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Government Lies And The Press Clause, Helen Norton Jan 2018

Government Lies And The Press Clause, Helen Norton

Articles

This essay considers a particular universe of potentially dangerous governmental falsehoods: the government's lies and misrepresentations about and to the press.

Government's efforts to regulate private speakers' lies clearly implicate the First Amendment, as many (but not all) of our own lies are protected by the Free Speech Clause. But because the government does not have First Amendment rights of its own when it speaks, the constitutional limits, if any, on the government's own lies are considerably less clear.

In earlier work I have explored in some detail the Free Speech and Due Process Clauses as possible ...


The Government's Manufacture Of Doubt, Helen Norton Jan 2018

The Government's Manufacture Of Doubt, Helen Norton

Articles

“The manufacture of doubt” refers to a speaker’s strategic efforts to undermine factual assertions that threaten its self-interest. This strategy was perhaps most famously employed by the tobacco industry in its longstanding campaign to contest mounting medical evidence linking cigarettes to a wide range of health risks. At its best, the government’s speech can counter such efforts and protect the public interest, as exemplified by the Surgeon General’s groundbreaking 1964 report on the dangers of tobacco, a report that challenged the industry’s preferred narrative. But the government’s speech is not always so heroic, and governments ...


Remedies And The Government's Constitutionally Harmful Speech, Helen Norton Jan 2018

Remedies And The Government's Constitutionally Harmful Speech, Helen Norton

Articles

Although governments have engaged in expression from their inception, only recently have we begun to consider the ways in which the government’s speech sometimes threatens our constitutional rights. In my contribution to this symposium, I seek to show that although the search for constitutional remedies for the government’s harmful expression is challenging, it is far from futile. This search is also increasingly important at a time when the government’s expressive powers continue to grow—along with its willingness to use these powers for disturbing purposes and with troubling consequences.

More specifically, in certain circumstances, injunctive relief, declaratory ...


Government Speech And The War On Terror, Helen Norton Jan 2017

Government Speech And The War On Terror, Helen Norton

Articles

The government is unique among speakers because of its coercive power, its substantial resources, its privileged access to national security and intelligence information, and its wide variety of expressive roles as commander-in-chief, policymaker, educator, employer, property owner, and more. Precisely because of this power, variety, and ubiquity, the government's speech can both provide great value and inflict great harm to the public. In wartime, more specifically, the government can affirmatively choose to use its voice to inform, inspire, heal, and unite -- or instead to deceive, divide, bully, and silence.

In this essay, I examine the U.S. government's ...


Government Speech And Political Courage, Helen Norton Jan 2015

Government Speech And Political Courage, Helen Norton

Articles

This short essay addresses Walker v. Texas Div., Sons of Confederate Veterans, Inc., in which a divided Court upheld Texas's rejection of the Sons of Confederate Veterans' request for a specialty license plate that featured the Confederate flag. Although it agrees with the majority that specialty license plates can -- and often do -- reflect the government's own expression that the government should remain free to control without running afoul of the First Amendment, it argues that the Walker Court missed an important opportunity to refine its government speech doctrine. Not only has the Court yet to settle on a ...


Government Speech In Transition, Helen Norton Jan 2012

Government Speech In Transition, Helen Norton

Articles

This symposium essay explores the legacy of the Supreme Court’s decision in Johanns v. Livestock Mktg. Ass’n. There the Court offered its clearest articulation to date of its emerging government speech doctrine. After characterizing contested expression as the government’s, the Court then held such government speech to be exempt from free speech clause scrutiny. In so doing, the Court solved at least one substantial problem, but created others that remain unresolved today. On one hand, Johanns marked the Court’s long overdue recognition of the ubiquity and importance of government speech, appropriately exempting the government’s own ...


The Equal Protection Implications Of Government's Hateful Speech, Helen Norton Jan 2011

The Equal Protection Implications Of Government's Hateful Speech, Helen Norton

Articles

Under what circumstances should we understand government's racist or otherwise hateful speech to violate the Equal Protection Clause? Government speech that communicates hostility or animus on the basis of race, gender, national origin, sexual orientation, or other class status can facilitate private parties' discriminatory behavior, deter its targets from certain important opportunities or activities, and communicate a message of exclusion and second-class status. Contemporary equal protection doctrine, however, does not yet fully address the harms that such government expression potentially poses. The recent emergence of the Court's government speech doctrine--which to date has emphasized the value of government ...


Campaign Speech Law With A Twist: When The Government Is The Speaker, Not The Regulator, Helen Norton Jan 2011

Campaign Speech Law With A Twist: When The Government Is The Speaker, Not The Regulator, Helen Norton

Articles

Although government entities frequently engage in issue-related campaign speech on a variety of contested ballot and legislative measures, this fact has been entirely overlooked in contemporary First Amendment debates over campaign speech law specifically and government speech more generally. The Supreme Court's "campaign speech" and "government speech" dockets have focused to date on claims by private parties that the government has restricted or silenced their speech in violation of the First Amendment. In contrast, disputes over what this Article calls "governmental campaign speech" involve Free Speech Clause and other challenges by private parties who seek instead to silence the ...


Imaginary Threats To Government's Expressive Interests, Helen Norton Jan 2011

Imaginary Threats To Government's Expressive Interests, Helen Norton

Articles

The Supreme Court’s emerging government speech doctrine permits the government to refuse to allow other parties to join, and thus change or distort, its own message. In this way, the government speech doctrine appropriately protects government’s legitimate – and valuable – expressive interests by providing a defense to free speech clause claims by private speakers who seek to compel the government to deliver their own views. Too often, however, governmental bodies are asserting their own expressive interests to claim – and some courts are permitting them to exercise – the power to punish private parties’ speech that does not threaten the government ...


Government Speech 2.0, Helen Norton, Danielle Keats Citron Jan 2010

Government Speech 2.0, Helen Norton, Danielle Keats Citron

Articles

New expressive technologies continue to transform the ways in which members of the public speak to one another. Not surprisingly, emerging technologies have changed the ways in which government speaks as well. Despite substantial shifts in how the government and other parties actually communicate, however, the Supreme Court to date has developed its government speech doctrine--which recognizes "government speech" as a defense to First Amendment challenges by plaintiffs who claim that the government has impermissibly excluded their expression based on viewpoint--only in the context of disputes involving fairly traditional forms of expression. In none of these decisions, moreover, has the ...


Propaganda For War And Transparency, Richard B. Collins Jan 2010

Propaganda For War And Transparency, Richard B. Collins

Articles

No abstract provided.


Shining A Light On Democracy's Dark Lagoon, Helen Norton Jan 2010

Shining A Light On Democracy's Dark Lagoon, Helen Norton

Articles

Written for a symposium examining the Fourth Circuit’s jurisprudential tradition, this short essay explores the Fourth Circuit’s approach to the emerging government speech doctrine, under which the government’s own speech is exempt from free speech clause scrutiny. In developing this doctrine, the Supreme Court has been too quick to defer to public entities’ assertion that contested speech is their own; indeed, it has yet to deny the government’s claim to expression in the face of a competing private claim – at significant cost to the public’s ability to hold government politically accountable for its expressive choices ...


Constraining Public Employee Speech: Government's Control Of Its Workers' Speech To Protect Its Own Expression, Helen Norton Jan 2009

Constraining Public Employee Speech: Government's Control Of Its Workers' Speech To Protect Its Own Expression, Helen Norton

Articles

This Article identifies a key doctrinal shift in courts' treatment of public employees' First Amendment claims--a shift that imperils the public's interest in transparent government as well as the free speech rights of more than twenty million government workers. In the past, courts interpreted the First Amendment to permit governmental discipline of public employee speech on matters of public interest only when such speech undermined the government employer's interest in efficiently providing public services. In contrast, courts now increasingly focus on--and defer to--government's claim to control its workers' expression to protect its own speech.

More specifically, courts ...


The First Amendment Right Against Compelled Listening, Caroline Mala Corbin Jan 2009

The First Amendment Right Against Compelled Listening, Caroline Mala Corbin

Articles

This Article argues for a new First Amendment right: the right against compelled listening. Free speech jurisprudence - which already recognizes the right to speak, the right to listen, and the right against compelled speech - is incomplete without the right against compelled listening. The same values that underlie the other free speech rights also lead to this right. Furthermore, this claim holds true regardless of whether one conceives of the primary purpose of the Free Speech Clause as creating a marketplace of ideas, enhancing participatory democracy, or promoting individual autonomy. The Article starts by examining the protection afforded to unwilling listeners ...


Government Workers And Government Speech, Helen Norton Jan 2008

Government Workers And Government Speech, Helen Norton

Articles

This essay, to be published in the First Amendment Law Review's forthcoming symposium issue on Public Citizens, Public Servants: Free Speech in the Post-Garcetti Workplace, critiques the Supreme Court's decision in Garcetti v. Ceballos as reflecting a distorted understanding of government speech that overstates government's own expressive interests while undermining the public's interest in transparent government.

In Garcetti, the Court held that the First Amendment does not protect public employees' speech made "pursuant to their official duties," concluding that a government employer should remain free to exercise "employer control over what the employer itself has ...


The Measure Of Government Speech: Identifying Expression's Source, Helen Norton Jan 2008

The Measure Of Government Speech: Identifying Expression's Source, Helen Norton

Articles

States and other governmental bodies increasingly invoke the government speech defense to First Amendment challenges by private parties who seek to alter or join what the government contends is its own expression. These disputes involve competing claims to the same speech: a private party maintains that a certain means of expression reflects (or should be allowed to reflect) her own views, while a public entity claims that same speech as its own, along with the ability to control its content.

In suggesting a framework for approaching these problems, this Article starts by examining the theoretical and practical justifications for insulating ...


Mixed Speech: When Speech Is Both Private And Governmental, Caroline Mala Corbin Jan 2008

Mixed Speech: When Speech Is Both Private And Governmental, Caroline Mala Corbin

Articles

Speech is generally considered to be either private or governmental, and this dichotomy is embedded in First Amendment jurisprudence. However, speech is often neither purely private nor purely governmental but rather a combination of the two. Nonetheless, the Supreme Court has not yet recognized mixed speech as a distinct category of speech. This Article suggests considerations for identifying mixed speech and exposes the shortcomings of the current approach of classifying all speech as either private or governmental when determining whether viewpoint restrictions pass First Amendment muster. Treating mixed speech as government speech gives short shrift to the free speech interests ...


Not For Attribution: Government's Interest In Protecting The Integrity Of Its Own Expression, Helen Norton Jan 2004

Not For Attribution: Government's Interest In Protecting The Integrity Of Its Own Expression, Helen Norton

Articles

Public entities increasingly maintain that the First Amendment permits them to ensure that private speakers' views are not mistakenly attributed to the government. Consider, for example, Virginia's efforts to ban the Sons of Confederate Veterans' display of the Confederate flag logo on state-sponsored specialty license plates. Seeking to remain neutral in the ongoing debate over whether the Confederate flag is a symbol of "hate" or "heritage," Virginia argued that the state would be wrongly perceived as endorsing the flag if the logo appeared on a state-issued plate adorned by the identifier "VIRGINIA." The Fourth Circuit was unpersuaded, holding that ...