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Insights from History: Fire in a Crowded Theater: Lessons from History on Civil Liberties During a National Emergency

Wednesday, April 15, 2020 
1 p.m. (Eastern Time) 

As the current coronavirus situation has continued, we have been faced with growing questions about our civil liberties. We are thinking again about the actions the government can legitimately take in restricting the freedom of American citizens in a time of crisis. For example, when and how much can the government restrict your freedom of movement, speech, religion, or carrying on a business? Can the government even force you to be vaccinated?

To gain some historical insight into these and many other questions, Ashbrook offered this webinar. Executive Director Jeff Sikkenga talked with Dr. Joseph Fornieri, a professor in Ashbrook’s graduate program and a professor of political science at the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York. Joe is an expert on civil liberties and the Constitution, and the editor of Ashbrook’s First Amendment volume in our Core Documents Collection.

Jeff and Dr. Fornieri explored the following documents:

A recording of the webinar is available below.