Skip to main content Accessibility help
  • Cited by 1
Cambridge University Press
Online publication date:
April 2022
Print publication year:
Online ISBN:

Book description

Why do we protect free speech? What values does it serve? How has the Supreme Court interpreted the First Amendment? What has the Court gotten right and wrong? Why are current debates over free expression often so divisive? How can we do better? In this succinct but comprehensive and scholarly book, authors Len Niehoff and Thomas Sullivan tackle these pressing questions. Free Speech: From Core Values to Current Debates traces the development and evolution of the free speech doctrine in the Supreme Court and explores how the Court - with varying levels of success - has applied that doctrinal framework to “hard cases” and current controversies, such as those involving hate speech, speech on the internet, speech on campus, and campaign finance regulation. This is the perfect volume for anyone - student, general reader, or scholar - looking for an accessible overview of this critical topic.


Niehoff and Sullivan are sure-footed and lucid guides to a legal terrain of greater scope and variety than the basic idea of free speech might suggest. The book is skillfully organized, with just the right mix of case description, historical perspective, storytelling, critique, and explanatory synthesis. It fills a need, and fills it better than I would have thought possible.

Vincent Blasi - Corliss Lamont Professor of Civil Liberties, Columbia Law School

This book is a ‘must read' for journalism and law students. This book helps answer a very important question today's young people have seldom contemplated: ‘Why do we need a First Amendment anyway?' Not only is the book ideal for journalism, law and government curricula, it is a wonderful example of public scholarship that will inspire thoughtful conversations about First Amendment rights.

Lucy Dalglish - Dean of the Philip Merrill College of Journalism, University of Maryland, and former newspaper reporter, editor, and Executive Director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

Niehoff and Sullivan's Free Speech makes important contributions to First Amendment scholarship while remaining accessible to any general reader curious about the subject. It does an admirable job of explaining free speech theory, the major Supreme Court cases, and the controversies that continue to make this an endlessly fascinating topic.

Nadine Strossen - John Marshall Harlan II Professor of Law Emerita, New York Law School, and former President of the American Civil Liberties Union

Professors Niehoff and Sullivan have written an accessible guide to the philosophy underlying the idea of free expression, to the history and contemporary content of First Amendment doctrine, and to contemporary controversies about speech on college campuses and the Internet, academic freedom, the cancel culture, and more. Their comprehensive discussion will help readers to think carefully and critically about issues that roil our politics today.

Mark Tushnet - William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law emeritus, Harvard Law School

Leonard Niehoff and Tom Sullivan make a remarkable contribution to public understanding of free speech history, doctrine, and current debates about the limits of free expression. The book is fair-minded, accessible to a lay audience, and thoughtful about the complexities of balancing of concerns that are both constitutionally relevant but also morally relevant, especially to those who embrace democratic principles that serve justice ends. The book should be of interest to all who care about the First Amendment as a matter of law, but also what they term the Everyday First Amendment as a shared responsibility and action—even when it lies beyond the legal doctrine's reach.

Toni M. Massaro - Regents Professor and Milton O. Riepe Chair in Constitutional Law, University of Arizona, and author of Constitutional Literacy: A Core Curriculum for a Multicultural Nation

This book provides an elegant yet comprehensive approach to understanding First Amendment doctrine, including thoughtful discussion of current controversies. Written by genuine experts, it delivers the history and nuance required to have a reasoned debate about the ideal scope of free speech and exposes the difficulty of seeking simplistic answers.

Ashley Messenger - First Amendment and Media Lawyer at National Public Radio and author of Media Law: A Practical Guide

Free Speech is a tour de force in First Amendment scholarship. It answers the question ‘Why is freedom of speech a constant challenge?' for intelligent non-specialist readers. Written in plain English and full of penetrating insights, the book examines nearly all the key free speech issues under United States law and does so authoritatively. The occasional contextual note on international law also offers a refreshing additional perspective.

Kyu Ho Youm - Professor and Jonathan Marshall First Amendment Chair, University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication

With Free Speech: From Core Values to Current Debates, Niehoff and Sullivan have written an accessible and entertaining one-volume encyclopedia of the First Amendment's speech clause. Written with authority, elegance and style, the book is an intelligent person's guide to the historical background, legal precedents, and current controversies that drive the debate over how "free" speech should be.

Jane Kirtley - Silha Professor of Media Ethics and Law, Hubbard School of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Minnesota

Niehoff and Sullivan's review of First Amendment law has many strengths: clarity and readability, an embrace of free speech values that does not slight opposing interests, and an important insight into the role of due process concerns in shaping judicial doctrine. Students, general readers, and scholars will all find the book valuable.

Dan Farber - Sho Sato Professor of Law, University of California, Berkeley

Refine List

Actions for selected content:

Select all | Deselect all
  • View selected items
  • Export citations
  • Download PDF (zip)
  • Save to Kindle
  • Save to Dropbox
  • Save to Google Drive

Save Search

You can save your searches here and later view and run them again in "My saved searches".

Please provide a title, maximum of 40 characters.



Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Book summary page views

Total views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between #date#. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed.