The Lasting Importance of the First Amendment

Middle Tennessee State University is fortunate to be the home of the John Seigenthaler Chair of Excellence in First Amendment Studies in the College of Media and Entertainment. The Chair was instituted in 1986 to honor Seigenthaler’s lifelong commitment to free expression. As longtime president, editor, and publisher of The Tennessean, he remained chairman emeritus of that newspaper until his death at age 86 in July 2014. Seigenthaler also served as the founding editorial director of USA TODAY as well as the first chairman of the Freedom Forum First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University.

As the Albert Gore Research Center celebrates the 225th anniversary of the Bill of Rights during Congress Week, we asked the interim director of the Seigenthaler Chair of Excellence, Deborah Fisher, to comment on the importance of the First Amendment:

In 45 words, framers laid out the essential freedoms in a democratic and open society. Without the First Amendment’s protection of freedom of speech, press, religion, assembly and petition, government could silence its critics, establish a national religion, and stop citizens from mobilizing for social change. The First Amendment has been fundamental in upholding these rights time and again in the face of majority power. It continues to be a bulwark today — and as relevant as ever.

For more information, please check the following web sites.
Congress Week: http://congressweek.org
News regarding the First Amendment from MTSU’s John Seigenthaler Chair of Excellence in First Amendment Studies: http://mtpress.mtsu.edu/firstamendment/
Regarding John Seigenthaler: http://mtpress.mtsu.edu/firstamendment/bio/

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