Describes landmark free speech decisions of the Supreme Court
while highlighting the issues of language, rhetoric, and
communication that underlie them.
At the intersection of communication and First Amendment law
reside two significant questions: What is the speech we ought to
protect, and why should we protect it? The 20 scholars of legal
communication whose essays are gathered in this volume propose
various answers to these questions, but their essays share an
abiding concern with a constitutional guarantee of free speech and
its symbiotic relationship with communication practices.
"Free Speech on Trial" fills a gap between textbooks that
summarize First Amendment law and books that analyze case law and
legal theory. These essays explore questions regarding the
significance of unregulated speech in a marketplace of goods and
ideas, the limits of offensive language and obscenity as
expression, the power of symbols, and consequences of restraint
prior to publication versus the subsequent punishment of sources.
As one example, Craig Smith cites "Buckley vs. Valeo" to examine
how the context of corruption in the 1974 elections shaped the
Court's view of the constitutionality of campaign contributions and
Collectively, the essays in this volume suggest that the life of
free speech law is communication. The contributors reveal how the
Court's free speech opinions constitute discursive performances
that fashion, deconstruct, and reformulate the contours and
parameters of the Constitution's guarantee of free expression and
that, ultimately, reconstitute our government, our culture, and our
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