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Money, speech & politics: Martin Redish set for Phelps Lecture March 4

February 25, 2015


Northwestern University Law Professor Martin Redish is set to discuss “Corporations, Free Expression and the Political Process” March 4 at Tulane’s Phelps Lecture.

Should corporations get to spend their money to influence political campaigns?

Should wealthy individuals be able to advance their personal interests by underwriting candidates?

Professor Martin Redish argues that both aren’t just the American way, they’re fundamental to democracy.  

Redish, the Louis and Harriet Ancel Professor of Law and Public Policy at Northwestern University School of Law, brings his thought-provoking ideas to Tulane Law School March 4 for the Ashton Phelps Lecture on First Amendment Law

The event is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. in the Wendell H. Gauthier Appellate Moot Court Room 110 in John Giffen Weinmann Hall, 6329 Freret St., with a reception to follow in the Marian Mayer Berkett Multipurpose Room.

In his 2013 book The Adversary First Amendment: Free Expression and the Foundations of American Democracy, Redish argues that “there is nothing inherently wrong with political selfishness” and using free speech rights to advance it.

It’s well-established that the First Amendment bars government from punishing political expression simply because it’s unpopular, offensive or officials just don’t like it. But Redish says the First Amendment also protects profit-driven speech, such as corporate political spending or commercial advertising. 

“We all may use expression as a means of trying to influence others to accept positions that advance our interests,” Redish said in a “First Amendment Conversation” published in 2014 on the Concurring Opinions blog. “Our system has been built on a form of interest group advancement, whether those groups are the NAACP, NOW, or the National Association of Manufacturers. And that, I believe, is really the core of American democracy.”

Redish, who has been writing about money and speech since he was a law student in the 1970s, said he embraces Columbia Law Professor Tim Wu’s description of him as “a liberal democrat with a pronounced contrarian streak.” 

A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard Law School, Redish is the author or co-author of 16 books and more than 100 articles. The legal search website HeinOnline listed him as the 17th most-cited legal scholar at the end of 2013. He is an award-winning teacher, is regarded as an authority on federal jurisdiction and is senior counsel to Sidley Austin, which has a premier appellate and Supreme Court practice. 

The Phelps Lecture Series was started in 1992 to honor Ashton Phelps Sr. (L ’37), who practiced at Phelps, Dunbar, Marks, Claverie & Sims, served as publisher of The Times-Picayune and was vice chairman of Tulane’s Board of Administrators. The lecture, which is dedicated to First Amendment law and related issues, operates under the direction of the Ashton Phelps Chair of Constitutional Law, established in 1983 by the S.I. Newhouse Foundation and The Times-Picayune



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