UMF commemorates constitution day with free speech presentation Sept. 17

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FARMINGTON – University of Maine at Farmington will commemorate national Constitution Day, 2008, with a discussion on the important issue of free speech as revealed by recent cases before the U.S. Supreme Court.

This program, “Speaking of Speech: A Constitution Day Forum on Four Free Speech Constitutional Controversies,” is free and open to the public and will be presented at 7 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 17, in Thomas Auditorium in UMF’s Preble/Ricker Hall. Local attorneys Woody Hanstein and Paul Mills will discuss the specific cases and their impact. Questions will be taken from the audience.

Moderated by Jim Melcher, UMF associate professor of political science, this event will present four cases acted upon by the court involving the protection of the free exercise of the freedom of speech and its guarantee by the first amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Questions considered by the court will include:

• Can schools punish students for inappropriate speech outside of school? (Morse v. Frederick, 2007)
• Can the national government take away money from colleges that restrict military recruiters, without violating the colleges’ free speech rights? (Rumsfeld v. FAIR, 2006)
• How far can government go in restricting free speech rights outside of abortion clinics? (Hill v. Colorado, 2000)
• Can the government punish broadcasters who allow “dirty words” to go out over their airwaves? (FCC v. Pacifica Radio Foundation, 1978)

Previously known as Citizenship Day, Constitution Day was created by Congress in 2004. This federal holiday was revised to recognize not only those who have become U.S. citizens, but also the ratification of the U.S. Constitution on Sept. 17, 1787. In addition to renaming the holiday “Constitution Day and Citizenship Day,” the act mandates that all publicly funded educational institutions provide educational programming on the history of the American Constitution on that day.

UMF’s Constitution Day event is sponsored by the UMF Provost’s Office, Gold LEAF Institute, the UMF Diversity Committee, and the UMF Political Science Club and the Pre-law Program. For more information, please contact Valerie Huebner, executive assistant to the president of UMF, at 207-778-7258, or

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