Law Review Symposium - FREE* SPEECH (*terms, conditions, restrictions, and fees apply)

Friday, January 28 8:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Online – Online - Zoom Webinar

Free* Speech

*terms, conditions, restrictions, and fees apply

Where does a democratic society draw the line between free speech and dangerous rhetoric? With the proliferation of social media use and the extension of the schoolyard to the online realm, schools and the courts must navigate unchartered waters to protect both First Amendment rights and remain vigilant of potentially harmful language. Join us in a conversation regarding the costs and benefits or protecting the marketplace of ideas on campuses, regulating hate speech both in the classroom and on social media, and where educators and platforms can go from here.

Panel topics will include free speech protection on private and social media platforms, freedom of expression in the classroom and on campus, and a keynote address to be delivered by nationally renowned constitutional law scholar, Dean Erwin Chemerinsky.

This year’s USF Law Review symposium will be formatted as a Zoom Webinar.

Panel 1-  Regulating the Marketplace of Ideas, From Tinker to Snapchat Cheerleaders
8:30-10:15 a.m.

Today, younger generations are becoming more politically active, gender identities continue to expand, and the schoolyard’s boundaries have extended to online platforms. Educators and students alike must balance the need to safeguard a robust and diverse marketplace of ideas while also protecting those most vulnerable from harmful speech—all the while ensuring First Amendment rights are not shed at the school gates. Panelists will discuss legal issues arising from misgendering transgender students under the guise of Free Speech, teachers’ First Amendment rights to teach Critical Race Theory in the classroom, and what the Snapchat Cheerleader means moving forward.


Khaled Beydoun
Associate Professor
Wayne State University School of Law

Luke Boso
Assistant Professor
University of San Francisco School of Law

Vinay Harpalani
Henry Weihofen Professor and Associate Professor of Law
University of New Mexico School of Law

Darren Lenard Hutchinson
Professor of Law and John Lewis Chair for Civil Rights and Social Justice
Emory University School of Law

Dwayne Wright
Assistant Professor of Higher Education Administration 
Director, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Initiatives
George Washington University


Panel 2 - Social Media Platforms as Public Forums, Trumping the Private Actor Rule, and Protecting Online Users
10:30-12:00 p.m.

The use of social media platforms as a medium for political communication by government actors has grown exponentially. As a result, the online platforms are increasingly regarded as public forums, bound by the laws of Free Speech protection. Platforms have swung from a complete refusal to regulate online content, to a complete block of U.S. presidents, all in the name of the right (or not) to pick and choose content; but where does this right start or end? Panelists will address why the Trump lawsuits may surpass a private actor doctrine, what makes a private platform a public forum, and where platforms can go from here to protect users.


Susan Freiwald
Dean and Professor of Law
University of San Francisco School of Law


David Greene
Civil Liberties Director and Senior Staff Attorney, Electronic Frontier Fund
Adjunct Professor, University of San Francisco School or Law

Jennifer Henderson
Interim Vice President of Academic Affairs
Trinity University

David Hudson
Assistant Professor of Law
Belmont University College of Law

Viktorya Vilk
Program Director, Digital Safety and Free Expression
PEN America

Keynote Address
1:10-2:30 p.m.

Keynote Speaker

Erwin Chemerinsky
Dean and Jesse H. Choper Distinguished Professor of Law
University of California Berkeley School of Law

MCLE Credits:

Earn up to 4.5 hours of CLE credit.* 1.5 hours of MCLE credit is available for each panel attended. 

Questions? Email Kenji Quijano or call (415) 422-5896.

*This activity has been approved for Minimum Continuing Legal Education credit by the State Bar of California in the amount of 4.5 credit hours. The University of San Francisco School of Law is an approved provider of MCLE and certifies that this activity conforms to the standards for approved educational activities prescribed by the rules and regulations of the State Bar of California governing minimum continuing legal education.