Past Event

Café Society: How laws set us free and restrict our freedom

In recent years, conservatives have increasingly blamed the issue of “judicial activism” for a host of our nation’s ills. But what, exactly, does “judicial activism” entail? Out of the many Supreme Court decisions cited by both detractors and supporters of this phenomenon one stands out, Brown v. Board of Education. Depending on which side of the fence you are on, this 1954 decision either ended the withholding of rights to certain individuals based on the color of their skin, or curtailed the rights of states to govern their internal affairs as they see fit. It is apparent that what is seen as an expansion of rights by some, can be interpreted as a curtailment of rights by others.

While we see ourselves living in a nation founded on the principle of freedom, the fact remains that the creation of this freedom has always required certain restrictions on behavior in the interest of the public good. The First Amendment grants citizens freedom of speech, but shouting “Fire!” in a crowded theater is illegal – because public safety is seen to take precedence over an individual’s right to free speech. The framers of our constitution understood that unlimited freedom was a recipe for chaos, and that certain behaviors that undermined civil society and the “social contract” must be outlawed to allow our community to survive.

Join a Cafe Society discussion this week to discuss how laws create freedom by restricting it.

For more informaiton, please contact Kristin Millikan at 312.422.5580.