William & Mary Cabell Research Professor of Law Timothy Zick, an expert on public speech rights, recently spoke with the Associated Press regarding the First Amendment issues raised by the nationwide “Occupy” movement. Zick provided clarity on the legal and historical support for the speech and assembly rights being exercised by the protesters, as well as the restrictions now being imposed in New York City and other cities across the country. His commentary has been picked up by a host of news media, including USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, The Huffington Post, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Dallas Morning News, Salon, The Miami Herald, The Boston Globe, ABC News, Bloomberg Businessweek, and the Chicago Sun-Times among others.
While noting that the Constitution provides protections for speech, assembly, and petition in public places, Zick said that “governments have the power to regulate things for public safety, traffic flow, sanitation… They can and do regulate time of day, place and manner.”
Zick concurred with other legal scholars that governments have a legitimate interest both in protecting the public and preserving rights to public protest. “It's a delicate balance,” he said. “It's a difficult question that has to be decided locality by locality. But I think the calculus in some places has been ‘enough is enough.’”
Zick is the author of Speech out of Doors: Preserving First Amendment Liberties in Public Places (Cambridge University Press 2009), which deals with the “steady erosion” of public liberties in America. Zick graduated summa cum laude from Indiana University in 1989 and summa cum laude from Georgetown University Law Center in 1992, where he received the Francis E. Lucey, S.J. Award for graduating first in his class. Zick joined the faculty at William & Mary in 2008, after teaching for six years at St. John’s Law School.