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Freedom of speech

First Amendment

2012

University of Oklahoma College of Law

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Too Narrow Of A Holding? How—And Perhaps Why—Chief Justice John Roberts Turned Snyder V. Phelps Into An Easy Case, Clay Calvert Jan 2012

Too Narrow Of A Holding? How—And Perhaps Why—Chief Justice John Roberts Turned Snyder V. Phelps Into An Easy Case, Clay Calvert

Oklahoma Law Review

This article analyzes the United States Supreme Court’s March 2011 decision in Snyder v. Phelps. Specifically, it demonstrates the narrow nature of the holding, and argues that while narrow framing, in the tradition of judicial minimalism, may have been a strategic move by Chief Justice John Roberts to obtain a decisive eight-justice majority, the resulting opinion failed to advance First Amendment jurisprudence significantly. Instead, the outcome simply—even predictably—fell in line with an established order of decisions. This article examines four tactics employed by the Chief Justice to narrow the case in such a way that its outcome was essentially …