The University of MichiganNews Services
The University Record Online
Updated 1:00 PM October 4, 2005




view events

submit events

UM employment

police beat
regents round-up
research reporter


Advertise with Record

contact us
meet the staff
contact us
contact us

  Davis, Markert, Nickerson Lecture on Academic and Intellectual Freedom
First Amendment champion to speak at Oct. 6 event

There is little doubt that among those following the course of First Amendment law, Floyd Abrams is the attorney best known as its champion. From the Vietnam War-era Pentagon Papers and other landmark press cases, to campaign reform, and, most recently, to defending journalists threatened with jail for refusing to disclose confidential sources, Abrams' name and the First Amendment solidly are linked.
Abrams (Photo courtesy University Senate)

Abrams will visit U-M Oct. 6 to deliver the 15th Annual University Senate Davis, Markert, Nickerson Lecture on Academic and Intellectual Freedom at 4 p.m. in Rackham Auditorium. The lecture, titled "Whose Academic Freedom?," is free and open to the public.

Abrams has argued frequently before the U.S. Supreme Court a large number of its most significant First Amendment cases. His recent book, "Speaking Freely: Trials of the First Amendment," discusses many of them. Abrams will be available following his lecture to sign copies of the book.

In a 40-year career, Abrams served as co-counsel to The New York Times in the Pentagon Papers case and he has represented ABC, NBC, CBS, Time Magazine, Business Week, The Nation, Reader's Digest and other clients in trials and appeals. He represented Sen. Mitch McConnell and the National Association of Broadcasters in a First Amendment-rooted challenge to the constitutionality of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance legislation.

Most recently, Abrams represented journalists Matthew Cooper and Judith Miller in the reporters' legal battle to keep their sources confidential in the investigation into the leak of a CIA operative's name.

"Mr. Abrams is a most fitting addition to the growing list of outstanding speakers we have had on this critically important topic," says Peggie Hollingsworth, president of the Academic Freedom Lecture Fund (AFLF).

Abrams, a partner in the New York law firm of Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP, is the William J. Brennan, Jr. Visiting Professor of First Amendment Issues at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

Abrams has served as chairman of the Committee on Freedom of Speech and of the Press of the Individual Rights Section of the American Bar Association (ABA) and of the ABA Committee on Freedom of Expression of the Litigation Section.

The lecture series was established in 1990 by the Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs (SACUA) to honor three U-M faculty members, Chandler Davis, Clement Markert and Mark Nickerson, who in 1954 were called to testify before a Congressional Committee on Un-American Activities. All invoked Constitutional rights and refused to answer committee questions about their political associations. For their actions, the three were suspended and Nickerson was denied the summer portion of his salary. Subsequent hearings and committee actions at U-M resulted in different outcomes. Markert was reinstated; Nickerson, a tenured professor, and Davis were dismissed from the University.

The lecture is sponsored by the AFLF, American Association of University Professors-U-M Chapter, Office of the President, Office of Vice President for Communications, Law School and SACUA.

More Stories