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Freedom of speech

Religion Law

2009

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Privatizing And Publicizing Speech, Nelson Tebbe Jan 2009

Privatizing And Publicizing Speech, Nelson Tebbe

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

When and how should governments be permitted to use private-law mechanisms to manage their public-law obligations? This short piece poses that question in the context of Summum, which the Supreme Court decided earlier this year, and Buono, which it will hear in the fall. In both cases, the government manipulated formal property rules in order to fend off constitutional challenges. In Summum, the government took ownership of a religious symbol in the face of a free speech challenge, while in Buono it shed ownership of land containing another sectarian symbol in an effort to moot an Establishment Clause problem. Although …