Symposium to Address Historic Freedom of the Press Case and Impact on Government Politics and the Civil Rights Movement

Breaux-Poster-2-20The LSU Law Center will co-sponsor the LSU Manship School Reilly Center for Media & Public Affair’s 2014 John Breaux Symposium on March 5 and 6. This year’s Symposium marks the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in New York Times v. Sullivan. Legal and academic experts will discuss the impact the decision had on media coverage of government and politics.

“This is an exciting collaboration between the Law Center and our friends at the Manship School of Mass Communication,” said LSU Law Center Chancellor Jack Weiss. “The Supreme Court’s 1964 decision in Sullivan was intended to have a powerful liberating effect on the news coverage of public affairs and public officials. Has it? Will it continue to do so? At what cost to other important values? The Breaux Symposium will provide a unique opportunity for lawyers and journalists to discuss these questions together,” according to Weiss, a First Amendment authority.

LSU Law Visiting Professor Paul Finkelman, one of the nation’s leading legal historians, will kick off the Symposium on Wednesday, March 5, at 5:00 p.m. with a discussion of the historic case. The discussion will be held at the LSU Law Center in the McKernan Auditorium. Professor Finkelman’s talk will look at the historical context of New York Times v. Sullivan and examine the case in relation to the Civil Rights Movement. According to Finkelman, the case was as much a civil rights case as a freedom of speech/press case. Finkleman will discuss how First Amendment liberties are tied to the civil rights movement and how a different outcome in the Times case would have severely undermined the civil rights struggle in the South.

The Symposium continues on Thursday, March 6, with panel discussions from 8:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. at the Holliday Forum in the Journalism Building. Speakers for the panel discussions include:

• Kathleen Blanco, former governor of Louisiana
• Jack Weiss, LSU Law chancellor
• James C. Goodale, author and former New York Times legal counsel
• Regina Lawrence, professor of politics and media, University of Texas at Austin
• Jane Kirtley, professor of media ethics and law, University of Minnesota Law School
• Amy Reynolds, Reilly Center director and media law scholar
• Jerry Ceppos, Manship School dean and journalist

Panel discussions will address the importance of Times v. Sullivan for media and law; the impact of Times v. Sullivan on media coverage of politics and government; and the impact of Times v. Sullivan on the future of media. There will also be a lunch and book signing with speaker and author James C. Goodale, former general counsel of The New York Times.

For more information, please contact Emily at or 225-578-7312.