Power Without Responsibility: Intermediaries and the First Amendment

32 Pages Posted: 6 Aug 2008  

Rebecca Tushnet

Georgetown University Law Center


As Jerome Barron recognized in his classic article, the First Amendment rights of speakers and audiences must be evaluated in the contexts of their relationships to larger structures. To the extent that there is a right to speak or a right to hear, who is on the other side of that right? The system of free expression is not atomized, but pervasively structured by conduits such as television broadcasters and Internet service providers ("ISPs"). This article focuses on (potentially) harmful speech as it relates to claims for greater access to those conduits. Any effective proposal for access rights should deal with the recruitment of intermediaries to police and deter unlawful speech and the many and varied ways in which individual speakers will violate existing laws.

Keywords: first amendment, intermediaries, communications decency act

Suggested Citation

Tushnet, Rebecca, Power Without Responsibility: Intermediaries and the First Amendment. George Washington Law Review, Vol. 76, p. 101, 2008; Georgetown Public Law Research Paper No. 1205674. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1205674

Rebecca Tushnet (Contact Author)

Georgetown University Law Center ( email )

600 New Jersey Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20001
United States

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