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Freedom of speech

University of Michigan Law School

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Searching For Truth In The First Amendment's True Threat Doctrine, Renee Griffin Feb 2022

Searching For Truth In The First Amendment's True Threat Doctrine, Renee Griffin

Michigan Law Review

Threats of violence, even when not actually carried out, can inflict real damage. As such, state and federal laws criminalize threats in a wide range of circumstances. But threats are also speech, and free speech is broadly protected by the First Amendment. The criminalization of threats is nonetheless possible because of Supreme Court precedents denying First Amendment protection to “true threats.” Yet a crucial question remains unanswered: What counts as a true threat?

This Note examines courts’ attempts to answer this question and identifies the many ambiguities that have resulted from those attempts. In particular, this piece highlights three frontiers …


A More Perfect Pickering Test: Janus V. Afscme Council 31 And The Problem Of Public Employee Speech, Alexandra J. Gilewicz May 2020

A More Perfect Pickering Test: Janus V. Afscme Council 31 And The Problem Of Public Employee Speech, Alexandra J. Gilewicz

University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform

In June 2018, the Supreme Court issued its long-awaited—and, for the American labor movement, long-feared—decision in Janus v. AFSCME Council 31. The decision is expected to have a major impact on public sector employee union membership, but could have further impact on public employees’ speech rights in the workplace. Writing for the majority, Justice Samuel Alito’s broad interpretation of whether work-related speech constitutes a “matter of public concern” may have opened the floodgates to substantially more litigation by employees asserting that their employers have violated their First Amendment rights. Claims that would have previously been unequivocally foreclosed may now …


Policing Hate Speech And Extremism: A Taxonomy Of Arguments In Opposition, Leonard M. Niehoff Jun 2019

Policing Hate Speech And Extremism: A Taxonomy Of Arguments In Opposition, Leonard M. Niehoff

University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform

Hate speech and extremist association do real and substantial harm to individuals, groups, and our society as a whole. Our common sense, experience, and empathy for the targets of extremism tell us that our laws should do more to address this issue. Current reform efforts have therefore sought to revise our laws to do a better job at policing, prohibiting, and punishing hate speech and extremist association.

Efforts to do so, however, encounter numerous and substantial challenges. We can divide them into three general categories: definitional problems, operational problems, and conscientious problems. An informed understanding of these three categories of …


The Political Party System As A Public Forum: The Incoherence Of Parties As Free Speech Associations And A Proposed Correction, Wayne Batchis Jan 2019

The Political Party System As A Public Forum: The Incoherence Of Parties As Free Speech Associations And A Proposed Correction, Wayne Batchis

University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform

The Supreme Court’s jurisprudence addressing the associational rights of political parties is both highly consequential and deeply inconsistent. It dates back at least as far as the Court’s White Primary decisions more than a half-century ago. In recent decades, the Court has imposed an arguably ad hoc formula, striking down regulations on political parties on First Amendment grounds in some cases, while upholding them in others. From a jurisprudential perspective, critics might point to insufficiently principled distinctions between these cases. From a normative perspective, the very expansion of First Amendment rights to political parties, like the parallel extension to corporations …


Return Of The Campus Speech Wars, Thomas Healy Jan 2019

Return Of The Campus Speech Wars, Thomas Healy

Michigan Law Review

Review of Erwin Chemerinsky and Howard Gillman's Free Speech on Campus.


You Can’T Say That!: Public Forum Doctrine And Viewpoint Discrimination In The Social Media Era, Micah Telegen Oct 2018

You Can’T Say That!: Public Forum Doctrine And Viewpoint Discrimination In The Social Media Era, Micah Telegen

University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform

The growing prevalence of privately-owned social media platforms is changing the way Americans and their governments communicate. This shift offers new opportunities, but also requires a reinterpretation of the First Amendment’s proscription of government limitations of speech. The public forum doctrine and its proscription of viewpoint discrimination seem particularly stretched by the digital revolution and the development of social media. In ongoing cases, litigants and courts have invoked the doctrine to limit the government’s ability to ‘block’ those who comment critically on government pages—much to the chagrin of those who note the private status of the companies hosting the pages …


University Regulation Of Student Speech: In Search Of A Unified Mode Of Analysis, Patrick Miller May 2018

University Regulation Of Student Speech: In Search Of A Unified Mode Of Analysis, Patrick Miller

Michigan Law Review

Universities are meant to be open marketplaces of ideas. This requires a commitment to both freedom of expression and inclusivity, two values that may conflict. When public universities seek to promote inclusivity by prohibiting or punishing speech that is protected by the First Amendment, courts must intervene to vindicate students’ rights. Currently, courts are split over the appropriate mode of analysis for reviewing public university regulation of student speech. This Note seeks to aid judicial review by clarifying the three existing approaches—public forum analysis, traditional categorical analysis, and a modified version of the Supreme Court’s education-specific speech doctrine—and proposes a …


Sex And Religion: Unholy Bedfellows, Mary-Rose Papandrea Apr 2018

Sex And Religion: Unholy Bedfellows, Mary-Rose Papandrea

Michigan Law Review

A review of Geoffrey R. Stone, Sex and the Constitution: Sex, Religion, and Law from America's Origins to the Twenty-First Century.


Use Your Words: On The "Speech" In "Freedom Of Speech", Leslie Kendrick Mar 2018

Use Your Words: On The "Speech" In "Freedom Of Speech", Leslie Kendrick

Michigan Law Review

Freedom of speech occupies a special place in American society. But what counts as “speech” is a contentious issue. In countless cases, courts struggle to distinguish highly protected speech from easily regulated economic activity. Skeptics view this struggle as evidence that speech is, in fact, not distinguishable from other forms of activity.

This Article refutes that view. It argues that speech is indeed distinct from other forms of activity, and that even accounts that deny this distinction actually admit it. It then argues that the features that make speech distinctive as a phenomenon also make it distinctive as a normative …


How Elonis Failed To Clarify The Analysis Of "True Threats" In Social Media Cases And The Subsequent Need For Congressional Response, Jessica L. Opila Nov 2017

How Elonis Failed To Clarify The Analysis Of "True Threats" In Social Media Cases And The Subsequent Need For Congressional Response, Jessica L. Opila

Michigan Telecommunications & Technology Law Review

Social media and other internet communications have altered the way people communicate with one another, including the way people threaten one another. In 2015, the United States Supreme Court decided Elonis v. United States, which imposed a heightened mental state requirement for federal prosecutions of threats issued in interstate commerce. Although the statute, 18 U.S.C. § 875(c), has no mental state requirement, the Supreme Court held that, consistent with the principles of criminal law, only those with guilty minds should be convicted and thus some showing of subjective intent is required. The opinion did not name the requisite mental …


Precedent And Speech, Randy J. Kozel Feb 2017

Precedent And Speech, Randy J. Kozel

Michigan Law Review

The U.S. Supreme Court has shown a notable willingness to reconsider its First Amendment precedents. In recent years, the Court has departed from its prior statements regarding the constitutional value of false speech. It has revamped its process for identifying categorical exceptions to First Amendment protection. It has changed its positions on corporate electioneering and aggregate campaign contributions. In short, it has revised the ground rules of expressive freedom in ways large and small. The Court generally describes its past decisions as enjoying a presumption of validity through the doctrine of stare decisis. This Article contends that within the context …


There Are No Racists Here: The Rise Of Racial Extremism, When No One Is Racist, Jeannine Bell Sep 2015

There Are No Racists Here: The Rise Of Racial Extremism, When No One Is Racist, Jeannine Bell

Michigan Journal of Race and Law

At first glance hate murders appear wholly anachronistic in post-racial America. This Article suggests otherwise. The Article begins by analyzing the periodic expansions of the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the protection for racist expression in First Amendment doctrine. The Article then contextualizes the case law by providing evidence of how the First Amendment works on the ground in two separate areas —the enforcement of hate crime law and on university campuses that enact speech codes. In these areas, those using racist expression receive full protection for their beliefs. Part III describes social spaces—social media and employment where slurs and epithets …


The Incitement Of Terrorism On The Internet: Legal Standards, Enforcement, And The Role Of The European Union, Ezekiel Rediker Apr 2015

The Incitement Of Terrorism On The Internet: Legal Standards, Enforcement, And The Role Of The European Union, Ezekiel Rediker

Michigan Journal of International Law

Consider this sentence: “The Shining Path is a heroic organization.” Over the past thirty years, the Shining Path has waged a violent guerilla war against the Peruvian government, prompting the European Union to designate the group as a terrorist organization. In certain European countries, speech inciting or glorifying terrorist organizations is criminalized. As a result, citizens risk prosecution if they do not carefully limit what they say about the Shining Path, or other terrorist organizations. But where does free speech end and incitement to terrorism begin? The debate over free speech and incitement to terrorism is actively being played out …


In All Fairness: Using Political Broadcast Access Doctrine To Tailor Public Campaign Fund Matching, Andrew V. Moshirnia, Aaron T. Dozeman Apr 2015

In All Fairness: Using Political Broadcast Access Doctrine To Tailor Public Campaign Fund Matching, Andrew V. Moshirnia, Aaron T. Dozeman

University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform

Recent United States Supreme Court decisions have undermined the viability of campaign public financing systems, a vital tool for fighting political corruption. First, Citizens United v. FEC allowed privately financed candidates and independent groups to spend unlimited amounts of money on campaigning. Publicly financed candidates now risk being vastly outspent. Second, Arizona Free Enterprise Club’s Freedom PAC v. Bennett invalidated a proportional fund matching system whereby privately financed candidates’ or independent groups’ spending triggered funds to publicly funded candidates. These decisions effectuate a libertarian speech doctrine: all speakers, individual or corporate, must be absolutely unburdened. To comply with this approach, …


Fighting Foreign-Corporate Political Access: Applying Corporate Veil-Piercing Doctrine To Domestic-Subsidiary Contributions, Ryan Rott Jan 2015

Fighting Foreign-Corporate Political Access: Applying Corporate Veil-Piercing Doctrine To Domestic-Subsidiary Contributions, Ryan Rott

Michigan Law Review

Campaign finance regulations limit speech. The laws preclude foreign nationals, including foreign corporations, from participating in U.S. politics via campaign contributions. The unusual characteristics of corporations, however, may allow foreign corporations to exploit a loophole in the regulatory regime. A foreign corporation may contribute to political campaigns by acquiring a domestic subsidiary and dominating it. This Note addresses how these unusual corporate behaviors enable foreign corporations to illegally corrupt the political process. This Note concludes that to close the loophole without violating the free speech rights of domestic subsidiaries, Congress should enact legislation which would apply corporate veil-piercing theory to …


A Disclosure-Focused Approach To Compelled Commercial Speech, Andrew C. Budzinski May 2014

A Disclosure-Focused Approach To Compelled Commercial Speech, Andrew C. Budzinski

Michigan Law Review

In 2010, the Food and Drug Administration passed a rule revising compelled disclaimers on tobacco products pursuant to the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. The rule required that tobacco warnings include something new: all tobacco products now had to bear one of nine graphic images to accompany the text. Tobacco companies filed suit contesting the constitutionality of the rule, arguing that the government violated their right to free commercial speech by compelling disclosure of the graphic content. Yet First Amendment jurisprudence lacks a doctrinally consistent standard for reviewing such compelled disclosures. Courts’ analyses typically depend on whether the …


Institutional Autonomy And Constitutional Structure, Randy J. Kozel Apr 2014

Institutional Autonomy And Constitutional Structure, Randy J. Kozel

Michigan Law Review

This Review makes two claims. The first is that Paul Horwitz’s excellent book, First Amendment Institutions, depicts the institutionalist movement in robust and provocative form. The second is that it would be a mistake to assume from its immersion in First Amendment jurisprudence (not to mention its title) that the book’s implications are limited to the First Amendment. Professor Horwitz presents First Amendment institutionalism as a wide-ranging theory of constitutional structure whose focus is as much on constraining the authority of political government as it is on facilitating expression. These are the terms on which the book’s argument — and, …


Toward A Multiple Consciousness Of Language: A Tribute To Professor Mari Matsuda, Shannon Gilreath Mar 2014

Toward A Multiple Consciousness Of Language: A Tribute To Professor Mari Matsuda, Shannon Gilreath

Michigan Law Review First Impressions

I am thrilled to be part of this commemoration of the twenty-fifth anniversary of Professor Matsuda's influential article Public Response to Racist Speech: Considering the Victim's Story. I first read Matsuda's essay as a law student when, I must confess, the mind-numbing one-dimensionality of the law-as one must learn it in the prevailing method-drove me a little crazy. Law school is an environment where the Socratic method reduces people's stories-the stuff of which law is made-to something lawyers like to call "the facts," and where real-life people, in whom I saw so much of myself-people like Michael Hardwick, for example-get …


Hobby Lobby And The Pathology Of Citizens United, Ellen D. Katz Jan 2014

Hobby Lobby And The Pathology Of Citizens United, Ellen D. Katz

Articles

Four years ago, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission held that for-profit corporations possess a First Amendment right to make independent campaign expenditures. In so doing, the United States Supreme Court invited speculation that such corporations might possess other First Amendment rights as well. The petitioners in Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius are now arguing that for-profit corporations are among the intended beneficiaries of the Free Exercise Clause and, along with the respondents in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, that they also qualify as “persons” under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). Neither suggestion follows inexorably from Citizens United, …


Fumbling The First Amendment: The Right Of Publicity Goes 2-0 Against Freedom Of Expression, Thomas E. Kadri Jan 2014

Fumbling The First Amendment: The Right Of Publicity Goes 2-0 Against Freedom Of Expression, Thomas E. Kadri

Michigan Law Review

Two circuits in one summer found in favor of college athletes in right-of-publicity suits filed against the makers of the NCAA Football videogame. Both panels split 2–1; both applied the transformative use test; both dissenters predicted chilling consequences. By insisting that the likeness of each player be “transformed,” the Third and Ninth Circuits employed a test that imperils the use of realistic depictions of public figures in expressive works. This standard could have frosty implications for artists in a range of media: docudramas, biographies, and works of historical fiction may be at risk. This Comment examines the tension between the …


Getting Down To (Tattoo) Business: Copyright Norms And Speech Protections For Tattooing, Alexa L. Nickow Dec 2013

Getting Down To (Tattoo) Business: Copyright Norms And Speech Protections For Tattooing, Alexa L. Nickow

Michigan Telecommunications & Technology Law Review

What level of First Amendment protection should we afford tattooing? General public consensus formerly condemned tattoos as barbaric, but the increasingly diverse clientele of tattoo shops suggests that tattoos have become more mainstream. However, the law has struggled to adjust. The recent proliferation of municipal near-bans on tattooing has brought tattooing to the forefront of First Amendment debates, with cases such as Anderson and Coleman leading the way toward recognizing tattooing as pure speech. Tensions between formal and informal copyright norms in the tattoo industry further highlight the collaborative and expressive nature of the artist-customer relationship and its resulting products, …


Tollbooths And Newsstands On The Information Superhighway, Brad A. Greenberg Dec 2013

Tollbooths And Newsstands On The Information Superhighway, Brad A. Greenberg

Michigan Telecommunications & Technology Law Review

Countering the perception that speech limitations affecting distribution necessarily reduce access to information, this Essay proffers that copyright expansions actually can increase access and thereby serve important copyright and First Amendment values. In doing so, this discussion contributes to the growing literature and two recent Supreme Court opinions discussing whether copyright law and First Amendment interests can coexist.


Pro-Whistleblower Reform In The Post-Garcetti Era, Julian W. Kleinbrodt Oct 2013

Pro-Whistleblower Reform In The Post-Garcetti Era, Julian W. Kleinbrodt

Michigan Law Review

Whistleblowers who expose government ineptitude, inefficiency, and corruption are valuable assets to a well-functioning democracy. Until recently, the Connick–Pickering test governed public employee speech law; it gave First Amendment protection to government employees who spoke on matters of public concern—-such as whistleblowers-—so long as the government’s administrative concerns did not outweigh the employees’ free speech interests. The Supreme Court significantly curtailed the protection of such speech in its recent case, Garcetti v. Ceballos. This case created a categorical threshold requirement that afforded no protection to speech made as an employee rather than as a citizen. Garcetti’s problematic rule has forced …


Policeman, Citizen, Or Both? A Civilian Analogue Exception To Garcetti V. Ceballos, Caroline A. Flynn Mar 2013

Policeman, Citizen, Or Both? A Civilian Analogue Exception To Garcetti V. Ceballos, Caroline A. Flynn

Michigan Law Review

The First Amendment prohibits the government from leveraging its employment relationship with a public employee in order to silence the employee's speech. But the Supreme Court dramatically curtailed this right in Garcetti v. Ceballos by installing a categorical bar: if the public employee spoke "pursuant to her official duties," her First Amendment retaliation claim cannot proceed. Garcetti requires the employee to show that she was speaking entirely "as a citizen" and not at all "as an employee." But this is a false dichotomy - especially because the value of the employee's speech to the public is no less if she …


Commercial Speech In Crisis: Crisis Pregnancy Center Regulations And Definitions Of Commercial Speech, Kathryn E. Gilbert Feb 2013

Commercial Speech In Crisis: Crisis Pregnancy Center Regulations And Definitions Of Commercial Speech, Kathryn E. Gilbert

Michigan Law Review

Recent attempts to regulate Crisis Pregnancy Centers, pseudoclinics that surreptitiously aim to dissuade pregnant women from choosing abortion, have confronted the thorny problem of how to define commercial speech. The Supreme Court has offered three potential answers to this definitional quandary. This Note uses the Crisis Pregnancy Center cases to demonstrate that courts should use one of these solutions, the factor-based approach of Bolger v. Youngs Drugs Products Corp., to define commercial speech in the Crisis Pregnancy Center cases and elsewhere. In principle and in application, the Bolger factor-based approach succeeds in structuring commercial speech analysis at the margins of …


Employment Law And Social Equality, Samuel R. Bagenstos Jan 2013

Employment Law And Social Equality, Samuel R. Bagenstos

Michigan Law Review

What is the normative justification for individual employment law? For a number of legal scholars, the answer is economic efficiency. Other scholars argue, to the contrary, that employment law protects against (vaguely defined) imbalances of bargaining power and exploitation. Against both of these positions, this Article argues that individual employment law is best understood as advancing a particular conception of equality. That conception, which many legal and political theorists have called social equality, focuses on eliminating hierarchies of social status. This Article argues that individual employment law, like employment discrimination law, is justified as preventing employers from contributing to or …


The North Carolina Woman’S Right To Know Act: An Unconstitutional Infringement On A Physician’S First Amendment Right To Free Speech, Ryan Bakelaar Jan 2013

The North Carolina Woman’S Right To Know Act: An Unconstitutional Infringement On A Physician’S First Amendment Right To Free Speech, Ryan Bakelaar

Michigan Journal of Gender & Law

The North Carolina Woman’s Right to Know Act represents the crossroads of the Supreme Court’s First Amendment, informed consent, and abortion-related jurisprudence. The Act requires physicians to perform an obstetric ultrasound, verbally convey specific information regarding ultrasonographic findings, and communicate a host of other information to patients seeking abortions. The purported goal of the Act is to ensure that physicians obtain appropriate informed consent from such patients. By compelling a physician to convey this information, the State violates the physician’s First Amendment rights. Indeed, the State may not compel an individual to convey the State’s ideological message. Further, any statute …


Environmental Aesthetics And Free Speech: Toward A Consistent Content Neutrality Standard For Outdoor Sign Regulation , Brian J. Connolly Sep 2012

Environmental Aesthetics And Free Speech: Toward A Consistent Content Neutrality Standard For Outdoor Sign Regulation , Brian J. Connolly

Michigan Journal of Environmental & Administrative Law

First Amendment challenges by billboard companies and other sign owners to local sign regulations have become a frequent occurrence in the past thirty years. The stakes are high for both commercial sign owners and local governments. Sign control has emerged as an important front in the environmental protection movement, as it focuses on the visual or scenic quality of the environment. Courts have begun to recognize and accept local governments’ interest in controlling the proliferation of signage as part of their efforts to improve environmental quality, but courts have applied First Amendment doctrine in an inconsistent manner. The courts’ inconsistent …


Context And Trivia, Samuel Brenner Apr 2012

Context And Trivia, Samuel Brenner

Michigan Law Review

My academic mantra, writes Professor James C. Foster in the Introduction to BONG HiTS 4 JESUS: A Perfect Constitutional Storm in Alaska's Capital, which examines the history and development of the Supreme Court's decision in Morse v. Frederick, "[is] context, context, context" (p. 2). Foster, a political scientist at Oregon State University, argues that it is necessary to approach constitutional law "by situating the U.S. Supreme Court's ... doctrinal work within surrounding historical context, shorn of which doctrine is reduced to arid legal rules lacking meaning and significance" (p. 1). He seeks to do so in BONG HiTS 4 JESUS …


Exploring The First Amendment Rights Of Teens In Relationship To Sexting And Censorship, Julia Halloran Mclaughlin Feb 2012

Exploring The First Amendment Rights Of Teens In Relationship To Sexting And Censorship, Julia Halloran Mclaughlin

University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform

This Article explores child pornography law in relation to teen sexting conduct. Recently, some teens who engaged in teen sexting have been convicted under child pornography laws and have been required to register as sexual predators. The criminalization of teens for developmentally typical behavior, mimicking the conduct of adults, can result in grave harm to most teens. Furthermore, the application of child pornography laws to teen sexting conduct demonstrates the constitutional overbreadth of the current definition of child pornography. Photographs have an emblematic role in society-capturing and celebrating youth. Moreover, the creation of teen sexting images accompanies a teen's developmental …