Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Week Two, Still Nothing New

My day started off to a great start for once! I was able to get a considerable amount of sleep and still wake up on time for our weekly check-ins with Ms. Thrift! We discussed the basic itinerary for this week and went more in depth into our upcoming trips to visit NYU, the 9/11 Memorial, and Yale University.

Class today really was thought provoking as we dove deep into the freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment. We went over a total of four cases: Gitlow v. New York, Whitney v. California, Dennis v. United States, and Brandenburg v. Ohio. All four cases are apparently very well known in the world of law and politics, as the Supreme Court's decisions in both cases have an extreme impact on how free speech is restricted and encouraged. However, I found the majority opinions of the Court in both the Gitlow case and the Whitney case very biased as the decisions the court reached were just results of the Red Scare during the early 1900's. Both the petitioners in Gitlow and in Whitney, were deprived of their freedom to express their beliefs due to a fear of a highly unlikely Communist uprising. The Court based their ruling on the fact that both petitioner's opinions would more than likely lead to anarchist acts against the government. I call this a classic example of bull excrement. First of all, no evidence was presented during Gitlow's trial that encouraged the statement that the publication of his Communist manifesto caused or led to any social uprisings. Same applies to the Whitney case. Both individuals posed no real threat to the continuity of our government and were instead unlawfully punished when they should've been protected by the law.

As for the Dennis and Brandenburg cases, I believe that the Supreme Court did act accordingly with the Constitution. In Dennis v. United States, the Court ruled that Dennis was a credible threat to be dealt with and thus affirmed the lower court's ruling of his conviction. In Brandenburg v. Ohio, the Court ruled that Brandenburg's burning of the cross and threatening of the federal government on television during a Ku Klux Klan rally was protected by the First Amendment's guarantee of freedom of speech and expression. I agree with both rulings, but what came to mind was the question of why would the Court rule that the First Amendment protected Brandenburg, but not Gitlow or Whitney? Both petitioners posed some "threat" to the federal government, except that one was protected by the Constitution and the other two weren't. Michelle brought up a chart that defines the two kinds of speech: speech that advocates academic discussion, and speech that advocates lawless behavior. Personally, I believe that all three cases (Brandenburg v. Ohio, Gitlow v. New York, and Whitney v. California) all fall under the spectrum of academic discussion with the Brandenburg case leaning slightly more to the right. All three petitioners advocated their cause with the intent to vocalize their cause and stir academic discussion not the intent of a violent overthrow of the federal government.

All law and politics aside, I continued my most wondrous day with the rest of my cohort to go out and watch the New York Yankees vs. the Oakland A's baseball game at the Yankee Stadium. Despite the profuse sweating from the East Coast heat and the crowded subways, it was a grand experience to finally kick back and enjoy a baseball game. For a moment, I forgot about the stresses of school work and homesickness. And as my former childhood hero (Alex Rodriguez) stepped up to the plate to hit, it became almost surreal to actually witness my former baseball hero in action.
Inside Yankee Stadium


  1. As you look at Supreme Court decisions over the decades you’ll see a great many decisions that seem to defy logic--they simply do not hold up to the test of time. As you wrote, they seemed to run parallel with the sentiments of the time.

    Interesting to look at your stadium photo and how many empty seats there are.

  2. Congratulations on being the only one of the cohort to remember our meeting!