46 Pages Posted: 2 May 2018 Last revised: 1 Aug 2019
Date Written: April 20, 2018
Speech is a matching problem. Speakers choose listeners, and listeners choose speakers. When their choices conflict, law often decides who speaks to whom. The pattern is clear: First Amendment doctrine consistently honors listeners’ choices for speech. When willing and unwilling listeners’ choices conflict, the willing listeners win. And when competing speakers’ choices conflict, listeners’ choices among them break the tie. This essay provides a theoretical framework for analyzing speech problems in terms of speakers’ and listeners’ choices, an argument for the centrality of listener choice to any coherent theory of free speech, and supporting examples from First Amendment caselaw.
Keywords: free speech, First Amendment, listeners, matching
JEL Classification: K00
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation