Press Releases

Jul 13, 2017

First Amendment Earns a C+ on Summer 2017 Report Card

The Newseum Institute’s Quarterly Report Card Evaluates the State of the Five Freedoms of the First Amendment

WASHINGTON — On July 11, the Newseum Institute’s First Amendment Center released its quarterly “report card” on the state of the First Amendment. The report card series was launched in April 2017 as a way to systematically assess the state of our core freedoms during the current presidential administration. Grades are assigned by a panel of the nation’s leading constitutional experts.

Grades for the five freedoms of the First Amendment stand as such in the summer of 2017: religion (C+); speech (C+); press (C); assembly (B-); petition (B-). The grades average a C+. While there was no change in these grades from the first report card released in April, several events have occurred since then that have impacted our First Amendment freedoms.

“The repeated blocking of the Trump administration’s travel ban in federal courts, the recent Supreme Court decisions impacting freedom of speech and freedom of religion, and the sharp uptick in assaults against journalists were all frequently cited in our panelists’ comments,” wrote Lata Nott, executive director of the First Amendment Center. “On the whole, our panelists saw improvements in the freedoms of religion and assembly this quarter, but expressed concern over possible deterioration in the freedoms of speech and the press.”

The grading was performed by 15 panelists from across the political spectrum, each of whom have committed to providing quarterly updates of their grades for one year. Panelists were advised to consider the following four elements in their evaluations: legislation, executive orders, judicial decisions and public opinion; and also to consider long-term trends and actions.

The next First Amendment report card will be released in October 2017. To view the spring and summer report cards, and read more about our panelists and grading methodology, visit the Newseum Institute website.

About the Freedom Forum Institute

The Freedom Forum Institute is the education and outreach partner of the Freedom Forum and the Newseum. The Institute includes the First Amendment Center, the Religious Freedom Center, the Newseum’s education department and diversity and inclusion programs. The Freedom Forum Institute’s affiliate organizations include the Al Neuharth Media Center at the University of South Dakota; the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics at the University of Mississippi; and the John Seigenthaler Center at Vanderbilt University. The Freedom Forum Institute is a 501(c)(3) public charity funded by generous individuals, corporations and foundations, including its principal funder, the Freedom Forum.

About the Newseum Institute’s First Amendment Center

The Newseum Institute’s First Amendment Center is a forum for the study and exploration of issues related to free expression, religious freedom, and press freedom, and an authoritative source of information, news, and analysis of these issues. The Center provides education, information and entertainment to educators, students, policy makers, legal experts, and the general public. The Center is nonpartisan and does not lobby, litigate or provide legal advice. The Newseum Institute promotes the study, exploration and education of the challenges confronting freedom through its First Amendment Center and the Religious Freedom Center. The Newseum is a 501(c)(3) public charity funded by generous individuals, corporations and foundations, including the Freedom Forum. For more information, visit or follow us on Twitter.

Press Contacts

Sonya Gavankar
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