Media Law professor explains why 1st Amendment doesn't protect incitement to violence

Author: Department of Journalism
January 15, 2021

As a constitutional law expert who teaches media law at SF State, James Wagstaffe often explains to his students that while the First Amendment protects abstract appeals for illegal actions or even highly offensive expression, it doesn't protect speech that incites people to violence.

"To borrow a famed First Amendment concept," he writes in Just Security, a legal publication based at the Reiss Center on Law and Security at New York University School of Law, "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."

Read Professor Wagstaffe's piece applying the First Amendment to President Trump's Jan. 6 speech and the ensuing insurrection at the Capitol.

Professor Wagstaffe will be teaching his informative and always entertaining JOUR 307 News Media Law class this spring.

Jim Wagstaffe