"Tavern Talk" & the Origins of First Amendment’s Assembly Clause

Keep Food Legal executive director Baylen Linnekin has posted a working paper at SSRN in which he makes the case that

The proper situs of the Assembly Clause, research reveals, is in its birthplace: colonial America’s taverns. Colonial taverns served not just as establishments for drinking alcohol but as vital centers where colonists of reputations great and small gathered to read printed tracts, speak with one another on important issues of the day, debate the news, organize boycotts, draft treatises and demands, plot the expulsion of their British overlords, and establish a new nation.

In the article Linnekin traces the early history of taverns in colonial America, discusses the role that colonists assembling in taverns played both in fostering the freedom of assembly and in combating growing British attacks on the rights of American colonists, analyzes the brief but informative legislative history of the Assembly Clause, describes how tavern talk places the situs of the freedom of assembly squarely in taverns, and concludes that in taverns and tavern talk are the origins of the Assembly Clause.

Read the abstract and download the article here.

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