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The "Invention" of Free Speech
GOVT 249
Fall 2010 not offered

We tend to think of freedom of speech as a central element of the American creed, an idea as old as the nation itself. But while the notion of protecting speech appears in unusually direct language of the first amendment ("Congress shall make no law..."), which was ratified in 1791, it wasn't until the early and middle decades of the 20th century that the Supreme Court addressed what freedom of speech meant in real terms. That era, defined roughly by cases emerging from the First World War and the landmark rulings of the Warren Court in the 1960s, is the focus of this course, a period of enormous intellectual vitality in which some of the nation's greatest legal figures-Oliver Wendell Holmes, Learned Hand, Felix Frankfurter, Louis Brandeis, Hugo Black, William Brennan, and Benjamin Cardozo-engaged in a crucial dialogue over the interplay between competing values: between speech and equality, speech and privacy, speech and security, and speech and community. Their work, both speculative and experimental, had the trial-and-error quality of the laboratory at a time when so much of modern life was being "invented": not only the integration of new machines like the automobile and the radio and the motion picture camera into the lives of ordinary people, but new conceptions of the relationship between government and citizen that led to the modern liberal states. We are living with the results of that age of invention that, for our purposes in the class, includes a society that values speech perhaps more than any in human history.

Essential Capabilities: None
Credit: 1 Gen Ed Area Dept: SBS GOVT
Course Format: SeminarGrading Mode: Graded
Level: UGRD Prerequisites: None
Fulfills a Major Requirement for: (GOVT)

Last Updated on APR-24-2024
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