved the way to success for other women lawyers.” Twice named one of “The 100 Most Influential Lawyers in America” by The National Law Journal and listed among the “350 Women Who Changed the World” by Working Woman Magazine, Strossen will draw from her experience and practice of Constitutional law to highlight the dangers that follow efforts to serve justice by limiting civil rights, and will offer useful and applicable strategies for achieving positive outcomes without violating Constitutional rights.

A member of the Council on Foreign Relations, Strossen graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Harvard College in 1972, and magna cum laude from Harvard Law School—where she was an editor of the Harvard Law Review—in 1975. Before becoming a law professor, she practiced law for nine years in her hometown of Minneapolis and in New York City.

The Dean Alfange, Jr. Lecture in American Constitutionalism was established in 2005 by UMass Amherst alumni to honor professor emeritus Dean Alfange, Jr. of the department of political science for his many noteworthy contributions during a distinguished 32-year academic career. The annual lecture is organized by the department of political science.

More information on the Alfange Lecture can be found here, and more information on Nadine Strossen can be found here.