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Freedom of speech

University of Michigan Law School

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Full-Text Articles in Law

Nft For Eternity, Hadar Y. Jabotinsky, Michal Lavi Apr 2023

Nft For Eternity, Hadar Y. Jabotinsky, Michal Lavi

University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform

Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are unique tokens stored on a digital ledger – the blockchain. They are meant to represent unique, non-interchangeable digital assets, as there is only one token with that exact data. Moreover, the information attached to the token cannot be altered as on a regular database. While copies of these digital items are available to all, NFTs are tracked on blockchains to provide the owner with proof of ownership. This possibility of buying and owning digital assets can be attractive to many individuals.

NFTs are presently at the stage of early adoption and their uses are expanding. In …


Terrible Freedom, Ambiguous Authenticity, And The Pragmatism Of The Endangered: Why Free Speech In Law School Gets Complicated, Leonard M. Niehoff Jan 2023

Terrible Freedom, Ambiguous Authenticity, And The Pragmatism Of The Endangered: Why Free Speech In Law School Gets Complicated, Leonard M. Niehoff

Articles

We idealize colleges and universities as places of unfettered inquiry, where freedom of expression flourishes. The Supreme Court has described the university classroom as “peculiarly the ‘marketplace of ideas.’” It declared: “The Nation’s future depends upon leaders trained through wide exposure to that robust exchange of ideas which discovers truth out of a multitude of tongues, [rather] than through any kind of authoritative selection.” The exchange of competing ideas takes place not only in classrooms, but also in public spaces, dormitories, student organizations, and in countless other campus contexts.


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 …


The Everyday First Amendment, Leonard M. Niehoff, Thomas Sullivan Jan 2022

The Everyday First Amendment, Leonard M. Niehoff, Thomas Sullivan

Articles

On June 26 and June 27, 2019, some twenty contenders for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States participated in two evenings of political debate. The outsized group included Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, who was struggling to gain traction with voters. Shortly after the debate, while many viewers were conducting online searches to learn more about the candidates, Google temporarily suspended her campaign’s advertising account.

Google claimed that the interruption occurred because an automated system flagged unusual activity on the account. But Gabbard did not accept this explanation; she believed that Google deliberately had tried to undermine …


Race And The First Amendment: A Compendium Of Resources, Solomon F. Worlds, Leonard M. Niehoff Jan 2021

Race And The First Amendment: A Compendium Of Resources, Solomon F. Worlds, Leonard M. Niehoff

Articles

This article provides summaries of law review articles and books that consider the complex relationship between racial justice and free speech. It seeks to assist law students, legal scholars, judges, and practitioners to think more deeply about the intersection between these critically important values. It describes scholarship that views these values as complementary, but also scholarship that views them as conflicting.


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 …


Bankrupt Marketplace: First Amendment Theory And The 2016 Presidential Election, Leonard M. Niehoff Jan 2017

Bankrupt Marketplace: First Amendment Theory And The 2016 Presidential Election, Leonard M. Niehoff

Articles

In this article I advance two arguments. The first is that 2016 was a particularly important year for freedom of speech and the press, although not for conventional reasons. The second is that hte events of 2016 revealed that one of the essential components of our democracy - the central role that free expression plays in the democratic process - is in a state of serious dysfunction, if not crisis.


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 …


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, …


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 …


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 …


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.


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, …


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 …