Defending Speech Crimes

28 Pages Posted: 17 Jan 2021

See all articles by Judith P Miller

Judith P Miller

University of Chicago - Law School

Date Written: 2020


The First Amendment is supposed to provide important protections against criminal prosecutions for speech crimes. In practice, however, those protections are inadequate: in a world of vanishing trials, criminal defendants lack meaningful opportunities to litigate often fact-bound First Amendment questions. Through the lens of prosecutions for false speech, this article proposes refocusing First Amendment protections in criminal cases on criminal procedure rather than substantive questions about what the First Amendment protects. It suggests two procedural reforms—revitalizing the indictment and unanimity requirements—to help make the First Amendment’s ostensible protections more of a reality for criminal defendants.

Keywords: First Amendment, criminal justice, criminal legal system, criminal procedure, crim pro, false speech, Alvarez, impersonation, perjury, false statements, indictments, grand jury, unanimity

Suggested Citation

Miller, Judith P, Defending Speech Crimes (2020). University of Chicago Legal Forum, 2020, Available at SSRN:

Judith P Miller (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Law School ( email )

1111 E. 60th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics