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Federalism

Law and Politics

2021

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Free Speech And Democracy: A Primer For Twenty-First Century Reformers, Toni M. Massaro, Helen Norton Jan 2021

Free Speech And Democracy: A Primer For Twenty-First Century Reformers, Toni M. Massaro, Helen Norton

Articles

Left unfettered, the twenty-first-century speech environment threatens to undermine critical pieces of the democratic project. Speech operates today in ways unimaginable not only to the First Amendment’s eighteenth-century writers but also to its twentieth-century champions. Key among these changes is that speech is cheaper and more abundant than ever before, and can be exploited — by both government and powerful private actors alike — as a tool for controlling others’ speech and frustrating meaningful public discourse and democratic outcomes.

The Court’s longstanding First Amendment doctrine rests on a model of how speech works that is no longer accurate. This invites ...