First Amendment litigation encompasses a broad collection of claims relating to freedom of speech, the right to petition, and freedom of religion set forth in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, state constitutions, and various statutes relating to these rights. First Amendment litigators are typically experienced in litigating rights of privacy and publicity; reporters and authors’ rights; issues arising in the course of journalists’ news-gathering activities; and challenges to laws, regulations, and other governmental action on the grounds they violate the First Amendment and related principles.

Free speech litigation typically includes challenges to governmental action in some form that intrudes upon the rights of free speech such as restraints on publication, defamation, invasion of privacy, and other torts such as infliction of emotional distress, fraud and misrepresentation, and tortious interference. These issues arise with respect to individuals and businesses, including the press.

Other aspects of First Amendment litigation include cases involving transparency and open government, such as violations of Freedom of Information Acts, Open Meetings Act disputes, public access to courtrooms, and other proceedings, as well as access to public records and public fora.

First Amendment litigation involving freedom of religion encompasses issues ranging from the separation of church and state as well as issues relating to the free exercise of religion. Issues often include the right to religious speech in public various forums, such as traditional public forums (e.g., sidewalks) and at public institutions (e.g., state buildings, universities, and high schools).

Digital technologies have expanded the frontiers of First Amendment litigation. With respect to digital media, First Amendment attorneys have experience in issues involving data protection and cybercrimes; matters involving anonymous posters; the Communications Decency Act; the Digital Millennium Copyright Act; website user agreements, including terms of use and privacy policies; social media policies; compliance with international privacy protection laws; endorsement issues; content licensing; and cybersquatting.

Clients seeking counsel in these highly specialized areas should seek out firms and attorneys who have deep subject matter expertise and have demonstrated the ability to apply the historical legal framework to emerging technologies in a rapidly changing landscape.
Robin Luce Herrmann, Shareholder
Edward Copeland, Shareholder

Other Practice Areas

See overviews for the practice areas included in our Best Law Firms research.

Best Law Firms

The annual U.S. News – Best Lawyers "Best Law Firms" publication is the definitive rankings guide to 12,000 firms in 120 practice areas in 170 metropolitan regions and 8 states.