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Eloquence and Reason: Creating a First Amendment Culture


Robert L. Tsai


American University - Washington College of Law


ELOQUENCE AND REASON: CREATING A FIRST AMENDMENT CULTURE, Yale University Press, 2008
American University, WCL Research Paper No. 09-32

Abstract:     
This book presents a general theory to explain how the words in the Constitution become culturally salient ideas, inscribed in the habits and outlooks of ordinary Americans. "Eloquence and Reason" employs the First Amendment as a case study to illustrate that liberty is achieved through the formation of a common language and a set of organizing beliefs. The book explicates the structure of First Amendment language as a distinctive discourse and illustrates how activists, lawyers, and even presidents help to sustain our First Amendment belief system. When significant changes to constitutional law occur, they are best understood as the results of broader linguistic transformations. Drawing on the ratification debates, "Eloquence and Reason" concludes by advancing a model of judicial review in which jurists are responsible for the management of political discourses and the empowerment of other participants to a public debate, quite apart from any substantive obligations they may have to the legal order. The Table of Contents and Preface are available for download.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 10

Keywords: First Amendment, constitution, culture, language, rhetoric, civil rights, president, social movement, linguistic, metaphor, religion, speech, assembly

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Date posted: November 1, 2008 ; Last revised: November 2, 2009

Suggested Citation

Tsai, Robert L., Eloquence and Reason: Creating a First Amendment Culture. ELOQUENCE AND REASON: CREATING A FIRST AMENDMENT CULTURE, Yale University Press, 2008; American University, WCL Research Paper No. 09-32. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1292356

Contact Information

Robert L. Tsai (Contact Author)
American University - Washington College of Law ( email )
4801 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20016
United States
202.274.4370 (Phone)
HOME PAGE: http://www.wcl.american.edu/faculty/rtsai/
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