Lecturer James Wagstaffe: Incitement to Violence Isn't Free Speech

Wednesday, January 27, 2021
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JUST SECURITY -- As a teacher for almost 40 years, Jim is an adjunct professor teaching civil procedure at UC California, Hastings College of the Law, as well as public speaking at Stanford and media law at San Francisco State University. He wrote this opinion piece for Just Security.

“As a constitutional law professor for 30 years, I have been teaching law students and undergraduates that while the First Amendment protects abstract appeals for illegal actions or even highly offensive expression, there can and should be criminal liability for speech that incites the likely and imminent risk of violence,” Wagstaffe wrote. “To borrow a famed First Amendment concept, when it comes to President Donald Trump’s rambling, exhortative speech at the Mall to his followers, I know criminal incitement when I see it.”