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Archived updates for Wednesday, September 29, 2004

NYT: The Right to Research

Catherine Wagner, "-86 Degree Freezers (12 Areas of
Concern and Crisis), 1995, exhibited at "Art & Science:
Investigating Matter" at the Wirtz Gallery 2001.
According to a September 26, 2004 article in New York Times Magazine,
Arguments in favor of applying First Amendment scrutiny to antiresearch laws can be complex, but the metaphors lawyers have used are not. One, proposed in separate articles by John Robertson of the University of Texas and James Ferguson, who teaches at Northwestern, compares scientists to reporters. As with journalism, actions that are not strictly speech (research) are so necessary to speech (publishing) that to ban them is to ban the speech.

R. Alta Charo, legal scholar and bioethicist at the University of Wisconsin, says that some experiments are constitutionally protected ''expressive conduct'' in their own right. ''If the questions you ask and the science you do really challenges or explores cultural or religious or political norms . . . that in itself is an act of rebellion, and this is exactly the sort of thing that fits comfortably in the spirit of the First Amendment.''
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