First Amendment scholar Samuel Nelson will touch on topics as seemingly diverse as file sharing, the Unabomber and gay marriage during a Constitution Day lecture at Ohio University next week.
Nelson, an associate professor of political science and administration at the University of Toledo, will speak at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 17, in Walter Hall 135. His lecture, part of this year's Constitution Day observance, is titled "The Constitution Outside the Courts: Three Stories about Rights."
Professor John Gilliom, chair of the Department of Political Science, said Nelson will argue that when the important political conflicts at the heart of these controversies become legal conflicts, society suffers, Gilliom said.
"Sam Nelson's work on the intersections of law and politics exposes the hidden costs of excessive legalism and the often-tacit choices we make as 'Constitutional discourse' becomes a prevailing language of political conflict," Gilliom said.
Constitution Day is intended to give Americans an opportunity to recognize the ratification of the U.S. Constitution. Educational institutions that receive federal funding hold events on or about Sept. 17 that help enhance public understanding of the document.
Nelson has taught in the University of Toledo's Department of Political Science and Public Administration since 2001. He received his bachelor's degree from Northwestern University and his doctorate from the University of Wisconsin at Madison.
He is the author of "Beyond the First Amendment: The Politics of Free Speech and Pluralism" (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2005). In the book, he argues First Amendment law places limits on broader political debates over the meaning and value of freedom of speech.
His current research deals with the limits of Constitutionalism as seen in the Constitutional politics of religious belief and practice. He teaches Constitutional Law, Civil Liberties, Contemporary Issues in Law and Principles of Law.
-- Casey S. Elliott