FIRE Launches First Amendment Library

PHILADELPHIA, Nov. 14, 2016—Today, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) is proud to launch our First Amendment Library, designed to be the premier resource for information about the First Amendment’s five freedoms.

FIRE’s First Amendment Library is a free, online database of First Amendment-related materials, including illustrated timelines, educational materials, unique articles, and more than 900 Supreme Court cases concerning the First Amendment. The content available in the library serves as the foundation for an an easy-to-use, ever-expanding resource for students, law clerks, lawmakers, judges, lawyers, journalists, and anyone else who wants to learn about the First Amendment.

"The First Amendment Library is a one-of-a-kind knowledge hub for all things relating to our Constitution’s first freedoms," said FIRE Executive Director Robert Shibley. "FIRE is excited to share this resource with the world, and we hope that it will generate more interest in the First Amendment and its important history."


One of the unique features of the First Amendment Library is its collection of the complete transcripts of legendary comedian Lenny Bruce’s obscenity trials in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York City. This is the first time these documents (and others, including those concerning his posthumous pardon) have been made publicly available for free online. The searchable transcripts illuminate Bruce’s legal struggles to perform his routines free from censorship.

Ronald Collins, the Harold S. Shefelman Scholar at the University of Washington School of Law, is the editor-in-chief of the First Amendment Library. Collins is a co-author of the book The Trials of Lenny Bruce: The Rise and Fall of an American Icon and donated the Bruce documents to the library.

The library’s advisors consist of a 15-member board of First Amendment lawyers, scholars, and historians. Among its luminaries, the board includes First Amendment attorneys Floyd Abrams and Robert Corn-Revere, former ACLU president Nadine Strossen, and University of California, Los Angeles law professor and The Washington Post contributor Eugene Volokh.

This project would not be possible without the generous support of The Stanton Foundation. As the former president of CBS, the late Frank Stanton was committed to creating a more informed citizenry through the preservation of First Amendment rights, a goal that this library will help further. The Foundation’s support made it possible for FIRE to relaunch, update, and expand the library, which was hosted on the website of the Newseum Institute’s First Amendment Center until a few years ago.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to defending liberty, freedom of speech, due process, academic freedom, legal equality, and freedom of conscience on America’s college campuses.

Katie Barrows, Communications Coordinator
FIRE: 215-717-3473; [email protected]

Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE)
510 Walnut Street | Suite 1250 | Philadelphia, PA 19106
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