The Soul of the First Amendment: Why Freedom of Speech Matters

Floyd Abrams. Yale Univ., $26 (160p) ISBN 978-0-300-19088-5
Lawyer and First Amendment expert Abrams, whose resume includes representing the New York Times in the Pentagon Papers case and Sen. Mitch McConnell in Citizens United, explores the American right to free speech in this thoughtful and concise volume. Abrams assumes little prior knowledge from the reader, providing a useful history of the Founding Fathers’ Constitutional debates around the topic as well as interesting analyses of contemporary applications. One example is the “so-called right to be forgotten,” which allows negative information to be deleted from the Internet. Abrams stresses that even repugnant statements are more broadly protected in the U.S. speech than under many European democracies. He also explains why the identity of those asserting First Amendment claims should not be determinative. Many readers will find the most value in Abrams’s discussion of Citizens United, and his justification for granting First Amendment protections to corporations in general, and not just media companies. Even those troubled by the Citizens United decision, which allowed more corporate money into U.S. elections, are likely to emerge with a greater understanding of the Supreme Court majority’s logic in that controversial case. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 02/13/2017
Release date: 04/01/2017
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 160 pages - 978-0-300-22752-9
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