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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The First Amendment protects freedoms every American holds dear. A conference at Duquesne University is bringing together some of the finest minds to discuss its vital role.

Judge Thomas Hardiman, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, who was considered a front-runner twice for President Trump’s U.S. Supreme Court picks was one of the panelists.

The National Conference on the First Amendment is the first of its kind in the country. In addition to urging people to better understand its protections, the goal is also to do it in a way that promotes more civility in what has become a politically divisive time.

“Freedom of the press, freedom of religion, freedom of speech. These are our first freedoms,” Judge Thomas Hardiman said.

national conference on the first amendment First Of Its Kind First Amendment National Conference Held In Pittsburgh

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

No matter your political ideology, if you are American, you are sure to value the First Amendment.

“I think everybody has to pass what I call the shoe-on-the-other-foot test, and that is if you promote free speech for your view, would you make the same argument if the shoe were on the other foot?” legal scholar Alan Dershowitz said.

The two-day conference is inviting spirited discussion, celebrating this unique American freedom and addressing important questions of our time.

“The notion that what we do every day is politics by other means is completely false. It’s not even close. It’s all about the facts and the law and applying them, and doing so on our court in a collegial manner because you are always doing it with two others or sometimes 13 others,” Judge Hardiman said.

“I think free speech, along with a couple of other areas, is one of those areas that tends to unite the justices across ideological lines,” Noel Francisco, U.S. Solicitor General, said.

The conference is also aimed at helping people find common ground in the freedoms it never hurts to rediscover.

“You can be Democrat, Republican, liberal, conservative, whatever and still respect other opinions and listen carefully. We are best as a country when we are working on a united front, not when we are at each other’s throats, and this is a beautiful example of it,” said Ken Gormley, President of Duquesne University and constitutional law expert.

The Pittsburgh Foundation was also a partner in developing the National Conference on the First Amendment.