Posts by Ronald K. L. Collins:
When NYT v. Sullivan was in Jeopardy: New Article Reveals Burger Court’s Internal Assault on Landmark Case
In First Amendment law the U.S. Supreme Court case, New York Times v. Sullivan (1964) is uniformly considered bedrock—the foundational First Amendment case of modern times. What many do not know is how very close the Burger Court came to cracking the Sullivan bedrock principle of “uninhibited, robust, and wide-open” freedom of expression.
Book suggests lawyers arguing before the Supreme Court might improve their chances of success if they know how to communicate in the language of those whom they wish to persuade.
Much of pioneering Harvard Professor Zechariah Chafee Jr.’s thought finds modern-day expression in a variety of works, including in some forthcoming books.
Six attorneys who triumphed on free-speech and related principles in some of the Supreme Court’s biggest cases in 2010-11.
The American commitment to freedom of speech and press is the more remarkable because it emerged from legal and political origins that were highly repressive.
— Anthony Lewis
The story of seditious libel in America begins with Benjamin Bache. So, who was he? If you were to consult his contemporaries, it would depend on whom you asked.
When we think of the origins of modern political uprisings, we think of revolutionary France and the insurrectionary philosophers of that day. And when we think of politics and free speech, we often think of pamphleteers and protesters. In all of this, who thinks of poetry?
Well, think again, and then get a copy of Robert [...]
The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.— Ludwig Wittgenstein
It is a wondrous line, that passage from Wittgenstein’s Tractatus (1921). It could readily serve as a First Amendment maxim. For we come to learn our world, in real measure, from the ways by which we speak of it, from how we give [...]
It is the duty of courts to be watchful for the constitutional rights of the citizen, and against any stealthy encroachments thereon.
—Justice Joseph P. Bradley (1886)
Freedom depends on the conditions of freedom. The latter make the former possible, and sometimes impossible, too. Put another way, if the price of freedom is too high, people [...]
I want to defend, for the moment anyway, David Mamet. Not that this famous
American playwright, screenwriter, film director, author, and Pulitzer Prize
winner needs my defense; he doesn’t. I just read his latest book, Theatre
(2010). It has a cutting edge to it — smacks of Tom Paine (or maybe Christopher
Hitchens). That's why I was so [...]
Suppose that the First Amendment were not just law but a way of life — what then?
Odd as that question may seem to lawyers and constitutionalists, it speaks to a fact all-too-often ignored: that is, the culture of freedom. While the law of the First Amendment is a limitation on government, the culture of the [...]
Nina Simone (1933-2003) performed the other night at Busboys and Poets in Washington, D.C. She packed them in at the progressive venue at 14th and V Streets. And in her own enchanting and rebellious way, she blew the doors off the jambs when she sang Ain’t Got No — I Got Life and other songs. [...]
“The thing I … want to do is put as many new ideas into the law as I can, to show how particular solutions involve general theory, and to do it with style. I should like to be admitted to be the greatest jurist in the world.”— Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., Dec. 15, 1912
All know it. [...]
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“I deplore … the putrid state into which our newspapers have passed.” — Thomas Jefferson to Walter Jones (1814)
In his own day, the very press Thomas Jefferson so ardently defended disappointed him. Still, he knew, the ideal of a free press was vital to preserve. The press had a responsibility to act as [...]
The safe life is not worth living. Admittedly, it is a provocative claim, something one might expect in literature but not in law. Then again, when it comes to both the law and philosophy of free speech, this idea has a long lineage tracing back to Socrates and even earlier. In antiquity the proposition was [...]
C. Edwin Baker
The sad news came digitally: “Ed Baker dead,” was the caption in the e-mail subject window. Hard to believe that someone who was so alive with thoughts (controversial, to be sure) is now silent forever.
Though his friends all knew him as “Ed,” his full name was C. Edwin Baker. He was the Nicholas [...]