New book explores forgotten freedom of assembly

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.

Catholic leadership divided over Obama’s Notre Dame speech, expert suggests

Frank FlinnNotre Dame University’s decision to invite President Obama to deliver the university’s commencement address on Sunday has sparked strong protests from groups who disagree with Obama’s stand on abortion and stem cell research. Despite condemnation of Obama’s speech by a number of prominent American bishops, the Vatican may be more interested in moderation and conciliation in its dealings with Obama, suggests Frank K. Flinn, a close observer of religious politics and author of the Encyclopedia of Catholicism (2007).