Bulletin News

Constitution Day Talk Considers Free Speech on Facebook


How might Thomas Jefferson and other founding fathers interpret some of the issues presented by Mark Zuckerberg’s billion-dollar brainchild?

That’s a question SUNY Cortland’s Institute for Civic Engagement will consider when its focuses on Facebook during its annual Constitution Day lecture on Tuesday, Sept. 17.

“Facebook Challenges the First Amendment: Would the Founders ‘Like’ Modern Interpretations of the Constitution?” takes place at 4:30 p.m. in Brockway Hall Jacobus Lounge. The talk, which is free and open to the public, examines a Virginia court case that considered a municipal employee who was fired for “liking” his boss’ political opponent on the popular social platform.

Jerome O’Callaghan and Paula O’Callaghan, highly regarded scholars who specialize in the legal aspects of free speech, will examine whether “liking” someone or something on Facebook is a form of free speech. Their presentation is based on the co-authored paper, “As You ‘Like’ It: Facebook and Free Speech in the Workplace,” which they presented at the Academy of Legal Studies in Business Annual Conference in Boston earlier this year.

Since 2005, Jerome O’Callaghan has served as associate dean for SUNY Cortland’s School of Arts and Sciences. The professor of political science also served as department chair from 1997 until his appointment as associate dean.

He often writes journal articles, book reviews and book submissions in the area of free speech law, having contributed to five law reviews on topics ranging from free speech in the press to court cases involving media entities.

Paula O’Callaghan has taught for the past six years as an associate professor of management for University of Maryland University College (UMUC) in the online college’s Department of Business and Executive Programs. She teaches graduate coursework that includes legal and ethical issues in business and focuses her research on free speech in the workplace.

Recently, she was awarded the Stanley J. Drazek Teaching Excellence Award from UMUC.

For more information, contact Matthew Whitman, the AmeriCorps outreach coordinator for the College’s Institute for Civic Engagement, at 607-753-2298.