News & Events

Spring 2019

In April 2019, the Free Speech Project and the Georgetown University Prisons and Justice Initiative hosted “Inside Voices: The Free Speech Rights of Incarcerated Americans,” a lively forum that explored the reasons behind and implications of censoring the voices of the incarcerated.

April 16, 2019, at 7 p.m. in historic Gaston Hall.


Panelists included:

  • Bill Keller, Editor-in-Chief, The Marshall Project
  • Amy Fettig, Deputy Director, ACLU Prisons Project
  • Robert Green, Director, Department of Correction and Rehabilitation, Montgomery County, Maryland
  • Sekwan Merritt, Paralegal, Arnold and Porter
  • Joel Castón, Incarcerated Resident of the D.C. Jail (by Skype/phone)
  • Hosted and moderated by Sanford J. Ungar, Director of the Free Speech Project at Georgetown University, and Marc Howard, Director of the Prisons and Justice Initiative at Georgetown University

Fall 2018

The Free Speech Project at Georgetown University and the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University held a joint forum in Gaston Hall on Monday, Sept. 24, 2018, on the subject of “Secrets and Leaks: Whistleblowers, Journalists, and National Security.” The objective was to explore the important, but perennially uneasy, relationship among reporters, their confidential sources inside the government, and other officials, especially on issues of foreign affairs and national defense policy — and to ask how the public interest can best be served in this critical area at a volatile moment for American civil society.

Sept. 24, 2018, at 7 p.m. in historic Gaston Hall.


Panelists included:

  • Martin Baron, Executive Editor, The Washington Post
  • Carrie Cordero, Georgetown Law School, and former counsel to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence
  • Jameel Jaffer, Executive Director, Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University
  • Alberto Mora, Director, Global Programs, American Bar Association, and former General Counsel, Department of the Navy
  • Laura Poitras, Filmmaker, Journalist, and Executive Producer, Field of Vision
  • Moderated by Sanford J. Ungar, Director of the Free Speech Project at Georgetown University

Fall 2017

The panel “The Shadow of Charlottesville: Free Speech at a Crossroads” explored the events of Aug. 12, 2017, and how and why they became violent.

Oct. 30, 2017, at 7 p.m. in historic Gaston Hall.


Panelists featured:

  • Timothy Longo, Former Chief of Police, City of Charlottesville, Virginia
  • DeRay Mckesson, Civil Rights Activist and Host, “Pod Save the People”
  • Arthur Spitzer, Legal Director, American Civil Liberties Union of Washington, D.C.
  • Paula Xinis, Judge, U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland
  • Moderated by Sanford J. Ungar, Director of the Free Speech Project

Spring 2017

The two-day symposium “Free Speech Legacies: The Pentagon Papers Revisited,” co-sponsored by Georgetown’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs, included a public conversation between Daniel Ellsberg and Sanford J. Ungar, director of the Free Speech Project.

Feb. 16 and 17, 2017, in the Intercultural Center Auditorium and the Copley Formal Lounge.

The conference also featured three panels on the legal legacy of the Pentagon Papers case; the paradigm shift it brought about in government-media relations on national security matters; and the climate today, in the fast-paced internet era, for the publication of classified government information.

Panelists included:

Benjamin A. Powell – WilmerHale; former General Counsel, Director of National Intelligence

David Sanger – National Security Correspondent, The New York Times

Bob Woodward – Investigative Journalist, The Washington Post

Moderator: Jeanne Meserve – The Communication Center; former correspondent, CNN and ABC

Panelists included:

Martin Baron – Executive Editor, The Washington Post

Susan Hennessey – Brookings Institution and Managing Editor, Lawfare Blog; former attorney, National Security Agency

J. Patrick Rowan – McGuireWoods; former Assistant Attorney General for National Security

Moderator: Ellen Gorman – Lecturer, English Department, Georgetown University


Panelists included:

Floyd Abrams – First Amendment lawyer, Cahill Gordon & Reindel

David Cole – National Legal Director, American Civil Liberties Union

George Freeman – Executive Director, Media Law Resource Center

Moderator: Sanford J. Ungar –Distinguished Scholar in Residence, Georgetown University, and Lumina Foundation Fellow

What People are Saying About Us

The Project “will not only keep track of what’s happening — useful in itself — but find ways to promote civil discussion across political divisions. Protecting this basic American right sounds like it should be simple enough, but it’s often a minefield. (Or, at the moment, a football field.) ‘Everybody believes in free speech,’ Ungar notes, ‘until you get to the topic on which they don’t.’”
The civil rights and Vietnam protests changed America. Today, they might be illegal, The Washington Post

Margaret Sullivan
Media Columnist, The Washington Post

“Now Sandy Ungar has a new job title: director of The Free Speech Project (Georgetown University), with funding from the Knight Foundation.”
Sanford Ungar Heads New Free Speech Project at Georgetown University, First Amendment News

Ronald K.L. Collins
First Amendment News

“Georgetown unveiled (with Knight Foundation support) a website on free speech in America.”
Why journalists should envy, heed Lillian Ross, Poynter

James Warren
Poynter Institute