18 October 2018

BOOK: Geoffrey R. STONE and Lee C. BOLLINGER, eds., The Free Speech Century (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018). ISBN 9780190841379, $99.00

(Source: OUP)

Oxford University Press is publishing a new book on the evolution of free speech law in the US since the landmark case of Schenk v. United States (1919) in November.


The Supreme Court's 1919 decision in Schenck vs. the United States is one of the most important free speech cases in American history. Written by Oliver Wendell Holmes, it is most famous for first invoking the phrase "clear and present danger." Although the decision upheld the conviction of an individual for criticizing the draft during World War I, it also laid the foundation for our nation's robust protection of free speech. Over time, the standard Holmes devised made freedom of speech in America a reality rather than merely an ideal. 

In The Free Speech Century, two of America's leading First Amendment scholars, Lee C. Bollinger and Geoffrey R. Stone, have gathered a group of the nation's leading constitutional scholars--Cass Sunstein, Lawrence Lessig, Laurence Tribe, Kathleen Sullivan, Catherine McKinnon, among others--to evaluate the evolution of free speech doctrine since Schenk and to assess where it might be headed in the future. Since 1919, First Amendment jurisprudence in America has been a signal development in the history of constitutional democracies--remarkable for its level of doctrinal refinement, remarkable for its lateness in coming (in relation to the adoption of the First Amendment), and remarkable for the scope of protection it has afforded since the 1960s. Over the course of The First Amendment Century, judicial engagement with these fundamental rights has grown exponentially. We now have an elaborate set of free speech laws and norms, but as Stone and Bollinger stress, the context is always shifting. New societal threats like terrorism, and new technologies of communication continually reshape our understanding of what speech should be allowed. 

Publishing on the one hundredth anniversary of the decision that laid the foundation for America's free speech tradition, The Free Speech Century will serve as an essential resource for anyone interested in how our understanding of the First Amendment transformed over time and why it is so critical both for the United States and for the world today.


Lee C. Bollinger is the nineteenth President of Columbia University since June 1, 2002. A prominent advocate of affirmative action, he played a leading role in the twin Supreme Court cases--Grutter v Bollinger and Gratz v Bollinger that upheld and clarified the importance of diversity as a compelling justification for affirmative action in higher education. A leading First Amendment scholar, he is widely published on freedom of speech and press, including Uninhibited, Robust, and Wide-Open (2010), and currently serves on the faculty of Columbia Law School.

Geoffrey R. Stone is the Edward H. Levi Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago. Stone was appointed by President Obama to serve on the President's Review Group which was charged with evaluating our nation's foreign intelligence surveillance programs in the wake of Edward Snowden's leaks. He is the author of many books on constitutional law, including Sex and the Constitution: Sex, Religion and Law from America's Origins to the Twenty-First Century (2017), and Perilous Times: Free Speech in Wartime (2004).


Dialogue: Lee C. Bollinger & Geoffrey R. Stone

Part I: The Nature of First Amendment Jurisprudence

Rights Skepticism and Majority Rule at the Birth of the Modern First Amendment
Vincent A. Blasi

Every Possible Use of Language?
Frederick Schauer

Rethinking the Myth of the Modern First Amendment
Laura Weinrib

The Discursive Benefits of Structure: Federalism and the First Amendment
Heather K. Gerken

Part II: Major Critiques and Controversial Areas of First Amendment Jurisprudence
Citizens United: Predictions and Reality
Floyd Abrams

On the Legitimate Aim of Congressional Regulation of Political Speech: An Originalist View
Lawrence Lessig

The Classic First Amendment Tradition Under Stress: Freedom of Speech and the University
Robert C. Post

Keeping Secrets
David A. Strauss

The First Amendment: An Equality Reading
Catharine A. MacKinnon

Does the Clear and Present Danger Test Survive Cost-Benefit Analysis?
Cass R. Sunstein

Part III: The International Implications of the First Amendment

Reflections on the Firstness of the First Amendment
Albie Sachs

Freedom of Expression Abroad: The State of Play
Tom Ginsburg

Hate Speech at Home and Abroad
Sarah H. Cleveland

Part IV: New Technologies and the First Amendment of the Future
The Unintentional Press: How Technology Companies Fail as Publishers
Emily Bell

Defining the Boundaries of Free Speech on Social Media
Monika Bickert

Is the First Amendment Obsolete?
Tim Wu

Epilogue: Lee C. Bollinger & Geoffrey R. Stone

More information here

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