TEAM 

Elias Fox Schmidt

no pronouns
(use “Elias” in place of any pronouns)

 2020-2021 
 FELLOWS 

Nirali Vyas is a J.D. Candidate at Vanderbilt University. She is passionate about racial justice, democratic representation, and money in politics. Prior to attending law school, she was a Research and Program Associate in the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice, where she conducted quantitative research about public campaign financing and other electoral reforms in New York state and at the federal level. Nirali also worked to develop scholarship on critical social issues at the Social Science Research Council and has completed internships at the Ford Foundation and the Trenton Prevention Policy Board. She earned her B.A. in Economics and Political Science from the College of New Jersey. 

 

What’s a freedom of expression issue that you wish got more attention?

How corporate invocation of the First Amendment to protect business interests has diverted critical resources from poor communities of color and helped to sustain the racial wealth gap.

 

Iltaff Bala is a first-year law student at Case Western Reserve University School of Law. She is from Houston, TX, and she graduated from the University of Rochester in 2020 with a degree in Epidemiology. Prior to law school, she worked as an EMT and Diversity Workshop Facilitator. Her passion for social justice inspired her to pursue legal education to investigate the systemic injustices that she observed in her roles as a student, caretaker, and advocate. She is interested in applying critical race theory across many different legal practice areas to call out these issues and be part of the solution.

What’s a freedom of expression issue that you wish got more attention?

The anti-blackness that stands in the way of marginalized people’s access to their first amendment rights. We see this in the double standards faced by Black Lives Matter protesters and the way the legal system vilifies Black creators and organizers. 

Makela Asantewaa Hayford is a second-year law student at Case Western Reserve University School of Law in Cleveland, Ohio. She is the proud recipient of the Congressman Louis Stokes Congressional Black Caucus Scholarship for her undergraduate degree and the Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones Public Interest Law Scholarship for law school. She earned her B.A. in Sociology with minors in African American Studies, Social Justice, and Organizational Behavior in 2018. Makela is interested in civil litigation as a tool for Social Justice. 

Makela Asantewaa

Hayford 

 

What’s a freedom of expression issue that you wish got more attention?

The First Amendment is not the great equalizer of public discourse; power and privilege play hidden roles in determining who is truly free to speak and what they are free to say. 

Elias Fox Schmidt

no pronouns
(use “Elias” in place of any pronouns)

Elias Fox Schmidt is a 2L JD/MSW student at the University at Buffalo School of Law. Elias is passionate about addressing and educating others on the legal and social issues that affect the trans community. After graduation, Elias hopes to continue serving the trans community in a legal capacity. Elias currently lives in Western New York and has four cats. 

What’s a freedom of expression issue that you wish got more attention?

The recent use of the First Amendment to prohibit bans on conversion talk therapy for LGBT minors and how this disproportionately affects trans individuals.

 
 2019-2020 
 FELLOWS 

Korica Simon is a second year law student at Cornell Law School. She is also a graduate teaching assistant for an information science course at Cornell called Information Ethics, Law, and Policy, where she is able to engage with students on the ethics around up and coming technology and how the law should respond to these innovations. After graduation, she’s hoping to become a privacy lawyer focusing on freedom of expression issues that  marginalized communities face in the age of technological surveillance. 

 

What’s a freedom of expression issue that you wish got more attention?

I’m interested in the ways in which technological advancement has affected people’s freedom to express themselves and engage in activist work when they know they are being watched.

Jafet Martinez-Molina is a JD/MBA 2L student at the University of Puerto Rico Law School. He has developed a passion for working and learning about intellectual property and constitutional issues that develop around them. He is also a member of the Intellectual Property Pro bono, an online editor of Business Law Journal of the University of Puerto Rico and works for a small law firm that thrives in intellectual property and Startups. 

 

What’s a freedom of expression issue that you wish got more attention?

 I am interested in the importance of empowering every single person from marginalized communities to express themselves in the most creative ways without fear of any repercussions for assuring our first amendment rights.

Alyssa Morones is a a 2L at UCLA School of Law. Last summer she interned with the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press in Washington, DC and, prior to law school, worked in journalism in various capacities, including as a freelance writer covering health and education issues in California's Central Valley and as a newsroom intern for Education Week Newspaper. She earned her B.A. in Political Science from the University of Notre Dame.

What’s a freedom of expression issue that you wish got more attention?

The important role the First Amendment plays for marginalized and vulnerable communities to advocate for change, especially where other political routes for have been closed off, but also how often barriers to fully exercising these rights are unequally distributed onto these same communities.

Stacey Menjivar is a first-year law student at Boston University School of Law. She is interested in international human rights, immigration and asylum, and freedom of expression issues. She has previously worked as an admissions officer at Harvard University, and as a software consultant for Mercer Digital. She graduated from Princeton University in 2014 with a degree in Comparative Literature, specializing in Spanish and Portuguese Languages and Cultures. She lives in Boston, Massachusetts with her beloved puppy, Juno.

Stacey Menjivar

she/her/hers

 
 

What’s a freedom of expression issue that you wish got more attention?

How established institutions (universities, sports teams, and the like) use their power and influence to silence their employees, thereby preventing the lawful exercise of their First Amendment rights. A clear example here is the NFL's treatment of Colin Kaepernick.

Sara Beladi  is a J.D. Candidate at the University of San Francisco. She was previously a legal intern at the Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR) and at the Office of the Los Angeles City Attorney. Before attending law school, Sara worked in media, most recently as a magazine editor and a research and story development professional at a documentary production company. She is coauthor of “They Know Everything About You: How Data-Collecting Corporations and Snooping Government Agencies Are Destroying Democracy.” 

 

What’s a freedom of expression issue that you wish got more attention?

The frequent misapplication of the confidential business information exemption of the Freedom of Information Act, an issue I became aware of at CIR.

Initiative for a Representative First Amendment

Harvard Law School Cyberlaw Clinic

Suite 5018

1585 Massachusetts Avenue

Cambridge, MA 02138

Header image is Justice, by Diana K. Moore, from outside the Martin Luther King, Jr. Federal Courthouse in Newark, New Jersey. You can read more about the sculpture here.

 

The Initiative for a Representative First Amendment is a project of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University and the Harvard Law School Cyberlaw Clinic. We're proudly funded by the Legal Clinics fund.