As more countries move to ban or restrict hate speech, some legal scholars say the U.S. should reconsider the broad scope of First Amendment protection.The article repeats the claim, stating that "[s]ome prominent legal scholars say the United States should reconsider its position on hate speech." Reading the article, though, I see only one legal scholar—NYU law professor Jeremy Waldron—who argues that the U.S. should reconsider the First Amendment's scope. The article does note that Anthony Lewis has argued that the Supreme Court should drop the "imminence" requirement from the incitement exception to the First Amendment. But that's a specific disagreement with one hurdle to one First Amendment exception—hardly a call for a reconsideration of the scope of the First Amendment. Among U.S. legal scholars, the broad protections of the First Amendment are almost universally celebrated. I would be very surprised if there was any real debate in the legal academy. The article is otherwise quite good. It shows how the First Amendment is truly unique internationally, as it grants constitutional protection to speech that most other developed nations consider illegal hate speech.
Wednesday, June 11, 2008