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Unprecedented: The Right To Offend (Rebroadcast)

An overcast sky hangs above the U.S. Supreme Court.
Samuel Corum/Getty Images
An overcast sky hangs above the U.S. Supreme Court.

After “Saturday Night Live” parodied the president in December 2018, Donald Trump tweeted that the show “should be tested in courts, can’t be legal?”

In fact, the right to mock presidents, preachers and other public figures already had been tested in the courts.

In 1983, Hustler Magazine published a joke so offensive that it made it all the way to the Supreme Court.

The Court’s 1988 decision in Hustler Magazine, Inc. vs. Falwell enshrined the right to lampoon and even to offend as a fundamental part of free speech.

It has gone down as one of the country’s most important First Amendment cases. But today, those protections are presenting new challenges to our democratic system.

NPR’s Nina Totenberg, Mike Vuolo of WAMU’s Unprecedented podcast and Brandie Nonnecke, director of the CITRIS Policy Lab at UC Berkeley, join us to discuss the legacy of this landmark case.

Produced by Orion Donovan-Smith.


Mike Vuolo, Co-host, WAMU’s “Unprecedented;” @MikeVuolo

Nina Totenberg, Legal affairs correspondent, NPR; @NinaTotenberg

Brandie Nonnecke, Director, CITRIS Policy Lab at UC Berkeley; @bnonnecke

For more, visit https://the1a.org.

© 2019 WAMU 88.5 – American University Radio.

Copyright 2019 WAMU 88.5

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