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The Government's Speech and the Constitution
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Book description

When we discuss constitutional law, we usually focus on the constitutional rules that apply to what the government does. Far less clear are the constitutional rules that apply to what the government says. When does the speech of this unusually powerful speaker violate our constitutional rights and liberties? More specifically, when does the government's expression threaten liberty or equality? And under what circumstances does the Constitution prohibit our government from lying to us? In The Government's Speech and the Constitution, Professor Helen Norton investigates the variety and abundance of the government's speech, from early proclamations and simple pamphlets, to the electronic media of radio and television, and ultimately to today's digital age. This enables us to understand how the government's speech has changed the world for better and for worse, and why the government's speech deserves our attention, and at times our concern.


'In The Government's Speech and the Constitution, Helen Norton offers the most comprehensive, thoughtful, and insightful analysis of the constitutionality of government speech ever written. This expansive conception of government speech has been largely unexplored in our scholarly literature, and Norton unpacks these complex issues in an exceptionally original and illuminating manner.'

Geoffrey R. Stone - University of Chicago

'A thoughtful, nuanced, and accessible book on a complex and important topic. Norton takes her readers on a rich and rewarding tour of the forms that government speech can take, of the often murky and contested line between government speech and private speech, and of the wide range of constitutional doctrines that shape the legal parameters of government speech.'

Heidi Kitrosser - University of Minnesota

'The multiple faces of speech by modern government, and its relationship to the United States Constitution is analyzed by Helen Norton in wonderfully nuanced, panoptic, accessible, and thought-provoking detail. Government control over its speech can become power over ours. What it does with that power thus matters to our constitutional integrity, and Norton very convincingly shows us why. Indeed, no contemporary free speech scholar does so more powerfully, or in a more fair-minded manner.'

Toni M. Massaro - University of Arizona

'A magnificent account of the constitutional questions raised by ordinary government speech.'

Mark Graber Source: Balkinization

'A fine book that demonstrates the multiple ways that government officials can violate the Bill of Rights and the Fourteenth Amendment through their speech.'

Jack Balkin Source: Balkinization

'A marvelous book. Norton expertly guides the reader through what she calls ‘first-stage’ government speech problems, which involve the question of whether it is the government or some private actor who is speaking, and ‘second-stage’ problems, which involve the question of whether some instance of government speech is constitutionally permissible.'

Josh Chafetz Source: Balkinization

'[T]his book [i]s the required resource on this increasingly important domain of First Amendment theory and doctrine.'

Fred Schauer Source: Balkinization

'This is an enormous contribution to our understanding of an often mysterious topic, and the discussion she has sparked will undoubtedly continue.'

Sonja West Source: Balkinization

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