False Speech: Quagmire?
Christopher P. Guzelian
Thomas Jefferson School of Law
April 6, 2013
San Diego Law Review, Vol. 51, p. 19, 2014
Thomas Jefferson School of Law Research Paper No. 2245157
Recently decided cases in several Federal Courts of Appeals and the United States Supreme Court demonstrate that First Amendment false speech case law is contradictory and unpredictable. This essay gives examples and concludes that legal liability for false speech will continue to be arbitrary and even susceptible to intentionally unjust decisionmaking if judges and juries individually and collectively disregard or downplay the necessity of an honest search for truth in the guise of tolerance and evenhandedness.
If Americans wish to avoid an anything-goes “quagmire,” they must — despite inevitable resistance in a civilization increasingly rife with skeptics — undergo transformations of their thinking habits so as to genuinely seek and successfully identify truth with charitable application in law. In addition, a certain kind of optimism is necessary to render consistent and correct conclusions in false speech cases. This article’s implications may also extend beyond false speech to other areas of constitutional and common law.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 63
Keywords: false speech, truthful speech, free speech, First Amendment, Stolen Valor Act, defamation, false statements
JEL Classification: K19, K30
Date posted: April 6, 2013 ; Last revised: December 15, 2014
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