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Hate Speech and the First Amendment: Where Are the Boundaries?

(642 reviews)

Produced on June 18, 2020

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$ 89 Constitutional and Civil Rights In Stock
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Course Information

Time 63 minutes
Difficulty Intermediate

Course Description

Now more than ever, it is important to know where the boundary lies between constitutionally protected expression and unprotected “hate speech.” In this course, Ameer Benno, a civil rights and constitutional law attorney, examines First Amendment case law, explains where the lines are drawn, and identifies the constitutional issues animating current debates over protected speech.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Examine the hate speech exception to First Amendment protections, learn about the seminal jurisprudence on this issue, and recognize what issues remain unsettled
  2. Review what “fighting words” are and how we identify them
  3. Familiarize with what constitutes an unprotected “true threat”
  4. Gain insight into what falls into the unprotected category of defamation and libel

Credit Information

After completing this course, Lawline will report your attendance information to {{ accredMasterState.state.name }}. Please ensure your license number is filled out in your profile to ensure timely reporting. For more information, see our {{ accredMasterState.state.name }} CLE Requirements page . After completing this course, {{ accredMasterState.state.name }} attorneys self-report their attendance and CLE compliance. For more information on how to report your CLE courses, see our {{ accredMasterState.state.name }} CLE Requirements FAQ .


Ameer Benno

Block O'Toole & Murphy, LLP

An experienced trial and appellate lawyer, Ameer Benno litigates civil rights and personal injury matters for Block O'Toole & Murphy, LLP. Ameer takes great pride in seeking justice for those who have been injured by the wrongdoing of others. His personal injury cases include premises liability, motor vehicle accidents, product liability, and construction accident cases. In his civil rights practice, Mr. Benno champions the rights of individuals who have been subjected to governmental abuses of authority. These cases range from police misconduct matters to prisoner rights cases, from unjust conviction claims to employment discrimination matters.

Ameer began his legal career as an Assistant District Attorney at the esteemed Manhattan District Attorney's Office, where he served for several years in both the trial division and the appeals bureau. Upon leaving government service, Mr. Benno worked at premier civil litigation law firms where he focused on representing plaintiffs in personal injury and civil rights matters in both state and federal courts.

Mr. Benno is admitted to the New York and Connecticut state bars, and is admitted to practice in the federal courts of the Southern, Eastern, Northern, and Western Districts of New York, as well as to the United States Courts of Appeals for the Second and Third Circuits. He is also admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court.

From 2006 through 2012, Mr. Benno was an adjunct professor at New York Law School, where he taught Appellate Advocacy and Legal Reasoning and Writing. Mr. Benno regularly lectures for bar associations and continuing legal education providers on topics having to do with trial practice, civil rights litigation, Constitutional law, and the U.S. Supreme Court.

Mr. Benno has been named to The National Trial Lawyers: Top 100 and has been named a New York Metro Super Lawyer every year since 2012 in the area of civil rights law. Mr. Benno has also been selected for membership in the National Association of Distinguished Counsel as one of the “Nation’s Top Attorneys.” These are invitation-only organizations composed of the premier trial lawyers from each state who meet stringent qualifications. Mr. Benno is rated 10.0, the highest rating given, by the online lawyer rating service Avvo.com.

Ameer serves on the Civil Rights Committee, Federal Courts Committee, and Appellate Law Committee of the Nassau County Bar Association. He is a member of the National Police Accountability Project, the First Amendment Lawyers Association, the New York State Trial Lawyers Association (where he chairs the Civil Right Committee), and the Brooklyn Bar Association. He sits on the board of directors of the New York State Academy of Trial Lawyers and is vice president of the Nassau Lawyers’ Association of Long Island.

In addition to his membership in professional organizations, Mr. Benno is a civic leader. He is the president of the Merrick-Bellmore Jewish Community Council, the board of directors of the Merrick Jewish Centre, and as a member of the Nassau County Police Commissioner's Community Council for the 19th Legislative District.  He is a member of the Nassau County Police Reserves, the Bellmore Kiwanis, the Bellmore Lions Club, and the Bellmore Historical Society.  He proudly serves as a First Lieutenant in the New York Guard. 

Ameer is a graduate of the Johns Hopkins University and Cornell Law School. He lives in Bellmore, NY with his wife, Gayle, and three daughters.


Thomas B.

The presenter did an excellent job of presenting, given the time constraints, the information and analysis about the freedom of speech clause set forth in the 1st Amendment. Thank you.

Thomas R.

Excellent lecturer. Crisp and clear.

Albert P.

Please tell the instructor that this was one of the most enjoyable and professional CLE presentations that I have seen.

Anthony S.

Excellent review.

carol ann a.

Presenter was engaging. Pleasure to listen to a discussion of a timely topic, rather than a reading of slides. Encouraged participant to think about the material and reach own conclusions about current political issues. Thank you.

Moira D.

Very timely and interesting program.

michael d.

this was one of the better programs i have taken

Carmel J.

one of the best lawline lectures I've taken, excellent knowledgeable speaker. would have liked some more current cases but there was no time for it. Recommend having him do a Part II.

Steven N.

Liked the speaker and enjoyed the course.

Yvonne B.

Great Constitutional law refresher course particularly given current times. Great choice of cases and parallels to current times. Excellent course and presentation.

Fred L.


william f b.

Entertaining hour of CLE. .Today's social customs consider many forms of free speech as undesirable. ALL free speech s/b protected..

Edward G.

Presenter was one of your best. Very good.

Jan S.

Very good

James B.

Well done

Jennifer L.

Good overview and pictures and newspaper articles a nice touch

Stephen W. H.

Great Job! Very informative.

Cynthia B.

I felt like I was in Con Law again! Great review and helped put all these cases in modern perspective. thanks.

Chere R.


Dave D.

First rate all the way.

Lawrence G.

One of the best presentations I’ve seen in years. Perfectly coherent and organized. Great job!

John B.

Great info on the 1st Amendment!

James L.

Best presenter so far!

William O.

Very interesting and well presented.

Pamela W.

Very good explanation of the major issues.

Martha Jane M.

Very interesting and well delivered

Edward G.

Very enjoyable.

Baldwin M.

Excellent course.


Excellent course. The hour flew by, which is not always the case.

Jay G.

Good course!

Angelo U.

excellent slides

Randi R.

Wonderful CLE - very interesting!

Jason O.

super interesting

Kitty C.

Good course

Danielle D.

Great relevant content!

Theresa H.

Excellent presentation

lisa h.

Excellent presentation.

Jim A.

Liked the instructor a lot.

Peter C.

Outstanding presentation. Concise, informative, knowledgeable, well-delivered. Good job Mr. Benno!

Guy M.

Very informative, thank you!

Ellen C.

Very well done!


Excellent content. Relevant. Informative.

Maureen D.

This presentation was exceptional and timely.

Suzanne G.

Very interesting topic, good speaker

Richard K.

Lawline's most impressive presented.


Very good speaker and materials

Keith H.

Best CLE ever. Many thanks. kah

Janet B.

Very good!

Ronald L.

Very good

Jeremy M.

Excellent, comprehensive overview of the subject matter. First-rate presentation.

Annette B.

Well done

Maureen F.

This CLE was excellent - one of the best I have ever taken. It is completely on point for the current atmosphere in the country and a critically important review of the fundamental importance to have public discourse, even when it feels messy, chaotic and offensive. I live by UC Berkeley and as a lawyer with a strong interest in constitutional law, I'm amazed and dismayed to see banners all over some campuses encouraging students to police each other's speech and interrupt conversations with any trigger or where any disagreement is present. This course is a reminder of why free speech is a cornerstone of our society. I'm very glad I took this course and congrats to the presenter on an outstanding job.

Joseph F.

interesting, timely, and excellent presenter. Very useful at these times.

Mark W.

Wonderful presentation; lucid, organized and thorough. A pleasure to watch.

Brian T.

This was excellent -- I never leave comments, but I felt compelled to note how strong this CLE is as a hate speech refresher. And relevant to today's cultural landscape, for sure.

Suzanne M.

Great material and presenter.

elizabeth c.

Outstanding! Great subject, fabulous presentation. Best yet.

Charles F.

Nice visuals

Michael J.

Instructor was very charismatic and engaging. I look forward to hearing him again if he speaks on other issues.

John H.

Timely and interesting - good to know the time line of developments

Jeannine R.

very clear discussion of case law

Kimberly C.

Lots of information. Fast paced but kept my attention.

Suzanne K.

Great topic and presentation! Very timely, and the overview of the case law was well-presented.

Walter L.

Needed to know some of this during these times.

Renee F.

relevant today!

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