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First Amendment

2012

Louisiana State University Law Center

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Full-Text Articles in Law

Of Speech And Sanctions: Toward A Penalty-Sensitive Approach To The First Amendment, Michael Coenen Jun 2012

Of Speech And Sanctions: Toward A Penalty-Sensitive Approach To The First Amendment, Michael Coenen

Journal Articles

Courts confronting First Amendment claims do not often scrutinize the severity of a speaker’s punishment. Embracing a “penalty-neutral” understanding of the free-speech right, these courts tend to treat an individual’s expression as either protected, in which case the government may not punish it at all, or unprotected, in which case the government may punish it to a very great degree. There is, however, a small but important body of “penalty-sensitive” case law that runs counter to the penalty-neutral norm. Within this case law, the severity of a speaker’s punishment affects the merits of her First Amendment claim, thus giving rise …