Without public spaces for debate and discussion, our ideas and our expressions stay in our private spaces and we don’t have opportunities to engage with each other, argues John Inazu, the Sally D. Danforth Distinguished Professor of Law & Religion.
John Inazu, JD, first amendment expert and professor of law at Washington University in St. Louis, was invited to provide testimony to the United States Commission on Civil Rights briefing on “Peaceful Coexistence? Reconciling Non-discrimination Principles with Civil Liberties.”
Freedom of assembly has become the forgotten constitutional right, with courts’ attention focused more on freedoms of association and speech. Both the Occupy and Tea Party movements, however, are reminders of how the right to assemble has been “at the heart of some of the most important social movements in American history: antebellum abolitionism, women’s suffrage and the Civil Rights Movement,” says John Inazu, JD, PhD, associate professor of law at Washington University in St. Louis. In his new book, Liberty’s Refuge: The Forgotten Freedom of Assembly, published last month by Yale University Press, Inazu examines why freedom of assembly has become “a historical footnote in American law and political theory,” and what has been lost with the weakening of protections for private groups.