Where's the Harm?: Free Speech and the Regulation of Lies

11 Pages Posted: 1 May 2009 Last revised: 20 Sep 2015

Date Written: May 1, 2009


The United States Supreme Court has interpreted the First Amendment to accord a measure of protection to outright lies. This essay seeks to explain why. Using Holocaust denial as an example of verifiably false speech, this essay poses the question of whether such speech poses a more serious danger than First Amendment jurisprudence traditionally has acknowledged. This essay also probes the unintended consequences of governmental attempts to impose criminal punishment on lies.

Keywords: First Amendment, Holocaust denial, lies, opinion, verfiability, falsity

Suggested Citation

Lidsky, Lyrissa Barnett, Where's the Harm?: Free Speech and the Regulation of Lies (May 1, 2009). Washington and Lee Law Review, Vol. 65, p. 1091, 2008. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1397611

Lyrissa Barnett Lidsky (Contact Author)

University of Missouri School of Law

Missouri Avenue & Conley Avenue
Columbia, MO MO 65211
United States

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