The Soul of the First Amendment

The Soul of the First Amendment

Book - 2017
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A lively and controversial overview by the nation's most celebrated First Amendment lawyer of the unique protections for freedom of speech in America

The right of Americans to voice their beliefs without government approval or oversight is protected under what may well be the most honored and least understood addendum to the US Constitution--the First Amendment. Floyd Abrams, a noted lawyer and award-winning legal scholar specializing in First Amendment issues, examines the degree to which American law protects free speech more often, more intensely, and more controversially than is the case anywhere else in the world, including democratic nations such as Canada and England. In this lively, powerful, and provocative work, the author addresses legal issues from the adoption of the Bill of Rights through recent cases such as Citizens United . He also examines the repeated conflicts between claims of free speech and those of national security occasioned by the publication of classified material such as was contained in the Pentagon Papers and was made public by WikiLeaks and Edward Snowden.
Publisher: New Haven ; London : Yale University Press, [2017]
Copyright Date: ©2017
ISBN: 9780300190885
Branch Call Number: 342.0853 ABRAMS F
Characteristics: xxiii, 145 pages ; 22 cm


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SnoIsleLib_DarrenN Jun 28, 2017

This is a concisely elegant, tightly reasoned, and revealing look at America's true exceptionalism with respect to free speech, press, and expression, even among democracies that adhere to the concept in principle. It covers case studies of specific areas such as libel, defamation of minorities and religions, and national security, showing how in other countries free speech is ultimately less absolutely upheld. This is also a spirited defense of the free speech / "right-wing" view of the Citizens United decision from a lawyer who participated in that case. The central argument is that free speech in US law is now (though hasn't always been!) much more strongly considered against opposing values because of our understanding of it in negative terms as a restraint on government regardless of the message or status of the speaker. Even Citizens United critics concerned about campaign spending would do well to consider Abrams' historical arguments if only to understand the opposition.

Jun 22, 2017

This rightwing propaganda piece, written by a lawyer who, as all good lawyers do, cherry picks his few arguments against the pro-corporate free speech stance, while providing ample supposed historical evidence for his side, completely dismisses the oligarchical power structure of the United States and treats media conglomeration and its control by special interests as a side issue, rather than the elephant in the room stomping on civil liberties during its rampage over a free America that it actually is. In all honesty, I couldn't read past the first chapter's halfway point due to the text's inability to present anything near a balanced view, and its overbearing rhetoric-laced political pamphlet sensibility.


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