Free speech issues and the First Amendment will be topics of a discussion Thursday evening with noted constitutional law scholar Erwin Chemerinsky of the University of California at Berkeley School of Law.

Following the riot at the U.S. Capitol last week and Twitter’s ban of President Donald Trump, who was impeached for a second time by Congress on Wednesday, citizens may have questions about the limits to free speech and the First Amendment.

David Snyder, executive director of the First Amendment Coalition, will hold a virtual discussion with Chemerinsky from 5 to 6 p.m. Thursday to get at some of the answers.

Erwin Chemerinsky of the University of California at Berkeley School of Law. (Photo courtesy of First Amendment Coalition)

Chemerinsky said by phone Tuesday that Twitter’s ban of Trump raises free speech issues.

“I’m troubled by the lifetime ban,” he said.

Twitter announced that it banned Trump due to the risk he could further incite violence. Trump has the right to speak and people have the right to hear him, Chemerinsky said.

But even though Trump has the right to speak, Chemerinsky believes Trump’s words and those of his lawyer, former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, met the test for incitement under the law.

The test for incitement stems from a 1969 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Brandenburg v. Ohio. Meeting the test involves the likelihood of imminent illegal activity and speech that must be directed at causing imminent illegal activity, Chemerinsky said.

Trump was less than a mile away from the U.S. Capitol when he allegedly incited a mob to breach it. Before the breach, lawmakers were getting ready to certify the Electoral College vote in the U.S. presidential election, confirming Joe Biden as the next president over Trump.

As a result of Trump’s words near the Capitol last week, can he be criminally charged?

“There is a debate over whether a sitting President can be indicted, but there seems to be a consensus that there is no limit on an indictment after leaving office,” Chemerinsky said.

People can RSVP and register for the discussion online.

Keith Burbank is currently a fulltime reporter covering Alameda County and Oakland news for Bay City News. He has also worked on the Data Points project for Local News Matters, finding trends and stories about the region through data. In 2019, he was a California Fellow at the USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism, producing a series about homeless deaths in Santa Clara County. He worked as a swing shift editor for the newswire for several years as well. Outside of journalism, Keith enjoys computer programming, math, economics and music.