The Value of First Amendment Theory
11 Pages Posted: 6 Sep 2015 Last revised: 18 Sep 2018
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
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