How Do Rights Revolutions Occur? Free Speech and the First Amendment
TSE Working Paper No. 16-705
63 Pages Posted: 7 Mar 2017 Last revised: 25 Dec 2018
Date Written: November 1, 2018
Whether policies shift preferences is relevant to policy design. Since 1958, Democrats were more likely than Republicans to favor progressive free speech precedents, two-thirds of which referenced gay or lesbian issues. Using randomly assigned judges, we find that progressive free speech precedents liberalized sexual attitudes and behaviors, reduced child abuse, but increased asymptomatic STDs. Evidence is inconsistent with deterrence as sole mediator. An experiment documents a shift in norm perceptions, consistent with models of law and norm where laws sanctioning rare activity increase its perceived prevalence and leads to backlash, but the opposite occurs when the sanctioned activity is prevalent.
Keywords: Law and Norms, Expressive Law, Cultural Change
JEL Classification: J12, J16, Z1, N32, N42, K42
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation