The First Amendment Right Against Compelled Listening
78 Pages Posted: 5 Mar 2009 Last revised: 21 Dec 2012
Date Written: March 4, 2009
This Article argues for a new First Amendment right: the right against compelled listening. Free speech jurisprudence - which already recognizes the right to speak, the right to listen, and the right against compelled speech - is incomplete without the right against compelled listening. The same values that underlie the other free speech rights also lead to this right. Furthermore, this claim holds true regardless of whether one conceives of the primary purpose of the free speech clause as creating a marketplace of ideas, enhancing participatory democracy, or promoting individual autonomy. The Article starts by examining the protection afforded to unwilling listeners by the captive audience doctrine, which balances private speakers' right to communicate against listeners' rights to privacy, equality, and voting. It then argues that protection for captive listeners can be grounded in free speech values, and explores two possible approaches to delimiting the free speech right against compelled listening. The Article concludes by applying the new right to state-mandated abortion counseling and state-mandated diversity training.
Keywords: First Amendment, free speech, captive audience, privacy, harassment, hate speech, compelled speech, compelled listening, autonomy, marketplace of ideas, deliberative democracy, participatory democracy, reproductive rights, abortion, abortion counseling, ultrasound, diversity training
JEL Classification: Z00
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation