Telecommunications | Telecommunications & the Constitution
T424 | 10708 | McGregor, M
TEL-T 424 Telecommunications and the Constitution
Class number 10708
Michael A. McGregor
P: Tel. T205 or T207 or consent of instructor
This course surveys the constitutional foundations of
telecommunications law and policy in the United States. The course
primarily focuses on the free speech and free press clauses of the
First Amendment to the United States Constitution. Much of the
semester will be spent studying the history of the free speech
tradition, various philosophies about what the First Amendment
means, how the First Amendment applies to the electronic media, and
the government regulations and policies that purport to promote
First Amendment values. Other constitutional provisions affecting
telecommunications law--most notably the commerce clause and the
copyright provisions of Article I--will also be addressed.
The course is divided into three main components. The first
component studies the philosophical development of freedom of speech
and press. The second major segment of the course focuses on the
development of First Amendment law and its specific application to
the electronic media. A brief survey of laws and policies flowing
from First Amendment goals forms the basis for the third major
section of the course. The focus of this course is more
philosophical and theoretical than practical. Students seeking a
broader understanding of telecommunications law and policy should
also take the companion courses offered by the department.
This section of T424 is designated as an intensive writing section.
Thus, a further objective of this course is to improve writing and
composition skills. Accordingly, writing instruction will be
emphasized throughout the course.
Because this is an intensive writing class, enrollment is capped at
25. Most class sessions feature a combination of lecture and
Students will be evaluated based upon performance on five writing
assignments, five in-class “pop” essays, two essay final
examinations, and class participation.
This class fulfills the following Telecommunications and COAS
This course counts toward Social and Historical Studies distribution
requirements in the College of Arts and Sciences. It may, or may
not, also count toward other degree requirements. For more
information about which requirements this course could fulfill see
the College of Arts and Sciences Bulletin at
If you have questions, or need additional help, see your academic
1. Hopkins (ed.). Communications and the Law. Vision Press. 2008
2. Supplemental readings published by TIS Printing.
3. Occasional papers and readings from the web. Urls are listed in
4. Communications Headlines service provided by the Benton
Foundation. Go to benton.org, then to the Communication link.
There you will be able to access the daily communications headline