Freedom of Expression

at the National Endowment for the Arts

An interdisciplinary education project partially funded by the American Bar Association, Commission on College and University Legal Studies through the ABA Fund for Justice and Education

Site Table of Contents

Important Notice

This site is no longer being maintained.

Many links are broken and some news material is out-of-date.
However, as several teachers have requested continued use of some sections, I am leaving it on-line.

Site Table of Contents

Understanding the complexities of free speech in government-funded activities requires consideration of interdisciplinary concepts from art, law, and philosophy:

COURSE MATERIALS: Introduction to several major themes, along with suggested discussion questions. These pages are updated regularly as dictated by events at the National Endowment for the Arts, Congress, and the courts. Updates also respond to your suggestions for improvements and clarification. The four major topics are as follows:

Freedom of Expression: How is freedom of expression protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, especially for artists?

Government Support for Cultural Activities: Is funding of the arts an appropriate government activity?

Government Funding and the First Amendment: How does freedom of expression apply in the context of federally funded activities?

Governmental Determinations of Aesthetic Value: How is aesthetic value determined by the executive and judiciary branches of government?

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Comprehensive bibliographies on government funding of the arts, updated regularly:

ON-LINE RESOURCES: On-line resources to use in conjunction with the course materials here

DOCUMENTS: Most court decisions and related documents involving the NEA are not otherwise available on the Internet and are included here.

Advocates for the Arts v. Thomson
Bella Lewitsky Dance Foundation v. Frohnmayer
Finley v. National Endowment for the Arts (C.D.Cal., 1992)
Finley v. National Endowment for the Arts (9th Cir., 1996)
Finley v. National Endowment for the Arts (rehearing denied) (9th Cir., 1997)
Fordyce v. Frohnmayer
Frasier v. U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services

National Endowment for the Arts v. Finley:

National Endowment for the Arts v. Finley: Parties' Briefs National Endowment for the Arts v. Finley: Amicus Curiae Briefs for the Petitioners National Endowment for the Arts v. Finley: Amicus Curiae Briefs for the Respondents Wojnarowicz v. American Family Association

DISCUSSION BOARD: Due to relentless spamming, this feature has been discontinued. 

FEEDBACK: To improve these course materials and make them more useful for you and your students, please let me know your assessment of this site. Were the materials helpful to you? How did you use them with your students? What additional materials should be included? How could I improve this site?

Image: The Old Post Office, 1100 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC, home of the National Endowment for the Arts

Site developed and maintained by Julie Van Camp, Professor of Philosophy,

California State University, Long Beach.

Your comments, questions, and suggestions are welcome: e-mail:

1250 Bellflower Boulevard, Long Beach, CA 90840-2408
Office Phone/Voice Mail: (562) 985-5854

Copyright 1996-2006 Julie C. Van Camp

Permission is hereby given to print, download, and reproduce these materials for educational, personal, or scholarly purposes, but only if the copyright notice and this permission notice are reprinted in full with each copy. This material may not be sold or otherwise used for commercial purposes. [No copyright claimed in government documents or other public domain materials.]

Nothing in this material should be considered legal advice. If you have a legal problem, you should consult with experienced legal counsel. The views here are solely the responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the American Bar Association, California State University, or the National Endowment for the Arts.

Last updated: July 4, 2006