The Value of First Amendment Theory

11 Pages Posted: 6 Sep 2015 Last revised: 18 Sep 2018

See all articles by David S. Han

David S. Han

Pepperdine University - Rick J. Caruso School of Law

Date Written: August 24, 2015


This essay responds to Professor Alexander Tsesis’s article “Free Speech Constitutionalism,” in which Tsesis proposes a “unified statement of free speech theory”: that “First Amendment doctrine should reflect a general theory of constitutional law that protects individual liberty and the common good of open society.” After discussing the general aspirations behind the constant search for a grand unified theory of free speech, I argue that Tsesis’s theory does not in fact function as such a grand unified theory, at least as traditionally understood. Rather, it serves as an elegant encapsulation of the complex interaction of multiple speech values that underlies the First Amendment, and its embrace of such complexity carries important implications as to how courts should approach difficult speech cases.

Keywords: First Amendment, Free Speech, Legal Theory, Constitutional Law

Suggested Citation

Han, David S., The Value of First Amendment Theory (August 24, 2015). 2015 U. Ill. L. Rev. Slip Opinions 87 (2015), Pepperdine University Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2016/5, Available at SSRN:

David S. Han (Contact Author)

Pepperdine University - Rick J. Caruso School of Law ( email )

24255 Pacific Coast Highway
Malibu, CA 90263
United States

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