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Speech Rights in America

Speech Rights in America: The First Amendment, Democracy, and the Media

Laura Stein
Copyright Date: 2006
Pages: 184
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  • Book Info
    Speech Rights in America
    Book Description:

    The First Amendment is the principle guarantor of speech rights in the United States, but the Supreme Court's interpretations of it often privilege the interests of media owners over those of the broader citizenry. In Speech Rights in America, Laura Stein argues that such rulings alienate citizens from their rights, corrupt the essential workings of democracy, and prevent the First Amendment from performing its critical role as a protector of free speech. Drawing on the best of the liberal democratic tradition, Stein demonstrates that there is a significant gap between First Amendment law and the speech rights necessary to democratic communication, and proposes an alternative set of principles to guide future judicial, legislative, and cultural policy on old and new media.

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09255-8
    Subjects: Language & Literature, Law, Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. 1 The First Amendment and Communication in Democratic Societies
    (pp. 1-13)

    THE FIRST AMENDMENT to the U.S. Constitution, which states that “Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press,” functions as the principle guarantor of speech rights in the United States. The First Amendment does not uphold all citizens’ claims to free speech, however. In the latter half of the twentieth century, the First Amendment has not endorsed the right of responsible individuals and organizations to place paid advertisements on broadcast television. It has not protected the right of political candidates to print their replies in the pages of a newspaper that...

  5. 2 Rethinking Speech Rights
    (pp. 14-48)

    EVERY INTERPRETATION OF speech rights relies on ideas about democratic communication to give it meaning. But understandings of democratic communication are characterized by different, sometimes irreconcilable, visions of the role of communication in political and social life. Further clarifying what is meant by democratic communication and its link to speech rights is an essential step in any effort to interpret speech rights in a manner appropriate to democratic societies. The deep links between liberal-democratic theory and speech-rights interpretations are seldom thoroughly elucidated, however. Scholars who do address the relationship between speech rights and democratic communication turn most often to marketplace...

  6. 3 Social Mediation in Print and Broadcast Media
    (pp. 49-65)

    THE SUPREME COURT ESTABLISHED current law on the right to send and receive communication in print and broadcast within a brief five-year span. The determining cases came at the height of a grassroots citizens’ movement for media access. This movement sought to make the media more responsive and responsible in their role as social mediators within democratic societies. Arguing that street corners and public parks were no longer the most relevant sites for participation in public discourse, members of the movement pressed for a right of access to the mass media.¹ Throughout North America, access advocates sought to create speaking...

  7. 4 The Right to Public Space
    (pp. 66-80)

    DEMOCRATIC COMMUNICATION REQUIRES public spheres. In democratic societies, people need concrete sites where political discussion, debate, and deliberation take place. These are spaces where citizens can share their collective interests, engage in reasonable and responsible democratic decisionmaking, and send and receive communication that reflects their diverse experiences of the world. These are spaces of social mediation. In addition, their functionality depends on broad accessibility, universal inclusiveness, and relative freedom from economic or state control (Garnham,Capitalism and Communication108–9; Habermas; Fraser 109). Open and accessible markets or other private spaces can be the setting of such democratic activities. But...

  8. 5 Democratic Speech Rights on the Internet
    (pp. 81-112)

    FUNDAMENTALLY, DEMOCRATIC COMMUNICATION requires the ability to send communication, to receive it, and to create public spaces for social mediation. These conditions are the foundation of democratic speech rights, or speech rights that serve democracies. Nevertheless, as we have discussed in the preceding chapters, First Amendment interpretations offer only limited protection to these vital components of democratic communication in the traditional mass media. InMiami Herald,the Supreme Court rebuffed the efforts of states to create a right of access to print media. At the same time, the Court only partially upheld the public’s speech rights in broadcasting. While championing...

  9. 6 The Future of Democratic Communication
    (pp. 113-140)

    HOW OUR LEGAL SYSTEM INTERPRETS speech rights in the media has profound consequences for democratic communication. Simply having the First Amendment in the U.S. Constitution does not guarantee the protection of citizens’ speech rights. Rather, it is how the courts understand and apply the First Amendment that shapes the actual rights and realities of the majority of people wishing to communicate. Every interpretation of speech rights is based on a theory of democracy. In the United States, different First Amendment interpretations draw on a range of interconnected ideas that stem from divergent traditions within democratic liberalism. These include ideas that...

  10. NOTES
    (pp. 141-146)
    (pp. 147-160)
  12. INDEX
    (pp. 161-166)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 167-171)