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Ms Eliza Bechtold


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Member of the Durham Law School  


Eliza is a full-time PhD Candidate and part-time Tutor at Durham Law School. She serves as the Deputy Director of the Durham Law School Human Rights Centre. 

Eliza is an American qualified lawyer with over 10 years of substantive experience as a practicing attorney. She holds a BA from Scripps College, a JD from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, and an LLM in Public International Law from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). While at the LSE, she co-founded LSE Pro Bono Matters, a post-graduate led pro bono group based at the LSE Law Department that engages in human rights advocacy (see 

Prior to coming to Durham, Eliza served as the Legal Director of a state affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union, a non-partisan, non-profit organisation that works to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution and laws of the United States. In this position, she litigated human rights cases in state and federal courts in the United States. She also has extensive experience working as an associate for law firms, including over three years at DLA Piper LLP and representing, Inc. in patent litigation. 

Eliza’s PhD research concerns the appropriate limits on freedom of expression in liberal democracies, with a particular focus on the regulation of extreme speech in the United States and Europe and the proper role of digital intermediaries in policing online expression. While the problems confronting the United States and Europe relating to the causes and consequences of extreme speech are similar, the approaches vary in significant and meaningful ways. With the rise of extremism and the increasing prevalence and virulence of extreme speech online, the value of comprehensive research examining the appropriate limits of freedom of expression is of particular import.

Eliza is the recipient of the Durham Law Studentship, a Modern Law Review Scholar (2019-2021), and a 2020 Kathleen Fitzpatrick Visiting Fellow in Comparative Constitutional Law at the Melbourne Law School, University of Melbourne.

  • Terrorism, the Internet, and the Threat to Freedom of Expression: The Regulation of Digital Intermediaries in the United States and Europe.  The 8th Annual Cambridge International Law Conference (2019) University of Cambridge, England. 

  • Policing the Internet: Regulating Intermediaries in Europe and the United States. British Association of Comparative Law Postgraduate Research Workshop on Comparative Law (2019). University of Lancaster, England. 

  • Criminalising Speech: Stirring up Hatred Offences and the Threat to Freedom of Expression in the UK. Law Commission Hate Crime Research Conference (2019). Oxford Brookes University, England. 

  • Transgender Rights and United States Supreme Court Jurisprudence’. New Mexico Bar Association Continuing Legal Education Course (2017). Albuquerque, New Mexico.  

  • Participant on expert panel discussion on hate speech and the First Amendment (2017). University of New Mexico Law School, Albuquerque, New Mexico. 

  • Participant on expert panel discussion on free speech and the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement (2017). Albuquerque, New Mexico.  

  • An Update on Iraq’s National Action Plan for Implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace, and Security (2016). The London School of Economics and Political Science Law School, England 

Research interests

  • Public International Law, Comparative Constitutional Law, Human Rights, Freedom of Expression


Chapter in book

  • Bechtold, Eliza & Phillipson, Gavin (2020). Glorification of Censorship? Anti-Terror Law, Speech, and Online Regulation. In The Oxford Handbook on Freedom of Speech. Stone, Adrienne & Schauer, Frederick OUP.

Journal Article

Other (Digital/Visual Media)

  • Bechtold, Eliza (2021). Free Speech in America: is the US approach to free speech fit for purpose in the age of social media? The Conversation UK.
  • (2021). The Republican Party’s Misappropriation of ‘Free Speech’ Undermines American Democracy’ UK Constitutional Law Association Blog.
  • Bechtold, Eliza (2020). The United States Should Follow the EU's Lead in Recognising Actions in Support of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement as Protected Speech, Inforrm's Blog. Blog.
  • Bechtold, Eliza (2020). Donald Trump's Attacks on Social Media Threaten the Free Speech Rights of All Americans, The Conversation UK.
  • Bechtold, Eliza (2020). Has The United States’ Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic Exposed the Marketplace of Ideas as a Failed Experiment? UK Constitutional Law Association Blog. Blog.
  • Bechtold, Eliza (2020). Fox News, Donald Trump's cheerleaders and the journalists who challenged his narrative. The Conversation.
  • Bechtold, Eliza (2019). The First Amendment: What is Really Means for Free Speech and Why Donald Trump is Trampling on it, The Conversation UK.