When Freedom Speaks: The Boundaries and the Boundlessness of Our First Amendment Right

Brandeis Univ. May 2022. 248p. ISBN 9781684580934. pap. $27.95. LAW
Greenky (communication and rhetorical studies, Syracuse Univ.) maps the history of the First Amendment’s free speech clause from its foundation and building blocks to contemporary controversies. In 15 chapters, she lays out types of speech—protected and unprotected, symbolic, political, offensive, harmful, and hate—that have posed significant complications. She also considers problematic issues such as speech in public schools and other public places, the right to speak through silence, and both sides of the battle to speak, shout, protest, or counsel about abortion. Drawing on her training as a lawyer, Greenky locates notable inflection points and lays out the processes, patterns, and developments that have formed paradigms for U.S. Supreme Court decisions and doctrines. Her discussions of issues feature stories of the people whose contentions brought cases to court, as in the collision between free speech and free exercise of religion in the Supreme Court’s 2018 Masterpiece Cakeshop decision and its 2010 campaign financing “money as speech” decision in Citizens United.
VERDICT Complete with a glossary of legal terms, Greenky’s easy-to-read primer offers general readers and students a telling history and framework for understanding the basic assumptions, ways of thinking, and methodologies courts commonly use to negotiate clashing and competing constitutional values and individual rights to free speech.
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