Content Under Pressure

52 Pages Posted: 26 Jan 2022 Last revised: 30 Sep 2022

Date Written: January 21, 2022


The government generally may not punish speakers based on the content of their speech. Or so the story goes. While American courts frequently describe content neutrality as a foundation stone of expressive liberty, the results do not track the recitations. A systematic analysis of free speech jurisprudence reveals that content-based laws remain acceptable across a host of situations.

The pervasiveness of content discrimination requires a reorientation of First Amendment doctrine. The core precept of expressive liberty under the U.S. Constitution is that the government may not punish speakers for their positions or perspectives. The cases reveal that so long as viewpoint neutrality prevails, content discrimination often poses no constitutional problem.

Keywords: freedom of speech, first amendment, constitution, supreme court, content discrimination

Suggested Citation

Kozel, Randy J., Content Under Pressure (January 21, 2022). 100 Washington University Law Review 59 (2022), Available at SSRN: or

Randy J. Kozel (Contact Author)

Notre Dame Law School ( email )

P.O. Box 780
Notre Dame, IN 46556-0780
United States

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