Levin College of Law

Clay Calvert

Professor of Law & Brechner Eminent Scholar Emeritus


Clay Calvert is the Brechner Eminent Scholar Emeritus and former Director of the Marion B. Brechner First Amendment Project at the University of Florida. Since 2010, Professor Calvert has published more than 30 articles in flagship law reviews and more than 40 additional articles in a combination of specialty law reviews and peer-reviewed journals. 

In April 2021, Calvert received the University of Florida Teacher/Scholar of the Year Award for 2020-2021. In doing so, he became the first faculty member ever from the Levin College of Law and the College of Journalism and Communications to win UF’s most prestigious and oldest faculty award. The award “is given to a faculty member who demonstrates distinguished achievement in both teaching and scholarly activity (manifested by scholarly research, creative writing, original works of art, etc.) and visibility within and beyond the University.” Additionally, Calvert was inducted in April 2021 into the University’s Academy of Distinguished Teaching Scholars. In 2022, Professor Calvert won the Southeastern Conference Faculty Achievement Award for the University of Florida.

In 2023, Calvert has published op-ed commentaries in leading media outlets regarding topics including government regulation of social media platforms, Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, academic freedom, tenure, and free speech controversies on public university campuses.

In Spring 2011, Professor Calvert served as Visiting Professor of Law at the University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento, where he taught two sections of Constitutional Law II, covering equal protection, substantive due process and freedom of expression.

Calvert has authored or co-authored more than 150 law journal articles on topics related to freedom of expression. He has published articles in journals affiliated with the law schools at Arizona State University, Boston College, Boston University, Columbia, Duke, Harvard, Georgetown, New York University, Northwestern, University of California Berkeley, University of California Los Angeles, University of North Carolina, University of Pennsylvania, University of Southern California, University of Virginia, Vanderbilt, Washington & Lee, and William & Mary, among others.

In April 2017, he presented a talk at TEDxUF called “Catching Cops on Camera: A Gray Area.” Additionally in 2017, Calvert was awarded a University of Florida Research Foundation Professorship and he was one of the eight inaugural recipients within the College of Journalism and Communications of UF’s new term professorships recognizing academic achievements and supporting the University’s preeminence initiative.

In 2019, Calvert won the Top Faculty Paper award for the Law & Policy Division at the AEJMC’s annual convention in Toronto.   Additionally, in 2019 he published the article “Certifying Questions in First Amendment Cases: Free Speech, Statutory Ambiguity and Definitive Interpretations” in the Boston College Law Review.  Furthermore, in 2019 Calvert was a panelist on “Fifty Years After Brandenburg v. Ohio” at the ABA Forum on Communications Law’s annual conference in Miami.

As director of the Marion B. Brechner First Amendment Project, Calvert has filed, as counsel of record, multiple friend-of-the-court briefs with the United States Supreme Court in cases such as Lozman v. City of Riviera Beach, Elonis v. United States and Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association.

Since 2015, his op-ed commentaries have appeared in CNN.com, Fortune, Huffington Post, Newsweek, New Republic, Tampa Bay Times, Time and The Conversation.

Professor Calvert is co-author, along with Dan Kozlowski and Derigan Silver, of the market-leading undergraduate media law textbook, Mass Media Law, 22nd ed. (McGraw-Hill 2023), and is author of the book Voyeur Nation: Media, Privacy, and Peering in Modern Culture (Westview Press, 2000).

He received his J.D. with Great Distinction in 1991 from the University of the Pacific’s McGeorge School of Law and then earned a Ph.D. in 1996 in Communication from Stanford University, where he also completed his undergraduate work with a B.A. in Communication in 1987.  He is a member of both the State Bar of California and the Bar of the Supreme Court of the United States.


J.D., University of the Pacific
Ph.D., Stanford University

Teaching and Scholarship

Communications Law, First Amendment Law, Freedom of Expression, Freedom of Speech, Mass Media Law


  • Media Law


Calvert, C. (2020). Privileging Opinion, Denigrating Discourse: How the Law of Defamation Incentivizes News Talk-Show Hyperbole. Pepperdine Law Review, 2020, 51–70, available at https://digitalcommons.pepperdine.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2565&context=plr

Calvert, C. (2020). Rescinding Admission Offers in Higher Education: The Clash Between Free Speech and Institutional Academic Freedom When Prospective Students’ Racist Posts Are Exposed. UCLA Law Review Discourse, 68, 282 – 300, available at https://www.uclalawreview.org/rescinding-admission-offers-in-higher-education-the-clash-between-free-speech-and-institutional-academic-freedom-when-prospective-students-racist-posts-are-exposed/

Calvert, C. (2020). Curing the First Amendment Scrutiny Muddle Through a Breyer-Based Blend Up? Toward a Less Categorial, More Values-Oriented Approach for Selecting Standards of Judicial Review. Washington University Journal of Law & Policy, 65, 1 – 17, available at https://openscholarship.wustl.edu/law_journal_law_policy/vol65/iss1/7/

Calvert, C. (2020). Escaping Doctrinal Lockboxes in First Amendment Jurisprudence: Workarounds for Strict Scrutiny for Low-Value Speech in the Face of Stevens and Reed. SMU Law Review, 73 (4), 727 – 778, available at https://scholar.smu.edu/smulr/vol73/iss4/2/

Calvert, C. (2020). Selecting Scrutiny in Compelled-Speech Cases Involving Non-Commercial Expression: The Formulaic Landscape of a Strict-Scrutiny World After Becerra and Janus, and a First Amendment Interests-and-Values Alternative. Fordham Intellectual Property, Media & Entertainment Law Journal, 31 (1), 1 – 117, available at https://ir.lawnet.fordham.edu/iplj/vol31/iss1/1/

Calvert, C. (2020). The State of Research on Communication and First Amendment Law in Traditional Law Journals: An Evaluative and Instructional Take. Communication Law & Policy, 25 (3), 267 – 291.

Calvert, C. (2020). The First Amendment and Speech Urging Suicide: Lessons from the Case of Michelle Carter and the Need to Expand Brandenburg’s Application. Tulane Law Review, 94 (1), 79 – 97, available at https://www.tulanelawreview.org/pub/volume94/issue1/thefirstamendmentandspeechurgingsuicide

Calvert, C. (2020). Troll Storms and Tort Liability for Speech Urging Action by Others: A First Amendment Analysis and an Initial Step Toward a Federal Rule. Washington University Law Review, 97 (4), 1303 – 32, available at https://wustllawreview.org/volumes/97/issues/4/articles/7/

Calvert, C. (2020). Dissent, Disagreement and Doctrinal Disarray: Free Expression and the Roberts Court in 2020. William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal, 28 (4), 865 – 917, available at https://scholarship.law.wm.edu/wmborj/vol28/iss4/2/

Calvert, C., & Hampton, A. (2020). Raising First Amendment Red Flags About Red Flag Laws: Safety, Speech and the Second Amendment. George Mason University Civil Rights Law Journal, 30 (3), 351 – 369, available at  https://crljdotorg.files.wordpress.com/2021/04/gmc305_crop.pdf

Calvert, C. (2019). Wither Zauderer, Blossom Heightened Scrutiny? How the Supreme Court’s 2018 Rulings in Becerra and Janus Exacerbate Problems with Compelled-Speech Jurisprudence. Washington and Lee Law Review, 76 (4), 1395 – 1441, available at https://scholarlycommons.law.wlu.edu/wlulr/vol76/iss4/3/

Calvert, C. (2019). Testing the First Amendment Validity of Laws Banning Sexual Orientation Change Efforts on Minors: What Level of Scrutiny Applies After Becerra and Does a Proportionality Approach Provide a Solution? Pepperdine Law Review, 47 (1), 1 – 44, available at https://digitalcommons.pepperdine.edu/plr/vol47/iss1/1/

Calvert, C. (2019). Iancu v. Brunetti’s Impact on First Amendment Law: Viewpoint Discrimination, Modes of Offensive Expression, Proportionality and Profanity. Columbia Journal of Law & the Arts, 43 (1), 37 – 84, available at https://journals.library.columbia.edu/index.php/lawandarts/article/view/4125

Calvert, C. (2019). Contextual Cues to Meaning in Communications Law and First Amendment Jurisprudence: True Threats and Beyond. Journalism and Communication Monographs, 21 (3), 259 – 263, available at https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/1522637919859597

Calvert, C. (2019). Certifying Questions in First Amendment Cases: Free Speech, Statutory Ambiguity and Definitive Interpretations. Boston College Law Review, 60 (5), 1349 – 1377, available at https://lawdigitalcommons.bc.edu/bclr/vol60/iss5/3/

Calvert, C. (2019). Merging Offensive Speech Cases with Viewpoint-Discrimination Principles: The Immediate Impact of Matal v. Tam on Two Strands of First Amendment Jurisprudence.
William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal, 27 (3), 829 – 842, available at https://scholarship.law.wm.edu/wmborj/vol27/iss3/9/

Calvert, C. (2019). Is Everything a Full-Blown First Amendment Case After Becerra and Janus? Sorting Out Standards of Scrutiny and Untangling “Speech as Speech” Cases From Disputes
Incidentally Affecting Expression. Michigan State Law Review, 2019, 73 – 138, available at https://digitalcommons.law.msu.edu/lr/vol2019/iss1/3/

Calvert, C. (2019). The FCC and Profane Language: The Lugubrious Legacy of a Moral Panic and A Grossly Offensive Definition that Must be Jettisoned. First Amendment Law Review, 17, 147 – 185, available at https://falrunc.files.wordpress.com/2019/03/symposium-issue-vol.-17-2019-1.pdf

Calvert, C. (2019). First Amendment Envelope Pushers: Revisiting the Incitement-to-Violence Test with Messrs. Brandenburg, Trump & Spencer. Connecticut Law Review, 51 (1), 117 – 154, available at https://tinyurl.com/r7tp42g

LoMonte, F., & Calvert, C. (2018). The Open-Mic, Unplugged: Challenges to Viewpoint-Based Constraints on Public-Comment Periods. Case Western Reserve Law Review, 69 (1), 19 – 63, available at https://scholarlycommons.law.case.edu/caselrev/vol69/iss1/4/

Calvert, C. (2018 – 2019). The First Amendment, Compelled Speech & Minors: Jettisoning the FCC Mandate for Children’s Television Programming. Kentucky Law Journal, 107 (1), 35 – 59.

Calvert, C., Hampton, A.T., & Vining, A. (2018). Defamation Per Se and Transgender Status: When Macro-Level Value Judgments About Equality Trump Micro-Level Reputational Injury.
Tennessee Law Review, 85, 1029 – 1072, available at https://tennesseelawreviewdotcom.files.wordpress.com/2019/03/7-calvert-macros-v5.pdf

Calvert, C. (2018). College Campuses as First Amendment Combat Zones and Free-Speech Theatres of the Absurd: The High Price of Protecting Extremist Speakers for Shouting Matches and Insults. First Amendment Law Review, 16, 454 – 465, available at https://falrunc.files.wordpress.com/2018/05/falr-volume-16-spring-issue.pdf

Calvert, C. (2018). Reconsidering Incitement, Tinker and the Heckler’s Veto on College Campuses: Richard Spencer and the Charlottesville Factor. Northwestern University Law Review Online, 112, 109 – 132, available at http://www.northwesternlawreview.org/online/reconsidering-incitement-tinker-and-heckler’s-veto-college-campuses-richard-spencer

Calvert, C. (2018). Beyond Headlines & Holdings: Exploring Some Less Obvious Ramifications of the Supreme Court’s 2017 Free-Speech Rulings. William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal, 26 (4), 899 – 937, available at http://scholarship.law.wm.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1856&context=wmborj

Calvert, C., & Vining, A. (2018). Filtering Fake News Through a Lens of Supreme Court: Observations and Adages. First Amendment Law Review, 16, 153 – 177, available at https://www.jou.ufl.edu/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/CalvertandVining_Final.pdf

Calvert, C. (2018). Gag Clauses and the Right to Gripe: The Consumer Review Fairness Act of 2016 & State Efforts to Protect Online Reviews from Contractual Censorship. Widener Law Review, 24 (2), 203 – 234, available at http://widenerlawreview.org/files/2008/10/Calvert_FINAL.pdf

Calvert, C. (2017). Beyond Trademarks and Offense: Tam and the Justices’ Evolution on Free Speech. Cato Supreme Court Review, 2017, 25 – 58, available at https://object.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/serials/files/supreme-court-review/2017/9/2017-supreme-court-review-1.pdf

Calvert, C. (2017). Professional Standards and the First Amendment in Higher Education: When Institutional Academic Freedom Collides with Student Speech Rights. St. John’s Law Review, 91 (3), 611 – 662, available at https://scholarship.law.stjohns.edu/lawreview/vol91/iss3/3/

Calvert, C., McNeff, S., Vining, A., & Zarate, S. (2018). Fake News and the First Amendment: Reconciling a Disconnect Between Theory and Doctrine. University of Cincinnati Law Review, 86 (1), 99 – 138, available at https://scholarship.law.uc.edu/uclr/vol86/iss1/3/

Calvert, C. (2017). The Government Speech Doctrine in Walker’s Wake: Early Rifts and Reverberations on Free Speech, Viewpoint Discrimination and Offensive Expression.
William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal, 25 (4), 1239 – 1299, available at http://scholarship.law.wm.edu/wmborj/vol25/iss4/3/

Calvert, C., & Minchin, M. (2017). Can the Undue Burden Standard Add Clarity and Rigor to Intermediate Scrutiny in First Amendment Jurisprudence?: A Proposal Cutting Across Constitutional Domains for Time, Place & Manner Regulations. Oklahoma Law Review, 69 (4), 623 – 662, available at http://digitalcommons.law.ou.edu/olr/vol69/iss4/2/

Calvert, C., Vining, A., & Zarate, S. (2017). Reining in Internet-Age Expansion of Exemption 7(C): Towards a Tort Law Approach for Ferreting Out Legitimate Privacy Concerns and
Unwarranted Intrusions Under FOIA. SMU Law Review, 70 (2), 255 – 292, available at http://scholar.smu.edu/smulr/vol70/iss2/3/

Calvert, C. (2017). Legislating the First Amendment: A Trio of Recommendations for Lawmakers Targeting Free Expression. Cardozo Arts & Entertainment Law Journal, 35 (2), 279 – 302, available at https://scholarship.law.ufl.edu/facultypub/964/

Calvert, C. (2017). Fake News, Free Speech & the Third-Person Effect: I’m No Fool, But Others Are. Wake Forest Law Review Online, 7, 12, available at http://wakeforestlawreview.com/2017/02/fake-news-free-speech-the-third-person-effect-im-no-fool-but-others-are

Calvert, C. (2017). Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress & the Hulk Hogan Sex Tape: Examining a Forgotten Cause of Action in Bollea v. Gawker Media, the Gap It Reveals in IIED’s Constitutionalization, and a Path Forward for Revenge Porn Victims. New England Law Review: On Remand, 51 (1), 1 – 26 (2017), available at: https://newenglrev.com/volume-51-on-remand/calvert-intentional-infliction-of-emotional-distress-the-hulk-hogan-sex-tape/

Calvert, C., Minchin, M., Billaud, K., Bruckenstein, K., & Phillips, T. (2017). Indecency Four Years After Fox Television Stations: From Big Papi to a Porn Star, an Egregious Mess at the FCC Continues. University of Richmond Law Review, 51 (2), 329 – 369. http://lawreview.richmond.edu/wp/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/Calvert-512.pdf

Calvert, C., Shumate, R., McNeff, S.A., & Waters, S. (2017). Speech v. Conduct, Surcharges v. Discounts: Testing the Limits of the First Amendment and Statutory Construction in the Growing Credit Card Quagmire. N.Y.U. Journal of Legislation and Public Policy, 20 (1), 149 – 189. http://bit.ly/2octzDo

Calvert, C. (2016). The Right to Record Images of Police in Public Places: Should Intent, Viewpoint or Journalistic Status Determine First Amendment Protection? UCLA Law Review Discourse, 64, 230 – 253. http://www.uclalawreview.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Calvert-D64.pdf

Bunker, M.D., & Calvert, C. (2016). Video Games and the Right of Publicity: The Courts Drop the Ball. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, 93 (3), 627 – 643.

Calvert, C. (2016). Counterspeech, Cosby and Libel Law: Some Lessons About “Pure Opinion” & Resuscitating the Self-Defense Privilege. University of Florida Law Review, 69 (1), 151 – 179, available at http://www.floridalawreview.com/wp-content/uploads/Calvert.pdf

Calvert, C. (2016). Underinclusivity and the First Amendment: The Legislative Right to Nibble at Problems After Williams-Yulee. Arizona State Law Journal, 48 (3), 525 – 577. http://arizonastatelawjournal.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Calvert_Final.pdf

Bunker, M.D., & Calvert, C. (2016). Copyright in Inanimate Characters: The Disturbing Proliferation of Microworks and the Negative Effects on Copyright and Free Expression. Communication Law and Policy, 21 (3), 281 – 300.

Calvert, C., & Bunker, M.D. (2016). Fissures, Fractures & Doctrinal Drifts: Paying the Price in First Amendment Jurisprudence for a Half-Decade of Avoidance, Minimalism & Partisanship. William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal, 24 (4), 943 – 994. http://scholarship.law.wm.edu/wmborj/vol24/iss4/2/

Calvert, C., Tobin, C.D., & Bunker, M.D. (2016). Newsgathering Takes Flight in Choppy Skies: Legal Obstacles Affecting Journalistic Drone Use. Fordham Intellectual Property, Media & Entertainment Law Journal, 26 (3), 535 – 571. http://ir.lawnet.fordham.edu/iplj/vol26/iss3/1/

Calvert, C. (2016). Protecting the Public from Itself: Paternalism and Irony in Defining Newsworthiness. New England Law Review, 50 (2), 165 – 190. https://newenglrev.com/volume-50/calvert-protecting-the-public-from-itself-paternalism-and-irony-in-defining-newsworthiness/

Bunker, M.D., & Calvert, C. (2016). “Defamation Live”: The Confusing Legal Landscape of Republication in Live Broadcasting and a Call for a “Breaking News Doctrine.” Columbia Journal of Law & the Arts, 39 (4), 497 – 512. https://journals.cdrs.columbia.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/14/2016/06/2-39.4-Calvert.pdf

Calvert, C. (2015). The First Amendment Right to Record Images of Police in Public Places: The Unreasonable Slipperiness of Reasonableness & Possible Paths Forward. Texas A&M Law Review, 3 (1), 131 – 178.

Calvert, C. (2015).  Difficulties and Dilemmas Regarding Defamatory Meaning in Ethnic   Micro-Communities: Accusations of Communism, Then and Now. University of Louisville Law Review, 54 (1), in press

Calvert, C., Morehart, E., Billaud, K., & Bruckenstein, B. (2015).   Access to Information About Lethal Injections: A First Amendment Theory Perspective  on Creating a New Constitutional Right. Hastings Communications & Entertainment Law Journal, 38 (1), in press

Calvert, C. (2015). Content-Based Confusion and Panhandling: Muddling a Weathered  First Amendment Doctrine Takes Its Toll on Society’s Less Fortunate.  Richmond Journal of Law and the Public Interest, 18 (3), 249 – 289, available at:  http://rjolpi.richmond.edu/archive/Calvert_Formatted.pdf

Calvert, C. (2015). Legal Lessons in On-Stage Character Development: Comedians, Characters, Cable Guys & Copyright Convolutions. Berkeley Journal of Entertainment and Sports Law, 4 (1), 12 – 37, available at: http://scholarship.law.berkeley.edu/bjesl/vol4/iss1/2/

Calvert, C., & Bunker, M.D. (2015). Know Your Audience:  Risky Speech at the Intersection of Meaning and Value in First Amendment Jurisprudence. Loyola of Los Angeles Entertainment Law Review, 35 (2), 141 – 210.

Calvert, C. (2014). Public Concern and Outrageous Speech: Testing the Inconstant Boundaries of IIED and the First Amendment Three Years After Snyder v. Phelps. University of Pennsylvania Journal of Constitutional Law, 17 (2), 437 – 478.

Calvert, C., Morehart, E., & Papadelias, S. (2014). Rap Music and the True Threats Quagmire:  When Does One Man’s Lyric Become Another’s Crime? Columbia Journal of Law & the Arts, 38 (1), 1 – 27 (2014), available at:  http://lawandarts.org/articles/rap-music-and-the-true-threats-quagmire-when-does-one-mans-lyric-become-anothers-crime/

Calvert, C., Minchin, M., & Morehart, E. (2014). Gruesome Images, Shocking Speech and Harm to Minors: Judicial Pushback Against the First Amendment After Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association? Virginia Sports & Entertainment Law Journal, 13 (2), 127 – 166.

Calvert, C., Axelrod, D., Papadelias, S., & Riedemann, L. (2014).  Bag Men and the Ghost   of Richard Jewell: Some Legal and Ethical Lessons About Implied Defamation,  Headlines and Reporting on Breaking Criminal Activity From Barhoum v. NYP Holdings. Hastings Communications & Entertainment Law Journal, 36 (2), 407 – 449.

Calvert, C. (2014). The Future of the Press and Privacy.  Communication Law and Policy, 19 (1), 119 – 128  Clay Calvert    Dec. 1, 2015 3

Calvert, C. (2014). Revenge Porn and Freedom of Expression:  Legislative Pushback to an  Online Weapon of Emotional and Reputational Destruction. Fordham Intellectual Property, Media and Entertainment Law Journal, 24 (3), 673 – 702.

Calvert, C., Morehart, E., & Papadelias, S. (2014). Plausible Pleading & Media Defendant Status: Fulfilled Promises, Unfinished Business in Libel Law on the Golden Anniversary of Sullivan. Wake Forest Law Review, 49 (1), 47 – 86.

Calvert, C., Carnley, K., Link, B., & Riedemann, L. (2014). Conversion Therapy and Free Speech: A Doctrinal and Theoretical First Amendment Analysis. William & Mary Journal of Women and the Law, 20 (3), 525 – 571.

Bunker, M.D., & Calvert, C. (2014). The Jurisprudence of Transformation: Intellectual Incoherence  and Doctrinal Murkiness Twenty Years After Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music.  Duke Law and Technology Review, 12 (1), 92 – 128, available at: http://scholarship.law.duke.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1248&context=dltr

Calvert, C. (2013). Fringes of Free Expression: Testing the Meaning of “Speech” Amid Shifting Mores and Changing Technologies. Southern California Interdisciplinary Law Journal, 22 (3), 545 – 590.

Calvert, C. (2013). A Familial Privacy Right Over Death Images: Critiquing the Internet-Propelled Emergence of a Nascent Constitutional Right that Preserves Happy Memories and Emotions. Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly, 40 (3), 475 – 523.

Calvert, C., & Bunker, M.D. (2013). An “Actual Problem” in First Amendment Jurisprudence? Examining the Immediate Impact of Brown’s Proof-of-Causation Doctrine on Free Speech and Its Compatibility with the Marketplace Theory. Hastings Communications & Entertainment Law Journal, 35 (3), 391 – 428.

Bunker, M.D., & Calvert, C. (2013). Could Wild Horses Drag Access Away From Courtrooms? Expanding First Amendment Rights To New Pastures. Communication Law and Policy, 18 (3), 247 – 264.