Speech Stories: How Free Can Speech Be? 9780814723432

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Speech Stories: How Free Can Speech Be?
 9780814723432

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Speech Storie s

Speech Storie s How Free Can Speech Be?

Randall P. Bezanson

n

NEW YOR K U N I V E R S I T Y PRES S

New York and London

NEW YOR K U N I V E R S I T Y PRES S

New York and London

Copyright © 199 8 b y New Yor k Univerist y All rights reserve d Library o f Congres s Cataloging-in-Publicatio n Dat a Bezanson, Randal l P. Speech storie s : how fre e ca n speec h be ? / Randall P . Bezanson. p . cm . Includes bibliographica l reference s an d index . ISBN 0-8147-1320-3 (clothbound : acid-fre e paper) . — ISBN 0-8147-1321-1 (paperback : acid-fre e paper ) 1. Freedom o f speech—Unite d States . I . Title. KF4770.B49 199 8 342.73'0853—dc21 97-3382 1 CIP New Yor k Universit y Pres s books ar e printed o n acid-fre e paper , and thei r bindin g materials ar e chosen fo r strengt h an d durability . Manufactured i n the United State s of Americ a 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2

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Contents

Preface and Acknowledgments vi Introduction i I Speaker

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Story One: Th e Jacket {Cohen v. California) 7 Additional Readin g 3

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Story Two: Th e Author {Mclntyre v. Ohio Elections Commission) 3 Additional Readin g 5

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Story Three: Th e Corporatio n an d th e Candidat e {Austin v. Michigan State Chamber of Commerce) 5 Additional Readin g 8

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II Speec

III Th

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h an d Conduc t

Story Four: The Burnin g Cros s (R. A. V. v. St. Paul) 9 Additional Readin g 11

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Story Five: The Artist: Carna l Knowledg e a s Art , Pornography a s Subordination, an d th e V-Chi p as Family Values (Jenkins v. Georgia) 11 Additional Readin g 14

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e Audienc e Story Six: The Pharmacist : Speec h an d It s Consumer s (Virginia State Board of Pharmacy v. Virgina Citizens Consumer Council) 15 Additional Readin g 18

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Contents

Story Seven: Th e Burnin g Flag : The Mediu m an d the Messag e (Texas v. Johnson) 18 Additional Readin g 20

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Reminiscences: Reflections on Enduring First Amendment Questions 20 Index 21 About the Author 22

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Preface an d Acknowledgment s

I have no w taugh t th e Firs t Amendmen t fo r mor e tha n tw o decades. I began teachin g la w i n 1973 , a n d ? wit h th e exceptio n o f occa sional administrativ e assignment s tha t too k m e fro m th e classroo m fo r brief periods , I have taugh t a cours e o n constitutiona l law , communica tion law , law an d journalism , o r (i n the bes t o f years) a free speec h semi nar eac h year . When I reflect o n teachin g th e Firs t Amendmen t ove r tha t perio d o f time, I am mos t struc k b y the fac t tha t certai n case s see m neve r t o gro w old; they remain aliv e and intellectuall y challengin g eve n as the Suprem e Court's fre e speec h doctrin e changes . When I bega n teaching , Cohen v. California, th e subjec t o f the firs t story , was just two year s old . By 1998, twenty-five year s ha d passe d sinc e Justic e Harla n crafte d hi s mos t famous opinio n i n tha t seemingl y "inconsequential " case , a s h e described it , o f th e jacke t wit h a "scurrilou s epithet " painte d o n th e back, bu t I still us e th e opinio n a s th e startin g poin t i n m y fre e speec h seminar, fo r i t bring s al l o f th e nettlesom e question s surroundin g fre e speech straigh t t o the surfac e fo r th e students ' examination . The Jenkins v. Georgia case , involving the decision of a jury in Albany, Georgia, that th e fil m Carnal Knowledge wa s obscene , would b e decide d shortly after I began teaching i n 1973 . But ^ * s a remarkabl e an d resilien t case, drawin g u s bac k t o th e civi l rights er a an d th e cultur e o f th e rura l South, an d i n doin g s o forcin g student s t o com e t o understan d ho w th e communication proces s reall y works , ho w meaning , lik e "obscene, " becomes associate d wit h a tex t o r film , an d the n pullin g u s forwar d t o 1995 an d the feminist critiqu e of pornography, which represents a n alter native battl e ove r the power t o interpret an d giv e meaning to speech . Other case s that hav e arise n mor e recentl y see m als o to hav e a persistent quality , serving as vessels, if you will, for unlockin g th e fundamenta l mysteries of the First Amendment. Onl y time will tell, of course, whethe r the cross-burnin g case , R.A.V. v. St. Paul ("Th e Burnin g Cross") , o r th e

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Preface and Acknowledgments

flag-burning case , Texas v. Johnson ("Th e Mediu m an d th e Message") , or Mclntyre v. Ohio Elections Commission, th e pett y vendett a agains t Margaret Mclntyr e an d he r leafle t tha t shoul d neve r hav e gotte n t o court ("Th e Author") , wil l continu e t o inspir e understandin g ove r th e years. My gues s is that the y will . I hav e alway s believe d tha t th e wonderfu l mysterie s o f th e Firs t Amendment—the peculia r byway s an d th e intellectua l puzzle s o f fre e speech — should b e mad e availabl e t o an y intereste d "student " o f th e First Amendment , an d no t b e reserve d onl y fo r la w students . I t i s wit h that objec t i n mind tha t I undertook t o write this book. I n my fairly lon g academic career , nothin g ha s prove d mor e enjoyabl e t o writ e tha n thes e stories. They hav e animate d student s fro m th e fields o f law , communica tion studies , journalism , an d Englis h i n m y Firs t Amendmen t seminars , often leadin g t o interestin g an d passionat e disagreements . The y hav e likewise animate d facult y seminar s a t Washington & Le e University an d the University o f Iowa, and have enlivened conversations with colleague s in la w teaching , i n th e field s o f communicatio n an d journalism , an d i n the practic e o f journalism , throughou t th e country . Mor e important , they hav e capture d th e interes t an d engage d th e attentio n o f man y mor e friends wh o d o no t carr y aroun d a n academi c ran k o r professiona l pedi gree but who instea d ar e simply bright women an d me n who enjo y bein g intellectually engage d i n question s tha t kno w n o certai n answers , wher e the pursuit i s more fruitfu l tha n th e prey . By publishing thes e storie s i n boo k for m I hope tha t man y othe r peo ple will find themselve s engaged i n the deep and challengin g mysteries of the Firs t Amendment , an d tha t man y after-dinne r conversations , accom panied b y fresh coffe e an d goo d wine , might result . There ar e man y peopl e whos e contribution s t o thi s boo k shoul d b e acknowledged. Firs t an d foremos t i s my wife , Elaine , wh o encourage d me to writ e abou t th e Firs t Amendmen t i n a mor e readabl e an d accessi ble wa y tha n lega l academic s ordinaril y do , an d wh o patientl y intro duced m e t o th e ar t o f writin g i n th e activ e voice , a n ar t I hav e onl y begun t o master . M y colleague s a t th e Washingto n &c Le e Universit y School o f La w an d th e University o f Iow a Colleg e of La w were generou s enough t o read selecte d storie s and offe r thei r opinions , often critica l bu t always helpful , i n facult y colloquia . An d a numbe r o f colleagues , stu dents, an d friend s i n th e lega l academ y an d outsid e i t undertoo k th e more arduou s tas k o f readin g storie s an d offerin g thei r editoria l advic e

Preface and Acknowledgments I

i x

and substantiv e comments . Thes e persons , t o who m I a m greatl y indebted, ar e Sa m Becker , Arthu r Bonfield , Bil l Buss , Gi l Cranberg , Louise Halper , Gwe n Handleman , Lind a Hirshman , Kathry n Ingl e (t o whom I a m als o gratefu l fo r th e Becket t quote) , Vaishal i Javeri , Joh n Jennings, Nic k Johnson , Sheldo n Kurtz , Lewi s LaRue , Rober t Post , Mark an d Sand y Schantz , Joan Shaughnessy , Joh n Soloski , Davi d an d Rhoda Vernon , Alla n an d Brend a Vestal , an d Jerr y Wetlaufer . I t goe s without sayin g that non e o f thes e peopl e bea r an y responsibilit y fo r an y views that I express o r error s tha t I have made . Bu t I hope tha t the y wil l find th e final produc t improve d a s a result o f thei r advic e an d counsel . Clam Lake , Wisconsi n Iowa City , Iow a

Introduction

When w e tal k abou t wha t "freedo m o f speech " mean s i n America, th e discussio n almos t alway s center s o n "freedom, " no t o n "speech." "Speech " i s something we know an d ca n easily recognize. Ou r arguments therefor e concer n ho w muc h freedo m i t shoul d enjoy . Bu t i s this a correct way of thinking abou t fre e speech ? Are we wrong i n simpl y taking th e speec h par t o f th e equatio n fo r granted ? When a grou p o f boy s i n St . Paul , Minnesota , set s fir e t o a cros s o n the fron t yar d o f a blac k family , ou r argument s abou t th e exten t t o which th e Firs t Amendmen t shoul d immuniz e thei r behavio r fro m pun ishment ten d t o revolv e aroun d th e exten t o f th e "freedom " tha t th e boys shoul d enjoy ; w e tak e i t fo r grante d tha t "speech " wa s involve d i n the boys ' act . When a campaign committe e broadcast s a n advertisemen t for a candidate , w e likewis e assum e tha t th e a d possesse s statu s a s "speech" protecte d b y the First Amendment, an d procee d t o argue abou t the ability of government t o regulate political campaigns onl y in terms of the "freedom " speec h enjoys . An d whe n Mobi l publishe s on e o f it s "public servic e advertisements " addressin g a n importan t publi c issue , we don' t questio n fo r a minut e tha t wha t Mobi l i s sayin g i s "speech, " though w e may disagre e abou t Mobil' s "freedom " t o purchase th e spac e to disseminat e it . We are wrong t o s o limit ou r focu s t o question s o f "freedom " tha t w e often ignor e question s o f "speech. " Th e Firs t Amendmen t protect s "speech," an d "speech " i s a n inherentl y ambiguou s thing . An d i t i s becoming mor e ambiguou s ever y da y a s changin g habit s o f discours e combined wit h ne w technologie s o f distributio n alte r th e ide a o f "speech" a t it s very foundations . The American ide a o f free speec h grew ou t o f the individual ac t o f dissent an d belief . Freedom o f speec h sheltere d act s o f persona l conviction , uncommon act s of braver y undertake n i n the fac e o f significan t risk . Th e heroes o f fre e speec h include d Patric k Henry , Elizabet h Cad y Stanton ,

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Introduction

Henry Davi d Thoreau , Marti n Luthe r King , Jr., an d countles s others , both famou s an d anonymous , wh o fel t strongl y enoug h abou t thei r beliefs t o attemp t t o convinc e other s o f their merit . Today, speaking is a complex act. It rarely consists of an individual's ac t of belie f o r dissent . Instead , speec h i s now largel y grou p oriented , mone y dependent, an d mediu m driven . Speec h i n today's "marketplace " increas ingly involve s idea s collectivel y arrive d a t an d assemble d b y organized , planned effort . It s medium is increasingly monetary becaus e solicitation of the fund s tha t mus t the n b e expended fo r spac e an d tim e i n the distribu tion syste m ha s necessaril y becom e a dominan t occupatio n o f anyon e interested i n "legitimate " an d "public " expression . An d th e impac t o f speech i s ofte n inseparabl e fro m — indeed, i t i s sometime s exclusively based on —medium an d marke t rathe r tha n the strength o f an idea . The natur e o f "speech " i s changing , i n othe r words , an d argument s based o n "freedom " alon e ar e n o longe r capabl e o f bearin g mos t o f th e burden unde r th e Firs t Amendment . I t i s time, therefore, t o undertak e a new an d seriou s reexaminatio n o f th e largel y forgotte n hal f o f th e fre e speech question : Is this speech ? Mor e specifically , i t is time to reexamin e a numbe r o f apparentl y simpl e bu t i n fac t profoundl y importan t an d unsettling questions : I s anything—any word , an y image , an y act—tha t can b e sai d t o hav e meaning , speech ? Mus t speec h posses s a speaker — must i t b e th e produc t o f someone' s intentio n an d will ? I s "speech " th e idea communicate d o r th e mediu m o f it s communication—or both ? That thes e ar e fundamenta l question s unde r th e Firs t Amendmen t may b e mor e obviou s t o th e uninitiate d tha n t o th e initiated . Th e ques tions hav e largel y bee n ignore d (or , to pu t i t mor e accurately , assumed) by th e Suprem e Cour t unti l recently . The y ar e hardl y mentione d i n th e legal academy. That the y have been ignored say s more abou t th e comfor t with whic h w e could rel y o n speec h alway s t o hav e a speaker—just lik e babies, who , unti l lately , hav e alway s ha d a mothe r — than abou t an y failure o f th e Cour t o r academy . Bu t thes e matter s ca n n o longe r b e ignored. A s the followin g page s will disclose , speech doe s no t always , i n this "modern " world , hav e a speaker . Meanin g ca n b e mor e a functio n of metho d o r for m (medium , audience ) tha n o f substance . An d th e "medium" o f exchang e i n whic h speec h no w transpire s i s not s o muc h persuasion a s purchasing power ; no t word s bu t money . Where doe s thi s leave the old-fashione d ide a o f speech ? My purpos e i s not t o defin e "speech " a s the ter m i s used i n th e Firs t Amendment o r eve n t o outlin e bow w e shoul d g o abou t doin g so . I t i s

Introduction I

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instead t o argu e tha t w e mus t begi n t o thin k anew , free o f ideologica l trappings an d intellectua l habits , abou t speec h itself , instea d o f jus t it s freedom. M y argument , suc h a s i t is , rests o n a selecte d grou p o f "sto ries" abou t speech , eac h o f which i s an outgrowt h o f a case presented t o the Suprem e Court . I n eac h w e ar e confronte d wit h unavoidabl e ques tions abou t th e meanin g o f wha t w e call "speech " protecte d b y the Firs t Amendment. Freedom o f speec h is , in a rea l sense , bot h th e beginnin g an d th e en d o f American liberty . I t is , as James Madiso n said , essentia l t o th e workin g of democrati c self-government . An d withou t ou r ide a o f individua l lib erty— of individualism , itself—democrac y woul d b e littl e mor e tha n a cruel hoax . S o we safeguar d th e individual' s abilit y t o spea k freel y an d without censorshi p b y government i n order t o make "we , the people" a n operative principl e o f democracy , an d w e assur e freedo m o f conscienc e and belie f fo r eac h membe r o f societ y ou t o f th e convictio n tha t mora l agency belong s t o al l humans , individually . I n thi s wa y w e migh t describe th e "uncontroversia l core " o f th e Firs t Amendment' s freedo m of speech ; w e ca n safel y asser t tha t wit h fe w exception s mos t peopl e agree abou t thes e cor e purpose s an d th e nee d fo r a degre e o f freedo m o f speech that accomplishe s them . But i f th e cor e o f freedo m o f speec h i s clear an d coherent , th e sam e cannot b e sai d abou t th e periphery . Wha t abou t speec h tha t doe s no t serve these self-governin g an d libert y purpose s but , instead , serve s othe r ends, suc h a s efficien t commercia l markets ? Wha t abou t speec h tha t serves self-governin g o r libert y end s bu t i n peculia r way s (a s wit h pornography), o r onl y idiosyncraticall y (a s wit h fla g burning) , o r wit h other cost s (a s with racis t insults) ? Wha t abou t speec h whos e contribu tion t o libert y an d democrac y depend s o n it s regulation (suc h a s medica l advice, lega l advice , an d perhap s campaig n "advice") ? Wha t abou t speech tha t take s ne w an d differen t forms , suc h a s mone y (campaig n contributions), o r mediu m (cabl e TV), or words that occu r inadvertentl y or mechanicall y (suc h a s automated telemarketing) ? My interes t i s wit h thes e an d othe r "peripheries " o f free speech . I t turns ou t tha t littl e i s understood abou t th e peripherie s o f speech . Th e cases arisin g i n th e peripherie s ar e ofte n littl e known . I t turn s out , also , that th e "peripheries " ar e not , really , periphera l bu t central . Th e mos t fundamental fre e speec h question s li e there. Mor e strikingly , th e princi ples of fre e speec h that appl y to the m ar e astoundingl y uncertain .

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Introduction

There is , of course , the questio n whethe r ignoranc e o f th e peripherie s of speec h i s useful. Perhaps , as the late professor Alexande r Bickel , draw ing upon Edmun d Burke , once suggested—and her e I paraphrase—"Liberty define d i s libert y lost. " Perhaps , i n othe r words , som e degre e o f ambiguity an d intellectua l incoherenc e a t th e peripher y o f freedo m o f speech i s desirable, a t leas t i n th e sens e tha t awarenes s o f al l o f th e cor ners and edge s of the free speec h landscape, and thei r consequent submis sion t o ou r insatiabl e appetit e t o defin e th e amoun t o f libert y t o b e enjoyed there , would tur n ou t to b e destructive o f liberty an d democracy . Perhaps libert y an d democrac y — and huma n freedo m itself—ar e to o organic t o b e reduced t o cleare r definition . I a m sympatheti c wit h thi s genera l view , a s I a m wit h muc h tha t Burke migh t b e understoo d t o suggest . M y purpos e i s therefore no t t o dispute th e conclusio n (no r t o argu e fo r it ) bu t instea d t o explor e th e periphery withou t reducin g i t to formula e i n th e belie f tha t th e intellec tual curiositie s i t pose s ar e usefu l an d importan t eve n i f the y shoul d no t lead us to more specifi c definition s o f the boundarie s o f free speech . I am confident, i n othe r words , tha t knowledg e i s useful i n itself , eve n i f th e uses we make o f i t ofte n ar e not .

PART I

Speakers The First Amendment reads : "Congres s shal l make no law . . . abridging the freedom o f speech." Th e guarantee is brief an d to the point . But its brevity bristle s with ambiguity . What i s th e significanc e o f it s applicatio n t o Congres s alone ? A s i t turns out , th e word Congres s i s to b e read broadl y t o includ e al l parts o f the nationa l government , legislative , executive , an d eve n judicial , an d state governments a s well. What doe s th e ter m "law " mean , an d fo r tha t matter , th e ter m "no " law? Th e Suprem e Cour t ha s neve r suggested , fo r example , tha t frau d accomplished throug h word s canno t b e prohibited . A s we wil l see , "n o law" doe s not mea n "No law. " And wha t abou t th e term s "abridge " an d "freedom" ? O n thei r fac e these ar e term s wit h uncertai n meanin g tha t impl y relativity . Th e Firs t Amendment doe s no t prohibi t law s tha t "i n an y way interfer e with " th e "immunity" o f speec h fro m regulation . Whethe r th e "freedom " t o b e accorded speec h i s "abridged, " then , mus t depen d i n part o n ho w grea t the restriction o n speech is, and ho w pressing the competing interes t sup porting th e restrictio n migh t be . Makin g extortio n b y speec h a crim e surely restrict s speech , bu t th e restrictio n i s not a n abridgmen t an d free dom doe s not exten d tha t far . We wil l confron t thes e ambiguitie s throughou t thi s book . Bu t th e most importan t ambiguit y tha t wil l occup y mos t o f ou r attentio n i n par t i i s the ter m "speech. " "Speech " i s the mos t importan t ter m i n th e Firs t Amendment, fo r th e term "speech, " alone , contains th e substanc e o f th e guarantee, wit h al l o f th e othe r term s outlinin g th e degre e an d kin d o f protection accorde d "speech. " What i s thi s thin g calle d "speech " tha t th e Firs t Amendmen t pro tects? I s th e Firs t Amendmen t t o b e rea d t o guarante e freedo m fo r speech itself—th e words , pictures , images , an d action s throug h whic h messages ar e conveye d t o us ? O r doe s "freedom " belon g t o th e perso n doing the communicating—th e speaker—wit h protectio n o f the speec h

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Speakers

an inevitable, though perhap s no t necessary , by-produc t o f the speaker' s freedom? The role of the speake r i n the First Amendment's freedo m o f speec h is the questio n tha t wil l occup y u s i n par t i . Th e questio n i s a n age-ol d one, thoug h surprisingl y th e Suprem e Cour t ha s onl y recentl y begu n t o give i t muc h attention . Throug h th e thre e storie s tha t wil l b e told , w e will com e t o discove r tha t th e speake r play s a deceptivel y subtl e an d complex rol e in the Firs t Amendment drama . The firs t story , "Th e Jacket," wil l forc e us , initially, t o confron t th e many possibl e meaning s o f th e ter m "speech " a s they migh t b e applie d to th e "brutish " letterin g place d o n a jacket. Th e stor y wil l transport u s into the murky depth s o f Firs t Amendment speech , and the n lea d u s out , happily, by shifting ou r focu s awa y from th e jacket an d it s painted letter ing and towar d th e young man wh o wor e it , thus definin g speec h b y reference to a speaker, no t word s alone . Fittingly, th e secon d story , "Th e Author, " start s wher e th e firs t ends . It wil l mak e u s thin k anew , perhaps , abou t on e specifi c kin d o f Firs t Amendment speaker : a n author . I s th e perso n wh o create s a tex t th e author, o r ar e th e reader s als o authors ? Whe n th e author' s identit y i s missing, a s with anonymou s texts , doe s th e autho r likewis e disappear , leaving th e tex t behin d a s a mer e artifact—speech—tha t possesse s n o freedom o f it s own ? The third story , "Th e Corporatio n an d th e Candidate, " wil l lead us t o the next and fina l question : What abou t speec h that ha s no autho r a t all ? Here w e will explore, in the setting s o f speec h b y Genera l Motors , Don ald Trump, the NAACP, the ACLU , and th e Michiga n Stat e Chambe r o f Commerce, th e relationshi p o f min d t o speaking . If , fo r purpose s o f th e First Amendment , speec h mus t hav e a speaker , mus t speaker s hav e a mind, a will o f thei r ow n that , lik e the civi l rights marcher , i s being pur posefully communicate d t o others ? D o corporation s an d othe r form s o f collective organization s hav e mind s o f thei r own , an d i f not , i s thei r expression speec h under th e Firs t Amendment ? These ar e th e path s dow n whic h th e thre e storie s wil l carr y us . Eac h story, in its own way, will invite us to think abou t issue s that ar e founda tional to the very idea o f freedo m o f speech .

Story One

The Jacke t I (Cohen v. California, 403 U.S. 15 (1971))

Was i t becaus e o f th e chil l i n th e ai r tha t Pau l Rober t Cohe n wore the jacket o r was i t because o f the words "Fuc k th e Draft " painte d on th e back ? A s h e pu t hi s jacke t o n an d lef t hi s hom e o n tha t fatefu l spring mornin g i n 1968 , Cohe n di d no t realiz e tha t hi s destination , th e Los Angeles Count y Courthouse , would b e only the firs t sto p o n a muc h larger journey . H e woul d ente r th e courthous e o f hi s ow n volition . H e would leav e i t under arrest . Thu s bega n a journey tha t woul d shak e th e legal world , reshap e th e meanin g o f speec h protecte d b y th e Firs t Amendment t o th e Unite d State s Constitution , an d en d wit h a remark able opinion b y the Suprem e Cour t o f the United States . But Paul Cohen, then a young man, was not awar e o f the journey tha t lay ahead a s he left hi s home wit h hi s jacket o n th e morning o f April 26 , 1968. He wa s schedule d t o testif y a s a witness i n a misdemeanor tria l a t the Lo s Angeles Count y Courthouse , a majestic , imposing , an d authori tative buildin g whos e shee r mas s dominate d par t o f th e downtow n Lo s Angeles landscape . The Vietna m Wa r loome d heavil y o n th e consciousnes s o f th e Ameri can peopl e i n Apri l o f 1968 . Lyndo n Johnso n ha d recentl y eliminate d most college draft deferments . H e would no t b e running fo r reelectio n i n the fall. Richard Nixo n woul d soo n b e elected president o n a platform o f a prompt , bu t honorable , en d t o th e war . I t wa s a volatil e er a durin g which peac e symbol s an d antiwa r slogan s littere d th e landscape . Paul Cohen' s jacke t expresse d hi s dept h o f feelin g abou t th e war . Painted i n whit e o n th e dar k materia l wer e severa l peac e symbols , th e message "Sto p th e War, " and , emblazone d o n th e back , th e word s "Fuck th e Draft. " Toda y w e migh t trea t suc h word s o n a jacke t o r T shirt wit h indifference , eve n i f wit h a certai n disdain , fo r w e hav e become acclimate d t o the m . . . i n movies, in humor, indee d i n relativel y polite conversation . Bu t Cohe n di d no t us e th e wor d "Fuck " i n 1995 ;

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he use d it , i n public , i n 1968 ; i n th e wanin g year s o f a mor e innocen t time, befor e ou r sense s went num b i n the face o f pervasive sex , violence, and roc k an d roll . Paul Cohe n di d no t g o ou t tha t mornin g t o participat e i n a protes t against th e Vietna m Wa r but , instead , t o testif y a s a witnes s fo r th e defense i n a case that ha d n o bearin g o n th e draf t o r th e war . I n fact , n o judges hear d draf t case s a t th e Lo s Angeles Count y Courthous e sinc e i t was a state , no t a federal , courthouse . Bu t i t wa s b y an y standard s a large — indeed b y most standard s monstrous—courthouse , nin e storie s high, with aroun d on e hundred courtrooms . After enterin g the courthouse buildin g Cohe n walked dow n a long cor ridor, perhaps a half bloc k in length, to a bank of elevators. He rode an elevator t o the sevent h floor , wher e Division 2 0 was located . The courthous e was bus y that mornin g an d th e potential audienc e fo r th e jacket's messag e numbered in the hundreds, including women and children. This was particularly th e case on th e sevent h floor , fo r Divisio n 2 0 was th e main maste r calendar fo r al l misdemeanors. Virtually al l misdemeanors i n the city, fro m traffic violation s t o loiterin g to petty theft an d trespas s an d disturbin g th e peace, were tried there . According t o Michael Sauer , the deput y cit y attor ney fo r th e Cit y o f Lo s Angeles who woul d handl e Cohen' s case , "O n a normal day , at any hour, there were probably 20 0 people there." Three polic e officers , Sergean t Shore , Sergean t Swan , an d office r Alexander, spotte d Cohe n a s h e emerge d fro m th e elevato r an d walke d down th e wid e corrido r flanke d b y courtrooms . Al l o f the m notice d th e jacket an d it s painte d sloga n "Fuc k th e Draft. " Bu t befor e the y coul d approach him , Cohe n turne d towar d on e o f th e courtrooms , remove d his jacket , folde d i t ove r hi s ar m s o tha t th e letterin g wa s hidde n fro m view, and the n entere d th e courtroo m i n which h e was t o testify . On e o f the officer s followe d hi m int o th e courtroom . Th e office r approache d the benc h and , i n hushe d tones , tol d th e judg e abou t Cohen' s jacket , pointed hi m out , an d aske d th e judg e t o hol d Cohe n i n contemp t o f court. Th e judg e refused . When hi s busines s wa s completed , Cohe n ros e t o leave . A s h e emerged throug h th e door s o f th e courtroo m int o th e bus y corridor , th e officers wer e awaitin g him . The y approache d hi m immediately , con firmed tha t h e ha d th e jacket , an d the n arreste d hi m fo r disturbin g th e peace b y engagin g i n tumultuou s an d offensiv e behavior . W e d o no t know whethe r h e had pu t th e jacke t bac k on . *

The Jacket I 9 What Pau l Cohe n di d o n tha t Apri l mornin g i n 196 8 ha d a profoun d but unanticipate d influenc e o n freedo m o f speec h i n th e Unite d States , an influenc e tha t woul d transcen d hi s action s an d eve n th e antiwa r protests o f th e Vietna m era , reachin g forwar d nearl y thre e decade s t o shape th e wa y w e thin k abou t free speec h i n today' s climat e o f hat e speech, campu s speec h codes , an d pornograph y — indeed, t o alte r th e very meanin g o f "speech " protecte d b y th e Firs t Amendment . Bu t t o fully understan d thes e implication s an d thei r importance , w e mus t tur n to Cohen' s lega l battl e an d th e opinion s o f th e court s i n whic h i t wa s waged. Paul Cohe n i s someone abou t who m w e learn virtuall y nothin g i n th e course o f th e lega l proceeding s tha t followe d hi s arrest . Th e furthe r hi s case progressed , i t seems , the les s importan t h e becam e t o it . We kno w him onl y a s " a youn g man. " W e ca n assume , also , tha t h e wa s deepl y opposed t o the Vietnam War an d th e draft. . . deeply enough, a t least, t o paint "Fuc k th e Draft " i n bol d letter s o n th e bac k o f hi s jacket an d thu s to displa y hi s passio n t o al l wh o woul d see it . This , a t least , wa s hi s claim fro m th e ver y beginning : tha t i n displayin g th e messag e i n al l it s brutal franknes s h e wa s exercisin g hi s freedo m o f speec h protecte d b y the First Amendment. H e wore the jacket, his lawyer asserted , to expres s the dept h o f hi s feeling s abou t th e war . Bu t h e wor e i t als o becaus e "h e was somewha t chilly . . . . h e wasn' t ther e [i n th e Lo s Angele s Court house] t o demonstrat e o r parade. " Cohen's tria l wa s hel d i n th e Lo s Angele s Count y Courthouse , i n a courtroom entere d fro m th e sam e corrido r dow n whic h h e ha d walked , displaying hi s jacket' s message . H e wa s charge d wit h disturbin g th e peace b y offensiv e an d tumultuou s conduct , a misdemeano r punishabl e by a fin e o f u p t o $20 0 o r imprisonmen t i n th e count y jai l fo r n o mor e than ninet y days . A t th e trial , th e thre e polic e officer s wh o arreste d Cohen testifie d tha t the y ha d see n hi m walkin g i n th e corrido r o f th e courthouse wearin g th e jacke t wit h th e word s "Fuc k th e Draft " promi nently displaye d o n hi s back . N o on e els e who ha d see n Cohe n walkin g in th e corrido r tha t mornin g wa s calle d t o th e witnes s stand , an d there fore n o on e els e testifie d tha t h e o r sh e ha d see n th e jacke t o r wa s offended b y it . Bu t th e la w Cohe n violated , originall y enacte d i n 1872 , did no t requir e suc h firsthan d evidenc e o f actua l offense . Hi s crim e wa s violating the generally accepte d standard s o f decenc y maintaine d b y rea sonable persons , whethe r an y suc h person s wer e i n fac t presen t or , fo r that matter , offended .

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Based essentiall y o n thes e facts alone , and i n the face o f hi s claim tha t the jacket' s messag e wa s speec h protecte d b y th e Firs t Amendment , Cohen wa s convicted . Th e presidin g judge , James Harve y Brow n o f th e Municipal Cour t o f Lo s Angeles, sentenced hi m t o thirt y day s i n the Lo s Angeles Count y Jail . Judge Brown , i t seems , had littl e tim e fo r Cohen' s free speec h claim , perhap s viewin g Cohen' s ac t o f wearin g th e jacke t a s mostly conduc t an d littl e speech . We cannot kno w Judge Brown' s view s for certai n becaus e he wrote n o opinion i n the case, but the characteriza tion o f Cohen' s actio n a s conduct an d no t speec h wa s t o haun t th e cas e all the way t o the Suprem e Court . Judge Brown , however , was no t t o hav e the las t word, fo r Cohe n wa s not prepare d t o accep t hi s conviction, serv e his sentence, an d resum e hi s life. Instead , h e appeale d hi s cas e t o th e Californi a Cour t o f Appeal , challenging th e constitutionalit y o f th e Californi a la w unde r whic h h e had bee n convicted . I n visiting it s restriction o n speec h tha t i s "offensiv e and tumultuous, " h e argued , th e la w punishe d speec h simpl y becaus e i t was offensive an d violated commo n standard s o f decency. Speech canno t be fre e unde r suc h a suffocatin g regim e o f government-impose d stan dards o f tast e an d decency . The appeal s court , however , sa w th e cas e ver y differently . Cohen' s conduct, th e cour t said , "consiste d o f mor e tha n a quie t an d peacefu l dissertation o f hi s conviction s abou t th e draft. " I n choosin g " a court house corrido r containin g wome n an d children " a s a foru m fo r hi s views, his purpose wa s no t "t o espous e a philosoph y o r a persona l con viction" bu t t o "shock, " t o "attract[ ] th e attentio n o f other s t o hi s views by the shee r vulgarit y o f hi s expression, " an d t o "ve x an d anno y a sub stantial portio n o f hi s unwillin g 'audience.' " I f ther e wer e limit s t o gov ernment's authorit y t o enforc e standard s o f decenc y o n speech , Cohen' s conduct di d no t excee d them . Wit h Cohen' s fre e speec h clai m thu s unceremoniously rejected , th e appeal s cour t affirme d hi s conviction . When Cohe n thereafte r appeale d th e Cour t o f Appea l decisio n t o th e California Suprem e Court , a cour t know n fo r it s activ e protectio n o f First Amendmen t rights , tha t cour t decline d eve n t o revie w th e cas e (though o n a divided vote) . Cohen's onl y remainin g optio n wa s a n appea l t o th e Unite d State s Supreme Court . Hi s chance s wer e slim ; o f th e nearl y 5,00 0 case s filed with the Supreme Cour t eac h year, the Cour t accept s only 15 0 to 20 0 fo r review. But even though th e odds were heavily against him, and notwith standing th e sweepin g rejectio n o f hi s free speec h clai m i n the Californi a

The Jacket I 1 1 courts, h e too k hi s cas e t o th e Unite d State s Suprem e Court . An d ther e fortune turne d i n hi s favor . I n a n orde r tha t mus t hav e surprise d eve n Cohen, th e Cour t accepte d th e cas e fo r revie w an d se t i t dow n fo r ora l argument o n Februar y 22 , 1971. At firs t blus h Cohen' s cas e seeme d straightforward : a simple , i f con troversial, clai m tha t hi s highly charge d an d offensiv e rhetori c coul d no t be prohibited becaus e the Constitutio n guarantee d hi s freedom t o us e it . But whe n hi s cas e cam e u p fo r ora l argumen t befor e th e ful l Court , i t became clea r tha t Cohen' s apparentl y inconsequentia l an d straightfor ward cas e was , i n fact , ver y complicated . Th e complexitie s emerge d i n the dram a o f th e ora l argumen t tha t too k plac e i n th e Suprem e Cour t Building i n Washington, D.C . Oral argumen t befor e th e Suprem e Cour t i s a bracing experience fo r a lawyer. Walkin g u p th e dozen s o f step s leadin g t o th e gran d entranc e o f the building— a buildin g dubbed , b y some, the marble palace—enterin g through th e huge doors , proceeding dow n th e wide and lon g marble cor ridor flanke d b y marbl e statue s an d column s risin g nearl y fift y fee t t o the ornat e ceiling , the lawye r feel s th e seriousnes s an d hig h politic s tha t the majesti c buildin g signifies . Insid e voice s an d footstep s reverberat e i n and aroun d th e dam p chil l o f th e whit e marbl e corrido r a s th e lawye r walks toward th e dar k woo d door s o f th e courtroom . The courtroo m impose s it s authorit y eve n befor e th e ora l argumen t begins, encouragin g th e lawye r t o reevaluat e hi s o r he r sens e o f worth . The roo m i s nearly thre e storie s high , ringe d wit h marbl e columns , an d the ceilin g i s painted wit h fresco s an d bordere d wit h friezes . Th e raise d banc, behin d whic h th e justice s sit , loom s hig h an d dominate s th e fron t of th e courtroom . Th e lawyer' s podiu m beneat h i t seem s t o b e a minia ture representatio n b y comparison. I t is from thi s podium, lookin g u p a t the justices , that th e lawye r plead s th e client' s case , knowin g tha t eac h argument ma y b e interrupte d wit h lightning-quic k question s pose d b y the justices . I n midsentenc e o f a lawyer' s well-prepare d argumen t th e relentless question s wil l come , sometime s i n n o particula r order , ofte n with apparen t serendipity , bu t always , the lawyer knows , with a purpos e that pierce s t o th e hear t o f th e case . The physica l effec t i s chilling ; th e psychological effec t i s unnerving . On th e da y tha t Cohen' s cas e wa s argued , th e nin e black-robe d jus tices wh o occupie d th e high-backe d leathe r chair s behin d th e banc stil l matched th e descriptio n "Nin e Ol d Men. " Non e o f th e justice s wa s under fift y year s o f age , an d mos t wer e i n thei r sixtie s an d seventies . I n

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terms o f years of servic e on the Cour t this was a particularly experience d and wis e group . Onl y Justice Harr y Blackmu n an d Chie f Justic e Warre n Burger wer e ne w t o the Court . Chief Justic e Ear l Warren, wh o ha d le d th e Suprem e Cour t throug h a remarkable perio d o f judicia l activis m i n th e 1950 s an d 1960s , ha d resigned tw o year s earlier . Bu t i n mos t respect s th e Cour t remaine d th e "Warren Court, " it s membershi p stil l dominate d b y thos e justice s wh o had serve d unde r Warren . Thes e Warren Cour t justice s included Willia m O. Dougla s an d Hug o Black , bot h widel y recognize d a s Firs t Amend ment absolutists . Whe n th e Firs t Amendmen t says , "Congres s shal l make n o la w . . . abridgin g th e freedo m o f speech, " Hug o Blac k ha d said, i t means "No Law! " William Brenna n an d Thurgoo d Marshal l wer e Warren Cour t liberal s as well. Brennan wa s a strong proponen t o f fre e speec h bu t no t a n abso lutist. H e ha d authore d a famou s decisio n tha t narrowe d th e definitio n of obscenit y tha t coul d b e prohibited , ye t state d unequivocall y tha t "obscenity i s no t protecte d b y th e freedom s o f speec h an d press " because i t is "utterl y withou t redeemin g socia l importance. " Thurgood Marshall , th e Court' s firs t African-America n justice , ha d yet full y t o establis h hi s Firs t Amendmen t credentials . Thi s wa s onl y hi s fourth yea r o n th e Court , an d ne w justice s ten d t o b e cautiou s i n thei r opinion writin g a t th e start . Bu t Marshal l an d Brenna n wer e rarel y i n disagreement, fo r the y held simila r view s abou t th e values that animate d the Constitutio n and , particularly, th e Bil l of Rights . The remainin g thre e Warre n Cour t justices , Byro n White , Potte r Stewart, an d John Marshal l Harlan , entertaine d th e view that "n o Law " does not mea n n o law , notwithstanding Justic e Black' s view s to th e con trary. Byro n Whit e wa s a Kenned y appointee , a forme r footbal l star , a Rhodes scholar . H e wa s intellectuall y incline d towar d th e pragmatic : t o decisions grounded firml y o n the facts , to gradualism, an d t o results tha t were practical . Potter Stewar t ha d bee n a member o f th e Cour t sinc e the 1950s , hav ing bee n appointe d b y Presiden t Eisenhower . H e ha d gaine d a certai n amount o f fame , perhap s infamy , fo r statin g i n a n opinio n that , whil e he couldn' t defin e obscenity , " I kno w i t whe n I se e it, " an d i t isn' t speech protecte d b y th e Firs t Amendment . Th e statemen t expresse d hi s frustration a t th e seemingl y endles s strea m o f allegedl y obscen e materi als th e Cour t oblige d itsel f t o revie w eac h year , bu t i t als o pose d a sim ple truth .

The Jacket I 1 3 Justice John Marshal l Harlan , wh o woul d writ e th e opinio n fo r th e Court i n Cohen' s case , was perhap s th e mos t widel y respecte d membe r of th e Court . Hi s diminutiv e appearanc e belie d hi s notable pedigre e an d credentials. H e bor e th e nam e o f th e greates t justic e i n the histor y o f th e Supreme Court , Chie f Justic e John Marshall , wh o serve d fro m 180 1 t o 1835 an d wh o shape d th e fundamenta l structur e o f ou r constitutiona l democracy i n opinion s tha t ar e stil l regularl y relie d upo n an d studied . Justice Harlan' s grandfather , know n a s th e Elde r Harlan , ha d serve d o n the Suprem e Cour t durin g th e post-Reconstructio n perio d i n th e lat e nineteenth centur y an d earl y twentieth, an d wa s widel y respecte d a s on e of the truly grea t justice s i n the histor y o f the Court . John Marshal l Harlan , know n a s the Younge r Harlan , ha d bee n edu cated i n al l the "right " places , had practice d la w i n New Yor k Cit y wit h one o f th e nation' s mos t distinguishe d corporat e firms , an d ove r th e course o f hi s sixtee n year s o n th e Cour t ha d gaine d a deserve d reputa tion fo r hi s keen intellect, his powerful an d exactin g analytical skills , and the clarity an d intellectua l honest y o f hi s opinions . Justice Harla n woul d retir e a t th e en d o f th e 197 0 Ter m o f th e Cour t (which bega n i n Octobe r o f 197 0 an d ende d i n July o f 1971) , just fiv e months afte r ora l argumen t i n Cohen. B y the 197 0 ter m h e ha d becom e nearly blin d an d wa s assiste d i n hi s wor k b y hi s staff , wh o woul d rea d briefs an d opinion s t o him . Bu t i f anything , hi s los s o f sigh t ha d enhanced hi s analytica l skill s an d hi s fin e sens e o f judgment . I n the vie w of man y constitutiona l scholars , Cohen v. California woul d b e hi s mos t famous opinion . So it was that th e lawyers who woul d argu e Paul Cohen' s cas e faced a Supreme Cour t a s imposin g a s the buildin g i n whic h i t sat . Th e lawyer s were wel l prepare d fo r th e intellectuall y demandin g ritua l o f ora l argu ment. Suprem e Cour t case s ar e no t simpl y a n exercis e i n discoverin g th e law bu t are , instead, exercise s i n making th e law . What ha s happene d i n the pas t i s importan t bu t no t decisive . An d th e perspective s th e Cour t brings t o th e fact s o f a cas e — the interpretatio n o f th e facts , an d th e imputation o f meanin g t o the m — are ofte n new , jus t a s th e lega l ques tions ar e withou t precis e precedent . Fo r thi s th e lawyer s woul d nee d their wit s a s well a s their books . At on e o'cloc k i n th e afternoo n o f Monday , Februar y 22 , 1971 , the tw o lawyers wh o woul d argu e Cohen' s cas e rose a s the justice s i n their blac k robes entere d th e courtroo m throug h th e larg e curtai n tha t drape d th e

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wall behin d th e banc, comin g singl e fil e i n orde r o f seniorit y an d pro ceeding directl y t o thei r ow n chair , arrange d b y orde r o f seniority . Cohen's lawyer , who woul d argu e first , wa s Melvill e Nimmer , a profes sor o f la w an d on e o f th e nation' s leadin g authoritie s o n freedo m o f speech. Michae l T . Sauer, deput y cit y attorne y fo r th e Cit y o f Lo s Ange les, was the lawye r fo r th e Stat e o f California . As Chie f Justic e Burge r struc k th e gave l t o brin g th e proceeding s t o order an d calle d Nimme r t o th e podiu m t o presen t Cohen' s case , it wa s clear tha t th e ora l argumen t woul d focu s ver y little o n earlie r precedent s or eve n o n th e Constitution' s tex t o r history . I f i t did , Cohen' s cas e would b e open an d shu t an d h e would probabl y lose . In agreeing to hea r the case , the justice s ha d signale d a n intentio n t o delv e more deepl y int o the Firs t Amendment' s meaning , perhap s makin g ne w la w t o replac e th e old. Accordingly , Nimme r wa s give n onl y a brie f tim e i n which t o mak e a forma l presentatio n o f th e cas e an d th e lega l theor y underlyin g Cohen's claime d righ t o f fre e speech . Thi s wa s no t wha t intereste d th e justices. Th e existin g la w wa s wel l know n t o them . The y an d thei r pre decessors had , afte r all , made it . Th e justice s wer e interested , instead , i n the ne w question s tha t Cohen' s action s raised . Nimme r wa s therefor e quickly interrupte d b y a flurr y o f question s fro m th e justices , question s that homed i n quickly on ambiguitie s i n the factual record , on previousl y little notice d aspect s o f Cohen' s behavio r an d motivations , o n th e state' s justifications fo r th e crimina l conviction , and , mos t important , o n defin ing the precise issu e the case presented . The firs t questio n ha d t o d o wit h wh y Cohe n ha d remove d hi s jacke t upon enterin g th e Lo s Angele s Count y Courtroo m i n 1968 . Th e issu e underlying th e questio n wa s Cohen' s motiv e an d intent : How , i f a t all , were they relevan t t o hi s claimed ac t o f "speaking" ? Justice Stewart: Whe n h e too k of f th e jacket , di d h e pu t i t i n a plac e where i t was prominentl y i n view ? Mr. Nimmer: No , Mr . Justice Stewart , h e hel d i t folde d ove r hi s ar m and i t wa s no t o n vie w there . Furthermore , th e policema n wh o observed hi m walking through th e corridor befor e h e went int o th e courtroom . . . requested th e judg e i n th e courtroo m t o hol d th e young ma n i n contempt. Th e judg e refuse d t o hol d th e youn g ma n in contemp t becaus e ther e wa s nothin g t o b e see n i n th e court room—I shouldn' t sa y that . I don' t kno w wha t h e woul d hav e done i f h e di d se e anything, bu t ther e wa s nothin g t o b e seen . An d then h e left an d a t that poin t h e was arrested .

The Jacket I 1 5 The subjec t aros e onc e agai n a t a late r poin t i n th e ora l argumen t i n response t o Nimmer's clai m that th e words use d o n the jacket communi cated Cohen' s "dept h o f feeling tha t wa s evidenced b y this word. " Mr. Nimmer: [T]h e mer e fac t tha t thi s youn g ma n chos e t o us e a word whic h man y peopl e woul d n o doub t fin d disagreeabl e . . . i s important dat a fo r th e self-governin g peopl e t o know—t o kno w that h e feels thi s deepl y abou t thi s subject . I f he ha d use d th e mor e laundered for m o f expression : ' I hat e th e draft, ' the y woul d hav e been ignorant t o a degree . Justice Marshall: Wh y di d h e take th e jacke t of f whe n h e entere d th e courtroom? Mr. Nimmer: H e too k th e jacke t of f becaus e h e wa s wearin g th e jacket a s on e woul d ordinaril y wea r a jacket : h e wa s somewha t chilly. H e kne w tha t th e sig n wa s o n ther e an d h e kne w tha t thi s showed th e dept h o f feelin g o f youn g men , bu t h e wasn' t ther e t o demonstrate o r parade. . . . Justice Marshall: I think yo u misse d the impor t o f m y question . Mr. Nimmer: I' m sorry , Your Honor . Justice Marshall: H e wa s willin g t o d o al l thi s demonstratin g bu t h e wasn't willin g to d o i t in the courtroom ? Mr. Nimmer: Well , Your Honor , h e was n o t . . . Justice Marshall: Doe s tha t lea d m e t o believ e h e kne w exactl y wha t he was doing ? Mr. Nimmer: You r Hono r h e . . . Justice Marshall: Tha t h e kne w bette r tha n t o wea r i t i n th e court room? Mr. Nimmer: Tha t h e knew . . . ? Justice Marshall: Tha t h e kne w bette r tha n t o wea r i t i n th e court room? Mr. Nimmer: Perhap s h e knew i t would b e improper t o wear i t in th e courtroom. I have never questione d hi m o n that . . . . I don't know . Justice Marshall: Well , i t shoul d pu t emphasi s [o n th e fact ] tha t h e folded i t up . Mr. Nimmer: Yes , indeed. Justice Marshall: Bu t he stil l has the righ t t o parade aroun d th e cour thouse halls , knowin g tha t tha t buildin g ha d nothin g t o d o wit h the draf t i n an y for m o r fashion , a m I right? Mr. Nimmer: Yo u ar e quit e right , Your Honor . Justice Marshall: An d yo u emphasiz e that ?

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Mr. Nimmer: Yes , Your Honor . Justice Marshall: An d m y questio n is : why? Mr. Nimmer: Becaus e . . . I want t o mak e th e point tha t thi s doe s no t get into th e are a o f possible contemp t o f court . Thi s i s an ordinar y . . . exercise i n freedom o f expression . . . . Justice Marshall: Well , could h e have stoo d i n the cour t hallway s an d yelled those words ? Mr. Nimmer: Certainl y not . Tha t woul d hav e bee n highl y improper , Your Honor . Justice Marshall: Well , th e fac t tha t h e ha s i t emblazone d o n hi s jacket, we can't tel l whether that' s lou d o r quiet . Ca n you ? Mr. Nimmer: Well , Your Honor, it was on his jacket, which meant tha t a person , i f h e wish[ed ] to , coul d se e i t . . . and a person wa s no t forced t o continue to observ e that a s in terms of a loud voice . . . Justice Marshall: Well , [ a person ] walkin g u p th e hall s directl y behind hi m couldn' t hel p . . . seeing it . Mr. Nimmer: Fo r th e moment. Bu t obviously . . . Justice Marshall: Obviousl y that' s wh y h e di d it . [Do ] yo u mea n h e didn't wan t peopl e t o se e it? Mr. Nimmer: No ; I'm certainl y no t sayin g that a t all . Quite definitel y he di d wan t t o pas s tha t message , bu t it' s a somewha t differen t question . . . what hi s motive wa s i n wearin g it . And i n part i t wa s to conve y thi s message , althoug h h e was no t paradin g o r picketin g or anythin g o f th e sort . H e wa s makin g hi s way t o th e courtroo m and the n mad e hi s wa y back . Bu t h e di d wan t peopl e t o see this . On th e other hand , it' s a different questio n . . . whether o r not peo ple had t o se e it for an y considerable perio d o f time, and w e woul d respectfully sugges t tha t wa s no t necessar y unde r th e circum stances. It i s true tha t som e peopl e momentaril y probabl y couldn' t avoid seein g it, bu t ther e was n o continuing requirement . . . . The exchange abou t Cohen' s folding hi s jacket when he entered the court room focuse s o n tw o aspect s o f th e cas e that wer e importan t t o th e jus tices bu t wer e cloude d i n ambiguity. First , what doe s the ac t reveal abou t Cohen, wh o i s a n otherwis e largel y anonymou s acto r i n a n unfoldin g drama? Hi s removin g th e jacke t an d carefull y foldin g i t to hid e th e mes sage has the appearanc e o f a well-mannered act , one o f deferenc e t o plac e and occasio n an d authorit y o f the court. His lawyer ha d implie d a s much: Paul Cohe n wa s a youn g ma n wit h deepl y hel d belief s bu t als o wit h a

The Jacket I 1 7 sense o f th e limit s o f propriet y an d manners , a young ma n wh o cam e t o the courthouse to testify, no t to protest, an d who wore a jacket becaus e of the chil l i n th e air . Folding th e jacke t could , o f course , have bee n a mor e calculated ac t take n i n recognitio n tha t hi s behavio r i n th e courtroo m could affec t th e fat e o f th e perso n fo r who m h e wa s t o testify . I n eithe r case, the ac t o f removin g hi s jacket i n the courtroo m i s certainly no t con sistent with a picture o f a trenchant, hard-bitten , ideologicall y committe d antiwar proteste r whos e missio n wa s t o disturb , disrupt , an d impos e hi s "truth" o n other s without sensitivit y to time, place, or manner . The secon d aspec t o f th e cas e that wa s surrounde d wit h considerabl e ambiguity eve n at the point o f ora l argumen t befor e th e Cour t concerne d Cohen's motives . Th e justices ' question s probe d Cohen' s purpos e i n walking throug h th e bus y courtroo m corridor s wit h th e messag e "Fuc k the Draft" emblazone d o n his jacket. Did h e intend t o convey a n undeni ably shockin g an d offensiv e messag e t o al l th e peopl e gathere d ther e — men, women , an d childre n wh o wer e n o doub t preoccupie d wit h thei r own pressin g problem s an d no t th e leas t bi t intereste d i n Cohen' s view s on th e wa r an d th e draft ? O r di d Cohe n wea r hi s jacket simpl y t o war m himself i n the chil l of th e mornin g air ? Was he even specificall y awar e o f the message o n th e jacket a s he walked th e corridor s an d rod e th e eleva tor t o the sevent h floor ? Wa s wearing th e jacket s o second natur e t o hi m that h e didn' t eve n thin k abou t it s letterin g unti l h e reache d th e court room, where , suddenl y mad e consciou s o f i t b y th e attentio n h e wa s drawing, h e contritel y remove d an d folde d it ? Ca n w e reall y sa y tha t h e was "speaking " fo r purpose s o f th e Firs t Amendment , o r wa s th e "speech" o n th e jacket disembodied , muc h lik e a billboar d a t th e sid e of a road ? Cohen's motive s becam e al l th e mor e important , eve n i f inscrutable , as th e Cour t furthe r parse d th e fact s i n a n effor t t o brin g th e issu e pre sented b y th e cas e int o clea r definition . A s th e increasingl y focuse d exchanges cam e t o reveal , th e cas e did not involv e Cohen' s righ t t o express hi s view s agains t th e war , eve n i n a courthouse . O n thi s issu e there could b e no disagreement. Instead , the case involved hi s freedom t o use a single word, "Fuck, " i n public. His claim was that the word, whic h by itsel f ha d negligibl e value , acquire d valu e an d Firs t Amendmen t sig nificance throug h it s relation t o the expression o f an idea: that the war i n Vietnam wa s unjus t an d th e draf t wa s likewis e unjust . Wa s the constitu tional statur e o f th e wor d "Fuck " t o b e judge d i n isolatio n fro m "th e Draft," o r was it to b e judged onl y a s a means o f expressing the antidraf t

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message? Wha t kin d o f relationshi p betwee n a wor d an d a n ide a doe s the Firs t Amendmen t require ? An d what , exactly , was th e natur e o f th e word's contributio n t o that message ? On thes e questions , th e burde n fel l t o Michae l T . Sauer , wh o wa s arguing th e case on behal f o f th e Stat e of California . Question: Wha t woul d h e [Cohen ] b e convicte d o f violating ? A statute tha t say s that, person s bein g the n an d ther e present , h e . . . engaged i n tumultuous an d offensiv e conduct , i s that correct ? Mr. Sauer: I believe we conceded tha t i t was no t tumultuous . Question: Tha t ther e was offensiv e conduct . Mr. Sauer: Conduc t b y displaying. . . . Question: An d "conduct " i s what? Mr. Sauer: Wearin g the jacket an d walkin g i n the courtroom . Question: Well , wearin g th e jacke t . . . th e conduc t wa s precisel y what? Mr. Sauer: Displayin g th e sig n o n th e jacke t b y th e fac t tha t h e wa s walking wit h th e sig n displaye d o n hi s back . Question: Th e walkin g wasn' t th e offensiv e conduct—jus t th e walk ing—was it ? Mr. Sauer: Merel y walking , no . Question: No . And s o what wa s the conduct ? Mr. Sauer: Displayin g th e sign . Question (by Justice Marshall): Th e word s wer e . . . printed o n o r sewn o n o r whatever i t was . . . hi s jacket ? Mr. Sauer: The y were painted on . Justice Marshall: Ho w man y peopl e [were ] in the hallway ? Mr. Sauer: Th e record doesn' t say . Justice Marshall: Well , what i s there i n th e record , i n testimon y tha t shows that thes e words were [i n fact] offensiv e t o an y person i n the building a t tha t time ? Mr. Sauer: Ther e i s nothing i n the record, Mr . Justice Marshall . Justice Marshall: Well , suppos e h e ha d o n hi s jacket : " I dislik e th e draft"? Mr. Sauer: The n I doubt i f we would b e here, Mr. Justice Marshall . Justice Marshall: So , it's the word, isn' t it ? Mr. Sauer: Yes . Justice Marshall: Isn' t tha t al l you have ?

The Jacket I 1 9 Mr. Sauer: A word, yes . I think collectivel y throughou t th e cas e it' s been referred t o a s three words . Justice Marshall: I see what yo u mean . The problem presente d b y Cohen' s actions , in short, was not th e message h e chos e t o convey—" I dislik e th e draft"—o r eve n th e environ ment o f th e courthous e i n whic h h e chos e t o conve y it , bu t th e wor d with whic h h e chos e t o conve y it . As Justice Marshal l pu t i t i n hi s ques tion, i t wa s no t " I Dislik e th e Draft " bu t "Fuc k th e Draft. " Wit h th e problem narrowe d t o th e manne r wit h whic h h e spoke , the centra l issu e for freedo m o f speec h wa s th e utility , o r value , o f a singl e word i n rela tion t o th e antidraf t message . This issu e break s dow n int o tw o separat e inquiries: (1 ) What relationship mus t a word hav e t o a message? an d (2 ) What contribution mus t i t mak e t o th e message , t o qualif y a s speec h under th e Firs t Amendment ? The firs t inquir y concern s "intent" : Di d Cohe n consciousl y intend , a t that tim e an d i n tha t place , t o expres s hi s view s throug h th e wor d "Fuck" o r di d he display the word inadvertently , a s a by-product onl y of his respons e t o th e chil l o f th e morning ? Th e secon d concern s wha t w e mean b y speech: What doe s the word "Fuck " contribut e t o Cohen' s message, an d shoul d tha t contribution , itself , coun t a s speec h fo r purpose s of the Firs t Amendment ? Nimmer argue d o n Cohen' s behal f tha t th e word "Fuck " adde d some thing o f constitutiona l valu e t o Cohen' s message . H e asserte d tha t w e need to se e the word becaus e it gives us as "self-governin g peopl e impor tant dat a . . . [b y which ] t o kno w tha t [Cohen ] feel s thi s deepl y abou t this subject. " Th e argumen t seem s t o rin g a bi t hollow—unsatisfyin g because incomplete , a s i f a corne r ha d no t bee n squarel y turne d — as i t did, i n th e end , fo r th e Suprem e Court . Surely , i t coul d b e argued , th e identity o f a speake r an d th e dept h o f hi s o r he r feelin g ca n b e ade quately conveye d withou t brutis h expletive , a t leas t fo r a n audienc e o f otherwise unsuspecting , disintereste d men , women, an d children . If Nimmer' s argumen t i s instea d a mor e poeti c one—tha t th e wor d conveys qualitie s o f passion , feeling , an d personality—it s emphasi s o n "data," o n informatio n tha t support s rationa l self-governin g choices , disguises th e aestheti c an d emotiona l dimensio n o f th e poeti c reference . The solutio n t o th e Firs t Amendmen t proble m pose d b y Cohen' s action s would requir e a mor e direc t approac h focusin g explicitl y upon , rathe r

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than sidestepping , th e value , poeti c o r otherwise , o f th e expletive , itself , as speech . The Stat e of California , o f course, took th e view that th e word "Fuck " could b e isolate d fro m it s context . Th e questio n coul d the n b e aske d whether "Fuck " contribute d anythin g o f significan t socia l o r politica l value t o publi c discours e an d th e exchang e o f idea s i n a self-governing , democratic society . As with obscenity , which , accordin g t o th e Suprem e Court, play s n o significan t constitutiona l rol e i n th e exchang e o f idea s and i s therefore no t protecte d speec h fo r purpose s o f th e Firs t Amend ment, remova l o f a singl e expletive—perhaps , i n 1968 , the expletiv e — from publi c discours e ca n b e accomplishe d wit h littl e ris k t o th e essentially rational end s of the free speec h guarantee . But the Stat e of California' s vie w has problems a s well. First, expunge ment o f th e wor d fro m publi c conversatio n mus t b e base d no t o n th e whim o f governmen t "taste " bu t o n rea l evidenc e o f har m o r offens e t o those wh o hea r it . If actua l har m nee d not b e proved, ther e woul d b e n o effective limi t o n government' s powe r t o pars e an d censo r language . Bu t in Cohen' s cas e the stat e wa s force d t o admi t tha t ther e wa s "nothin g i n the record " t o "sho w tha t [Cohen's ] word s wer e offensiv e t o an y perso n in th e buildin g a t tha t time"—eve n t o th e thre e polic e officer s wh o sa w the message o n the jacket . Second, th e state' s argumen t notabl y ignore s the view that fre e speec h is a persona l libert y o f th e individual , no t jus t a mechanis m o f self-gov ernment; tha t speec h say s somethin g abou t th e perso n expressin g it , no t just (o r eve n ver y much ) abou t th e messag e conveyed . Th e individual' s liberty to spea k i s not, under thi s view, restricted t o reasoned, rational o r well-mannered speech . Emotion , feeling , faith , an d dept h o f convictio n color ou r speech , enlive n it , personaliz e it . While th e qualitie s o f reaso n and goo d manner s ma y b e capabl e o f definitio n an d quantification , a speaker's emotio n an d feelin g cannot . This asserted conflic t betwee n rea son an d emotio n unde r th e Firs t Amendmen t ma y hav e bee n th e under lying premis e o f th e question s pose d t o Saue r b y Justices Stewar t an d Marshall a t the clos e of th e ora l argument . Justice Stewart: S o it's not the—i t narrow s dow n t o this on e four-let ter word , i s that it ? Mr. Sauer: Tha t i s correct , a wor d tha t w e contend , an d th e Cour t of Appeal s said , i s no t generall y accepte d fo r publi c display . . . . The argumen t ha s bee n mad e tha t w e shoul d hav e a democrati c

The Jacket I 2 1 dialogue. I agree that conversatio n i s important i f the street s ar e t o be use d fo r publi c arguments . I don't believ e thi s typ e o f languag e has to b e [imposed ] upo n a n unwillin g public . . . . [TJhings that at the moment are not accepted by all the public [emphasi s added] . Justice Marshall: I s everybod y i n Lo s Angele s walkin g dow n th e street who migh t us e that wor d subjec t t o be[ing ] arrested ? Mr. Sauer: I f the y wer e displayin g th e wor d w e woul d conside r tha t to b e . . . Justice Marshall: Hav e yo u go t jail s big enough ? The Cit y o f Lo s Angeles apparentl y though t so . But Paul Robert Cohe n neve r wen t t o jail . Following ora l argument , whe n th e justice s convene d i n thei r forma l conference room , the y debate d Cohen' s fate , vote d o n th e resul t t o b e announced, an d the n place d th e cas e i n th e hand s o f Justic e Harlan , whose opinio n transforme d i t from a simple little case into a larger-than life symbol . Justice Harlan' s opinio n i n Cohen v. California wa s t o tak e its place amon g thos e ver y fe w opinion s tha t shap e th e la w an d th e cul ture, partl y becaus e o f th e broa d swee p o f th e question s tha t emerge d from th e case . But, more important , thi s was because , true t o hi s reputa tion a s a justice of great analytica l skill , intellectual integrity , and candor , Harlan me t head-o n th e tw o mos t difficult , bu t fundamental , issue s th e case raised: What i s the tru e meanin g o f "speech " protecte d b y the Firs t Amendment? Mus t th e constitutionall y protecte d ac t o f "speaking " b e a self-conscious, intentiona l one ? These question s ar e o f practica l lega l importanc e because , i f Cohen' s actions wer e (lik e obscenity ) no t protecte d speech , th e Stat e o f Califor nia woul d no t hav e t o sho w an y specia l justificatio n fo r regulatin g it . The wil l o f a democraticall y electe d majority , whethe r entirel y sensibl e or not , woul d b e sufficien t justificatio n fo r th e law . Lik e a prohibitio n against jaywalking , whic h satisfie s th e Court' s minima l requiremen t o f rationality an d thu s ca n b e applie d t o anyon e wh o jaywalks , whethe r there i s any traffic i n the street o r not , i f Cohe n ha d no t bee n engage d i n the protecte d ac t o f "speaking " whe n h e displaye d hi s jacke t i n public , he coul d clai m n o specia l protectio n agains t th e state' s reasonabl e regu lation o f hi s language, whether o r no t hi s words offende d anyone . On th e othe r hand , i f Cohen' s actio n amounte d t o protecte d "speak ing" an d th e word s h e use d wer e protecte d "speech, " th e state' s abilit y to regulat e i t woul d b e severel y limite d b y th e Firs t Amendment . Th e

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state woul d hav e t o prov e wha t i t couldn' t prov e a t Cohen' s trial : tha t Cohen specificall y intende d harmfu l consequence s t o flo w fro m hi s actions, and tha t thos e consequences wer e highly likel y to occur . Justice Harla n di d no t begi n hi s opinio n wit h thes e issues , however . Instead, h e bega n i t i n a n almos t self-deprecatin g way , i n a voic e tha t conveyed th e apparen t iron y tha t Cohen' s cas e woul d rais e suc h funda mental question s abou t freedo m o f speech . "Thi s case, " h e wrote, "ma y seem a t firs t blus h to o inconsequentia l t o fin d it s wa y int o ou r books , but th e issu e i t present s i s of n o smal l constitutiona l significance. " Wit h this brie f an d evocativ e introduction , Harla n turne d t o definin g th e con stitutional question s presented b y Cohen's case. In order, as he put it , "t o lay hand s o n th e precis e issue " i n the case , he firs t dispose d o f th e issue s that th e cas e did not involve . The cas e wa s no t abou t conduc t bu t abou t speech—"th e words Cohen use d t o conve y hi s messag e t o th e public . Th e onl y 'conduct ' which th e Stat e sough t t o punish i s the fac t o f communication, " h e said . Moreover, th e case did not involve the special need for restrictin g expres sion i n courtrooms , fo r th e la w unde r whic h Cohe n ha d bee n convicte d applied t o al l public places. Nor wa s th e restrictio n o f Cohen' s speec h justifie d b y it s effec t o n other person s presen t i n th e courthouse . N o on e coul d reasonabl y inter pret th e word s o n Cohen' s jacke t a s a direc t persona l insult , an d ther e was "n o showin g tha t anyon e wh o sa w Cohe n wa s i n fac t violentl y aroused o r that [Cohen ] intende d suc h a result. " Likewise, California' s interes t i n protectin g th e legitimat e sensitivitie s of the unwilling o r unsuspectin g viewer s from havin g Cohen' s distastefu l mode o f expressio n thrus t upo n the m coul d no t suppor t Cohen' s convic tion. Th e word s wer e displaye d i n a publi c plac e and , Justic e Harla n observed, "w e ar e ofte n 'captives ' outsid e th e sanctuar y o f th e home " and ar e oblige d t o "aver t [our ] eyes " wher e possibl e rathe r tha n "empower a majority t o silenc e dissident s simpl y a s a matter o f persona l predilections." Finally, Cohen' s messag e wa s no t legall y obscene . Whil e obscen e expression i s no t protecte d speech , i t mus t b e erotic , an d i n Harlan' s view i t wa s improbabl e tha t Cohen' s "vulga r allusio n t o th e Selectiv e Service Syste m would conjur e u p suc h psychic stimulation. " With th e chaf f thu s separate d fro m th e wheat , Justice Harla n home d in o n th e true issue raised b y Cohen's act . "Agains t thi s background," h e said, "th e issu e flushe d b y thi s cas e stand s ou t i n star k relief . I t i s

The Jacket I 2 3 whether Californi a ca n excis e . . . one particula r scurrilou s epithe t fro m the public discourse . . . . " Her e Harla n draw s u s to the heart o f the case: Does thi s on e particula r word , widel y recognize d a s offensive , conveye d with seemin g indifferenc e t o tim e an d place , posses s sufficien t valu e t o qualify a s speec h protecte d unde r th e Firs t Amendment ? O n thi s centra l question Harla n make s tw o arguments , on e obligator y bu t ultimatel y insufficient, th e othe r profoun d an d pathbreaking . The first , obligator y argumen t call s o n th e nation' s commitmen t t o individual freedo m an d th e constitutiona l responsibilit y o f eac h o f u s acting a s fre e individuals , no t a s government , t o mak e ou r ow n judg ments about matter s o f taste a s well as ideas. Harlan admonishe s u s tha t the "constitutiona l righ t o f fre e expressio n i s powerfu l medicin e i n a society a s divers e an d populou s a s ours. " It s purpose i s "t o remov e gov ernmental restraint s fro m th e aren a o f publi c discussion , puttin g th e decision a s to wha t view s shal l b e voiced largel y i n th e hand s o f eac h o f us." Th e consequences o f thi s rule, he concedes, will "ofte n appea r t o b e only verbal tumult , discord , an d eve n offensiv e utterance, " bu t while th e air "ma y a t time s see m fille d wit h verba l cacophony, " thi s fac t i s "no t a sign o f weakness bu t o f strength. " An d i f the authorit y t o cleans e the ai r is lodged wit h th e state , ho w "i s on e t o distinguis h thi s fro m an y othe r offensive word? " Indeed , th e Constitutio n leave s mos t matter s o f tast e and styl e t o th e individua l "largel y becaus e governmen t official s canno t make principle d distinction s i n this area. " Describing Justic e Harlan' s firs t argumen t a s obligator y bu t ulti mately unavailin g i s not t o dismis s it , fo r i t expresse s a n importan t an d historically warrante d justificatio n fo r freedo m o f speec h i n th e Unite d States. Bu t a s Harla n himsel f surel y recognized , i t canno t resolv e Cohen's cas e unles s w e tak e th e argumen t i n absolut e form—unles s w e agree wit h Justic e Blac k tha t "n o law " reall y mean s "No law " and , more basically , that Cohen' s us e of th e word "Fuck " i n reference t o "th e Draft," o n hi s jacket , an d i n th e courthous e corrido r o n th e mornin g o f April 26 , 1968 , was speec h protected b y the Firs t Amendment . Only i f thes e assumption s ar e mad e woul d governmen t b e absolutely foreclose d fro m prohibitin g speec h base d o n standard s o f taste an d decenc y — in Cohen' s cas e an d i n al l othe r imaginabl e cir cumstances. Onl y the n coul d th e Cour t avoi d drawin g any distinction s between speec h an d nonspeec h — between "th e fac t o f communica tion," a s Justic e Harla n pu t it , an d Firs t Amendmen t speec h — and among type s o f speec h tha t migh t b e regulate d an d type s o f standard s

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government migh t ac t upo n i n doin g so . Bu t thi s wa s a vie w tha t eve n Justice Black , th e staunches t Firs t Amendmen t absolutis t o n th e Court , was unwillin g t o adop t i n Cohen' s case . H e wa s o f th e vie w tha t Cohen's ac t wa s a n "absur d an d immatur e antic , . . . mainly conduc t and littl e speech. " The absolutist positio n founder s o n the shoals of common experience . The sam e Suprem e Cour t tha t decide d Cohen' s cas e als o hel d th e vie w that obscenit y i s not speec h protecte d b y th e Firs t Amendment . (Thus , "no law " doe s not mea n "n o law." ) Whil e Justice Harla n i s technicall y correct tha t "Fuc k th e Draft " painte d o n th e bac k o f a jacke t i s not , legally, obscene, is this because , unlik e obscenity , Cohen' s words posses s redeeming socia l value ? Perhap s so , bu t w e ar e entitle d t o kno w what , exactly, tha t valu e i s an d Harlan' s firs t argumen t doesn' t tel l us . Hi s argument tha t governmen t shoul d sta y ou t o f matter s o f tast e an d styl e seems self-evidentl y inadequat e a s a n explanation : Wha t els e bu t tast e and styl e i s involved i n governmen t regulatio n o f obscenity ? Moreover , we ar e literall y surrounde d wit h othe r example s o f governmen t restric tions o f speech , includin g law s requirin g trut h i n advertising , law s pro hibiting indecenc y i n broadcasting , an d restriction s o n commercia l fraud, libel , slander, an d invasion s o f privacy . Are these law s — and many , many othe r ones—unconstitutiona l gov ernment intrusion s o n wha t w e sa y an d do , unwarrante d imposition s o f standards o f tast e an d decency ? O f cours e not . Th e example s o f rule s o f order, truth i n advertising , an d frau d neithe r absolv e nor convic t Cohen , of course , bu t the y d o revea l th e fac t tha t whil e skepticis m o f govern ment regulatio n o f speec h i s a powerfu l principl e animatin g th e Firs t Amendment, skepticis m alon e cannot provid e th e whole solutio n t o par ticular case s such a s Cohen's . More basically , th e absolutis t positio n rest s o n th e assumptio n tha t the messag e conveye d b y Cohen' s ac t wa s speec h protecte d b y th e Firs t Amendment. Thi s i s a conclusio n tha t mus t b e explained , no t jus t declared. Harlan's firs t argumen t simpl y assumes it. The argument there fore provides , a t best , a backgroun d — important, ye t incomplet e — for further analysi s tha t focuse s honestl y an d forthrightl y o n tha t basi c question: Exactl y wha t i s it abou t Cohen' s us e o f th e wor d "Fuck " tha t makes i t speec h unde r th e Firs t Amendment ? Justice Harla n kne w tha t th e speec h questio n coul d no t b e avoided . His secon d argumen t addresse s i t forthrightly , thoug h h e introduce s i t almost a s an afterthought , a loose end tha t need s quickl y t o b e tied .

The Jacket I 2 5 Additionally, we cannot overlook the fact, becaus e it is well illustrated by the episode involved here , that muc h linguisti c expression serve s a dual communicative function: it conveys not only ideas capable of relatively precise, detached explication, but otherwise inexpressible emotions as well. In fact, word s are often chose n as much for thei r emotive as their cognitiv e force. We cannot sanction the view that the Constitution, while solicitous of the cognitive content of individual speech, has little or no regard for that emotive functio n which , practicall y speaking , ma y ofte n b e th e mor e important element of the overall message sought to be communicated. While w e migh t hav e wishe d fo r greate r elaboratio n o f suc h a crucia l argument—indeed, th e onl y genuinely dispositiv e argumen t mad e i n th e opinion — its brevit y doe s no t detrac t fro m it s importance . Protectio n for th e emotiona l elemen t o f speec h ha d bee n implicitl y conferre d i n many prio r decision s o f th e Court , bu t unti l Jun e 7 , 1971 , the Court' s opinions ha d alway s bee n predicate d o n a Firs t Amendmen t devote d t o reasoned, albei t ofte n tumultuous , debat e an d rationa l publi c an d pri vate decisio n making . Thi s was , i n fact , th e redeemin g socia l valu e o f free speec h that , accordin g t o Justice Brennan , obscenit y lacked . The questio n pose d b y Cohen' s action—th e constitutiona l valu e o f one wor d tha t canno t i n al l honest y b e sai d t o contribut e t o th e reasoned understandin g o r articulatio n o f a n ide a bein g expressed—had i n the pas t bee n quietl y ignore d o r avoide d b y th e Court . I t wa s simpl y assumed tha t a connectio n coul d alway s b e mad e betwee n spoke n words an d th e reasone d expressio n o f a n idea . Bu t fo r Justic e Harla n such a n approac h woul d smac k o f intellectua l dishonesty , o r a t leas t disingenuousness, fo r h e sa w tha t Cohen' s us e o f th e wor d "Fuck " di d not contribut e reason t o hi s message ; i t coul d no t realisticall y b e defended a s a n articulatio n o f a n intellectua l argument ; i t di d no t ad d information relevan t t o th e message' s rationa l explication . I t simpl y added force. In the hands an d pe n o f a less able an d intellectuall y forthrigh t justice , the Cour t migh t simpl y hav e ignore d th e issu e o f th e mer e force con tributed b y Cohen' s word , assumin g b y judicial fia t tha t al l words ar e i n some sens e reasoned. Bu t John Marshal l Harla n wa s n o ordinar y justice . To argu e tha t California' s purpos e i n restrictin g Cohen' s speec h wa s t o prohibit th e ide a h e expressed ( I dislike th e draft ) rathe r tha n th e word s he actuall y use d t o expres s it , simpl y couldn' t b e substantiate d an d wouldn't satisf y Justice Harlan's own exactin g standards. Instead, Harla n

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said, communication involve s reason and emotion , idea s and feelings . S o also doe s speec h protected b y the Firs t Amendment . This wa s a statemen t extraordinar y i n it s implications , unprece dented i n it s potentia l sweep . S o befor e th e celebratio n begins , w e should analyz e thos e implication s an d th e underlyin g question s the y raise abou t th e meanin g o f speec h an d th e plac e o f emotio n i n th e Firs t Amendment. Wha t doe s emotio n contribut e t o speech ? D o al l emotion s count? I s the valu e o f emotio n dependen t o n it s connectio n t o a n idea ? Does th e speaker' s motivatio n i n communicatin g th e emotio n matter ? Justice Harlan' s opinio n doe s no t answe r al l o f thes e questions . I t onl y hints a t th e answers .

What Does Emotion Contribute

to

Speech?

Justice Harla n explain s th e emotiona l conten t o f speec h a s tha t whic h expresses t o other s "otherwis e inexpressibl e emotions"—qualitie s o f anger, seriousness , fear , faith , an d feeling s tha t canno t b e capture d ade quately i n language . An d h e say s tha t emotiv e forc e can , "practicall y speaking . . . often b e the more importan t elemen t o f the overal l messag e sought t o b e communicated. " Our ow n practica l experience s wit h expressin g disgus t o r ange r illus trate hi s point . Buffy , th e neighbor' s dog , ha s jus t trample d dow n ou r prize St . Franci s Hosta , reducin g i t t o a bal d stem . I n addressin g Buff y after th e incident , w e migh t yel l towar d th e offendin g animal , "Buffy , you ar e a ba d dog. " Bu t think ho w muc h mor e forc e woul d b e adde d i f we grabbe d Buff y b y th e colla r an d said , "Ba d pissan t dog s lik e yo u should b e euthanized!" "Pissant " an d "euthanized " ad d emotiona l forc e to th e "ba d dog " message . The words , o f course , ar e los t o n poo r Buffy , but th e emotio n wit h whic h w e conve y them isn't . So what doe s the word "Fuck " ad d t o "th e Draft" i n Cohen's case? I n oral argumen t Justice Marshal l ha d posite d tha t "Fuc k th e Draft " i s no t the sam e thin g a s " I Dislik e th e Draft. " What , the n doe s "Fuck " ad d t o the message? Justice Harlan conclude s that th e word add s a n "otherwis e inexpressible" emotion—no t a n ide a o r a n argumen t o r ne w informa tion bu t a n image , a degre e o f force , a personalizatio n o f feeling . Th e freedom o f speec h tha t Justice Harla n speak s o f i n hi s opinion , i n othe r words, i s not a functio n o f socia l utilit y o r politica l philosoph y alone ; i t does no t eve n depend , fo r it s value , o n th e effect s i t ha s o n hearer s o r viewers o f the message .

The Jacket I 2 7 The wor d "Fuck " nee d no t prove it s constitutional wort h b y its contribution t o reasone d exchang e o f ideas . Instead , freedo m o f speech , according t o Justice Harlan , i s an individua l liberty , a n outle t fo r the expression o f self, not just, or even necessarily, for the elucidation o f others; and use of speech t o add emotional forc e t o a message i s valuable as a manifestatio n o f who the speaker i s and what th e speaker feels , no t just what th e speaker thinks .

What Emotions Count? If emotion s hav e valu e becaus e o f what the y revea l abou t th e speaker — not wha t the y sa y but what the y signify—doe s thi s mea n tha t al l emotions coun t equall y a s speech ? Justic e Harla n doe s no t answe r thi s question. H e does say , however, tha t th e emotions mus t b e those of the speaker. Thi s much was clear from th e oral argument, where no one challenged the fact tha t Cohe n was conveying his own emotion s in relation to the draft . Assuming , a s Justice Harla n did , that Cohe n owne d th e jacket and kne w wha t was on it as he walked throug h th e courthouse, we must conclude tha t Cohen , himself, was strongly oppose d t o the draft; tha t the strength o f feeling conveye d b y the word "Fuck " wa s his own. Had th e jacket belonge d to someone else , or had Cohen bee n ignoran t of it s lettering whe n h e put it on that Apri l morning , th e case woul d b e quite different . The n th e emotio n packe d int o th e phras e "Fuc k th e Draft" woul d no t have bee n his . Thus w e might sa y that th e strong-ar m tactics o f an unethical used-ca r salesman , fo r example , coul d b e distin guished fro m Cohen' s us e o f th e wor d "Fuck " becaus e i n employin g connivance, fraud, o r threat, the salesman i s not directly expressing him self. He may be acting ou t of fear, greed , o r anger, bu t the manifestatio n of thes e emotion s i n his sales pitc h i s not intended t o be , and is not, an expression o f his own self bu t of his used-car salesma n self . Similar reasonin g migh t serv e to distinguish muc h obscenity , whic h is not protecte d speech , fro m Cohen' s action , fo r whil e obscenit y clearl y expresses emotio n — erotic feeling s certainl y qualif y o n that scor e — an author o r producer o f obscenit y canno t alway s (o r perhaps eve n often ) claim wit h a straigh t fac e tha t th e emotion s s o expresse d ar e hi s o r hers — that is , that th e obscene portraya l i s a means o f expressin g th e author's o r producer's ow n self (or , for a news organization , th e institu tion's ow n editorial judgments) , a s distinguished fro m hi s or her com mercial interests .

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But a requirement tha t emotion s b e the speaker' s ow n doe s not tel l u s which suc h emotions coun t fo r purpose s o f the First Amendment. Ar e all emotions—hate a s well as love, anger a s well a s satisfaction, kin d affec tion a s well a s violen t lust—equal ? Justic e Harlan' s opinio n onl y hint s at ho w thi s questio n migh t b e answered . I t suggest s tha t th e answe r lie s not i n th e emotio n itsel f (lov e versu s hate , fo r example ) bu t i n th e pur pose behin d it s expression . I f th e valu e o f emotio n unde r th e Firs t Amendment i s as a n expressio n o f th e self , then th e expressio n o f emo tions tha t d o no t serv e tha t functio n woul d no t qualif y fo r speec h pro tection. Unde r thi s reasoning , emotiona l outbursts , whateve r th e emotion, suc h a s yelling profanitie s whil e kickin g a doo r i n frustration , swearing i n anger , o r indee d mos t form s o f spontaneou s emotiona l rage , would qualif y a s speech if—but onl y if—they wer e intended t o commu nicate those emotion s t o others . But this ma y b e too simplistic , eve n to o easy , an answer . Ar e there n o grounds fo r distinguishin g amon g emotions ? Wher e o n th e spectru m between paintin g "Fuc k th e Draft " o n one' s jacke t an d screamin g obscenities alon e i n the woods, fo r example , doe s the racia l epithe t fit — the cas e o f a white colleg e studen t i n a public universit y yellin g "Nigge r Go Home! " ou t th e dor m windo w a t passin g African-America n stu dents? Harlan' s view suggests that a racial epithet reflecting th e speaker' s own feeling s tha t h e o r sh e intend s t o expres s t o anothe r woul d qualif y as speec h protecte d b y th e Firs t Amendment , an d thu s woul d b e pro tected fro m disciplin e o r othe r form s o f government restriction—a t leas t absent a n ensuing riot o r an unavoidable ac t of physical violence. Are we willing to accep t that conclusion ? I s the emotion o f racial hatred directe d at member s o f a racia l grou p distinguishabl e fro m Cohen' s emotio n o f hatred directe d a t the draf t an d th e Vietnam War ?

Emotion and

Ideas

Must emotion , t o qualif y a s speech , b e connecte d t o a n ide a tha t i s being expressed ? An d i f so , what i s the natur e o f tha t connection ? O n this questio n wha t Harla n di d not sa y i s a s importan t a s wha t h e said . Imagine tha t emblazone d o n Cohen' s jacke t wa s on e word , "Fuck. " I t cannot b e deduce d fro m Harlan' s argumen t tha t th e wor d "Fuck " i n isolation i s protecte d speech . No r doe s th e outcom e i n Cohen' s cas e hinge o n th e us e o f tha t on e word , a s th e Stat e o f Californi a argued .

The Jacket I 2 9 Harlan says , instead, tha t th e word "Fuck " add s emotiona l emphasis — force an d feeling , no t intellectua l argument—t o Cohen' s antidraf t mes sage. The word's protectio n a s speech, therefore, seem s to depend o n it s connection t o a n ide a bu t a t th e sam e tim e t o b e paradoxically indepen dent o f the message itself, going instead onl y to the force contribute d b y its expression t o others . The parado x i s not explaine d b y reference t o th e "others, " th e audi ence wh o fel t th e forc e o f Cohen' s word , fo r Justic e Harla n di d no t sa y that speec h that produce s emotio n i n others has any free speec h standin g on tha t groun d alone . Muc h speec h produce s emotion : a goo d movie , a daredevil act , a dirty film. Bu t the audienc e i s given no Firs t Amendmen t right t o emot e b y the Cohen case . What i s involved, instead , i s commu nication, an d th e Constitution' s protection , Harla n says , is focuse d o n the freedo m o f th e perso n doin g th e communicating—i n thi s cas e th e expressing o f Cohen' s own feeling s o f ange r an d revulsio n i n relatio n t o his own ide a o f oppositio n t o th e draf t an d th e Vietnam War . The emotion containe d i n the word "Fuck, " i n other words , is dependent o n it s relation t o a message, bu t it s Firs t Amendmen t valu e lie s no t in it s contributio n t o th e conten t o f th e messag e bu t i n th e forc e o f it s expression b y Cohen . A s Marshal l McLuha n asserte d lon g ago , th e medium is the message . Emotion, fo r Justice Harlan , i s medium .

Speech and Conduct, Reason

and Emotion

A fina l questio n concern s intent . Mus t th e expressio n o f emotio n b e a knowing an d purposefu l ac t b y th e speaker ? Justic e Harla n di d no t explicitly addres s thi s question . I t wa s clea r enoug h fo r hi m tha t b y wearing the jacket a s he walked throug h th e corridors o f the courthouse , Cohen intende d t o communicat e th e "Fuc k th e Draft " messag e — emotions an d all—t o thos e who sa w the letterin g o n hi s back . But this view of the case was not s o clear t o Justice Blackmun, the n i n his firs t yea r o n th e Court ; o r t o Chie f Justic e Burger ; or , mos t signifi cantly, to Justice Black, the First Amendment absolutis t ("N o la w mean s No law!") , wh o als o joine d Blackmun' s dissentin g opinion . The y sa w the fact s differentl y fro m th e othe r justices ; the y di d no t believ e tha t Cohen seriousl y intende d t o engag e i n fre e speec h whil e walkin g i n th e courthouse corridor s o n tha t chill y Apri l mornin g i n 1968 . More basi cally, they wer e skeptica l abou t Justic e Harlan' s emotiv e speec h theory ,

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for i t swep t to o broadl y an d coul d no t b e effectively limite d b y proof o f motive i n a trial . Cohen' s actions , Blackmu n wrote , wer e n o mor e tha n an "absur d an d immatur e antic , . . . mainly conduc t an d littl e speech. " From th e perspectiv e o f thirt y years , Blackmun' s vie w abou t us e o f the wor d "Fuck " ma y see m quaint , indee d almos t naive , i n ou r presen t environment o f "uncivil " civi l discourse . Bu t perhap s w e shoul d no t b e too quic k t o judge , fo r muc h th e sam e sentimen t woul d b e widel y expressed i n academic circles and i n the public a t larg e about th e studen t thrusting th e racia l epithe t fro m th e dormitor y window . Ar e ther e n o ways i n whic h w e ca n insis t o n som e moderatio n an d restrain t eve n i n the expressio n o f emotion ? The distinctio n betwee n reaso n an d emotio n ha s dee p an d fundamen tal roots, reflecting amon g othe r thing s the conteste d separatio n o f min d from bod y wit h it s foundatio n i n Wester n religiou s though t an d i n th e Enlightenment. Th e Cohen cas e represent s bu t a smal l fragmen t o f thi s much large r mosaic . It canno t b e said , fo r example , tha t prio r t o Justice Harlan' s decisio n in 197 1 th e Firs t Amendmen t wa s th e sol e propert y o f th e Enlighten ment—that th e "speech " o f whic h th e amendmen t speak s consiste d o f reason an d logi c only , an d tha t idea s an d expressio n base d i n fait h o r feeling o r passio n ha d bee n evicte d fro m th e speec h guarantee an d lef t t o inhabit smalle r corner s o f the Constitution , lik e the religion clauses . But th e Cohen cas e di d reflec t th e Court' s discomfor t wit h th e plac e of emotio n i n free expression . This discomfor t continue s t o thi s day , an d is born o f tw o mai n concerns . Th e firs t i s the perceive d correspondenc e between emotiona l expressio n an d resultin g action, or conduct, base d o n that expression . Emotion , i n othe r words , fire s passio n an d incite s t o action. I t is dangerous . The secon d concer n reflect s th e naggin g perseveranc e o f Enlighten ment thought , an d i n particula r th e deepl y imbedde d convictio n tha t reason i s most conduciv e t o peacefu l resolutio n o f differences , eve n t o the essentia l ingredient s o f civilization . I n a free society , anarch y i s domesticated b y reason, no t force . As t o th e firs t concern , tha t th e connectin g glu e betwee n expressio n and conduc t i s emotion, two things may b e said abou t th e significanc e o f Cohen v. California. B y rejectin g an y necessar y relationshi p betwee n emotion an d conduct , Justice Harla n di d no t eras e the Firs t Amendmen t distinction betwee n speec h an d conduct . H e di d not , i n othe r words , make i t unnecessar y t o conside r whethe r Cohen' s actio n wa s conduc t

The Jacket I 3 1 and no t speech . Instead, he required tha t th e distinctio n b e formulated i n altogether differen t way s tha t tur n no t o n whethe r th e expressio n a t issue, suc h a s Cohen' s us e o f th e wor d "Fuck, " i s "emotion " (whic h i s every bi t a s much speec h a s i s reason) o r rest s o n "conduct " (which , th e Court held , coul d b e speec h fo r purpose s o f th e Firs t Amendmen t i f i t expressed a message , whethe r reasone d o r emotive ) but , instead , o n whether th e communicative activit y qualifie s a s "speaking. " Th e distinc tion betwee n speec h an d conduct , i n short, remain s a relevant one , but i t does no t res t o n th e presenc e o r absenc e o f emotio n o r o n th e fault y premise that speec h an d conduc t ar e mutuall y exclusiv e o f eac h other . In bringin g emotio n unde r th e protectiv e mantl e o f th e Firs t Amend ment, however , th e Cour t di d not sa y tha t al l expressio n o f emotio n qualifies a s speech, an y mor e tha n th e Cour t woul d sa y that an y expres sion of reason i s thereby, b y definition, speech . Som e expressed emotion , like som e expresse d reason , i s no t speec h fo r purpose s o f th e Firs t Amendment becaus e i t doe s no t qualif y a s "speech " unde r th e Firs t Amendment; i t doe s no t posses s th e attribute s o f huma n origin , inten tion, communicativ e purpose , an d audienc e perceptio n tha t "speaking " requires, according t o Justice Harlan . We migh t conclud e tha t suc h disqualifie d expression , no t bein g "speech," i s therefor e "conduct. " Bu t thi s woul d b e mistaken , fo r i t would no t reflec t th e ful l implication s o f Justice Harlan' s insight . A s w e shall se e later, ther e ma y remai n a n independen t an d importan t rol e fo r the distinctio n betwee n speec h an d conduct , thoug h i t will b e a new rol e based o n Harlan' s vie w tha t th e univers e o f communicativ e action s rele vant t o Firs t Amendmen t analysi s consist s o f three, no t two , parts : (1 ) speech (som e o f whic h ma y b e conduct) ; (2 ) conduc t (som e o f whic h may b e speech) ; and (3 ) nonspeec h (whic h consist s o f event s o r action s that communicat e bu t tha t ar e no t th e produc t o f someone's commu nicative intention) . As to th e secon d poin t — the Enlightenmen t ide a tha t reaso n i s con ducive t o peacefu l resolutio n o f difference s an d t o th e socia l order , itself—the Cohen cas e contain s th e seed s o f a muc h mor e fundamenta l shift i n Firs t Amendment thought . Bu t they ar e seed s only , for eve n afte r Cohen th e Suprem e Cour t ha s hel d tightl y t o th e convictio n tha t reaso n plays a particularl y importan t an d sociall y usefu l (i f no t necessary ) rol e in judging the meanin g an d constitutiona l valu e o f fre e speech . From it s beginnin g Firs t Amendmen t though t ha s reste d heavil y o n the Enlightenmen t ide a tha t th e bes t protectio n agains t dangerou s idea s

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is the opportunit y fo r competin g idea s to h e heard. Fre e speec h ha s bee n conceived a s a speech marketplace tha t serve s as an outlet for ou r violen t predispositions; a plac e i n whic h competin g views , not competin g fists , do battle ; an aren a i n which trut h i s sought an d i n which, therefore , th e important thin g i s not tha t everyon e b e heard bu t tha t everything worth saying be said. So viewed, freedo m o f speec h i s an Aristotelia n worl d o f expression domesticate d b y reason . By casting of f th e Firs t Amendment' s moorin g i n reason , th e Cohen case open s u p a n entirel y ne w world o f expression , on e i n which expres sion i s not simpl y "uninhibited , robust , an d wid e open, " a s th e Cour t put i t i n it s famou s public-libe l decisio n i n New York Times v. Sullivan, but on e in which expressio n i s also calculatedly false , mean-spirited , an d purposelessly harmful . I t is a world tha t embraces , as it should , no t onl y the purel y emotiona l an d aestheti c i n ar t an d literatur e bu t th e purpose fully degrading , violent , an d destructive . I t is a world tha t recognize s th e emotional force o f speec h a s speec h itself , whether i t i s a forc e fo r goo d or bad . John Marshal l Harla n ma y not , o f course , hav e intende d t o unleas h these large r force s b y hi s opinio n i n Cohen' s case , a cas e that , h e said , "may a t firs t blus h see m to o inconsequentia l t o fin d it s wa y int o ou r books." Th e implication s o f hi s embrac e o f th e "emotiv e value " i n speech, however , ar e inescapabl y broade r an d mor e profound . Th e fac t that th e Suprem e Cour t ha s sinc e falle n fa r shor t o f embracin g thos e broader implication s doe s no t disguis e thei r mor e subtl e manifestations , which ca n b e foun d i n th e Firs t Amendmen t claim s latel y mad e fo r th e protection o f hat e speech ; i n th e protection s no w accorde d virtuall y al l forms o f commercial expression ; and i n the fact tha t th e speech "market place" i s no w becomin g a s populate d wit h PAC s an d specia l interes t advocacy a s is the political marketplace . To observ e thes e presen t condition s a s fact s i s no t t o sugges t tha t despair o r celebratio n i s the prope r response . Bu t wha t w e shoul d bea r in mind a s we contemplate thes e large r consequence s i s that Justice Har lan's lesson i n Cohen ha d no t on e bu t two parts . Emotion shoul d not , h e told us , b e evicte d fro m th e domai n o f speech . Bu t sayin g tha t emotio n can b e speech doe s no t mea n tha t i t alway s must be. Suc h a view woul d sweep awa y al l distinction s betwee n speec h an d conduct , fo r conduc t i s but emotio n incarnate . For Justice Harlan, therefore, a second questio n mus t als o be asked: Is the emotio n tha t claim s protectio n a s speec h a produc t o f a human ,

The Jacket I 3 3 intentional, an d purposefull y communicativ e ac t tha t qualifie s i t a s speech fo r purpose s o f th e Firs t Amendment ? Thi s questio n reflect s th e line Harla n draw s betwee n speec h an d nonspeech . I t rest s no t o n emo tion versu s reason o r speec h versu s conduct but , instead , o n "speaking, " the necessar y huma n predicat e o f thos e message s whos e freedo m fro m government restrain t i s captured i n the word "speech. "

Speaking as a Purposeful Human

Act

The disagreemen t tha t surface d i n Pau l Cohen' s cas e betwee n Justic e Harlan, o n th e on e hand , an d Justice s Blackmun , Burger , an d Black , o n the other , was not, i n reality, about whethe r Cohen' s action s were speec h or conduct . Instead , i t wa s abou t whethe r hi s action s wer e "speech. " And thi s questio n boil s dow n t o a very basi c an d fundamentall y impor tant constitutiona l question : What doe s it mean t o spea k fo r purpose s o f the freedo m o f speech ? Harlan' s argumen t tha t th e Firs t Amendmen t protects th e emotiv e forc e o f speec h i s clearly premise d o n th e presenc e of a speaker , someon e who , lik e Cohen , intend s b y hi s o r he r voluntar y exercise of fre e wil l to convey feelings throug h th e emotional dimension s of language , intonation , an d emphasis . Bu t th e reason s fo r thi s conclu sion, an d th e definitio n o f "speaker " tha t i t implies , were no t explicitl y addressed i n Harlan' s opinion , fo r h e assume d withou t discussio n tha t Cohen kne w h e had th e jacke t on , kne w o f th e letterin g o n it , an d kne w that peopl e i n the courthouse woul d se e and reac t t o it . But whil e th e subjec t doe s no t fin d it s way int o Harlan' s opinion , i t lurks betwee n th e line s an d i n th e ambiguitie s o f th e factua l recor d o f Cohen's case , where th e justice s i n ora l argumen t probe d suc h question s as Cohen' s motiv e fo r wearin g th e jacke t (wa s i t the chil l o f th e mornin g or th e messag e o n th e jacke t o r both? ) an d fo r removin g i t an d carefull y folding i t when h e entered th e courtroo m (ho w strongl y di d h e really fee l about th e draft?) . S o we migh t ask , hypotheticall y a t least , wha t woul d have happene d ha d i t turne d ou t tha t Cohe n picke d u p th e jacke t inad vertently a s he lef t tha t mornin g fo r th e courthouse , becomin g awar e o f what h e wor e onl y a s h e entere d th e courtroom . O r wha t th e resul t would hav e bee n ha d th e jacke t belonge d no t t o Cohe n bu t t o a friend , and becaus e i t wa s a chill y mornin g Cohe n simpl y swoope d i t u p i n a rush to get to court o n time, having no intention t o associate himself wit h its message, simply forgetting t o remove i t as he entered th e courthouse .

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If Cohen' s ac t o f wearing th e jacket were inadvertent , an d i f the clai m for protectio n o f the emotive forc e o f the word "Fuck " mus t b e persona l to Cohen , the n th e conclusio n seem s inescapabl e tha t unde r th e Firs t Amendment Cohe n woul d no t b e exercising hi s "freedom " a s a speaker , and th e wor d h e use d woul d no t b e "speech. " Likewise , i f Cohe n kne w of th e letterin g o n th e jacke t whe n h e wore i t i n th e courthouse , bu t th e jacket wer e no t hi s an d di d no t reflec t hi s ow n belief s o r emotions , hi s action coul d no t b e characterize d a s hi s speakin g an d an y speec h tha t occurred woul d no t b e his fo r purpose s o f th e Firs t Amendment . An d s o also w e migh t conclud e tha t th e colleg e studen t thrustin g th e racia l epi thet ou t the window o n a dare, or i n a drunken stupor , o r in a fit o f plai n rage, or a s a sick joke, unpossessed o f a communicative wil l of hi s or he r own, shoul d no t b e given shelte r unde r th e Firs t Amendment . If th e opposit e resul t wer e reache d — if Cohen' s inadverten t ac t o f wearing th e jacket would no t disposses s his act o f First Amendment pro tection—then th e speec h woul d b e lodge d i n th e jacke t itsel f an d i n th e word i t displayed , a disembodie d sig n whos e communicativ e meanin g arose strictl y fro m thos e wh o sa w it . This woul d ope n a vast landscap e of potentia l Firs t Amendmen t questions . Ar e al l thing s t o whic h peopl e give meanin g thereb y protecte d speech ? I s ever y possibl e meaning , n o matter ho w idiosyncratic , protecte d b y th e Firs t Amendment ? Onc e loosed, suc h a definitio n o f speec h woul d rapidl y consum e al l o f huma n conduct an d mos t animat e an d inanimat e phenomeno n a s well . Trees , after all , are symbol s wit h meaning . Harlan wa s abl e t o avoi d thi s resul t b y confining speec h t o th e pur poseful communicativ e ac t o f a huma n being , a t leas t i n Cohen' s case . The narrow groun d fo r his decision, however, does not mean that no communication too k plac e a s Cohe n walke d dow n th e corrido r o f th e Lo s Angeles Count y Courthouse , no r eve n tha t n o Firs t Amendmen t speec h took plac e irrespectiv e o f Cohen' s intent . Assuming that someon e sa w th e jacket, communication clearl y di d occur . But First Amendment speech , o n the on e hand, an d "communication, " o n th e other , ar e not necessaril y th e same thing . Harla n lef t th e relationshi p betwee n th e tw o ambiguous , a judgment t o b e deferred unti l another da y and anothe r case . Is speec h tha t ha s n o author , n o one expressin g hi s o r he r own idea s or emotion s — is th e artifac t o f languag e itself , free d o f intention , authenticity, origin , an d s o o n — constitutionally protecte d b y th e Firs t Amendment? I f so, why? Th e Cohen cas e helps us to defin e thi s questio n

The Jacket I 3 5 more narrowly , i t helps u s see what speakin g an d speec h ar e al l about a s an exercise o f liberty, but it does not solv e the riddle o f the constitutiona l status o f disembodie d speech—communicatio n tha t ha s no author . If th e Firs t Amendmen t protect s th e speec h — the words , th e mes sage— and no t th e speaker' s libert y t o expres s them , i t woul d b e muc h easier t o argue , a s Californi a di d i n Cohen' s case , that th e wor d "Fuck " contributes littl e i f anythin g t o th e messag e o f disdai n fo r th e draf t an d the war. It would b e easier, in short, to dismis s the word a s an anti c only , a loos e an d aimles s emotio n wit h n o huma n origi n o r identity , mostl y conduct an d littl e speech , whos e expungemen t fro m th e publi c dialogu e would cos t little . This, o f course , i s precisely wha t th e Suprem e Cour t had don e whe n i t conclude d tha t obscenit y "lacke d redeemin g socia l value" an d therefor e wa s no t speech . Justice Harlan' s approach , i n contrast , mad e suc h a n escap e impossi ble. Cohen' s case , he said, involve d muc h mor e tha n th e speec h tha t wa s uttered—the word , its content , its value . Indeed , th e wor d "Fuck " wa s incidental t o th e Firs t Amendmen t issu e presente d b y Cohen' s actions . The cas e involved , instead , Cohen' s clai m o f liberty , fo r whic h th e wor d was simpl y a n instrumen t rathe r tha n a n en d i n itself . Liberty , o r speak ing, i s somethin g les s easil y dismisse d eve n whe n th e wa y i n whic h i t i s manifested seem s unimportant, eve n juvenile . The Firs t Amendment' s protectio n o f speech , a s oppose d t o speaking , is an issue to which we shall return i n later chapters. Justice Harlan coul d ignore i t b y focusin g strictl y o n th e libert y t o spea k i n Cohen' s case . Bu t the issu e la y immediatel y beneat h th e smoot h surfac e o f hi s remarkabl e opinion. Th e issue goes to the very heart o f what we mean b y freedom o f speech unde r th e First Amendment. Th e fac t tha t ther e i s no clear answe r to it discloses how little we understand abou t ou r most precious freedom , and how , ironically, the closer we loo k th e less we know .

ADDITIONAL READIN G

Alexander M. Bickel, The Morality of Consent (1975). Lee Bollinger, The Tolerant Society: Freedom of Speech and Extremist Speech in America (1986). Thomas I. Emerson, "Towar d a General Theory o f the First Amendment," 7 2 Yale Law Journal Syj (1963) .

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Daniel A . Farber , "Fre e Speec h Withou t Romance : Publi c Choic e an d th e Firs t Amendment," 10 5 Harvard Law Review 55 4 (1990) . Steven G . Gey , "Th e Apologetic s o f Suppression : Th e Regulatio n o f Pornogra phy a s Act an d Idea, " 8 6 Michigan Law Review 156 4 (1988) . Alexander Meiklejohn , Free Speech and Its Relation to Self-Government (1948) . Robert Post , "Th e Constitutiona l Concep t o f Publi c Discourse, " 10 3 Harvard Law Review 601 (1990) .

Story Two

The Autho r (Mclntyre v. Ohio Elections Commission, 514 U.S. 334 (1995)) What matte r who' s speaking , someon e said , wha t matte r who' s speaking? —Samue l Beckett

This is a story abou t anonymity , abou t speec h with n o name d author. While it is possible, as we shal l see , for speec h to hav e no autho r at all , in ou r stor y a n autho r doe s exist . Sh e simpl y fail s t o identif y her self. Her stor y force s u s to thin k abou t th e rol e author s pla y i n th e Firs t Amendment. I s speech someho w incomplete , a lesser orde r o f "speech, " without a known author ? An d what , precisely , is an autho r fo r purpose s of th e freedom o f speech ? Doe s speec h lac k significanc e withou t a n author, jus t a s a tool lack s functio n withou t a han d tha t wield s it ? O r i s the autho r a sometimes usefu l bu t ultimatel y expendabl e appendage ? D o we a s listeners o r reader s sometime s suppl y th e author , jus t a s our imag ination bring s characters i n a novel to life ? The view that affixe s speec h t o it s author rest s the Firs t Amendment' s protection firml y o n th e freedo m o f a "speaker, " requirin g tha t w e explore th e meanin g o f freedom an d whethe r it s enjoymen t i s availabl e only to individual s wh o "speak"—t o Firs t Amendmen t authors . Who i s our anonymou s author , an d wa s he r ac t o f speaking , eve n unde r th e cover o f anonymity , a n exercis e o f he r freedom* In contrast , th e vie w tha t detache s speec h fro m it s autho r rest s th e First Amendment' s protectio n o n th e speec h an d its freedom , requirin g that w e defin e what , exactly , we mea n b y "speech. " Ar e th e word s con fronted b y th e audienc e i n ou r stor y entitle d t o th e labe l "speech " an d thus to b e free fro m governmen t restraint ?

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Paradoxically, bot h view s ca n b e foun d i n th e Suprem e Court' s jurisprudence. Bu t i n ou r stor y the y becom e intermingled , eve n con fused. S o part o f ou r tas k wil l b e to pull them apart , wher e possible, an d attempt t o straighte n the m out . The inciden t occurre d i n 1988 . I t wa s a mistake , reall y — one o f thos e things tha t jus t happe n bu t then , onc e loosed , see m t o tak e o n a lif e o f their own , a s i f fated . Margare t Mclntyr e wa s forty-seven . Sh e live d i n Westerville, Ohio , a subur b o f Columbus , wit h he r husband , Joe , an d her thre e children : Kevin , a senio r i n hig h school ; Shawn , a junior ; an d Kimberly, a seventh-grader . Sh e wa s activel y involve d i n he r children' s education, bu t unlik e most o f us she did not restric t her focu s t o her ow n children an d th e loca l PTA . Sh e didn' t lik e wha t sh e sa w i n th e publi c schools i n Westerville, and sh e decided t o d o somethin g abou t it . She ha d bee n activ e i n th e Westervill e Cit y Schoo l Distric t fo r man y years. By 1988, when ou r stor y begins , she had ru n fo r th e Schoo l Boar d three times , eac h attemp t unsuccessful . Bu t tha t di d no t sto p Margare t Mclntyre. He r daughter , Kimberly , describe d he r mothe r a s "jus t a regu lar perso n wh o didn' t lik e wha t wa s goin g on. " Husban d Jo e describe d her, wit h a n ai r o f affectionat e indulgence , a s mor e outspoke n tha n he . But th e description s ar e incomplete , i f no t als o understated . Margare t Mclntyre, it seems, was passionate, and sh e was not on e to mince words . This i s eviden t fro m th e tex t o f th e leafle t sh e wrote , th e on e tha t caused al l o f th e problems . Sh e passed ou t he r leafle t o n Apri l 27 , 1988 , at a well-attended publi c meetin g i n the gymnasiu m o f th e Blendo n Mid dle School . The meetin g ha d bee n calle d b y the schoo l superintenden t t o discuss a n upcomin g referendu m o n a proposed schoo l ta x levy . In th e audience were parents an d othe r intereste d taxpayer s an d citizens , not al l of who m wer e supportin g th e ta x increase . The tex t o f th e leafle t tell s u s about th e tax levy , but i t tells us much mor e abou t Margare t Mclntyre . ISSUE 19 SCHOOL TAX LEVY Last election Westerville schools, asked us to vote yes for ne w buildings and expansion programs. We gave them what they asked. We knew there was crowded conditions and new growth in the district. Now we find ou t there i s a 4 million dolla r deficit—WHY ? W e are told th e three middl e schools must b e split because of overcrowding, and yet we are being told three schools are being closed—WHY? A magnet school is not a full oper ating school , bu t a specials school . Residents were aske d t o work o n a

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twenty member commissio n t o help formulate th e new boundaries. For four weeks they worked long and hard and came up with a very workable plan. Their plan was totally disregarded—WHY ? WAST E of taxpayer s dollars must be stopped. Our children's education an d welfare mus t come first. WASTE CAN NO LONGER BE TOLERATED. PLEASE VOTE NO ISSUE 19 THANK YOU. CONCERNED PARENT S AND TAXPAYERS Margaret Mclntyr e wrot e th e leafle t o n he r hom e compute r i n advanc e of th e meeting . Sh e made copie s a t a loca l cop y stor e and , wit h Shawn , Kimberly, an d on e o f Shawn' s friend s i n tow , proceede d t o th e meetin g to han d the m out . The firs t mistak e wa s Mclntyre's . Sh e didn' t pu t he r nam e an d address o n al l o f th e leaflets . Bu t i t wa s genuinel y a mistake , i t seems . She was awar e o f the Ohi o la w requiring tha t electio n material s bea r th e name an d addres s o f th e autho r o r sponsor , bu t a loca l electio n officia l had tol d he r no t t o worr y abou t i t becaus e he r leafle t wa s writte n an d paid fo r b y an individual, not b y a group o r political campaign organiza tion. Nonetheless , sh e adde d tha t informatio n t o mos t o f he r leaflets , perhaps ou t o f respec t fo r th e law' s purpos e o r perhap s becaus e o f lin gering uncertainties abou t th e advic e sh e had received . But som e o f th e anonymou s version s slippe d throug h th e cracks . Inadvertence wa s apparentl y th e culprit . W e ca n easil y imagin e th e scene: it is the da y o f th e public meeting ; Margaret Mclntyr e i s sitting a t her compute r writin g th e leaflet , passio n an d excitemen t flowin g through th e keys ; eagerly sh e print s th e leafle t out , take s i t t o th e loca l copy stor e t o mak e som e copies , then experience s naggin g doubt s abou t the advic e sh e has received, orall y an d perhap s offhandedly , abou t omit ting he r nam e an d address ; sh e decide s t o ad d the m thoug h tim e i s run ning out ; sh e return s t o th e cop y stor e fo r mor e copies , bring s the m home an d place s the m o n he r cluttere d desk , fail s t o kee p th e variou s copies straight ; hurriedl y fixe s a mea l fo r Jo e an d th e children ; sh e the n gets everyon e read y t o leave , quickl y gather s u p th e leaflet s fro m he r desk, stackin g the m together , an d finall y rushe s of f wit h th e childre n t o the public meeting, glad to have made the change bu t not reall y too wor ried abou t whethe r som e o f th e anonymou s version s wer e intermingle d with th e newe r ones . Predictably , som e o f th e anonymou s leaflet s wer e

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among thos e hande d ou t t o th e gathere d parent s an d citizen s a t th e Blendon Middl e Schoo l o n Apri l 27 , and agai n th e next nigh t a t anothe r public meeting o n th e referendum . The secon d mistak e was not Margare t Mclntyre's . Instead, i t belonge d to the school official s a t the public meeting who decided , in what appear s in retrospect , a t least , t o b e a fi t o f small-minde d legalis m an d bureau cratic literalism , t o pu t a sto p t o Mclntyre' s leafleting . A s peopl e wer e entering th e gy m an d movin g t o thei r seat s in advanc e o f th e meeting, a n assistant superintenden t notice d tha t Mclntyr e an d th e children wer e distributing leaflets . Furthe r investigatio n reveale d tha t som e wer e signe d "Concerned Parent s an d Taxpayers. " Arme d wit h thi s fact , th e assistan t superintendent approache d Mclntyre , attempte d t o tak e th e leaflet s fro m her and , rebuffed , the n informe d he r tha t sh e wa s breakin g th e la w because the leaflet s di d not contai n he r name an d address . "I jus t though t h e was bein g rude, " he r so n Shaw n sai d o f th e schoo l official wh o trie d t o take th e leaflets . With al l th e fuss , interes t i n th e leaflet s wa s mor e likel y heightene d than dampened . W e d o no t kno w whethe r Margare t Mclntyr e an d th e children continue d t o hand ou t the leaflets tha t evening , but we do kno w that th e events of that firs t nigh t di d no t dete r her. A second publi c meet ing o n th e ta x lev y was schedule d a t a differen t schoo l o n th e followin g evening. Margare t Mclntyr e wa s onc e agai n ther e wit h he r leaflets , including (no w advertentl y and , w e ma y assume , defiantly ) th e anony mous ones . Sh e was onc e agai n tol d tha t i n distributin g th e leaflet s sh e was violating Ohi o law . She was onc e agai n undeterred . The election was held late r that spring . The tax lev y proposal faile d t o receive enoug h vote s an d wen t dow n t o defeat . Bu t lik e Mclntyre , th e school officials , too , wer e persistent . The y regrouped , decide d t o mak e another try , an d schedule d a secon d election . Th e referendu m faile d again, thi s tim e apparentl y withou t th e assistanc e o f Mclntyre' s leaflets . The schoo l officials , however , would no t tak e n o fo r a n answer , eithe r i n their ques t fo r th e ne w ta x lev y or , i t turn s out , i n thei r pursui t o f Mar garet Mclntyre . O n th e thir d attemp t seve n month s later , i n Novembe r of 1988 , the referendum passe d an d th e tax lev y took effect . The swee t tast e o f victor y followin g th e electio n wa s apparentl y no t enough fo r th e schoo l official s i n Westerville , Ohio . The y wante d no t only to win bu t t o ge t even, too. Margaret Mclntyr e ha d bee n a thorn i n their side , it seems, and th e wound ha d no t healed . Fiv e months afte r th e levy had passed , an d jus t ove r a year afte r sh e had passe d ou t he r leaflet s

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at the publi c meetin g i n the Blendo n Middl e School , the assistan t schoo l superintendent wh o ha d firs t trie d t o sto p he r file d a complaint wit h th e Ohio Election s Commission . H e charged Margare t Mclntyr e wit h illega l distribution o f unsigne d leaflets . This, it turned out , was the third mistake . And i t was a bi g one. It di d not appea r s o a t first . Th e Election s Commissio n hel d a hearing , foun d Mclntyre guilty , an d fine d he r $100 . Whil e th e recor d i n th e cas e doe s not disclos e it , on e woul d hop e tha t a t leas t som e member s o f th e com mission rolle d thei r eye s an d wondered , i f onl y t o themselves , why thei r time was bein g wasted b y this relatively triflin g matter , which ha d al l the markings o f a personal spat . The $10 0 fin e wa s fou r time s the amoun t Mclntyr e ha d spen t t o hav e her leaflet s duplicated . Bu t i t wasn' t much . Mos t peopl e woul d hav e stopped there . Not Margare t Mclntyre . Sh e was a woman o f passionat e conviction, an d no w sh e had a ne w passion . Fo r he r i t was no t a matte r of mone y bu t o f principl e — of he r rights . "I' m standin g u p fo r mine, " she said, "an d I' m no t lettin g them tak e the m fro m me. " "One day, " sh e tol d he r husband , Joe , "it' s goin g t o ge t befor e th e Supreme Court. " An d i t did . But befor e sh e go t there , th e cas e o f th e mistaken , anonymou s littl e leaflet woul d assum e muc h large r proportions . A t a practica l leve l i t would becom e a battl e fough t ove r th e righ t o f a perso n t o spea k freel y and anonymously , wit h th e enforceabilit y o f electio n law s i n forty-nin e states an d th e District o f Columbi a hangin g i n the balance . At a theoretical level, courts would b e forced t o confront issue s about th e relationshi p between speec h an d it s author that , surprisingly , ha d neve r befor e arisen . The stake s firs t becam e eviden t i n th e Frankli n Count y Commo n Pleas Court , th e loca l distric t cour t t o which Mclntyr e appeale d th e fine . The cour t side d wit h her . Th e Ohi o la w tha t applie d t o he r leaflet , th e court said , coul d no t b e constitutionall y enforce d agains t Mclntyre' s exercise o f he r Firs t Amendmen t righ t freel y an d anonymousl y t o spea k her mind . Following th e Commo n Plea s Cour t decision , th e Stat e o f Ohi o weighed in , enlivene d b y th e doub t no w surroundin g th e enforceabilit y of it s electio n law . Th e stat e appeale d th e cas e t o th e Tent h Distric t Court o f Appeals, which reinstated th e fine an d declare d th e election la w valid. Undeterred, thoug h no w havin g spen t considerabl y mor e tha n th e $25 th e leaflets cos t o r th e $10 0 fin e sh e refused t o pay, Margaret Mcln tyre appeale d t o th e Ohi o Suprem e Court . Th e nationa l implication s o f

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her clai m wer e b y now evident . Th e la w wa s agai n upheld , bu t ove r th e dissent o f on e justice. By now fiv e year s ha d passe d sinc e the public meetin g a t th e Blendo n Middle Schoo l i n Apri l o f 1988 . Margaret Mclntyr e ha d predicte d tha t "one day , it' s goin g t o ge t befor e th e Suprem e Court. " Sh e now ha d he r chance, and arme d wit h tha t chance , she requested tha t th e Cour t accep t her cas e fo r review . As the Court' s decisio n t o accep t he r cas e was pend ing, electio n official s fro m acros s th e country—wh o woul d ente r he r case b y filin g thei r ow n brief s i n th e cas e i f he r reques t wer e grante d — watched wit h bate d breath . O n Februar y 22 , 1994 , the Cour t agree d t o hear he r case , nearly si x years afte r i t all began . But thi s wa s no t t o b e the las t even t i n th e unfoldin g dram a o f Mar garet Mclntyre' s quest . Sh e was genuinel y elate d a t th e Court' s decision , looking forwar d optimisticall y t o travelin g t o Washington , D.C. , wit h Joe an d he r thre e children t o hear her case argued i n the coming fall . Bu t Margaret Mclntyr e als o ha d cancer , an d sh e ha d bee n fightin g i t fo r some time. On Ma y 6 , 1994 , almost a year befor e th e Cour t woul d issu e its opinio n an d si x month s befor e ora l argumen t o f he r case , Margare t Mclntyre died . Joe ha d witnesse d — indeed ha d live d wit h — his wife' s persistence , her iro n wil l i n pursui t o f he r right s agains t al l odds . "I' m standin g u p for mine, " sh e had said , "an d I' m no t lettin g them tak e the m awa y fro m me." S o Joe too k u p hi s wife' s battle , substitutin g himsel f fo r he r a s th e named part y i n order t o allow the case to proceed. Ora l argumen t befor e the Cour t wa s hel d o n Octobe r 12 , 1994 . Th e cas e wa s finall y ende d when th e Cour t issue d it s opinion o n April 19 , 1995 , reversing the Ohi o Supreme Court' s decision , declarin g tha t th e Firs t Amendment protecte d Margaret Mclntyre' s righ t t o distribut e he r anonymou s leaflets , declar ing Ohio' s prohibitio n o f anonymou s campaig n speec h unconstitutional , and effectivel y voidin g simila r prohibition s i n th e law s o f forty-nin e states an d th e Distric t o f Columbi a i n the process .

The Problem of Anonymity The Suprem e Cour t doe s no t explai n it s reason s fo r agreein g t o hea r a case, s o w e canno t kno w exactl y wh y Margare t Mclntyre' s cas e wa s accepted fo r review . Bu t a prett y goo d pictur e emerge s fro m a questio n posed b y Justice Sandra Day O'Connor t o the lawyer for th e State of Ohi o at ora l argument . " I woul d hav e though t tha t i f th e Firs t Amendmen t

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stood fo r anythin g a t al l i t stoo d fo r m y righ t t o pu t ou t a flye r o n a street corne r o n a n issu e I felt strongl y abou t withou t identifyin g myself . What doe s the First Amendment protec t i f not tha t kin d o f cor e politica l speech?" Margaret Mclntyr e woul d hav e like d tha t question . Bu t while Justic e O'Connor's questio n i s appealing , i t i s als o rhetorical . I t demand s a n absolute an d unyieldin g conclusion, knowin g n o exceptions , while a t th e same tim e subtl y limitin g it s scop e t o "m y righ t t o pu t ou t a flye r o n a street corner o n a n issu e I felt strongl y about. " We know tha t th e issue raised b y Mclntyre's cas e is broader tha n that , and w e also know tha t ther e is no simple , pat answer . On e nee d not loo k far t o fin d instance s i n whic h anonymou s publicatio n i s legally prohib ited. Federa l posta l law s currentl y requir e tha t newspaper s an d othe r periodicals contai n th e nam e an d addres s o f th e publisher . Politica l advertisements i n print an d broadcas t medi a mus t identif y thei r sponsor ing organization . A s individuals , w e ma y no t mak e a contributio n t o a political candidat e o r tak e ou t a television o r radi o a d supportin g a can didate withou t identifyin g ourselves . Indeed , ou r gift s t o charit y canno t qualify fo r ta x deductio n i f the y ar e anonymou s becaus e th e IR S demands tha t th e charit y issu e a receipt . S o much fo r anonymity , whic h is legall y prohibite d i n al l o f thes e instances . An d th e Suprem e Cour t made i t perfectly clea r (thoug h logicall y obscure , i f no t inscrutable ) tha t its decision i n Mclntyre's cas e would no t distur b an y o f them . It i s therefore clea r tha t whil e Justice O'Connor' s questio n reveal s a n intuition, a n instinctiv e sens e o f th e case , i t neithe r offer s no r invite s a workable principl e o f decision . Th e Firs t Amendmen t issue s raise d b y Mclntyre's anonymou s leafle t ar e to o difficul t t o submi t t o suc h a ques tion. The y requir e instea d tha t w e as k when , i f ever , an d wh y anony mous expressio n shoul d b e protected b y the Firs t Amendment, an d how , if a t all , Mclntyre's leafle t ca n b e distinguished fro m th e man y othe r cir cumstances i n whic h anonymou s speec h i s now restricted—particularl y in th e politica l campaig n setting . Thes e questions , i n turn , requir e tha t we grappl e wit h th e ver y concep t o f authorshi p an d th e constitutiona l significance o f a n author' s relationshi p t o a work .

Authorship and

the Meaning of Texts

What, precisely , d o w e mea n b y th e ter m "author" ? Doe s "authorship " imply onl y possessio n o f a lega l clai m t o a wor k — a propert y interes t

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residing in the person wh o produced it—o r doe s it also hav e to do with the creativity , originality , an d meaning o f a work, an d thus resid e partl y in th e work itself , springin g fro m th e work rathe r tha n attachin g t o it? The Oxfor d Englis h Dictionar y define s "author " a s "th e beginnin g o f anything." Doe s a work "begin " onl y with its production, o r does it also "begin" whe n i t takes o n meanin g i n the hands o f the reader? Wha t i s the relationshi p betwee n a work' s autho r an d it s authority ? Doe s a work's authority — its tru e meaning , perhaps , o r it s forc e o r signifi cance—flow fro m th e person wh o produced it , or doe s authorit y flo w out o f th e wor k itself—fro m its meaning , o r fro m th e meanin g it inspires? I f a work' s authorit y reside s onl y i n it s production , ca n a n anonymous wor k ever hav e authority ? These question s ar e no t unfamilia r t o th e Unite d State s Suprem e Court, fo r the y li e at the heart o f the Court's mos t importan t task : inter preting th e meaning o f the Constitution. Th e First Amendmen t serve s as a goo d example . It reads, "Congres s shal l make n o law . . . abridging the freedom o f speech." I n applying thi s injunctio n t o anonymou s campaig n speech b y individuals , ho w i s th e Firs t Amendment' s meanin g t o b e found? Th e answe r canno t b e foun d i n th e tex t itself , fo r "abridge, " "freedom," an d "speech, " t o name but three words, are not self-defining . Is the First Amendment's meanin g and authority, then, to be discovered in the min d an d intentio n o f its author, th e person wh o produced it ? But what i f we do not know who the author o f the First Amendment is ; what if ther e wa s more tha n on e author wh o participated i n formulating th e language, and even more "authors " who ultimately agree d to it by ratify ing it, and who did so for their ow n reasons or with their ow n interpreta tions i n mind? Mus t we, then, als o loo k t o the First Amendment's tex t in a differen t way , discovering meanin g b y its significance t o us as readers, bringing a sense of history, o f cultural an d political experience , and even of persona l convictio n t o the task o f giving th e words meaning ? An d if we d o so, are we not acknowledgin g tha t th e "beginning " t o which th e term "author " relate s occurs partly with the reader, flowing fro m th e text itself, and not with the author wh o first produce d th e text? The Suprem e Court' s tas k i n interpretin g th e Constitution , o f course, i s a specialize d on e dealin g no t wit h anonymity , a s such , bu t with th e nee d t o giv e concret e meanin g t o a n ambiguou s tex t wit h a known, i f somewha t shrouded , origi n an d history . Th e proble m o f authorship an d it s relation t o meanin g i s analogou s t o tha t pose d b y Mclntyre's case , bu t the specifi c issu e o f anonymity—th e issu e raise d

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by complete lac k o f informatio n abou t a n author , wit h meanin g resid ing onl y i n th e tex t an d it s reader s — does no t furthe r compoun d th e Court's tas k o f interpretin g th e Constitution . Th e answer s t o th e dis tinct question s pose d b y Mclntyre' s complet e anonymity , therefore , must b e foun d i n othe r illustrations . Fortunately, histor y provide s man y example s upo n whic h w e ca n draw in the fields o f literature, politics, and eve n journalism. Perhap s th e most widel y know n exampl e o f anonymou s speec h i s th e writin g o f William Shakespeare , whos e identit y remain s unknow n an d hotl y debated t o thi s day . Wh y di d h e choos e t o remai n anonymous ? Wa s Shakespeare's decisio n th e produc t o f a dee p sens e o f privacy , o r di d h e prefer t o avoi d th e retributio n tha t migh t flo w fro m hi s frequen t depic tion o f royalt y i n lightl y derisiv e an d humorou s — or i n deepl y an d darkly tragic—ways ? Wa s it fear o f retaliation , aversio n t o fame , appre hension o f derision , o r simpl y whim tha t motivate d him ? We can as k th e same questio n abou t Samue l Clemens , who wrot e unde r th e pseudony m Mark Twain , o r abou t suc h writer s a s George s San d ( a femal e Frenc h novelist) an d P . D. James ( a female myster y writer) . Were thes e author s drive n t o pseudony m ou t o f fear , becaus e o f a fel t need t o preserv e a separat e lif e o f thei r own , i n orde r t o attrac t a wide r and mor e acceptin g audience , o r fo r reason s o f whi m an d caprice ? I n most case s we can' t know , an d therefore , perhaps , w e shouldn' t nee d t o know becaus e thei r motiv e doesn' t matter . Thi s much , a t least , w e ar e compelled t o sa y in the fac e o f actua l experience . But mayb e w e ca n sa y eve n mor e tha n this . Perhaps w e ca n sa y also , at leas t wit h thes e authors , tha t thei r tru e identit y ha s littl e t o d o wit h the valu e an d meanin g o f thei r work . Thei r work s ar e work s o f litera ture— often grea t literatur e — and al l ar e work s o f fiction . Th e tru e identity o f Shakespear e i s a sourc e o f curiosity—th e huma n appetit e fo r intrigue seem s eve r insatiabl e — but hi s wor k speak s fo r itself , perhap s the bette r s o unhindered b y the trappings o f authorship . Would th e forc e and universalit y o f th e phras e "muc h soun d an d fur y signifyin g noth ing," whic h inspire d Willia m Faulkner , b e improve d upon , o r eve n altered i n an y significan t way , b y knowin g th e identit y o f it s author ? Does i t matte r tha t th e ma n wh o create d Huckleberr y Fin n wa s Samue l Clemens, no t Mar k Twain ? I n thes e works , a s i n al l work s o f fiction , whether goo d o r ba d o r middling , th e tru e autho r disappear s behin d th e veil of the characters an d th e drama o f the events. The characters ar e th e principal actors ; the truth , i f any , is in thei r depiction . An d they , in turn ,

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are product s o f ou r imaginatio n a s readers, draw n alon g b y the author' s narrative bu t brough t t o lif e i n ou r ow n minds . Can i t no t b e said , a t leas t wit h fiction , tha t we , th e readers , ar e th e authors, eac h o f u s uniqu e i n wha t w e mak e o f th e tal e an d i n th e wa y we imagin e th e character s t o be ? Isn' t th e meanin g an d authorit y o f a work o f fictio n i n th e reader' s mind' s eye ? Thi s appear s t o b e a point o f near-universal acknowledgment—an d mor e tha n occasiona l despair — by those who writ e fiction . Th e ide a o f anonymou s speec h an d th e ques t for understandin g it s value fo r purpose s o f th e Firs t Amendment , there fore, ma y posses s a n oxymoroni c qualit y whe n applie d t o fiction . A s Samuel Becket t observed , "Wha t matte r who' s speaking , someon e said , what matte r who' s speaking? " Authorship , w e migh t say , resides i n th e work itself . But Margare t Mclntyre' s leafle t wa s no t a wor k o f fiction ; i t wa s a work o f nonfiction . A s suc h i t raise s a differen t se t o f concern s abou t anonymity an d abou t authorshi p an d meanin g i n works tha t purpor t t o be true. To put the point a bit differently, bu t perhap s mor e helpfully , w e must inquir e int o th e meanin g an d rol e o f th e "author " fo r work s o f nonfiction, a genr e o f writin g tha t embrace s statement s o f fact , whos e truth i s declared, an d statement s o f opinion , o f whos e trut h w e must b e persuaded. Mclntyre's cas e involve d bot h fac t an d opinion . Th e Suprem e Cour t approached th e issue s raised b y her leafle t b y asking two questions , bot h focused o n th e justification s fo r he r choic e o f anonymity . Di d sh e hav e sufficient reason—base d perhap s o n fea r o f retribution—fo r withhold ing her identity? Were Ohio's reasons for forcin g disclosur e of her author ship sufficientl y compelling ? Th e answer s th e Cour t gav e wer e bot h unclear an d confusing , eve n muddled an d inscrutable . The reason fo r thi s lies no t i n the answer s th e Cour t trie d t o suppl y bu t i n the fac t tha t th e Court bega n b y askin g th e wron g questions . I n focusin g o n Mclntyre' s motivation (which , th e Cour t ultimatel y concluded , di d no t matter ) an d on th e purpose s underlyin g Ohio' s la w (which , th e Cour t said , di d no t justify th e indiscriminatel y broa d prohibitio n exacte d b y th e law) , th e Court simpl y assumed without discussio n tha t the anonymity o f works of fact an d opinio n shoul d b e treate d equall y fo r purpose s o f th e Firs t Amendment. But is all nonfiction t o b e treated th e same? Is the relationship betwee n the work an d it s author differen t i n some kinds o f nonfiction tha n i n oth ers? Thes e question s mus t b e addresse d b y askin g a differen t questio n

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than the Court did : What rol e does the author perfor m i n works that pur port t o b e true? T o addres s thi s question , le t u s return t o th e distinctio n between works o f fact an d works o f opinion, recognizing that the distinc tion i s an artificial one—work s o f nonfiction generall y comprise fac t an d opinion. Margaret Mclntyre' s leaflet , o f course, was a bit of both .

Fact and Authority Works o f fac t purpor t t o declar e truth . The y d o no t persuad e bu t assert . They d o not interpre t bu t observe . O r s o some would hav e u s believe . "Facts," o f course, are not s o simple as this. While many people toda y bemoan th e er a o f "ne w journalism"— a journalis m o f fac t filtere d through th e writer' s ey e an d th e writer' s values , thu s "interpreted" ; a journalism premise d o n th e absenc e o f "true " fac t an d o n th e inextrica bility o f ideolog y an d reality—i t remain s th e cas e tha t journalis m con tinues t o b e th e dominan t for m o f nonfictio n base d largel y on , an d explicitly devote d to , representin g fact . Th e othe r dominan t genr e i s found i n advertising , bot h commercia l and , mos t relevan t fo r presen t purposes, politica l advertising . Much , i f no t most , advertisin g purport s to b e factual , an d it s textua l conten t i s heavily factual . T o b e sure , i t i s cleverly geare d b y use o f imag e an d inferenc e t o shapin g a n opinion , bu t news is hardly t o b e distinguished fro m advertisin g o n this ground. Mar garet Mclntyre' s leaflet , too , was largel y factual, focusin g o n the purpos e of a n earlie r bon d referendu m tha t supplie d fund s fo r ne w schools ; th e subsequent (an d implicitl y inconsistent ) decisio n t o clos e thre e existin g schools; an d th e rejectio n o f th e school-boundar y pla n formulate d b y residents wh o serve d o n a n appointe d commission . What i s the relationshi p betwee n a n autho r an d a statemen t o f fact ? We might conclud e tha t i f al l work s tha t purpor t t o b e factua l wer e i n fact so , the identit y o f th e autho r o f th e statement s woul d b e unimpor tant. Tha t journalis m hold s t o thi s concei t eve n toda y i s manifested i n the continuin g practic e o f anonymou s new s articles . "Jus t th e facts , ma'am"—"what matte r who' s speaking? " Bu t we know thi s a s a concei t only. Statement s o f fac t ar e no t alway s true , o r accurate , o r eve n fairl y selected an d put . An d w e nee d no t adop t th e entir e deconstructionis t philosophy (tha t al l reality, including what w e think o f a s fact, i s a prod uct o f culture , politics , an d ultimatel y power ) t o recogniz e th e rightnes s of the insight embodied i n the "ne w journalism": the meaning o f fact i s a

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product o f ou r ideolog y an d individua l perception , an d it s representa tion i s a functio n o f a proces s o f discovery , selection , an d presentation . This i s the stuf f o f the inadverten t falsehoo d an d th e unfai r depiction . Because we know this , we might conclud e tha t w e need furthe r infor mation upo n whic h t o judg e whethe r an d ho w somethin g purportin g t o be factua l is , i n fact , so . We usuall y truste d Walte r Cronkit e whe n h e reported a fac t becaus e w e believed , base d o n ou r experienc e wit h hi s reporting, tha t th e fac t wa s likel y t o b e true and , mor e important , likel y to hav e bee n place d i n a fai r contex t tha t permitte d us , a s viewers , t o make ou r ow n judgmen t abou t it s significanc e t o ou r ow n beliefs . Bu t Sam Donaldso n i s a differen t matter . Thi s i s not becaus e w e disbeliev e those thing s Donaldso n report s a s fac t bu t becaus e w e understan d tha t there i s somethin g mor e — something unsai d — lurking behin d th e fact s he chooses to giv e us. And s o while we watch him , an d eve n admire hi m for hi s audacit y an d perseverance , w e filte r hi s fact s throug h a differen t lens, suspendin g disbelie f a littl e bi t les s fo r hi m tha n fo r Cronkite , rec ognizing tha t h e i s bringin g hi s ow n prejudice s an d values , whic h w e know becaus e we know him , to th e journalisti c table . Surely Margare t Mclntyre , too , brough t he r ow n "angle " t o th e depiction, selection , an d representatio n o f th e fact s include d i n he r leaflet. Bu t wha t wa s it ? He r stor y i s consistent wit h tw o ver y differen t possibilities. O n th e on e hand, i n this time of tax protests an d publi c discontent wit h th e working s o f government , a tim e i n whic h th e inclina tion t o spea k i s stronger tha n th e inclinatio n t o listen , Mclntyre' s leafle t has a familiar ring . Was she a foot soldie r i n that large r battl e o f politica l ideologies and mora l absolutisms , bringing its preconceptions an d preju dices t o th e factua l representation s i n he r leaflet ? O r wa s she , o n th e other hand , "jus t a regula r perso n wh o didn' t lik e what wa s goin g on, " as he r daughter , Kimberly , describe d her— a plainspoke n perso n hon estly trying , grammatica l wart s an d all , to aler t u s to th e facts ? Withou t her identit y a s author o f the leaflet , w e just don' t know , an d lackin g tha t knowledge, we may dismis s her leafle t a s the work o f a n extremist when , in fact, i t isn't . Margaret Mclntyre' s leaflet , o f course , di d no t purpor t t o b e journal ism—the presentatio n o f "objective " fac t i n a straightforwar d manner . It ha d a n avowe d purpose , announce d t o th e reade r b y it s admonish ment "PLEAS E VOT E N O " an d b y it s "author, " "Concerne d Parent s and Taxpayers. " Unlik e journalism , ther e wa s n o concei t o f dispassion . Moreover, i n requirin g tha t th e leafle t contai n he r nam e an d address ,

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and n o more , the Ohi o la w arguabl y require d disclosur e o f the leas t use ful informatio n t o th e reader . Excep t fo r thos e person s wh o kne w Mar garet Mclntyr e (an d woul d presumabl y b e adequatel y informe d b y seeing he r passin g ou t th e leaflet s i n th e gym) , he r nam e an d addres s would contribut e littl e in the way o f reader discernment . Bu t this is quibbling with th e means Ohi o employe d t o achiev e its end, no t wit h th e en d itself—the need , wit h statement s o f fact , t o suppl y reader s wit h ade quate informatio n abou t authorshi p t o mak e judgment s abou t intention , presentation, an d authority . Th e fac t tha t Margare t Mclntyre' s leafle t disclosed it s avowe d purpose , an d tha t he r nam e an d address , alone , may have given the reader les s information tha n migh t ideally be desired , does no t refut e th e poin t tha t disclosur e o f he r authorshi p woul d hav e provided informatio n usefu l i n judging th e writing, itself . When fact s hav e n o autho r w e ar e missin g a critica l piec e i n th e sig nificance o f the work. Nonfiction , an d particularl y factua l nonfiction , i s a representatio n no t o f th e autho r o r o f th e reade r bu t o f th e objectiv e world. Inheren t i n it s ver y definitio n a s nonfictio n an d fac t ar e suc h qualities a s representatio n (representation) , intention , authenticity , authority. Representation s o f fact , i n short , ar e reinterpretation s inex tricably an d necessaril y boun d t o thei r author , whos e identit y itsel f i s part an d parce l o f it s narrative . Becaus e i t canno t stan d alone , fact based nonfictio n mus t hav e a n author . Otherwis e w e ca n mak e nothin g of it , fo r i t lack s representation , intention , an d authority , jus t a s a plai n sign o n th e roadsid e announcin g "Go d i s Dead " lack s significance , lacks th e elementa l qualitie s o f nonfiction . Withou t more , th e sign , i f anything, i s fiction . So we may conclud e tha t withou t a n author , representation s tha t pur port t o b e true becaus e the y ar e fac t lac k a qualit y tha t w e dee m centra l and necessar y t o th e genre . This doe s no t necessaril y mean , o f course , that anonymou s statement s o f fac t ar e no t "speech " fo r purpose s o f th e First Amendment , fo r tha t i s a differen t questio n t o whic h w e shal l tur n in du e course . Bu t i t migh t mea n tha t eve n i f the y ar e protecte d speech , the protectio n accorde d the m shoul d b e differen t an d mor e limite d tha n that give n factua l statement s wit h a n author . W e might , fo r example , conclude tha t wit h respec t t o th e factua l assertion s i n Margare t Mcln tyre's anonymou s leaflet , it s incompletenes s fo r it s declare d purpos e — presentation o f historica l fac t relevan t t o it s persuasive purpose—make s it a lesse r orde r o f "speech " an d therefor e les s generousl y protecte d under th e First Amendment .

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Or w e migh t conclud e tha t whil e a n autho r i s required, authorshi p need no t alway s mea n "name " but , instead , shoul d b e taken t o require , as wit h Margare t Mclntyre' s leaflet , disclosur e o f sufficien t informatio n about th e autho r (motives , "angle, " standard s o f selectio n an d presenta tion o f facts ) fo r th e reader t o make th e necessary interpretiv e judgment s about th e meanin g an d credibilit y o f state d fact . Unde r thi s view , Mar garet Mclntyre' s leafle t wa s not anonymous .

Argument and

Authority

The Suprem e Court' s forcefu l defens e o f Margare t Mclntyre' s Firs t Amendment righ t t o spea k anonymousl y might , o f course , b e under stood instea d t o mea n tha t statement s o f fac t nee d no t hav e a n author — a rejectio n o f th e argumen t tha t wit h factua l representation s th e relationship betwee n tex t an d autho r i s often sufficientl y necessary , eve n definitional, t o b e required. Bu t this would no t b e the correc t readin g o f the Court' s decision . I n th e setting s o f libe l an d misrepresentation , fo r example, th e Cour t ha s implie d tha t fact s ar e les s protecte d unde r th e First Amendmen t tha n opinions . Fals e facts , accordin g t o th e Court , ar e not "speech" ; fals e ideas , however, are . There ar e ampl e ground s i n th e Court's ow n opinions , i n short , fo r imposin g specia l requirement s o n statements o f fact , an d fo r distinguishin g suc h statement s fro m "opin ion" unde r th e First Amendment . More important , i n Margare t Mclntyre' s cas e the Cour t di d no t bas e its judgment abou t th e protection fo r he r speec h o n an y particularized o r careful analysi s o f her leaflet . Bu t such a n analysi s would b e necessary t o support a conclusio n tha t th e leafle t wa s constitutionall y protecte d a s fact becaus e i n her cas e th e purpos e o f th e leafle t wa s openl y avowe d and he r nam e an d addres s would , i n an y event , ad d littl e o f value . Indeed, th e Court' s broad-rangin g — and frankl y indiscriminat e — discussion o f th e rol e anonymit y ha s playe d i n th e pas t belie s an y carefu l attention t o Mclntyre' s cas e o r t o th e specia l rol e tha t authorshi p migh t play i n works o f fact , a s opposed t o works o f opinio n an d persuasion . Instead, th e Court' s decisio n appear s t o hav e reste d o n th e fac t tha t Mclntyre's leafle t wa s a n expression o f opinion, no t jus t o f fact, an d tha t its qualit y a s opinio n subordinate d an y claim s abou t authorshi p tha t might b e base d o n it s factua l content , thu s avoidin g an y nee d t o discus s its factual elements .

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The Court: Wha t interes t d o yo u . . . rel y o n her e t o suppor t th e State's ban ? Mr. Sutter [who argued on behalf of Ohio]: W e think tha t thi s statut e serves [t o provide ] informatio n importan t t o th e voter , informa tion tha t enable s th e vote r t o plac e a candidat e o n th e politica l spectrum. The Court: Ho w abou t Mrs . Mclntyre's address ? Wouldn' t tha t hav e helped infor m th e electorate ? Mr. Sutter: Yes , Your Honor , an d that' s require d b y the law . The Court: Al l right, an d ho w abou t he r partisa n affiliation ? Mr. Sutter: You r Honor , w e thin k ther e i s a poin t a t whic h to o muc h information woul d cros s the line . The Court: Th e public get s confused b y too muc h information . Mr. Sutter: No , You r Hono r . . . (Laughter) The Court: Earlie r Justice O'Conno r brough t u p the tradition o f pam phleteering, goin g bac k t o th e Federalis t Papers . . . . Isn't ther e [a ] venerable traditio n attache d t o th e lone leafleteer i n this country ? Mr. Sutter: I think ther e is a tradition. I think th e aspec t o f anonymit y changes th e perspectiv e o f th e case . We're no t saying , an d didn' t say t o Margare t Mclntyre , tha t sh e couldn' t speak , tha t sh e could n't han d ou t literature , tha t sh e couldn' t sa y whateve r sh e wante d in that literature . All we're sayin g i s . . . that th e Stat e ma y requir e he r t o provid e the public with acces s to a limited amoun t o f pertinent informatio n to hel p the m mak e bette r educate d electora l choices . . . . Al l we'r e asking fo r her e i s a minima l amoun t o f additiona l informatio n s o that th e electorat e ca n evaluat e th e campaig n message . The Court: Yo u know , i n thi s context , though , i t almos t seem s — when th e leafle t speak s t o th e merit s o f a particula r issue , a s thi s does—that th e electorat e ca n tak e int o consideratio n th e fac t tha t there i s n o identificatio n o f th e speake r attache d t o th e messag e and ca n conclude , i f i t wishes , tha t therefor e i t shoul d b e dis counted. I'm no t sur e ho w stron g th e State' s interes t i s i n forcin g th e information o n th e electorate . I mean, a s a voter , I can say , well , here's a n anonymou s flier , an d i f the y don' t car e enoug h t o pu t their nam e o n it , I'm goin g to toss it in the waste basket . I don't se e why th e State' s interest i s so strong .

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Mr. Sutter: You r Honor, I think tha t i s a difficult question . . . . The Court' s descriptio n o f th e leafle t a s a wor k o f opinion—o f per suasive writin g abou t truth—i s surel y accurate . Whil e lace d wit h fact , the leaflet openl y argue d tha t th e schoo l boar d ha d bee n dishonest , o r a t least disingenuous , i n seekin g fund s fo r schoo l expansio n whil e simulta neously proposin g schoo l closings . It argue d tha t th e schoo l syste m wa s rife wit h wastefu l spendin g an d guilt y o f makin g poo r decisions . I t argued tha t th e ne w ta x lev y was no t necessar y becaus e adequat e fund s would b e available wer e waste eliminated , an d tha t a t th e very least ne w funds shoul d no t b e supplie d unti l th e schoo l syste m pu t it s ow n hous e in order . But th e Court' s descriptio n o f th e leafle t a s a n expressio n o f opinio n does not , o f itself , explai n wh y a wor k o f opinio n migh t la y a specia l claim to anonymity , o r why that specia l claim should overrid e argument s against anonymit y base d o n th e representation s o f fac t containe d withi n it. I s opinio n differen t fro m fac t i n it s relatio n t o th e author ? I s a n author less important fo r a statemen t o f opinio n tha n o f fact ? Ou r intu ition tell s u s the opposite ; a n opinion , afte r all , is necessarily someone's. How ca n i t exist without a n author ? At on e leve l the answe r t o thi s questio n i s plain. B y its very definitio n opinion canno t (settin g suc h technologica l frontier s a s artificia l intelli gence asid e fo r th e moment ) exis t withou t a n author . Th e constructio n of a n argumen t leadin g persuasively t o a conclusion seem s necessarily t o be a human act , a manifestation o f consciousness . But i f w e as k no t abou t th e existenc e o f a n autho r but , rather , abou t the author' s identity , th e answe r i s les s clear . Margare t Mclntyre' s authorship o f the leaflet signe d "Concerne d Parent s an d Taxpayers " wa s never i n doubt ; th e issu e presented i n he r case , instead, wa s th e require ment tha t sh e disclos e it . The fre e speec h issu e pose d b y he r case , therefore, wa s whethe r statement s o f opinion , no t fact , ar e necessaril y an d inextricably dependen t o n disclosur e o f th e identity o f th e author . O n this questio n ou r intuitio n ma y prove to hav e le t us down . The Court: Well , isn' t ther e [a ] potential fo r confusio n whe n I wal k up to the polling place and I' m hande d si x or eight o r ten o r twelv e leaflets saying , vot e fo r this , that, o r th e othe r perso n o r issu e o n my way u p t o vote ?

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Mr. Goldberger [who argued on behalf of Margaret Mclntyre]: You r Honor, I believe tha t th e voter s ar e capabl e o f decidin g fo r them selves. They operat e i n a political climat e . . . The Court: Yo u jus t di d no t se e my puzzlemen t las t Septembe r whe n I was o n m y way int o th e primary ! (Laughter) The Court: S o tha t w e d o hav e a n interes t i n knowin g wh o i s th e speaker? Mr. Goldberger: Well , I don' t believ e so , You r Honor , becaus e th e leaflets are—the y spea k fo r themselves . Works o f opinio n are , in their essence , works o f argumen t an d persua sion. The y disclos e th e though t processe s o f a n author , whethe r thos e thought processe s ar e logica l o r emotional , goo d o r bad , complet e o r incomplete. Th e though t processe s thu s disclose d ar e neithe r tru e no r false. Instead , the y ar e eithe r persuasiv e o r unpersuasive . Becaus e fac t asserts truth , w e mus t kno w ho w t o judg e it ; factual statement s ar e no t designed t o persuad e u s o f thei r trut h but , rather , t o declar e it . Opinion , on the other hand, attempts to prove its truth explicitly ; it lays no claim t o hidden underlyin g trut h o r t o secre t undisclose d validatio n but , instead , lays its justifications an d proof s ou t i n the ope n befor e th e reader . T o th e extent i t fails t o d o so , it fails i n persuasiveness an d therefor e i n fulfillin g its function . Ye t i t i s still a statemen t o f opinio n — badly conceived , n o doubt—and th e identit y o f th e autho r woul d affec t neithe r it s characte r nor it s quality. Because statement s o f opinio n b y definitio n contai n withi n the m th e very ground s fo r thei r validity , perhap s th e reade r need s n o know n author. Th e reade r i s abl e t o judg e th e tendere d opinio n o n hi s o r he r own. I f th e work' s logi c i s complete , i t ca n b e accepte d o r rejecte d o n that groun d alone . If its logic is incomplete, it can b e dismissed a s unper suasive o r th e logica l o r emotiona l gap s ca n b e fille d i n b y th e reade r (who fo r thi s purpose the n become s part-author ) an d the n judge d fo r it s persuasiveness. D o w e really have t o kno w Margare t Mclntyre' s identit y to for m ou r ow n conclusio n abou t he r argumen t (a s oppose d t o th e truth o f he r facts) ? I f w e kne w he r nam e an d address , woul d w e b e i n any bette r positio n t o judg e th e persuasivenes s o f he r argument ? Whil e her identit y migh t b e useful, a t leas t t o thos e wh o kno w o f Margare t Mclntyre, a s we do , is it a necessar y ingredien t withou t whic h he r wor k

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lacks th e qualit y o f persuasiv e assertio n o f trut h throug h opinion ? Indeed, isn' t ther e eve n som e ris k tha t knowledg e o f her identity migh t hinder rathe r tha n hel p ou r critica l judgmen t abou t th e arguments sh e makes? Some o f the greatest example s o f anonymou s writin g hav e bee n nonfiction work s o f argument an d opinion. The Supreme Cour t emphasize d this i n its opinion i n Mclntyre's cas e b y focusing a t som e lengt h o n the examples o f James Madison , Alexande r Hamilton , an d John Jay . These three framer s o f the Constitution wer e als o th e authors o f the Federalis t Papers, anonymousl y writte n articles , signe d "Publius, " tha t presente d the argument s favorin g ratificatio n o f the Constitution . Th e Federalis t Papers wer e example s o f pure an d full reasonin g i n support o f a n opin ion, and thus wer e perhap s th e classic form o f opinion-based nonfiction . Like Mclntyre , Madison , Hamilton , an d Jay eac h believe d tha t thei r authorship shoul d no t b e disclosed . Indeed , the y likel y fel t tha t thei r identity woul d serv e onl y t o distrac t reader s fro m thei r wor k an d its function, introducin g prejudic e an d the counterproductive elemen t o f personality int o th e process o f reaso n an d rationality celebrate d a s the eighteenth-century Enlightenmen t ideal . On e might g o further an d say that th e authors o f the great work s o f persuasive nonfiction , eve n whe n we kno w thei r names , ar e incidental t o the work itself . Woul d w e thin k less of Plato o r Socrates if we knew the m well ? Margaret Mclntyre' s leafle t hardl y stand s u p to the Federalist Paper s or Plato' s Dialogues , bu t th e underlyin g questio n o f th e nee d fo r he r identity a s an autho r i s the same. Her argument s — expressed stridently , laced wit h innuendo , an d handicapped b y poor grammar—ar e neithe r more no r les s persuasiv e dependin g o n whethe r o r no t he r nam e i s placed upo n them . W e know enoug h abou t th e autho r fro m th e argu ment itself , enoug h t o dismiss it , accept it , empathize wit h it , capture it s emotional fervor , measur e it s incompleteness. This i s what th e Supreme Cour t decided . I t did not matter, th e Cour t concluded, whethe r Margare t Mclntyr e chos e anonymit y a s a shelte r from repression , o r ou t o f inadvertence , o r a s a small an d idiosyncrati c deceit. Th e Court' s opinio n woul d surel y hav e bee n improve d ha d i t explained wh y it did not matter, bu t even without a n explanation, i t fol lows tha t i f Margaret Mclntyre' s reason s fo r anonymit y d o not matte r under th e First Amendment , the n th e constitutional protectio n accorde d her leafle t mus t hav e somethin g t o d o wit h th e inheren t natur e o f he r expression: that a s an expression o f opinion—her opinion—i t possesse d

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all of the qualitie s neede d fo r ful l protectio n a s "speech " fo r purpose s o f the Firs t Amendment .

Speaking and Speech The conclusio n tha t Margare t Mclntyre' s anonymit y wa s protecte d because sh e wa s expressin g he r opinion , he r fundamenta l righ t o f dis sent an d persuasion , ma y b e satisfying , bu t i t doe s no t finall y solv e th e puzzle o f authorshi p tha t underlie s Margare t Mclntyre' s case . Recal l Samuel Beckett' s hauntin g query , whic h circle s upo n itself , revealin g it s paradox. "Wha t matte r who' s speaking , someon e said , wha t matte r who's speaking? " Someone said. Eve n whe n th e autho r i s unknown , must ther e b e someone wh o i s speaking ? Doe s th e Firs t Amendmen t require tha t ther e alway s b e a n author , an d mus t tha t autho r b e someone (a s opposed t o something) i n orde r full y t o enjo y th e freedo m guar anteed b y the Constitution ? If authorshi p ca n b e said t o resid e i n the tex t a s well a s in its creation , might i t b e said tha t th e question s o f anonymit y an d o f authorshi p ofte n collapse together, becomin g on e and th e sam e — and becomin g tautologi cal, too, for wha t tex t doe s not, in this sense, have an author ? Indeed , th e song o f th e wind blowin g throug h th e aspen , th e dog' s bark , th e rando m combinations o f Scrabbl e tiles , all have a n autho r whe n meanin g spring s from them . O r doe s th e Firs t Amendmen t requir e tha t anonymit y an d authorship b e kept distinct , thu s limitin g the Constitution's protectio n t o persons, not things ; to speaking , not speech ? Without realizin g it , th e Suprem e Cour t worrie d deepl y abou t thes e questions a s i t addresse d Margare t Mclntyre' s case . Her case , o f course , did no t rais e the m directly , fo r he r leafle t ha d a n author . Th e leafle t wa s produced b y he r intentiona l ac t an d reflecte d he r belief s an d ideas . I t was a product o f Mclntyre' s freedo m an d a reflectio n o f he r intellectua l free will . But like a lingering secon d though t tha t jus t won't le t go, Beckett's questio n haunte d th e Mclntyre case . And rightl y so . Th e Suprem e Cour t di d no t hav e th e freedo m t o decide Mclntyre' s cas e i n isolation . I t wa s engage d i n making law , no t applying it , an d i n makin g la w th e Cour t i s oblige d t o res t it s decision s on reasonin g tha t transcend s th e fact s o f th e cas e immediatel y befor e it . The Cour t wa s thu s dut y boun d t o as k an d answe r a large r questio n than tha t pose d b y Mclntyre' s leaflet . Ho w ca n th e anonymit y o f th e

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leaflet b e protecte d withou t a t th e sam e tim e invalidatin g a wid e rang e of othe r law s prohibitin g anonymou s politica l advertisement s an d anonymous campaig n contributions , including , most significantly , majo r elements o f th e Federa l Electio n Campaig n Act , whic h th e Cour t ha d already uphel d i n a cas e decide d i n 1976 ? I f th e Firs t Amendmen t give s full protectio n t o anonymou s speech , ho w ca n w e justif y treatin g som e speech differentl y fro m othe r speech ? A possible answe r lie s i n Beckett' s query . T o b e full y protecte d i n it s anonymity, an d indee d t o b e protecte d a s a n ac t o f freedo m unde r th e First Amendment' s guarante e o f "freedo m o f speech, " perhap s speec h must hav e someon e wh o i s an author . Thi s conclusio n ha d alread y bee n implicitly reache d nearl y twenty-fiv e year s earlie r b y Justice John Mar shall Harlan i n his opinion i n the Cohen case , discussed i n "Stor y One. " There Harla n reste d Pau l Cohen' s righ t t o displa y th e epithe t "Fuc k th e Draft" o n th e bac k o f hi s jacke t o n th e fac t tha t th e sentimen t s o expressed wa s his, an d thu s represente d a n exercis e o f Cohen' s libert y a s an individua l t o speak . Mclntyre' s leaflet , too , expresse d her individua l views, i n he r cas e a n opinio n rathe r than , a s wit h Cohen , a n emotion . While w e d o no t kno w Mclntyre' s nam e an d addres s whe n w e rea d he r anonymous leaflet , th e fac t i s that ther e is a n autho r — a human , free willed agen t whos e ow n view s ar e bein g expresse d an d whos e freedom to spea k i s therefore bein g exercised . Much advertising , i n contrast , reflect s th e expressio n o f a n organiza tion alone , speakin g onl y fo r th e organization , no t fo r th e individual s i t comprises. Likewise , muc h politica l advertisin g reflect s th e view s o f a campaign organizatio n a s a n organization , no t o f th e individuals , a s individuals, wh o belon g t o it ; not , even , o f th e candidat e fo r who m i t speaks. Indeed, th e mos t strikin g characteristi c o f speec h produce d b y a political campaign i s that i t quite explicitly does not spea k fo r itself , even as an organization, bu t fo r anothe r (th e candidate), who i n turn doe s no t vouch fo r th e speec h a s hi s o r he r own . Thi s i s a n endles s circl e o f anonymity. The political campaign contributio n possesse s a similar qual ity, for th e contributio n itsel f i s not th e contributor' s speech ; it is instea d a paymen t t o suppor t speec h b y someon e else , who i n tur n speak s a s a n agent o f th e contributor, no t fo r hersel f o r himself . The Cour t carefull y distinguishe d Mclntyre' s cas e fro m these , "no t deciding," i t said , "whethe r th e Firs t Amendment' s protectio n o f corpo rate speec h i s coextensive wit h th e protectio n i t afford s t o individuals, "

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and observin g tha t "eve n thoug h mone y ma y 'talk, ' it s speech i s less . . . personal" tha n Mclntyre's . Behin d thes e judiciou s qualification s Beck ett's haunting quer y can b e vaguely discerned : Is someone speaking ? Can w e say , drawin g o n Justic e Harlan' s principl e o f individua l lib erty to speak , that th e corporate ad , the political campaig n message , an d the campaign contribution s ar e not, really, cases of anonymou s speech — cases, in other words, where someone i s speaking though he r o r his iden tity i s unknown ? Ar e the y instea d case s i n whic h ther e i s no author at all} An d i f ther e i s no autho r — no individua l huma n bein g expressin g his or her own fre e will—ca n th e "speech " b e described i n any meaning ful sens e a s the product o f freedom ? In Margaret Mclntyre' s cas e the Court' s answe r is , at best , implicit: t o be full y protecte d i n it s freedom , th e Cour t implies , speec h mus t hav e a speaker, a n author . Bu t the precis e meanin g o f thi s principle an d it s con crete implication s coul d b e lef t unaddresse d i n Mclntyre' s case . Mar garet Mclntyr e wa s not , afte r all , a political actio n committe e bu t a rea l person. Th e har d wor k o f chartin g ne w boundarie s unde r th e Firs t Amendment woul d occu r i n othe r cases , to whic h w e will turn later . For now , however , w e wil l hav e t o abid e th e ambiguou s distinction s upon whic h th e Cour t reste d it s decisio n i n Margare t Mclntyre' s case . Hers was a n exercis e in freedom o f speech , her righ t t o expres s he r opinion abou t trut h withou t identifyin g herself . Lef t fo r anothe r da y wer e cases involvin g claim s o f anonymit y i n work s o f fictio n an d work s o f fact. Lef t als o fo r anothe r da y was a fuller explanatio n o f th e distinctio n between authorshi p an d identity ; betwee n Margare t Mclntyre' s anony mous leaflet , whic h possesse s a n autho r bu t n o identity , an d anonymou s political advertisement s an d campaig n contributions , whic h posses s a n identity but , perhaps, no author . Left fo r anothe r day , in short, were fundamenta l question s abou t wha t we mea n b y th e ter m "author " an d it s relationshi p t o th e freedo m o f speech protecte d b y the Firs t Amendment. I n addressin g them , th e Cour t will hav e to confron t th e parado x a t th e hear t o f Beckett' s query : "Wha t matter who' s speaking , someon e said , what matte r who' s speaking? " Margaret Mclntyr e di d not liv e to experience he r victory. But in the gritt y determination tha t marke d he r life , sh e lef t a legacy . In fact , sh e lef t tw o legacies. The first i s the affirmation o f her right—and thu s our right—t o speak ou r mind s freel y and , i f w e choose , anonymously . Th e secon d

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legacy i s th e beginnin g o f a deepe r u n d e r s t a n d i n g o f w h a t i s m e a n t b y "the freedo m o f speech " protecte d unde r th e Firs t Amendment . M a r g a r e t Mclntyr e woul d b e pleased .

ADDITIONAL READIN G

C. Edwin Baxer, Human Liberty and Freedom of Speech (1989) . Anne Well s Branscomb , "Anonymity , Autonomy , an d Accountability : Chal lenges t o th e Firs t Amendmen t i n Cyberspace, " 10 4 Yale Law Journal 163 9 (1995)Joseph Raz , "Fre e Expressio n an d Persona l Identification, " n Oxford Journal of Legal Studies 30 3 (1991) . Steven H. Shiffrin , The First Amendment, Democracy, and Romance (1990) .

Story Three

The Corporatio n an d the Candidat e

(Austin v. Michigan State Chamber of Commerce, 494 U.S. 652 (1990))

In Americ a th e speec h marketplac e i s populated a s muc h b y corporations a s b y individuals . Procte r & Gambl e speak s t o u s abou t detergents; Mobil speak s to u s about energ y policy and th e environment ; and throug h campaig n contribution s an d PACs , corporations rangin g from IB M t o th e ACL U spea k t o u s with increasin g frequenc y abou t th e political candidate s fo r who m w e shoul d cas t ou r ballots . This, it seems , is th e America n way—jus t as , i n th e ol d day s befor e Honda , Nissan , and others , i t was ofte n said , "What' s goo d fo r Genera l Motor s i s goo d for America. " But whe n Genera l Motor s speaks , wh o i s really speaking ? I s speec h by Genera l Motor s differen t fro m speec h b y othe r corporation s an d organizations, suc h a s th e ACLU , th e NAACP , o r th e UAW ? An d wh y should Genera l Motors ' speec h b e les s valuabl e tha n Donal d Trump' s speech, eve n when the y ar e sayin g th e very sam e thing? Thes e questions , interestingly enough , wer e a t th e cente r o f th e Suprem e Court' s ora l argument i n a cas e involvin g Richar d Bandstra , a candidat e fo r th e Michigan Hous e o f Representatives , an d th e Michigan Stat e Chambe r o f Commerce, whic h wante d t o endors e him . Th e stor y behin d th e cas e concerns speec h tha t ha s n o speaker . I t i s not a stor y abou t speec h tha t has n o identifie d speaker—speec h tha t claim s n o speake r bu t ha s on e hiding behin d a vei l o f anonymity , a s wit h Margare t Mclntyre' s anony mous leaflet . I t i s instead a stor y abou t speec h tha t claim s a speake r bu t in fac t ma y hav e non e — no poin t o f origi n i n a perso n wh o qualifie s under th e Firs t Amendmen t a s a speaker . I t i s a story , i n short , abou t speech b y corporations .

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The Corporation and the Candidate

The stor y presse s the questio n lef t ambiguou s i n Margaret Mclntyre' s case, th e questio n pose d b y Samue l Beckett' s hauntin g query : "Wha t matter who' s speaking , someon e said , wha t matte r who' s speaking? " Must speec h have a n "author, " an d mus t tha t author , a s Beckett implies , be "someone" —an individua l freel y expressin g hi s o r he r ow n views? If so, when , i f ever , ca n corporation s b e authors , o r Firs t Amendmen t speakers, when the y speak ? Before turnin g t o ou r story , som e preliminar y groundwor k mus t b e briefly laid . Specifically , fou r term s tha t wil l b e central t o th e stor y mus t be distinguished : "communication, " "speech, " "speaking, " an d "Firs t Amendment speech. " Fo r purpose s o f the First Amendment's freedo m o f speech, "speech " an d "communication " ar e no t th e sam e thing . Com munication ma y b e defined a s "a n ac t o r instanc e o f transmitting " infor mation, ideas , feelings, images , an d s o on. The ter m describe s a process , a phenomenon , onl y a subse t o f whic h consist s o f wha t w e cal l "speech." A bird' s son g communicates , bu t i t i s not speech . Thi s i s no t because th e bird' s song , whic h i s "communication, " i s inherently differ ent from , say , a Bac h suite , it s huma n counterpart . Th e differenc e instead reside s in the bird, not i n the song, for speec h resides only in people, a t leas t fo r purpose s o f the Firs t Amendment . But al l huma n act s o f speec h ar e no t protecte d b y th e Firs t Amend ment. Speech , i n othe r words , exclude s no t onl y wha t th e bir d sing s bu t also wha t som e peopl e say . Th e Suprem e Court , fo r example , tell s u s that obscenit y i s no t "speech " fo r purpose s o f th e Firs t Amendmen t because i t lack s "redeemin g socia l value, " appealin g onl y t o "prurien t interests." Thi s ca n hardl y b e sai d abou t th e bird' s song . Obscenity , therefore, i s "speech " bu t no t First Amendment speech —a furthe r sub set of speec h fallin g withi n th e protected ambi t o f th e Constitution . If speec h i s bu t a subse t o f communication , an d i f Firs t Amendmen t speech i s but a further subse t o f speech, what ar e the qualitie s that distin guish "Firs t Amendmen t speech " fro m "speech"—fro m othe r form s o f human communication ? Thi s i s th e questio n wit h whic h th e Suprem e Court wa s confronte d i n ou r story . Answerin g i t require d th e Cour t t o think abou t a fina l distinctio n betwee n "speech " an d "speaking. " I s "First Amendmen t speech " necessaril y tied , indee d limited , t o th e ac t o f "speaking," a distinctl y human ac t b y whic h fre e wil l an d individua l belief i s made manifest ? I f so , what abou t th e messag e communicate d b y a corporatio n — the Peps i ad , fo r example , tha t canno t b e trace d t o th e personal view s o f any person ? Wha t abou t speec h tha t ca n b e describe d

The Corporation and the Candidate I 6 1 only a s an endles s circl e o f anonymity , suc h a s the messag e purchase d b y a politica l campaign , spoke n no t fo r th e campaig n organizatio n itsel f bu t for th e candidate , wh o o f cours e disavow s (wher e convenient ) th e cam paign organization' s speec h a s not bein g his or her ow n bu t th e campaig n organization's? Whil e th e campaig n messag e i s admittedly communica tion, and i t is clearly "speech " i n the sense that it is of human origin , doe s it also fit within th e narrower categor y o f Firs t Amendment speech ? These questions aros e in a peculiar setting . Our stor y doe s not involv e anything s o romantic a s the bird' s song , so delicate a s a Bach suite , or s o politically charge d a s obscenit y o r pornography . I t concern s instea d a decision b y th e Michiga n Stat e Chambe r o f Commerc e t o purchas e a n advertisement supportin g a candidate , an d t o pa y fo r i t fro m th e cham ber's ow n funds . Bu t mundan e a s th e settin g o f ou r stor y is , the impor tance o f th e stor y an d th e Suprem e Court' s attentio n t o i t ca n hardl y b e underestimated. In tellin g th e stor y w e wil l rel y heavil y o n th e transcrip t o f ora l argu ment befor e th e Suprem e Court , fo r th e dram a an d intrigu e li e not i n th e facts o f th e stor y bu t i n th e quit e remarkabl e exchange s tha t too k plac e in th e Suprem e Court' s chamber . On e canno t understan d th e Suprem e Court's surprisin g decisio n i n th e case , o r th e profoun d impac t i t ma y have, without participatin g i n the proceedings tha t bega n a t exactly 1:0 0 P.M. o n Octobe r 31 , 1989. I t wa s Halloween , a fittin g day , perhaps , fo r the Cour t t o explor e Beckett' s hauntin g query : "Wha t matte r wh o speaks, someone said^ what matte r wh o speaks? " As Chie f Justic e Rehnquis t brough t th e courtroo m t o orde r an d announced th e case , Number 88-1569 , Richard H. Austin v. The Michigan State Chamber of Commerce, th e firs t lawye r t o th e podiu m wa s Louis J . Caruso , th e solicito r genera l o f th e Stat e o f Michigan . Mr . Caruso's burde n wa s t o defen d th e constitutionalit y o f th e Michiga n Campaign Financ e Act , firs t passe d i n 197 6 a s par t o f a wav e o f stat e campaign-reform legislatio n tha t swep t th e countr y i n th e wak e o f th e Federal Election s Campaig n Ac t o f 1971 . Michigan's la w contained a relatively uniqu e provision tha t prohibite d corporations fro m spendin g corporat e fund s t o expres s publi c endorse ment o r suppor t fo r candidate s fo r publi c office . Th e provisio n wa s a t once sweeping and limited . It applied t o al l corporations, large and small , profit an d nonprofit , privat e an d public. It did not, however, apply to an y other form s o f organization , suc h a s partnerships, associations , politica l

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action committees , o r th e mor e loosel y organize d group s tha t ofte n spring t o temporar y lif e t o pursu e a n ideolog y o r politica l agenda . No r did th e act' s prohibitio n appl y t o th e us e o f corporat e fund s i n connec tion with referend a o r othe r type s of election s that di d not involv e candi dates fo r publi c office . An d th e ac t lef t corporation s fre e t o lobby , t o make campaig n contributions , an d t o engag e i n a wide variet y o f othe r political activities ; they were even free t o organiz e effort s t o endorse can didates i n elections fo r publi c offic e a s long a s the fund s use d wer e sepa rately raise d fro m th e corporation' s membershi p fo r tha t purpose , wer e kept separat e fro m th e corporation' s genera l treasur y funds , an d wer e controlled b y th e shareholders , i f any , an d th e officer s an d managemen t of the corporation. Corporat e endorsemen t o f candidates with corporat e funds wa s the sol e target o f the Michigan law . While th e ac t ha d bee n i n effec t sinc e it s enactmen t i n 1976 , i t wa s not unti l th e summe r o f 198 5 tha t i t was challenged . Th e challeng e wa s brought b y the Michigan Stat e Chamber o f Commerce . The chamber i s a nonprofit corporatio n an d th e paren t organizatio n fo r th e variou s loca l chambers o f commerc e i n citie s throughou t Michigan . It s membershi p numbers abou t 8,000 , roughl y 2,00 0 o f whic h ar e individual s o r unin corporated entities ; the remaining 6,00 0 ar e corporations . A s an organi zation th e chamber' s purpose s ar e broad , rangin g fro m economi c development, education , an d th e encouragemen t o f ethica l busines s practices, to lobbying , disseminatin g it s views t o governmen t official s a t state an d loca l levels , an d activel y engagin g i n th e politica l proces s i n support o f it s agenda . In June o f 198 5 a special election was scheduled t o fil l a vacant sea t i n the Michigan Hous e o f Representatives. The Michigan Stat e Chamber o f Commerce ha d no t mad e a practic e o f sponsorin g it s ow n advertise ments i n suppor t o f legislativ e candidates , bu t thi s wa s a specia l case . The chambe r favore d th e Republica n candidate , Richar d Bandstra , whose view s wer e consisten t wit h thos e o f th e chamber . Perhap s a s important, th e specia l electio n gav e th e chambe r a n appealin g opportu nity i n th e politica l off-seaso n t o launc h a challeng e t o th e Michiga n Campaign Financ e Act. Complyin g with th e ac t through creatio n o f spe cial fund s o r politica l actio n committee s require d substantia l solicitatio n efforts tha t might , i n a genera l election , hav e t o b e duplicate d man y times i n variou s district s a s contributions wer e sough t fro m member s t o support thei r candidates . Th e specia l fun d arrangemen t als o mean t tha t the chamber' s advertisement s endorsin g candidate s coul d no t carr y th e

The Corporation and the Candidate I 6 3 name o f th e chambe r bu t would , instead , hav e t o b e sponsore d b y a political actio n committee , an d thu s th e chamber , itself , could no t spea k as an organization . As the June 198 5 midter m electio n approached , therefore , th e cham ber se t upo n it s cours e o f challengin g th e Michiga n act . Th e chambe r arranged t o plac e a pai d advertisemen t supportin g Bandstr a i n th e Grand Rapids Press. Th e ad' s headlin e rea d "Michiga n Need s Richar d Bandstra T o Help Us Be Job Competitiv e Again." It s contents focused o n the need to reduce workers' compensation cost s and t o roll back th e per sonal incom e ta x rate . Bandstra woul d wor k fo r bot h goals . The a d bor e the insigni a an d nam e o f th e Michiga n Stat e Chambe r o f Commerce . I t was schedule d fo r publicatio n o n June 9 , th e da y befor e th e election . I t never ran . The Michiga n ac t mad e th e chamber' s advertisemen t a felony punish able b y a fin e o f u p t o $5,00 0 o r imprisonmen t fo r u p t o thre e years , o r both. Th e chambe r ha d n o interes t i n becomin g a defendan t i n a crimi nal trial , o f course , s o a s soo n a s th e chambe r purchase d th e ad , bu t before i t was scheduled t o run, the chamber als o filed a lawsuit i n federa l court claimin g tha t th e act' s prohibitio n violate d th e Firs t Amendmen t and requestin g tha t th e judg e enjoi n enforcemen t o f th e ac t agains t th e chamber. Th e chamber' s strateg y wa s scuttled , however , whe n th e judg e refused t o enjoi n th e act' s enforcement , an d th e chamber (afte r cancelin g the ad ) wa s compelle d t o commenc e th e lon g proces s o f appea l tha t finally brough t it , o n Hallowee n o f 1989 , t o ora l argumen t befor e th e United State s Suprem e Court . As the beginning o f oral argumen t approached , bot h o f the lawyers wh o would addres s th e Cour t wer e ready , having worke d ou t thei r respectiv e strategies fo r presentin g their sid e of th e case. "Naming " th e chamber — giving i t a n identity , almos t a s a characte r i n a nove l i s given identity — served a s the metapho r fo r eac h side' s strategy . Th e lawye r fo r th e Stat e of Michiga n woul d tr y t o de-anthropomorphiz e th e chamber , describin g it a s " a nonprofi t membershi p corporation " sappe d o f huma n qualities , emphasizing it s abstrac t corporat e status , with al l th e baggag e o f accu mulated wealt h an d powe r tha t accompan y it , and focusin g o n th e diver sity, politica l an d otherwise , o f it s largel y corporat e membershi p an d interests. The chamber' s lawye r woul d tak e th e opposit e tack . H e woul d give the chamber huma n qualitie s b y describing it as a gathering togethe r of like-minde d peopl e workin g fo r a commo n cause , a n ideologica l

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organization forme d "fo r th e specifi c purpos e o f promotin g economi c development an d th e preservatio n an d enhancemen t o f th e America n enterprise system . Bot h th e purposes an d activitie s o f th e Stat e Chambe r of Commerce, " h e would declare , "ar e ideological"—an d political . As w e wil l see , thi s disput e ove r namin g th e chambe r wa s bu t on e level on which contendin g idea s of speec h an d speaker s were fough t out . For the state , the chamber wa s to b e seen as a corporation, a mere entity , an abstrac t creatur e o f stat e la w possessed o f no min d o r will of it s own . The chambe r sa w itself , i n contrast , a s a n organizatio n o f peopl e joine d together fo r ideologica l ends , gainin g strengt h fro m thei r numbers . "Organizations" don' t hav e ideologies ; people do . And s o th e struggl e fo r namin g th e chambe r — corporation o r peo ple—would serv e a s a surrogat e fo r th e deepe r debat e abou t whethe r the chambe r wa s a "speaker " fo r purpose s o f th e Firs t Amendment — whether i t was more lik e Bach o r mor e lik e the bird . As Carus o approache d th e podiu m an d face d th e nin e justices , h e kne w that h e woul d hav e bu t a fe w minute s t o stat e th e essenc e o f hi s argu ment befor e th e justices ' question s began . Hi s burde n wa s t o articulat e clearly th e reaso n Michiga n prohibite d corporation s fro m publicl y endorsing candidate s fo r office—t o defin e th e "evil " tha t th e la w wa s designed t o prevent , a s the Cour t ofte n put s it—an d t o explai n wh y th e breadth o f th e Michiga n la w wa s no t excessiv e bu t was , instead, limite d closely an d narrowl y t o thos e instance s i n which th e "evil " wa s likel y t o occur. Th e issu e o f th e act' s breadt h wa s critica l becaus e th e Firs t Amendment ha d lon g bee n interprete d t o requir e tha t law s restrictin g expression b e narrowl y confine d i n thei r reac h onl y t o problem s wit h which th e legislatur e i s justifiabl y concerned . T o preven t speec h tha t causes a rio t a t stree t corners , fo r example , a stat e canno t constitution ally prohibit all speech o n stree t corners . A law tha t sweep s to o broadl y catches within it s grasp other speec h that cannot b e restricted, thus limit ing th e freedo m o f othe r speakers , wh o ma y adop t a safe r cours e an d remain silen t i n th e fac e o f a la w tha t make s n o sens e i n thei r cas e bu t that literall y applie s to them . The purpos e o f th e Michiga n law , Carus o announce d a s he bega n hi s argument, was "th e prevention o f corruptio n an d th e appearanc e o f cor ruption i n th e electora l process , b y a legislativ e schem e aime d i n par t a t corporations [that ] reflects a legislative judgment tha t th e special charac teristics o f a corporation requir e particularl y carefu l regulation, " a judg ment, h e added , tha t i s entitled t o "deferenc e b y the Court. "

The Corporation and the Candidate I 6 5 With this , the question s fro m th e Cour t began . justice Sandra Day O'Connor: Wh y ar e labo r union s exclude d fro m the scheme , Mr . Caruso ? D o the y no t pos e som e o f th e sam e dan gers that corporat e expenditure s do ? Mr. Caruso: Justic e O'Connor , labo r union s ar e not exclude d a s such . If a labor unio n i s incorporated, i t is included. As a matter o f fact, I believe ther e ar e 2 2 majo r labo r union s i n th e Stat e o f Michiga n incorporated, includin g the [Michiga n Educatio n Association] , and they ar e included . [It would becom e clea r late r i n the argument , however , tha t per haps th e bigges t unions , suc h a s the Unite d Aut o Workers , an d th e unions whos e view s compete d mos t directl y wit h th e chamber's , were no t incorporate d an d wer e therefor e no t subjec t t o th e law. ] Mr. Carus o continued : An d wit h respec t t o no t includin g the m expressly,. . . this Cour t ha s said many times we defer t o legislativ e judgment a s to thos e entitie s tha t requir e regulation . Ther e ma y b e some entitie s tha t pos e th e sam e proble m an d th e sam e potentia l threat t o th e electora l proces s a s d o corporations , bu t w e defe r t o the legislativ e judgmen t i n thi s area , an d . . . perhaps a t som e par ticular tim e th e legislatur e ma y see fi t t o includ e labo r union s — labor union s [tha t are ] no t incorporated—bu t the y hav e no t don e so at thi s time . The argumen t Carus o wa s makin g require s som e further explanation . A law that restrict s some bu t not al l speech that presents a serious risk t o the electora l proces s i s ordinaril y treate d wit h suspicio n becaus e it s exemptions ma y disguis e a legislativ e preferenc e fo r som e idea s — the views o f labo r i n this case — over others—th e view s o f business . To prevent speec h tha t cause s a rio t a t stree t corners , for example , a stat e can not enac t a la w tha t prohibit s onl y riot-provokin g speec h tha t endorse s communism. I f i t did , w e woul d questio n whethe r th e state' s concer n was really communism , no t riots . The issu e raise d b y th e labo r unio n exemption , therefore , wa s no t that th e la w applie d to o broadl y but , instead , th e opposite . Th e la w failed t o reac h al l o f th e activitie s tha t presente d th e dange r o f corrup tion an d undu e influenc e t o whic h th e la w wa s directed . I t thu s raise d the questio n o f whethe r Michiga n wa s mor e concerne d abou t th e idea s corporations woul d expres s tha n th e corruptin g influenc e tha t larg e an d wealthy organization s migh t hav e o n th e political process .

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But question s abou t th e underinclusivenes s o f th e Michiga n la w wer e suspended fo r th e momen t a s Justice Antoni n Scalia , the Court' s tough est an d mos t aggressiv e questioner , turne d th e Court' s attentio n bac k t o the law' s overbreadt h wit h hi s question t o Solicito r Genera l Caruso : Justice Scalia: Genera l Caruso , why is there a greater risk to the polit ical proces s fo r a n independen t expenditur e b y a famil y corpora tion, a closely hel d corporatio n [with ] eigh t famil y member s [who ] want t o spen d th e corporation' s mone y fo r a particular candidat e whom the y think wil l favor thei r business ? T h a t . . . that i s prohibited b y thi s [law] . Bu t i f Donal d Trum p want s t o com e i n an d spend a s muc h mone y a s h e likes , that i s perfectly al l right . Wh y wouldn't i t mak e muc h mor e sense , i f yo u ar e worrie d abou t th e problem, to establis h a n amoun t o f mone y a s the criterion ? Mr. Caruso: Well , the Cour t ha s [said ] that corporation s ar e given b y state authoritie s certai n benefit s b y virtu e o f th e corporat e form . They ar e give n certai n benefit s i n respec t o f liability , certai n bene fits i n respec t o f taxes , certain benefit s i n respec t o f perpetua l life . And wha t th e Cour t ha s see n i n th e past , . . . the legislatur e ha s seen . . . and ha s provided agains t thei r takin g advantag e o f that — [of] thos e particula r advantage s give n t o corporation s an d turnin g them int o a n advantag e i n the electora l proces s an d i n the politica l arena. Now , thi s Cour t ha s sai d tha t th e legislature' s judgmen t i n this are a i s one that w e will defe r to . The weaknesse s i n Caruso' s foundation s wer e beginnin g t o show . I n his respons e t o Scalia' s questio n abou t Donal d Trump , Carus o ha d shifted subtl y fro m defendin g a la w designe d t o roo t ou t corruptio n t o defending th e law as a quid pro quo , the price to be paid b y corporation s for thei r preferre d statu s i n othe r areas . Thi s wa s a dangerou s lin e o f argument, a s wil l becom e evident , fo r b y suc h logi c a perso n wh o receives Medicar e fund s fro m th e governmen t coul d b e require d t o giv e up som e o f he r o r hi s freedo m o f speec h i n exchang e fo r receivin g gov ernment benefits . Perhaps detectin g th e weaknes s o f hi s argument , Carus o attempte d t o disguise the argumen t i n a second argument : that th e Court , a nonelecte d branch o f government , shoul d defe r t o th e judgmen t o f th e electe d branch. Bu t o f cours e thi s argument , too , was dangerou s (eve n thoug h instinctively appealin g to an increasingly conservative Court) , for i f take n

The Corporation and the Candidate I 6 7 too fa r i t would rea d th e Firs t Amendment righ t ou t o f th e Constitution . The poin t o f th e Firs t Amendment , afte r all , i s to restric t wha t govern ment can do , including the democraticall y electe d legislativ e branch . But Carus o wa s save d th e embarrassmen t o f Justice Scalia' s rejoinde r by Justice Anthony Kennedy , wh o interjecte d an d onc e agai n shifte d th e topic to a n entirel y differen t area . Caruso , we might imagine , was begin ning to get dizz y from th e rapidly shiftin g line s of questions . Justice Kennedy: Wel l . . . le t m e as k this . Everyone concedes , I tak e it, tha t a n expenditur e i n a n electio n — a direc t expenditur e — is speech. It is speech we ar e talking about , a n expenditur e . . . ? Mr. Caruso: Yes , that i s correct, Justice Kennedy . Justice Kennedy: An d I take i t tha t th e Stat e mus t establis h a com pelling interest t o restrict tha t speech ? [In referring t o a "compellin g interest, " Kenned y i s referring t o the requirement that , with stat e regulation o f speech, as opposed t o conduct, th e Firs t Amendmen t require s mor e tha n th e ordinar y level o f justification . Ther e mus t b e a compelling, a s distinguishe d from a simpl y legitimate , o r everyda y kin d o f interes t bein g serve d by a restriction o n speech. ] Mr. Caruso: Tha t i s correct . Justice Kennedy: An d th e mean s [referrin g t o th e law' s prohibitions ] are to b e narrowly tailore d [an d no t overbroa d o r underinclusive] . [To this Carus o nod s hi s assent, thoug h perhap s i n trepidation. ] Justice Kennedy: Al l right . The n . . . i t seem s t o m e tha t Justic e Scalia's questio n indicate s tha t yo u hav e t o giv e a specifi c reaso n why a [family ] corporatio n . . . presents mor e o f a dange r tha n Donald Trump , and I didn't reall y hear a n answe r t o that question . Mr. Caruso [returning now to very dangerous ground]: Th e com pelling interes t i s the fac t tha t [corporations ] hav e bee n give n cer tain advantage s b y the stat e legislatur e fo r othe r purposes . Question: Well , that's no t a n interest . Mr. Caruso: Well , it's the fact , th e fact . . . Question: That' s no t a n interest , tha t i s just a rationale . . . that's jus t a rational e fo r th e legislativ e exercis e o f power . Tha t i s no t a n interest. A n interest i s an evi l that ha s to b e corrected . Mr. Caruso: Th e evi l i s . . . that b y virtu e o f th e fac t tha t the y ar e incorporated, corporation s . . . gain a n advantage , an d the y ar e able to amas s grea t wealt h i n the economi c spher e . . .

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Question: Bu t you hav e just bee n p u t . .. a hypothetical wher e tha t i s not th e case ! Mr. Caruso: No t i n th e famil y corporatio n case , that i s true. Bu t i n the traditiona l corporation s i t i s true. Thi s Cour t ha s sai d [i n ear lier cases ] tha t th e bi g corporations a s well a s thos e les s fortunat e are nevertheles s — may com e withi n th e prohibitio n becaus e w e refer — defer t o th e legislativ e judgment . [The Court' s question s no w begi n t o evinc e increasin g frustra tion fro m th e bench. ] Question: But , but . . . . That doe s no t soun d t o me—tha t doe s no t sound t o me like a compelling interest , an d i t does not soun d t o m e like [th e la w i s being subjecte d t o an y significant ] scrutiny . Tha t i s just legislativ e deference . Caruso no w attempt s t o shif t awa y fro m th e qui d pr o qu o rational e to th e potentia l o f corruptio n an d unfai r influenc e corporat e expendi tures pose for elections . But in doing so he pays a terrible price, exchanging haunting doubt s raise d b y the famil y corporatio n fo r devastatio n t o be wreaked b y the ACL U (th e America n Civi l Libertie s Union , o f whic h certain politician s mus t fro m tim e t o tim e swea r not t o b e a card-carry ing member, an d whic h wa s treate d jus t lik e th e Chambe r o f Commerc e under th e Michigan law) . In his faltering presentatio n Mr . Carus o show s signs o f impendin g crisis . Mr. Caruso: Tha t i s . . . the fac t i s that th e evi l i s a potentia l o f cor ruption, o f injectin g monie s tha t hav e bee n generate d throug h th e corporate proces s i n th e economi c spher e t o effec t a n equal—t o unequal a playing fiel d i n the political arena . And tha t i s what th e . . . what i s aime d at . Now , historically , corporation s [have ] bee n regulated. . . . [Caruso wa s tryin g t o shift th e focu s an d plac e Michigan' s la w in th e large r historica l contex t o f Michigan' s regulatio n o f corpo rate activities . Bu t th e Cour t woul d hav e non e o f it , an d i t bor e in—hard.] Question: A s I understand . . . this statute , i f a candidat e Smit h ha s been a member o f the Ku Klux Klan, the ACLU cannot tak e ou t a n advertisement explainin g tha t fac t an d askin g peopl e t o vot e fo r Jones. O r a m I incorrect? Ca n th e ACL U d o that , th e ACL U bein g a nonprofi t corporation ?

The Corporation and the Candidate I 6 9 Mr. Caruso: Th e ACLU? I don't kno w whethe r the y ar e . . . Question: I t is a nonprofit corporation . Mr. Caruso: . . . nonprofit corporation . I f the y d o no t com e withi n the exceptio n tha t ha s bee n cas t b y thi s Cour t [i n a n earlie r cas e involving a right to life organizatio n tha t coul d not , the Cour t said , be restricted i n its campaign activities] , I would sa y that tha t prohi bition . . . yes . . . unless the y di d i t throug h a segregate d fun d [ a separate PAC] . Now, th e fac t i s that ther e ar e . . . Question: I find i t ver y har d t o se e tha t th e fac t tha t the y ca n mak e this expenditur e throug h a fun d i n an y wa y reall y mitigate s th e evil, but i t certainly doe s diminis h th e message . I am no t intereste d in what a PAC says. I am intereste d i n what th e ACLU says . Mr. Caruso: Th e thin g o f i t is , the segregate d fund , the y ca n d o this , simply becaus e th e mone y contribute d t o a separat e fun d i s mone y given for politica l purposes . Now, i f we are permitting thes e corpo rations t o us e fund s tha t hav e bee n generate d fo r anothe r purpos e into th e politica l arena , w e ar e causing what th e . . . this Cour t ha s . . . what th e legislatur e believe s to b e a potential threa t t o th e eco nomic marke t . . . o r [rather ] t o th e politica l marketplac e — and causing a n unfai r advantag e t o corporation s ove r privat e parties . I would respect . . . . [Justice O'Connor , wh o bega n the question s b y asking about th e labor unio n exception , no w break s i n an d inquire s abou t anothe r exception.] justice O'Connor: Mr . Caruso , ther e i s some kin d o f a medi a excep tion i n th e statute . Ca n a corporatio n publis h somethin g tha t would includ e som e candidat e endorsemen t an d sel l i t a s a maga zine or distribut e it , an d fal l unde r th e medi a exception ? Mr. Caruso: Ther e i s a medi a exception , bu t tha t medi a exception , Justice O'Connor , ha s t o d o specificall y wit h new s stories , com mentaries, editorials , an d th e regula r cours e o f publicatio n an d broadcasting. . . . I think [ordinar y corporation s no t i n th e medi a business] woul d b e precluded b y thi s statute . . . . [But ] i f the y ar e incorporated and i t is a news media [corporation] , . . . they ma y b e able to d o that . Justice O'Connor: Wh y doesn' t tha t distor t th e electora l process ? Mr. Caruso [fairly twisting in the wind of the Court's rapid-fire and constantly shifting questions, responds simply, and perhaps with a certain disbelief]: Pardon ?

jo I

The Corporation and the Candidate

Justice O'Connor: Wh y doesn' t tha t distor t th e electora l process ? I find i t difficul t t o se e what th e evi l being drive n a t her e is . When i t is a contributio n t o th e candidat e yo u ca n say , well, som e candi dates just have too muc h mone y a t their disposal . Mr. Caruso: Well , the fac t i s t h a t. . . Justice O'Connor: Bu t her e th e onl y evil , a s I understand it , i s tha t there wil l b e to o muc h speec h o n on e sid e o f th e issue , funded b y vast amounts o f money. Is that right? We distrust too much speech ? Mr. Caruso: Well , I wouldn't pu t i t tha t quit e way . We [don't? ] mis trust to o muc h speech , bu t th e thing o f i t is they get . . . Justice O'Connor: Well . . . how els e would yo u pu t it ? [Caruso i s no w i n ver y dee p trouble , slidin g downwar d an d grasping wildly fo r a handhold. H e grope s for a n answer. ] Mr. Caruso: The y ge t speech , the y ar e abl e t o ge t a grea t dea l o f speech, an d perhap s ver y effective speech , b y virtue o f th e fac t tha t the state has given them a n advantag e . . . and put—and direc t thi s thing towar d th e . . . i n th e electora l process , which . . . which th e legislature ha s see n fo r man y year s t o prohibi t . . . even thoug h they recogniz e . . . there ar e othe r entitie s tha t perhap s pos e a s much a dange r o r a greate r dange r tha n corporation s do . Bu t nev ertheless, the fac t i s that th e . . . Question: Dange r o f what ? [H]er e w e ar e talkin g abou t whethe r a corporation, jus t lik e a privat e individual , ca n g o ou t an d expres s to th e publi c tha t corporation' s view , with , I assume , indicatio n that thi s i s the view of Genera l Motors . Mr. Caruso: Tha t i s right. Question: So , you thin k tha t i s a threa t t o th e democrati c process , that th e stat e i s going t o b e swep t awa y b y ad s signe d b y Genera l Motors, o r whatever ? Mr. Caruso: Well , the thing o f i t is . . . here agai n . . . insofar a s mak ing contribution s [t o a candidate' s campaign ] i s concerne d an d independent expenditure s [fo r a n advertisemen t supportin g th e candidate] i s concerned , i n today' s societ y I don' t se e th e effec t being an y different . I n othe r words , thi s Cour t ha s prohibite d i n the past contributions b y corporations, bu t [i t has] not reached an d answered th e questio n o n independen t expenditures . Justice O'Connor: Quit e so . Mr. Caruso: Pardon ?

The Corporation and the Candidate I 7 1 Caruso seemed , onc e again , a bi t take n abac k b y th e justice' s too ready agreemen t wit h hi s argument . I t wa s i n fac t tru e tha t th e Cour t had uphel d restriction s o n campaig n contribution s i n th e past—b y individuals a s wel l a s corporations , i t shoul d b e said . Bu t tha t di d not , as Carus o wa s implying , mea n tha t restriction s o n corporation s pur chasing ad s supportin g candidate s wer e therefore constitutional . Indeed, th e Cour t ha d earlie r conclude d tha t suc h independen t adver tisements purchase d b y individual s coul d not b e constitutionall y restricted. Caruso' s analog y di d no t wor k an d mor e importantl y faile d to suppl y a n affirmativ e justificatio n fo r th e Michiga n law . Th e collo quy continued . Mr, Caruso: Independen t expenditures , I believe , today , wit h th e political consultant s — they aboun d i n th e state s — and wit h th e sophisticated new s medi a w e hav e today , electroni c system s tha t we have, I think tha t money , independent expenditures , can b e very skillfully manipulate d i n suc h a way tha t i t would b e jus t a s muc h a benefi t t o tha t candidat e . . . a s contributions [are] . [The response (probably Justice Scalia's) was surprisingly acerbic]: Right. People are getting too much information. That' s the problem . Mr. Caruso: Pardon ? Question: Th e peopl e ge t to o muc h — they ge t talke d a t to o much . That i s an evil . Mr. Caruso: Th e evil is that the y get talked a t too muc h by—becaus e money ha s bee n made available . Question: Well , I don't car e why . What i s the evi l i n bein g talke d a t too much? I mean, I understand th e evil of giving money directl y t o a candidate . I t i s close, you know , i t could b e very clos e t o a bribe . But thi s i s not givin g mone y t o a candidate , i t i s just talking . An d you ar e sayin g that tha t i s an evil ? Mr. Caruso: It' s mor e tha n jus t a bribe . Heretofore . . . contribution s were prohibited o n th e basi s that ther e ' s a quid pr o qu o . . . which doesn't exis t in independent expenditures . [But ] I think that i t does. Nevertheless, th e fac t i s tha t th e corporation s hav e a n unfai r advantage i n the marketplace becaus e they ar e in a position o f gen erating monies . . . . Justice Scalia: [Ca n Michiga n prohibi t corporations ] fro m givin g contributions t o religiou s charities , to religions ?

7 2I

The Corporation and the Candidate

Mr. Caruso: Why , I suppos e i t can . I don't thin k tha t th e Michiga n Campaign Financ e Ac t prohibit s that . A s a matte r o f fact , th e Ac t permits corporation s t o mak e direc t expenditure s an d contribu tions without limi t to ballo t questions . Justice Kennedy: Ca n i t prohibi t corporation s fro m contributin g t o one party bu t no t t o another ? Mr. Caruso [again put off balance by the direction the questions were taking]: T o on e part y an d no t t o another ? I wouldn't thin k so . I don't thin k the y shoul d b e permitted t o contribute t o any party . Justice Kennedy: I suppose you would thin k tha t th e legislatur e coul d prohibit th e nonprofi t corporatio n fro m publishin g a journa l then—[like] th e American Medica l Associatio n Journal ? Mr. Caruso: T o do—to sa y what ? Justice Kennedy: Well , if corporations ca n b e regulated, i f there is too much speech , i f tha t i s a n evil , wh y can' t th e stat e prohibi t th e American Medica l Associatio n fro m publishin g it s monthl y jour nal? Mr. Caruso: I don' t believ e the y ca n prohibi t that . Tha t i s no t th e issue here. The issu e here, Justice Kenned y . . . Justice Kennedy: Well , you're sayin g . . . that corporation s hav e to o much power , tha t ther e i s too muc h speech , tha t thi s i s an evil , th e corporations gathe r a great dea l o f money , that the y ar e create d b y the state . Therefor e w e [th e Courts ] giv e legislativ e deference . Al l of thos e argument s ca n b e mad e t o suppor t th e propositio n tha t the A M A journal—that th e ACL U newsletter—ough t t o b e regu lated b y the state . The ACL U ha d com e u p again , an d i t wa s no t a happ y hypothetica l for Caruso . Notwithstanding th e Michigan act' s broad language , the la w was clearl y directe d a t th e traditiona l for m o f busines s corporation , an d the Stat e o f Michigan—a s wel l a s Carus o — seemed t o hav e littl e inter est i n wrestlin g wit h publi c interes t group s lik e th e ACLU . Thi s mus t have seeme d a deliciou s dilemm a t o a conservativ e Court , an d Justice s Kennedy, O'Connor , an d Scali a jumpe d a t th e chanc e t o ru b i t in . Caruso attempte d t o wiggle out . Mr. Caruso: Bu t not i n . . . i n candidate election s i s what w e ar e talk ing about. No t anythin g othe r tha n candidat e elections . [But the justice s would no t le t him escape. ]

The Corporation and the Candidate I 7 3 Justice Kennedy: W e ar e talkin g abou t a matter o f principle ! And w e are asking you t o tell us what th e evi l is in the speec h th e nonprofi t corporations presen t i n electio n campaigns . An d al l o f th e com ments you hav e made s o far woul d equall y suppor t th e propositio n that yo u ca n prohibi t th e publicatio n o f [th e ACLU's ] monthl y newspaper, o r prohibi t [corporations ] fro m givin g t o churches , a s Justice Scali a asked , o r tha t yo u ca n requir e the m t o giv e money t o one party an d no t t o th e other . Mr. Caruso: I don' t kno w o f anythin g lik e tha t bein g i n th e Cam paign Financ e Act. . . . Question: An d th e ACLU ? Mr. Caruso: Th e ACLU , tha t i s . . . The ACL U ma y com e withi n th e exception . . . i f it is a political actio n grou p . . . . Question: Hav e yo u rea d th e amicu s brief s i n thi s case ? [Amicu s briefs ar e writte n argument s file d wit h th e Cour t b y person s an d organizations tha t ar e no t partie s t o a cas e bu t wil l b e directl y affected b y its outcome. ] Mr. Caruso: Pardon ? Question: Th e ACLU has file d a n amicu s brie f i n this case. Have yo u read it ? Mr. Caruso: Yes . Question: Don' t the y indicat e . . . that the y tak e corporat e contribu tions, an d therefor e the y d o no t qualif y unde r [ou r earlie r decisio n in the right t o lif e cas e for a n exemption ] ? Mr. Caruso: I f that i s the case , if that i s correct, the n I suggest. . . Question: Well , d o yo u hav e an y reaso n t o doub t tha t wha t they'v e said i s correct? Mr. Caruso: No , I have no . . . no . . . Question: Al l right, then th e ACLU doesn't qualif y unde r tha t case . [Mr. Carus o proceed s t o di g himself a deeper hole. ] Mr. Caruso: The n I would sa y that— I woul d sa y tha t th e ACLU , i f they tak e corporat e contributions , i f the y ge t involve d i n th e elec toral process , the y ar e a condui t fo r thos e corporation s t o pu t money int o th e electora l process . [And then th e Cour t let s him slid e to it s bottom. ] Question: Isn' t i t true that th e ACLU is a membership, nonprofit cor poration? Mr. Caruso: Yes . Question: Tha t i s a little differen t fro m Genera l Motors , isn' t it ?

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Mr. Caruso: It' s totally differen t [from ] Genera l Motors . Question: Ho w doe s i t compar e wit h th e Michiga n Chambe r o f Commerce? Mr. Caruso: Pardon ? Question: I mean, we'r e talkin g abou t a nonprofi t membershi p cor poration o n th e on e hand , versu s a profit-making corporatio n lik e General Motors , o n th e other . Ho w abou t th e Michiga n Chambe r of Commerce , which i s the corporatio n involve d here ? Mr. Caruso: Th e Michiga n Chambe r o f Commerce , I woul d say , looking a t i t o n a spectru m . . . comes someplac e i n between , an d we sugges t close r t o Genera l Motors . . . . [T]he y hav e bee n estab lished b y busines s corporations , the y hav e a n 8,00 0 membership , 75 percen t o f thos e member s ar e busines s corporations . . . . They have . . . a ver y soun d financia l resourc e t o dra w on . . . . Th e Chamber i s in a situatio n wher e the y ca n hav e a seriou s impac t o n the political process . Justice Scalia: B y which yo u mea n a lot o f speech ? Mr. Caruso: Well , i f tha t i s th e wa y yo u wan t t o cas t it , Justic e Scalia — a lot o f speech— I suppos e tha t i s true. But i t is . . . Justice Scalia: Bu t no othe r thin g that yo u ar e directin g thi s narrowl y at excep t tha t they'l l hav e too muc h speech ? [No response . Justic e Scali a repeat s th e questio n — for whic h there is , of course , but on e answer : submission. ] Justice Scalia: I mean, ther e i s no othe r elemen t o f a corporation tha t accounts fo r th e legislature' s restrictio n here , excep t fo r th e fac t that the y will have a lot of—o f politica l speech ? Mr. Caruso: The y hav e a ver y . . . their presenc e — a corporation' s presence i n th e politica l marketplac e i s very formidable . Jus t th e very presence i s formidable . Mr. Caruso' s caree r wit h th e cas e is now al l bu t finished . H e ha s bee n placed in a box from whic h there is no escape. If the Court insists that th e State o f Michiga n hav e a clear, articulable , an d compelling—eve n sub stantial—justification fo r it s law prohibiting endorsement s o f candidate s by corporations, an d tha t th e la w catc h i n its grasp n o mor e speec h tha n fits th e justification, bu t al l o f th e speec h tha t does , the cas e i s lost. Eve n accepting th e state' s mushy theor y abou t corporat e wealt h an d to o muc h corporate speech— a justificatio n fa r remove d fro m th e theme s o f cor ruption an d undue influence wit h which Carus o began—th e example s o f

The Corporation and the Candidate I j$ the labor unions , the family businesses , the AMA, and, worst, th e ACL U make a shamble s o f th e law' s rationality . Th e state' s argumen t ha s bee n utterly devastated . I t is so full o f holes that i t is no longe r identifiable . It was a t thi s point, whe n eve n t o Carus o i t may hav e seeme d tha t al l was lost , tha t a softball—a n easy , leading question , a han d extende d a s a means of escape—was tendered . And it came from a surprising source : Chief Justice Rehnquist . Bu t a littl e diggin g would revea l tha t th e sourc e was not al l that surprising , for th e chief justic e was no proponent o f cor porate fre e speech . Beginnin g wit h a lon e dissen t i n a little-know n bu t fascinating cas e decide d i n 1986 , involvin g a publi c utilit y company' s claim tha t it s free speec h wa s violate d b y a requirement tha t i t includ e a public interes t group's messag e abou t energ y conservation i n its monthl y billings, Rehnquist ha d begu n t o stak e ou t hi s ow n positio n tha t corpo rations ar e no t Firs t Amendmen t speakers . Th e extensio n o f th e Firs t Amendment's protectio n t o speec h b y corporations base d o n "individua l freedom o f conscience, " h e said , "strain s th e rational e . . . beyond th e breaking point . T o ascrib e t o suc h artificia l entitie s a n 'intellect ' o r 'mind' . . . i s to confus e metapho r wit h reality. " The escap e Chie f Justic e Rehnquis t offere d t o Carus o le d i n a direc tion differen t fro m tha t whic h Carus o ha d take n thu s far . I t shifte d th e focus fro m th e state's justifications fo r restrictin g protecte d speec h to th e dramatically differen t questio n o f whethe r th e chamber' s advertisemen t was speec h at all. If it was not speec h protected b y the First Amendment , all o f th e fussin g abou t hypothetica l case s b y Justices O'Connor , Scalia , and Kenned y woul d b e irrelevant , fo r whe n th e stat e regulate s non speech activity , i t need s littl e b y way o f justificatio n o r narro w tailorin g to satisf y th e demand s o f th e Constitution ; i t can , i n short , enac t slopp y and mess y laws . The chief justice' s questio n seem s gentle, almost understated , pointin g the way ou t o f the dilemm a bu t lettin g Carus o discove r th e answer . Chief Justice Rehnquist: Isn' t on e o f th e reason s yo u ar e urgin g wh y corporations lik e this were treated differently—o r could b e treate d differently fro m individuals—tha t th e stockholder s o f th e membe r corporations coul d fin d thei r fund s pu t t o use s tha t the y ha d no t intended? Mr. Caruso: Tha t i s exactly right . A s I have mentione d earlier , Jus tice—Mr. Chie f Justice—tha t thes e monie s tha t ar e pu t i n b y th e stockholders b y way o f investment s [are ] fo r economi c benefi t an d

j 6I

The Corporation and the Candidate economic gain, to earn profits. An d they certainly d o not anticipat e those monie s bein g use d i n th e — to — in th e electora l proces s t o urge th e electio n o f a particula r candidate . An d the y [th e stock holders] hav e fre e speec h rights . Their fre e speec h right s migh t b e violated b y the fac t tha t th e corporatio n i s going ou t an d spendin g monies [tha t have ] bee n pu t i n for othe r purposes .

The clea r implicatio n o f the chie f justice' s questio n ha d bee n that cor porations don' t speak ; thei r stockholders , a s individuals , do . But fo r th e stockholders t o spea k throug h th e corporation , the y mus t kno w wha t i s being said o n thei r behalf , and agre e with it . Unfortunately, b y this poin t Caruso wa s apparentl y to o fa r disoriente d b y the flurr y o f earlie r ques tions t o reall y gras p th e question . H e ma y hav e bee n awar e tha t hi s tim e was—thankfully—short, perhap s eve n anxiousl y awaitin g th e re d ligh t that woul d signa l th e imminen t en d o f hi s argument , hi s ordeal . Hi s answer starte d ou t fin e bu t quickl y too k a wron g turn , veerin g towar d the free speec h rights o f the stockholder s rathe r tha n th e inability o f cor porations, a s entitie s distinc t fro m — and no t reflectin g th e individua l views of—thei r member s o r stockholders , t o engag e i n Firs t Amend ment speech . The chie f justic e thanke d Carus o fo r hi s argument , whic h i s custom ary for th e Court , an d invite d hi m t o b e seated. Carus o n o doub t lef t th e podium wit h relief , an d certainl y wit h gratitud e tha t th e relentles s ques tioning was finall y concluded . Di d Caruso , who ha d bee n s o badly pum meled, ye t realiz e th e favo r th e chie f justic e ha d extende d him , th e helping han d offered—to o late , perhaps, just a s the time allotte d fo r hi s argument cam e to a n end ? If Caruso had a hard tim e o f it before th e Court , the same cannot b e said of hi s opponent , Richar d D . McLellan , o f Lansing , Michigan , wh o argued o n behal f o f the Michigan Stat e Chambe r o f Commerce . His bur den wa s t o anthropomorphiz e th e chamber , t o giv e it a n identity , eve n a personality an d syste m o f beliefs , t o mak e i t a First Amendmen t speake r rather tha n a n abstract , impersonal , artificia l entit y create d b y th e stat e and treate d a s a lega l "person " onl y becaus e o f a lega l fiction . Mr . McLellan's argumen t wa s smooth , self-confident , rarel y visibl y per turbed b y unanticipated questions ; a model o f ora l argument . In Caruso' s defense , i t shoul d b e sai d tha t defendin g a statute' s con stitutionality i s alway s muc h mor e difficul t tha n challengin g it , jus t a s

The Corporation and the Candidate I 7 7 the affirmativ e sid e o f a n argumen t i s more difficul t tha n th e negative . Caruso wa s saddle d wit h th e ac t th e Michiga n legislatur e ha d passe d i n 1976. I t wa s no t a prett y act , bu t h e wa s no t fre e t o chang e it , an d h e had t o defen d i t i n al l o f it s applications , wart s an d all . McLellan , o n the othe r hand , coul d shap e hi s argumen t aroun d a coheren t theor y o f his own design , an d i f faul t line s appeared , h e coul d shif t nimbl y t o other ground s fo r doubtin g th e law' s validity . McLella n kne w tha t suc h flexibility wa s hi s greates t asset , an d tha t it s absenc e wa s Caruso' s greatest liability . But McLellan als o knew somethin g else : while his argument woul d b e the easie r t o make , hi s case would b e the harde r t o win . Fro m case s th e Court ha d recentl y decided , h e knew tha t h e could coun t o n th e vote s of only thre e justices : Kennedy , O'Connor , an d Scalia . Eve n thei r vote s were far fro m certain , bu t thei r combine d an d almos t coordinated attac k on Carus o n o doub t gav e McLella n a greate r measur e o f confidence . McLellan's burden , then, was to gather th e votes of two o f the remainin g justices, eac h o f who m i n on e wa y o r anothe r ha d expresse d view s a t odds with th e chamber' s claim . Chief Justice Rehnquist , o f course , had expresse d hi s disdai n fo r free dom o f speec h b y corporations i n th e earlie r publi c utilit y case . Justices Brennan an d Marshall , th e tw o remainin g justice s fro m th e Warre n Court o f th e 1960s , ha d supporte d federa l an d stat e law s restrictin g campaign speec h bu t ha d draw n th e lin e on government' s powe r t o limi t such speec h i n a ver y recen t cas e involvin g Massachusett s Citizen s fo r Life, a nonprofi t grou p whos e ideologica l missio n wa s deeme d suffi ciently clea r an d pervasiv e tha t th e corporation' s speec h coul d b e trace d to th e view s o f it s member s a s individuals , an d therefor e coul d no t b e restricted. Justice Blackmun , too , ha d joine d tha t opinion . H e wa s no w third i n seniorit y amon g th e justice s an d wa s widel y see n a s fittin g within th e diminishing liberal bloc k o f the Court , a t least in cases involv ing individual civi l liberties. Justices Steven s an d Whit e wer e th e "wil d cards " fo r McLellan . Their earlie r vote s fi t n o nea t ideologica l o r philosophica l pattern . Stevens tende d t o se e case s i n hi s own , an d ofte n idiosyncratic , way . White wa s th e consummat e pragmatist , les s concerne d abou t elegan t theory tha n abou t th e cold , har d fact s an d realitie s o f cases . S o i t wa s likely that McLella n ha d shape d hi s theory o f th e cas e aroun d th e view s of Steven s an d Whit e — a theor y restin g firml y o n th e premis e tha t th e chamber wa s a n organizationa l vehicl e b y which it s members expresse d

j 8I

The Corporation and the Candidate

their ideologica l views . This theor y require d tha t McLella n quickl y an d decisively—before th e question s began—giv e th e chambe r a differen t identity a s a speaker , a differen t name , fro m th e "corporation " labe l urged b y Caruso . McLellan wa s surel y awar e o f th e difficultie s h e face d a s h e approache d the podium an d bega n hi s argument : Mr. McLellan: Mr . Chie f Justice, and ma y i t please th e Court . The Michigan Stat e Chamber o f Commerce is a nonprofit Michi gan membership corporation . I t was organize d i n 195 9 fo r th e spe cific purpos e o f promotin g economi c developmen t an d th e preservation an d enhancemen t o f th e America n enterpris e system . Both th e purpos e an d th e activitie s o f th e stat e Chambe r o f Com merce are ideological. The state Chamber lobbie s in the state capita l on legislation . I t i s actively involve d i n ballo t questio n campaign s and referend a i n th e State . It educate s it s member s an d th e publi c with respec t t o publi c polic y issues . It maintain s a separat e segre gated fund fo r th e purpose o f making political contributions to can didates. And i t rates candidates o n a job provider index . But th e stat e Chambe r o f Commerc e doe s no t communicat e it s views to th e genera l publi c wit h respec t t o candidate s becaus e Sec tion 5 4 of the Michigan Campaig n Financ e Act makes it a felony . . . for th e Chambe r t o engag e in such communications . Question: Ca n i t communicate th e ratings ? Answer: I t cannot. Not i f those ar e in any way in support o f o r oppo sition to the election o f a candidate. [An d with the Chamber] , their purpose i n speakin g i s ideologica l an d i t i s designe d t o influenc e the electio n o r defea t o f a candidate . The groun d ha d bee n set . With th e eleganc e o f simplicity , McLella n had cas t th e chambe r a s a n ideologica l organization— a speake r wit h a viewpoint—that acte d directl y i n th e politica l proces s t o promot e tha t ideology o n behal f o f it s members , an d tha t mad e n o excuse s fo r it s expressed desir e t o influenc e th e cours e o f publi c affairs , includin g th e election o f publi c officials . Influenc e ove r election s wa s wha t th e cham ber sought. I t would no t res t it s claim o n it s lack o f influenc e bu t o n it s First Amendment righ t t o see k more influenc e throug h speech .

The Corporation and the Candidate I 79 McLellan wa s the n aske d abou t th e law' s exemptio n fo r unincorpo rated labo r unions . H e use d th e questio n t o emphasiz e furthe r tha t th e case involved a struggle o f ideologies , not o f entitie s o r money . Mr. McLellan: I n Michiga n th e politica l marketplac e i s largely char acterized b y the contes t betwee n th e force s o f organize d labo r an d business. An d th e Michiga n law , becaus e i t treat s th e Michiga n Chamber o f Commerc e differentl y tha n it s primar y adversaries , which wer e identifie d i n tria l a s th e Unite d Aut o Worker s an d th e AFL-CIO, thi s disparat e treatmen t create s . . . a disadvantag e t o the Michiga n Stat e Chambe r o f Commerc e i n carryin g ou t it s pur poses, whic h [are ] t o b e a politica l an d ideologica l organizatio n within th e Stat e o f Michigan . . . . Mr. Carus o an d th e Stat e hav e argued tha t th e amassin g o f wealt h i s the importan t stat e interest . And unions , particularly th e majo r labo r organization s i n the Stat e of Michigan , ar e able , becaus e o f thei r siz e an d thei r broa d mem bership bas e and th e specia l advantages they have under th e law, to amass substantia l wealth . Question: D o they do that through thei r ow n funds , o r do they set u p separate fund s fo r doin g that ? Mr. McLellan: I n Michiga n . . . they us e their genera l unio n treasur y funds. . . . In emphasizing th e resources o f unincorporate d union s an d thei r rela tive advantag e ove r th e chamber , McLella n wa s treadin g o n thi n ice , fo r he wa s comin g clos e t o acceptin g th e argument , b y makin g i t himself , that correctin g imbalance s i n the speec h marketplace cause d b y access t o resources wit h whic h t o spea k migh t justif y governmen t regulation . This, o f course , was simpl y on e for m o f th e state' s argument . Th e Cour t did not , however, pursu e the point, bu t on e justice questione d th e degre e of advantag e th e union s enjoyed . Question: Yo u suggest that ther e ar e no limitations , legal limitations , on ho w muc h [and ] ho w union s ca n us e thei r fund s fo r politica l purposes? Mr. McLellan: Ther e i s not i n th e Michiga n Campaig n Financ e Act , Your Honor . Question: Bu t members certainl y have remedies, don't they ? . . .

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The Corporation and the Candidate

Mr. McLellan: They—member s d o hav e the right s . . . Question: . . . under th e federa l labo r laws . Mr. McLellan: Thi s Cour t ha s recognized that , i n that ther e ar e othe r laws tha t protec t unio n members . [Suc h law s includ e th e righ t o f union member s t o withhol d a portion o f thei r due s tha t woul d b e used t o suppor t politica l positions , o r candidates , wit h whic h the y disagree.] Question: S o union s reall y aren' t al l tha t fre e t o jus t us e thei r amassed wealt h t o — for politica l purposes , ar e they ? Mr. McLellan: No , the y ar e not . Ther e ar e federa l restriction s o n them. Question: Well , ther e ar e als o constitutiona l restrictions , aren' t there—which woul d appl y t o the us e o f fund s i n state elections ? Mr. McLellan: Yes . It would . A member o f a unio n woul d b e abl e t o assert hi s or he r constitutiona l interest . Question: An d union s nowaday s usuall y hav e a mechanis m fo r that , don't they ? Mr. McLellan: Yes . Question: An d you r organization , s o long as it doesn't endors e a par ticular candidat e . . . could stil l campaign wit h respec t t o issue s a s much a s yo u like , i s tha t correct ? Yo u coul d publiciz e a n issu e statement t o th e electorate , no t jus t lobb y i n th e legislatur e . . . s o long as you don' t identif y i t with a candidate . . . right? Mr. McLellan: Tha t i s correct . Question: An d yo u ca n mak e al l th e argument s yo u wan t t o you r membership i n connectio n wit h solicitin g fund s fo r you r politica l action fun d . . . which i s then fre e t o spen d th e mone y . . . Mr. McLellan: Correct . Question: Wh y i s that ? I a m a littl e intereste d i n th e differenc e between—why i s it so important tha t yo u ar e not, tha t yo u b e fre e to operate without goin g through th e fund tha t th e statute provide s for, th e separat e fund ? Mr. McLellan: Th e primary operationa l reaso n i s that PAC s [politica l action committee s authorize d b y federa l la w t o rais e fund s fro m groups o f donor s t o suppor t candidates ] hav e a significant , nega tive imag e i n the public . And th e Stat e Chambe r o f Commerc e . . . has a very strong reputation. . . . And to b e able to spea k with you r own voice , wit h you r ow n nam e o n th e botto m o f th e advertise ment—this i s the view of the Stat e Chambe r o f Commerc e . . .

The Corporation and the Candidate I 8 1 With thi s lin e o f question s McLella n ha d bee n led—willingly—t o the hear t o f th e case. The case was no t abou t th e unions ' disproportion ate powe r o r abou t th e administrativ e complexitie s o f settin g u p man y separate fund s an d undertakin g man y solicitatio n efforts . I t was instea d about th e chamber' s desir e t o "spea k wit h [its ] ow n voice. " I t wa s about th e chamber' s statu s a s a speake r unde r th e Firs t Amendment ; about th e chamber' s clai m tha t it s speec h wa s "Firs t Amendmen t speech." O n thi s questio n th e closenes s o f th e chambe r t o th e view s o f its individual member s wa s t o b e the critica l question , a s it had bee n fo r Justices Brennan , Marshall , an d Blackmu n i n th e earlie r Massachusett s right t o lif e case . This wa s a mor e delicat e an d comple x argumen t tha n at firs t appeared , a s McLellan knew . The justices ' question s no w turne d to th e complexities . Question: Bu t th e proble m i s tha t whe n yo u spea k wit h you r ow n voice yo u purpor t t o represen t 8,00 0 member s wh o al l agre e o n your—[on] wha t yo u ar e saying . Wherea s whe n yo u [us e a sepa rate] fund yo u ar e sure that everybod y who contributed t o the fun d authorizes yo u t o spea k i n tha t way . Isn' t ther e tha t potentia l mis understanding—[indeed, isn' t that ] wh y i t i s stronger speec h whe n it purport s t o represen t al l 8,00 0 members , even though the y haven't al l contributed t o the fund ? McLellan i s surely awar e tha t th e question s ar e leadin g hi m i n a dan gerous direction , bu t h e hold s hi s ground . I n thi s h e ha s n o rea l choice , for i f his cas e mus t tur n o n whethe r al l eigh t thousan d member s specifi cally agree with ever y candidate endorsemen t th e chamber makes , he ha s lost. Hi s onl y recours e i s t o stan d fir m an d resis t tha t conclusion , emphasizing th e chamber's rol e an d th e chamber's ideology , makin g th e chamber a "person"— a speake r protecte d b y the Firs t Amendment . Mr. McLellan: Th e Michiga n Stat e Chambe r o f Commerce , ever y member, corporat e o r individual , mus t subscrib e t o th e objective s of th e stat e Chamber . Question: I understand. Bu t the y don' t al l hav e t o vot e fo r th e sam e candidates fo r office . Mr. McLellan: No , an d the y ma y not . I n fac t the y — it i s a divers e membership. There i s a—it i s a widely divers e membership, i n siz e and functio n o f busines s . . .

8 2I

The Corporation and the Candidate

Question: An d o f cours e yo u wan t t o b e abl e t o us e you r accumu lated fund s fro m dues , you don' t wan t t o hav e t o g o bac k t o any body. Mr. McLellan: Tha t i s right. We don't wan t t o hav e to . . . Question: An d i f yo u ar e goin g t o se t u p a fund , yo u ar e goin g t o have to g o raise some money . Mr. McLellan: W e don't wan t t o g o through th e sam e . . . Question: An d yo u ma y no t b e abl e t o rais e i t fro m everybody , because they don' t agre e with you . Mr. McLellan: Tha t i s correct . Question: Whic h mean s tha t you r speec h i s restricted [b y havin g t o solicit contribution s fo r a specia l fun d eac h tim e th e Chambe r wants t o endors e a candidate]. Mr. McLellan: Ou r speec h i s restricted. I f we have t o us e that mecha nism, there are substantia l burdens . . . . Question: I t i s not onl y restricted , bu t i f i t weren't restricte d i t migh t be misleading, too . McLellan ha d stoo d fir m throug h thi s lin e o f questioning , knowing , we must suppose , where i t was leadin g bu t havin g n o choic e bu t t o sub mit t o it , standin g firm , answerin g forthrightly , no t wantin g t o appea r evasive o r t o revea l th e leas t insecurit y i n hi s client' s case . Bu t i t mus t have been painful. An d a t the end o f the line of questions , one of th e justices had lowere d th e boom . "I t i s not onl y restricted," th e justice asked , "but i f i t weren' t restricte d i t migh t b e misleading , too"—becaus e i t would impl y greater suppor t than the speech actually enjoyed amon g th e chamber's membership . I t was no t a questio n bu t a statement , an d littl e good coul d com e o f a n attemp t t o argu e the point. I t was bes t left alone , and tha t i s exactly what McLella n did . He sai d nothing . After a momentar y silenc e tha t might , t o McLellan , hav e seeme d lik e hours, the questionin g resumed , bu t no w o n anothe r tack : Question: Wha t differenc e doe s i t mak e i n you r argumen t tha t yo u speak fo r a nonprofi t corporation ? Can' t th e sam e argument s yo u are makin g b e mad e fo r corporation s tha t ar e i n th e busines s fo r profit? The tac k wa s no t a goo d on e fo r McLellan , thoug h surel y h e ha d anticipated i t a s h e prepared fo r ora l argument . Hi s direc t an d immedi -

The Corporation and the Candidate I 8 3 ate respons e prove d that , bu t h e ma y nevertheles s hav e regrette d th e need t o answe r it . The questio n require d tha t h e take on e o f tw o critica l forks i n th e road . Th e firs t for k woul d trea t th e chamber' s nonprofit , membership statu s a s a critica l fac t distinguishin g th e chambe r fro m General Motors o n the ground tha t i t was differentl y ideological , that it s members al l share d tha t ideolog y eve n i f the y migh t no t agre e wit h th e specifics o f it s applicatio n t o particula r candidates , an d therefor e tha t the chamber wa s speakin g fo r it s members . The secon d for k rejecte d an y distinctio n betwee n th e chambe r an d General Motors . Bot h wer e lega l "persons " an d wer e entitle d b y th e First Amendmen t t o spea k freely . Th e fac t tha t th e member s o r stock holders didn' t agre e with th e messag e spoken—indee d th e fac t tha t the y were not awar e that a particular messag e was bein g spoken—was irrele vant becaus e the corporation, th e entity itself, is the speaker fo r purpose s of th e Firs t Amendment . Thi s woul d b e a har d an d controversia l argu ment t o make , a t leas t i n suc h plai n terms , fo r i t imbue s a corporatio n with too much independen t statur e an d give s its owners none a t all . Still, McLellan may have had n o choice but to make the argument. Hi s client' s interests were no t onl y those o f the chamber bu t als o o f it s members, si x thousand o f who m wer e profit-makin g corporation s tha t als o wante d freedom t o speak . Moreover, the fact tha t most o f the chamber's member s were corpora tions meant tha t ther e was no safe rout e o f escape on the first for k o f th e road eve n ha d McLella n bee n fre e t o tak e it . An y effor t t o separat e th e chamber fro m profit-makin g corporation s woul d quickl y collaps e unde r the ensuin g barrag e o f question s abou t th e corporate members , followe d by questions abou t exactl y how they, a s corporations, could hol d a n ideology— and i f the y couldn't , ho w th e chambe r coul d clai m a n ideolog y based o n their agreemen t t o it . McLellan , i t turn s out , ha d a toug h bal ancing act of his own—indeed, i n some respects it made Caruso' s simpl e (but factuall y flawed ) approac h loo k easy . And s o McLella n too k th e secon d for k i n th e road . H e reall y ha d n o choice, bu t hi s braver y i s to b e applauded , eve n a s we sympathiz e wit h his plight . Yes, the sam e argumen t ca n b e mad e [fo r profi t a s wel l a s nonprofi t corporations]. An d w e woul d mak e it . I n thi s cas e . . . there ha s been n o showin g o f an y stat e interes t tha t woul d restric t indepen dent expenditure s generally . Ther e [were ] n o legislativ e finding s

84 I

The Corporation and the Candidate dealing wit h independen t expenditures . Ther e wa s n o evidenc e submitted a t tria l tha t woul d sugges t that ther e i s something inher ently corruptin g o r potentiall y corruptin g b y corporat e indepen dent expenditure s generally . So , i n answe r t o you r question , yes . We do no t thin k tha t tha t i s a significant distinction . This i s the firs t tim e thi s Cour t ha s considere d th e constitution ality o f a stat e la w tha t ban s independen t expenditure s . . . wit h regard t o a candidate, b y a n ideologica l corporatio n tha t ha s busi ness corporatio n members . An d w e sugges t tha t th e analysi s tha t this Cour t ha s mad e [i n earlie r cases , where limit s o n individual s were stricken, ] wit h respec t t o independen t expenditure s generall y is equally applicabl e i n this case.

McLellan's argument , i n short , wa s tha t corporations— all corpora tions— should b e treate d jus t lik e individual s fo r purpose s o f th e Firs t Amendment's freedo m o f speech . The Suprem e Cour t ha d stricke n limit s on independen t expenditure s — advertisements supportin g candidates , for example , b y group s tha t ar e unaffiliate d wit h th e candidate' s cam paign organization—i n a majo r 197 6 cas e that ha d challenge d th e Fed eral Electio n Campaig n Ac t o f 1971 . But th e Court' s decisio n applie d only t o individual s an d group s o f individual s actin g i n concert—th e equivalent o f politica l actio n committees—no t t o corporations . McLellan ha d stake d ou t hi s clai m clearl y an d directl y — perhaps a little mor e clearl y an d directl y tha n h e woul d hav e wished . Bu t h e ha d stuck firml y t o it . Afte r a brie f roun d o f question s o n a differen t topic , McLellan wa s prepare d t o su m up , pul l hi s argument s togethe r fo r on e last tim e and , wit h likel y relief, ste p down . Bu t a s h e was finishin g wit h his brief summation , i n which h e agai n referre d t o th e chamber' s "ideol ogy," h e was interrupte d b y a justice: May I just inquire , wha t d o yo u mea n b y a n "ideologica l group? " I understand i t is a sort o f a single issue group where there is just on e issue, suc h a s righ t t o lif e o r somethin g lik e it , [wher e i t is ] ver y clear tha t [th e members ] al l hav e th e sam e approac h t o th e prob lem. Bu t on e o f th e point s yo u mad e earlie r wa s [that ] th e Cham ber o f Commerce , b y it s very nature , i s very divers e i n the variou s interests i t represents . And , sure , everybod y i s in favo r o f democ racy an d agains t crim e o r somethin g lik e that , bu t d o yo u cal l that—is tha t enoug h t o mak e i t an ideologica l group ?

The Corporation and the Candidate I 8 5 If th e questio n seeme d innocentl y framed , th e innocenc e ha d a cleve r and ruthless quality . This was not a question McLella n wanted t o pursu e at an y length . Nothin g wa s t o b e gained fo r hi m b y probing th e particu lars o f the chamber's governanc e processes , the range o f it s activities, the political compositio n o f it s membership , or—wors e yet—th e naggin g fact tha t mos t o f th e chamber' s member s wer e themselve s corporations . He therefore trie d t o duck . Mr. McLellan: I believe an ideologica l group—i t does—i t i s an ideo logical group . Question: Well , woul d Genera l Motor s b e a n ideologica l group , because al l th e shareholder s wan t t o mak e mone y an d believ e i n free enterprise ? Mr. McLellan [cautiously]: No , I do no t thin k it , Genera l Motors , i s an ideologica l group . Question: Simpl y becaus e the y ar e a profit-making corporation ? Mr. McLellan [now regaining his footing] No , simpl y becaus e they ar e organized fo r a different purpose . I think tha t you can identify thos e groups tha t hav e organize d themselve s to primaril y advocat e ideas , not all necessarily political ideas, but they are ideological in that sense. Question: Woul d ther e b e an y nonprofi t o r membershi p corporatio n . . . that woul d no t b e an ideologica l grou p withi n you r concept ? Mr. McLellan: Yes . Some health car e groups . . . may not b e ideologi cal. Certainly , I think tha t the y woul d b e supportin g [healt h car e needs, but] their purpos e woul d no t b e ideological . Question: Wha t abou t a trad e association—th e Automobil e Manu facturers Associatio n o r somethin g lik e that—wh o see k t o pro mote th e welfare o f th e automobil e industry ? Mr. McLellan: I n general, trade associations , I think, ar e organized fo r largely public policy and ideologica l purposes.. . . Civic action orga nizations, like the ACLU, NAACP, are th e more commo n example s of ideologica l groups . Bu t th e Stat e Chambe r o f Commerce , trad e associations, environmenta l groups , ar e equall y ideologica l i n tha t sense. The fact , fro m ou r perspective , t h a t . . . the Chambe r repre sents business interests doe s not make it any less ideological. It i s har d t o imagin e a bette r se t o f response s t o a n uninvite d an d frankly unwante d lin e o f questions . McLella n ha d simultaneousl y se t the chambe r apar t fro m it s members , ye t distinguishe d th e chambe r

8 6I

The Corporation and the Candidate

from Genera l Motor s b y definin g its (th e chamber's , not it s members' ) "ideology" a s differen t i n kin d fro m th e nonideologica l purpose s o f General Motors . Th e response s didn' t mak e McLellan' s cas e — the si x thousand corporat e member s o f th e "ideologica l group " (hardl y th e equivalent o f a group o f individual s bandin g togethe r i n common cause ) were stil l a bi g problem, a s was th e unfortunat e bu t necessar y argumen t that th e chamber' s clai m t o b e a speake r applie d a s muc h t o Genera l Motors a s to th e loca l ACLU chapter—but h e had gotte n b y unscathed . Having don e so , an d hearin g n o furthe r questions , McLella n promptly said , "I f ther e ar e n o furthe r questions , tha t conclude s m y argument. Than k you. " T o which th e chie f justic e replied , "Than k yo u Mr. McLellan," an d McLella n too k hi s seat a t the counse l table . There followe d a brief bu t uneventful , indee d unconstructive , rebutta l by Caruso , which adde d littl e an d generate d n o questions . At it s conclu sion, the chief justic e announced : "Th e cas e is submitted. " It would b e hard t o predict fro m ora l argument which sid e had the bette r chance t o prevail . McLella n ha d th e bette r argumen t b y far . Hi s theor y was tight , clear , an d eve n elegant . Bu t i t was buil t o n shak y foundation s and th e engineerin g wa s to o subtl e an d overl y complex : there is a differ ence, afte r all , betwee n Genera l Motor s an d th e chambe r o r th e ACLU , and a corporation' s "ideology " is , intuition tell s us , a differen t matte r from a n individual' s persona l syste m o f beliefs . Caruso , o n th e othe r hand, wa s deal t seriou s blow s i n ora l argument , an d h e seeme d a t time s befuddled b y the questions , bedraggled towar d th e end, an d uncertai n o f his moorings . Ye t hi s argument , thoug h inelegantl y put , wa s th e mor e straightforward on e — corporations are differen t fro m individuals , a s a general matte r — and hi s foundation s wer e broa d an d clear . Bu t hi s foundations wer e also mushy an d the structure o f the Michigan la w buil t upon the m wa s riddle d wit h defects . The argumen t brough t al l o f thi s out , an d more . Bu t whethe r i t changed an y minds on the Cour t i s a subject o f some doubt. As the Cour t retired t o it s conference roo m o n th e Frida y followin g Hallowee n t o dis cuss an d vot e o n th e Michiga n campaig n case , i t appear s tha t th e vote s pretty wel l line d u p a s predicted. An d whe n th e decisio n i n the cas e wa s announced jus t a few months later , on Marc h 27 , 1990 , one did no t hav e to rea d beyon d th e autho r o f th e opinio n t o kno w th e result . Th e autho r was Justice Marshall , an d wit h hi m wer e th e chie f justic e (wh o ha d littl e patience fo r claim s of corporate fre e speech) , Justice Brennan, an d Justic e

The Corporation and the Candidate I 8 7 Blackmun. Wors e ye t fo r th e chamber , Justice s Whit e an d Steven s als o joined Justic e Marshall' s opinion . I t wa s a veritabl e clea n swee p fo r Michigan, whose la w was upheld , an d a total los s for th e Michigan Stat e Chamber o f Commerce . Corporations , includin g th e chamber , coul d b e legally prohibited fro m endorsin g politica l candidates . Justice Marshall' s opinio n bor e th e marking s o f th e ora l argument . The Michigan Stat e Chambe r o f Commerce , he wrote, was a large orga nization wit h a divers e membershi p an d a broa d se t o f purposes , "sev eral o f whic h ar e no t inherentl y political. " I t thu s lacke d th e "narro w political focus " tha t woul d b e neede d t o "ensur e tha t it s politica l resources reflecte d politica l support " fo r it s speech amon g th e members . And th e fac t tha t th e chamber' s valu e t o it s member s la y no t onl y i n it s general politica l aim s bu t als o i n th e advantage s membershi p conferre d for th e members ' businesse s mean t tha t th e member s woul d hav e a n "economic disincentiv e fo r disassociatin g wit h i t if they disagre e with it s political activity. " Th e chamber , i n short , coul d mak e n o clai m tha t th e views i t expresse d a s a n organizatio n wer e th e view s o f it s members, a s individuals. Thi s wa s especiall y true , th e Cour t noted , becaus e o f th e "striking" fac t tha t "mor e tha n three-quarter s o f th e Chamber' s mem bers ar e busines s corporations. " These facts le d the Cour t t o the conclusion tha t th e chamber—and it s members—"are mor e simila r t o th e shareholder s o f a busines s corpora tion tha n t o th e member s of " a n ideologica l grou p whos e collectiv e speech i s bu t a n instrumen t fo r th e members ' individua l right s t o speak . The chamber was more like General Motor s than, say, the NAACP. Gen eral Motors doe s not "spea k th e mind" o f its shareholders, an d i t has n o "mind" o f it s own . I t i s th e members , no t th e organization , wh o ar e qualified t o spea k fo r purpose s o f th e Firs t Amendment ; thei r speech , and no t th e corporation's speech , is First Amendment speech. Interestingly, th e Cour t di d no t tr y t o distinguis h labo r union s fro m the chamber . Bu t th e Cour t uphel d th e Michiga n la w tha t exempte d them becaus e federa l la w alread y limite d thei r abilit y t o expen d genera l union fund s o n politica l activitie s ove r th e activ e oppositio n o f unio n members. Unde r federa l la w a n objectin g unio n member' s due s canno t be used for politica l purposes t o which h e or sh e objects. Thus, the fund s used fo r suc h purpose s ar e in effect draw n fro m a separat e fun d consist ing of thos e portions o f nonobjecting members ' due s that ar e directe d t o the suppor t o f politica l activity . B y this reasonin g th e Cour t conclude d that a union' s politica l speec h i n fac t reflecte d th e specifi c view s o f it s

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The Corporation and the Candidate

individual members , and thu s would qualif y unde r th e First Amendmen t as speech b y individuals, no t speec h b y an artificia l entity . Because the chamber's speec h did not qualif y a s fully protecte d speec h under th e Firs t Amendment , th e Cour t conclude d tha t th e purpose s behind Michigan' s la w nee d no t b e particularly compelling . Th e mush y purposes o f preventin g th e potentia l fo r abus e o r corruption ; o f levelin g the speec h playin g fiel d b y limiting corporat e expenditure s (whic h coul d be, bu t ar e no t necessarily , large) ; and, mos t important , a s it turned out , of assurin g that speec h by organized group s actuall y reflects th e views of their members , wer e sufficien t t o suppor t th e ba n o n publi c candidat e endorsements b y corporations . Th e Cour t als o conclude d tha t th e law' s application nee d no t b e narrowly tailore d t o achievin g it s purposes. Th e fact tha t th e la w prohibite d muc h speec h tha t di d no t pos e an y o f th e problems th e la w wa s aime d a t addressing—suc h a s th e speec h b y th e family corporation , th e ACLU , o r th e loca l publi c librar y foundatio n — and tha t i t lef t unregulate d muc h speec h tha t presente d thos e prob lems— such a s Donal d Trump , th e unincorporate d organization , eve n (notwithstanding federa l law ) th e labo r union s — did no t matter . The importan t point , instead , wa s tha t th e la w was tailore d t o distin guishing organization s tha t qualif y a s Firs t Amendmen t speaker s (lik e the Massachusett s Citizen s fo r Life , labo r unions , and , perhaps , th e ACLU an d th e famil y corporation ) fro m thos e tha t don' t (Genera l Motors an d th e chamber) . Unles s importan t Firs t Amendmen t right s were a t stake—whic h the y weren't fo r organization s tha t d o no t qualif y as Firs t Amendmen t speaker s — the Michiga n legislatur e wa s fre e t o exercise it s own politica l judgmen t an d legislat e imperfectly . An d i t had . Michigan's law , whic h ca n b e describe d onl y a s mush y i n it s purpose s and riddle d wit h imperfections , wa s constitutional . And th e puzzl e o f th e constitutiona l statu s o f speec h tha t ha s n o speaker was , a t leas t tentatively , unlocked . T o Beckett' s query , "Wha t matter who' s speaking , someon e said , what matte r who' s speaking? " th e Court coul d sa y tha t wit h th e chambe r ther e wa s n o "someon e speak ing." Th e chamber' s "speech " represente d n o one's views ; it was no t th e product o f th e mind s o r wil l o f it s members , as individuals, an d henc e the chamber' s speec h was no t "Firs t Amendmen t speech. " Mr. McLellan mus t surel y have been disappointed. Hi s clients had lost — all of his clients, the chambe r an d it s corporate members , too. The fault , of course, was not his ; indeed, fault i s not a relevant word whe n i t come s

The Corporation and the Candidate I 8 9 to the Supreme Court' s decision in a case. McLellan had acquitte d himsel f and hi s clients stunningly well in oral argument. His theory was coherent , well presented , an d sound . Lawyer s don' t reall y wi n o r los e case s i n th e Supreme Court ; th e Cour t i s too independent , to o muc h responsibl e fo r its ow n choices , fo r a lawyer' s argumen t — especially a fin e on e lik e McLellan's—to bea r th e burde n o f th e outcome . Whil e wishin g tha t h e had prevailed , McLella n migh t also , upo n hearin g o f th e decision , hav e taken som e comfort i n the fact tha t while his clients—corporations, busi ness interests—wer e no t entitle d t o th e ful l protectio n o f th e Firs t Amendment, the y wer e no t withou t th e politica l powe r t o protec t them selves from excessiv e government intermeddlin g i n their affairs . But perhaps th e Court' s opinio n cause d McLella n als o t o reflect , eve n if for jus t a fleeting moment , o n a simpler, earlier time , a time when peo ple spoke for themselves , and whe n th e influence o f their idea s depende d more o n th e strengt h o r weaknes s o f thei r reasonin g tha n o n th e siz e o f their medi a budget . Perhap s h e even imagined tha t a bit o f that romanti c past coul d b e recaptured i n the present . Mr. Caruso , o n th e othe r hand , wa s n o doub t elate d a t th e decision . He ha d bee n bloodie d an d beate n a s h e fough t t o defen d Michigan' s imperfect—indeed, flawe d — law. Bu t h e ha d survived . Th e Michiga n law ha d bee n uphel d an d th e state' s powe r t o restric t speec h produce d and distribute d b y corporation s ha d bee n confirmed . Bu t di d h e full y appreciate th e narrownes s o f th e victory ? Di d h e understan d th e chal lenges tha t li e ahea d whe n th e Michiga n la w i s actuall y applie d t o th e NAACP, o r eve n t o th e ACL U wit h it s corporat e sponsorship ? Wa s th e victory that complete ? And might Caruso , perhaps lat e at night i n the quiet of his study, hav e been move d als o t o reflec t o n wha t ha d transpired ? An d migh t h e hav e wondered t o himsel f whether , whe n al l i s said an d done , th e chamber' s ad woul d hav e bee n al l tha t harmfu l — indeed, whethe r th e battl e ha d not reall y bee n abou t corporation s speakin g but , instead , i n a paradoxi cal twist o f Firs t Amendment fate , simpl y abou t "to o muc h speech" ? If so , perhaps Mr . McLellan ha d th e las t word .

ADDITIONAL READIN G

Lillian BeVier, "Money an d Politics: A Perspective on the First Amendment an d Campaign Finance Reform," 7 3 California Law Review 1045 ( 19%5)'

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Owen Fiss , "Fre e Speec h an d Socia l Structure, " 7 1 Iowa Law Review 140 5 (1986). Robert Post , "Managin g Deliberation : Th e Quandar y o f Democrati c Dialogue, " 103 Ethics 65 4 (1993) . Buckley v. Valeo, 42 4 U.S . 1 (1976).

PART 2

Speech an d Conduc t In par t i w e explore d th e meanin g o f speec h and , mor e specifically, th e role o f the speaker i n the freedom o f speech . We discovered tha t unde r th e First Amendment th e human ac t of speaking i s more important tha n th e resulting speec h itself . Indeed , speec h tha t lack s a speaker becaus e it is not the product o f speaking may be entitled t o littl e if an y protection unde r th e First Amendment , perhap s becaus e i t make s no sens e t o spea k o f it s inanimat e "freedom. " Focusin g o n speaker s under th e First Amendmen t ha s permitted th e Supreme Cour t t o escap e the need to define "speech " itself ; what i s protected i s the human activit y of speaking , no t just "speech. " Bu t the "speech " questio n canno t b e so easily escaped . In par t 2 we will conside r th e meaning o f "speech " fro m a differen t angle. If speech is the product o f a human act , we might sa y that i t is the product o f the act of "speaking. " Al l human acts , of course, do not constitute "speaking. " Wha t standar d d o we apply i n distinguishing act s of speaking fro m al l others? The divid e betwee n act s o f speakin g an d othe r act s ha s traditionall y been define d b y the distinction betwee n speec h (speaking ) an d conduct . This is the distinction t o which ou r attention wil l be drawn i n the stories that follow . I s human activit y divisibl e int o act s o f speakin g an d act s of conduct? O r is some human activit y both speakin g an d conduct ? Speaking i s a n intentiona l huma n act ; speec h i s it s product . Bu t speech i s also th e product o f othe r forces : wha t peopl e d o (conduct ) a s opposed t o what the y say; and what meanin g i s given to what peopl e d o and say . Speech, in other words , is not the product o f an isolated ac t but of a participatory on e involving words an d deeds, intention an d inadver tence, personal an d social meaning . These ar e the puzzles tha t w e begin t o explore i n the first story , "Th e Burning Cross, " which focuse s o n speech and conduct, an d in the second story, "Th e Artist," whic h expand s th e focu s t o th e large r ye t deepl y related questio n o f meaning .

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Story Four

The Burning Cros s

(R.A.V. v. St. Paul, joj U.S. 377 (1992))

The First Amendment's Holy

Grail

The First Amendment say s that government may not "abridgje ] the freedo m o f speech, " whic h th e Suprem e Cour t ha s interprete d t o mean tha t governmen t ca n rarel y an d onl y fo r th e mos t compellin g o f reasons invoke its power t o regulate speech. Conduct, o n the othe r hand , is not free . Governmen t ca n regulat e i t broadl y an d fo r jus t abou t an y reason, an d i n an y way , tha t a democraticall y electe d majorit y wishes . But ca n conduc t sometime s b e speech ? Ca n speec h sometime s b e con duct? Aren' t thes e bu t tw o side s o f th e sam e coin : a n ac t i s either speec h or conduct , wit h a singl e boundar y separatin g them ? Logi c migh t tel l u s so, bu t fo r purpose s o f th e Firs t Amendment , logi c isn' t everything . Some speech, it turns out , i s conduct, an d som e conduct i s speech . The ques t fo r a singl e an d coheren t boundar y betwee n speec h an d conduct ha s bee n ongoin g sinc e th e Suprem e Cour t firs t bega n t o inter pret freedo m o f speech . Lik e the searc h fo r th e Hol y Grail , the ques t fo r the boundar y separatin g speec h fro m conduc t i s never-ending , an d th e prize remains elusive , clouded i n myth, a constant sourc e o f adventure . The ques t i s based o n importan t philosophica l underpinnings . A principal justificatio n fo r fre e speec h i s that i t domesticate s conflict , replac ing th e urg e t o violenc e wit h th e mor e civilize d proces s o f reasone d discussion an d disagreement . A s Justice Brandei s announce d i n dissent i n Whitney v. California, a n earl y fre e speec h cas e decide d i n 1927 , "[T]h e fitting remed y fo r evi l counsels i s good ones. " Those who wrote th e Firs t Amendment, h e continued, "believ[ed ] i n the power o f reaso n a s applie d through publi c discussion , the y eschewe d silenc e coerce d b y law. " Jus tice Oliver Wendell Holmes , Jr., ever the skeptic , put i t more agnosticall y in hi s 191 9 dissen t i n Abrams v. United States. "[T]ha t th e bes t tes t o f truth i s the power o f the thought t o ge t itself accepte d i n the competitio n

93

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The Burning Cross

of the market," h e wrote, "an d tha t trut h i s the only ground upo n whic h [the people's] wishe s safel y ca n b e carried out . . . . That a t an y rate i s the theory o f ou r constitution. " Talk , no t conduct , i s what fre e speec h i s al l about. "N o on e pretends, " Joh n Stuar t Mil l declare d i n On Liberty, "that action s shoul d b e as free a s opinions. " The distinctio n betwee n speec h an d conduct , then , i s a ques t fo r a way t o fre e speec h an d though t withou t unleashin g anarchy—t o kee p speech i n its proper place , so to speak , an d t o dra w distinc t an d enforce able boundarie s betwee n ou r freedo m t o thin k an d sa y wha t w e think , on th e on e hand , an d ou r impuls e t o ac t o n ou r thought s an d words , o n the other . Ou r thought s ca n b e isolate d fro m others , mad e accountabl e to n o one ; acting o n ou r thoughts , however , i s a collective act , requirin g consent o r democrati c authorization . From th e beginnin g o f Firs t Amendmen t jurisprudenc e th e divid e between speec h an d conduc t ha s bee n though t t o hol d th e ke y t o th e puzzling relationshi p betwee n individua l freedo m an d th e demand s o f the socia l order . Bu t th e ques t fo r a singl e ke y t o a single , simpl e trut h has proved elusive , if not misguided . There i s no single , simple truth. Thi s i s the firs t thin g we mus t under stand abou t th e relationship betwee n speec h an d conduc t unde r th e Firs t Amendment. Olive r Wendell Holmes , Jr., observed i n 191 9 i n Schenck v. United States tha t th e "mos t stringen t protectio n o f fre e speec h woul d not protec t a ma n i n falsel y shoutin g fir e i n a theatr e an d causin g a panic." Unde r th e Firs t Amendment , Holme s said , "th e characte r o f every ac t depend s o n th e circumstance s i n which i t is done." Lik e shout ing fir e i n a crowde d theatre , speec h ma y i n fac t constitut e conduc t because the resulting bedla m is so inextricably boun d t o the literal word s uttered tha t thei r qualit y a s speec h i s simpl y incidental , effectivel y engulfed. An d i t is likewise true that conduct , suc h a s the raised fist , ma y be speec h becaus e it s qualit y a s expressio n a t a given tim e o r i n a give n place transcends it s nonexpressive dimension . These example s d o no t exhaus t th e possibilities. Actions, it turns out , can b e both speec h and conduct . Somethin g a s simple a s camping ou t i n a tent , whic h i s obviously conduct , ma y als o b e speec h when , fo r exam ple, i t occur s o n th e Ellips e i n Washington , D.C. , a s par t o f a mas s protest movement . An d admitte d speech , suc h a s solicitatio n fo r a char ity, may b e treated a s if it were conduct alon e if, fo r example , it is under taken a t a n inappropriat e time—perhap s durin g workin g hours—o r i n an imprope r way , a s wit h frau d o r misrepresentation . Th e dange r i n

The Burning Cross I 9 5 being to o litera l abou t "speech " an d to o absolut e i n it s protectio n i s twofold: som e admitte d conduc t tha t i s bu t a benig n par t o f expressio n will g o unprotected ; an d som e admitte d speec h tha t play s littl e o r n o part i n expression o r that coerce s dangerou s conduc t wil l be erroneousl y protected. So the Firs t Amendmen t present s a rathe r untid y se t o f rule s an d dis tinctions whe n i t come s t o separatin g speec h fro m conduct . Traditiona l analysis approache s th e questio n a t tw o levels . The firs t leve l i s defini tional: i f th e activit y i s speech , i t i s protected; i f i t i s conduct, i t i s not . But som e conduct , i f sufficientl y expressive , i s define d a s speech , an d vice versa. The boundarie s a t th e definitiona l leve l are obscure . The secon d leve l look s t o th e causa l connectio n betwee n speec h an d conduct. I f a n activit y tha t satisfie s th e definitio n o f speech , suc h a s advocacy o f violence, presents a clear an d presen t dange r tha t th e speec h will immediately produc e th e violence, it will b e treated a s if it were con duct eve n thoug h i n ever y litera l sens e th e ac t consist s o f speech . Thi s i s the origi n o f wha t ha s com e t o b e calle d "fightin g words, " a typ e o f speech tha t wil l prove importan t i n ou r story . Fighting words , th e Suprem e Cour t ha s said , com e i n tw o varieties : words directe d a t other person s that provoke a n immediate breac h o f th e peace, an d thu s presen t a clea r an d presen t dange r o f producin g act s o f violence, such as assault; and words directe d a t other person s that, them selves, harm thos e persons withou t anyone' s bein g provoked t o violence . It i s this secon d variet y o f fightin g words , wher e th e har m reside s i n th e words themselves an d i n their emotiona l o r psychological force , that wil l occupy u s i n ou r story . I t i s her e tha t th e controvers y ove r regulatin g hate speec h resides . The rule s fo r distinguishin g speec h fro m conduc t appea r logica l an d coherent, thoug h elaborate . Bu t th e definition s the y rel y upo n an d th e rules o f causatio n tha t the y emplo y disguis e profoun d ambiguity , givin g an appearanc e o f clarit y where , i n truth , ther e i s none . The y ar e th e mask throug h whic h fealt y t o speec h a s th e preferre d freedom , absolutely protected , i s paid . Justice Feli x Frankfurter ha d littl e time fo r pa t solution s an d constitu tional absolutisms. For him the idea of a "preferre d positio n o f freedom o f speech," an d th e clea r boundarie s an d absolut e protectio n th e phras e implied, di d no t compor t wit h th e complexitie s o f huma n behavior . " I deem it a mischievous phrase," he said in 194 9 in Kovacs v. Cooper, refer ring t o th e "preferre d position " shorthand , fo r "i t carrie s th e though t

9 6I

The Burning Cross

[that] an y la w touchin g communicatio n i s infecte d wit h presumptiv e invalidity. It radiates a constitutional doctrin e withou t avowin g it. " When i t come s t o speec h an d conduct , th e Firs t Amendmen t i s no t simple but complex; not absolut e bu t qualified ; no t clear bu t inscrutable . Its centra l qualit y ma y no t b e logi c bu t paradox . Ou r stor y invite s u s t o probe th e paradoxe s o f speec h an d conduct . I t doe s so , moreover, i n a particularly strang e way, for i t is a story tha t involve s mor e tha n th e dis tinction betwee n speec h an d conduct . I t involve s th e additiona l — and surprising — question o f whethe r action s tha t ar e clearl y conduc t an d not speec h shoul d nevertheles s b e protected unde r th e fre e speec h guar antee o f th e Firs t Amendment .

The Burning Cross The stor y begin s o n th e evenin g o f June 20 , 1990 , in a neighborhood o n the eas t sid e o f St . Paul, Minnesota , calle d Mound s Park . Mound s Par k was no t on e o f thos e ol d an d tire d urba n neighborhood s wit h poorl y maintained house s crowde d together , voicin g despai r an d frustration . I t was a nice , working-clas s neighborhoo d whos e home s wer e larg e an d well kep t an d whos e lawn s wer e wel l trimmed , wher e neighbor s kne w one another, cared fo r th e appearance o f their street , and raise d their chil dren i n the American way. It was, in short, the kind o f neighborhood tha t one expect s t o fin d i n th e uppe r Midwest . Mound s Par k wa s als o pre dominantly white , bu t no t exclusivel y so . Black familie s live d i n nearb y apartments an d ha d purchase d home s in the neighborhood a s well. East Iv y Avenu e i s on e o f th e street s runnin g throug h Mound s Park . On on e sid e o f th e stree t wa s th e hom e i n whic h Arthu r M . Mille r II I lived. Miller wa s eighteen years old a t the time an d livin g with hi s father . He ha d a numbe r o f youn g friend s i n th e neighborhoo d wh o woul d often gathe r a t hi s house . Friendshi p an d good , wholesom e fun , how ever, were no t th e onl y thing s tha t brough t th e boy s together . Th e bon d that tie d the m wa s recreationa l i n a differen t wa y a s well, for whe n the y gathered o n tha t Wednesday evenin g i n June 1990 , marijuana, LSD , and alcohol wer e als o o n thei r minds . Miller's fathe r wasn' t hom e tha t evening , s o Mille r wa s ther e alon e with hi s girlfriend. Durin g th e course o f th e evenin g he and hi s girlfrien d got int o a n argumen t an d i n th e mids t o f th e ensuin g figh t h e brok e a window i n the house . S o when fiv e o r si x o f Miller' s friend s cam e t o th e

The Burning Cross I 97 door o f th e house , Mille r wa s cleanin g u p th e broke n glass . The friend s came b y t o si t an d tal k an d bu m around , a s on e doe s i n one' s yout h o n summer evenings ; they cam e also , according t o on e o f them , i n the hop e that Arthu r woul d hav e som e "weed. " Th e friend s drank , use d drugs , and apparentl y jus t lounge d around . A s th e evenin g turne d t o earl y morning, the need fo r a new outle t apparentl y emerge d fro m th e increas ingly hazy mists becloudin g thei r minds . "I dran k al l night. I f I was sobe r I wouldn't eve n hav e though t abou t going along. " Thi s i s wha t Mille r sai d i n hi s statemen t t o th e police , made som e day s later , afte r hi s arrest . Accordin g t o Miller , whose objec tivity ca n wel l b e doubted , on e o f th e youth s "cam e u p wit h th e ide a about a cross-burning. Everybod y agreed. " H e continued , " I heard the m talking abou t on e o f the m gettin g chase d b y a bunc h o f blac k peopl e b y their hous e becaus e the y ha d a ski n head. " N o longe r languid , th e group's conversatio n no w becam e activ e an d focused , an d th e boys ' thoughts, dimme d b y the effect s o f alcoho l an d drugs , turned t o action . The grou p proceede d downstair s t o Miller' s basement . Ther e the y searched fo r materia l wit h whic h t o mak e a cross . The y foun d tw o wooden dowel s tha t woul d for m th e cross , tape t o bin d th e wood piece s together, rag s t o wra p aroun d th e dowels , an d pain t solven t t o soa k th e rags fo r th e comin g conflagration . Then , arme d wit h th e cross , the y turned thei r attentio n t o a n objec t fo r thei r ill-begotte n enterprise . The y found i t immediatel y a t hand : th e hom e o f Rus s an d Laur a Jones , located jus t acros s the street . Russ an d Laur a Jone s ha d recentl y move d int o th e Mound s Hil l neighborhood wit h thei r children , attracte d b y the well-kep t home s an d the prospect s o f raisin g a family i n a saf e an d clea n an d wholesom e are a with goo d school s an d lot s o f othe r children . Bein g Africa n American , the Joneses no doubt move d t o the largely white working-class neighbor hood wit h som e apprehensio n bu t als o wit h hop e an d optimism . Sinc e their mov e the y ha d experience d a fe w smal l act s o f vandalism , bu t i n a neighborhood wit h man y childre n playin g outside—childre n t o who m property line s were irrelevan t an d a front-yar d fenc e jus t anothe r obsta cle to b e overcome—th e sourc e o f th e vandalis m wa s ambiguous . Rus s Jones was incline d t o presum e th e best , not th e worst . There was cause for concern , however, fo r St . Paul had experience d it s share o f racia l incidents . Indeed , concer n abou t rac e relation s an d inci dents springin g fro m racia l bia s ha d motivate d th e Cit y Counci l i n 198 2 to enac t a la w entitle d "St . Pau l Bias-Motivate d Crim e Ordinance. "

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While other law s already in effect woul d provide ampl e grounds for pros ecuting cases of vandalism, disturbin g th e peace, and assaul t growin g ou t of racia l tension , th e politics o f th e lat e twentieth centur y required , i n St . Paul as elsewhere aroun d th e nation, a more explicit an d direc t legislativ e response—an opportunity , perhaps, for thos e in elected political offic e t o claim a hand i n arresting racial hatred, o r a t least an excuse that the y ha d done al l that the y coul d d o abou t it . S o under th e ponderou s headin g o f the ordinance , the Cit y Council enacte d th e following law : Whoever place s on public or private property a symbol, object, appella tion, characterization, o r graffiti, includin g but not limited to, a burning cross or Nazi Swastika, which on e knows or has reasonable ground s t o know arouse s anger , alarm o r resentment i n others on the basis of race, color, creed, religion o r gender commits disorderly conduc t an d shal l be guilty of a misdemeanor. In it s reference t o " a burnin g cross " th e ordinanc e seem s to hav e exhib ited prescience , a t leas t a s on e no w look s upo n th e event s o f tha t Jun e evening i n 1990 . Bu t o f cours e th e St . Paul ordinanc e wa s jus t a law . I t could no t anticipat e wha t wa s to happen. Indeed , i t could no t preven t it . It could onl y punish th e ac t afte r th e fact . Sometime afte r midnigh t o f Jun e 20 , 1990 , i n th e we e hour s o f th e morning, Mille r an d hi s young friends , mos t o f who m wer e unde r eigh teen an d therefor e juvenile s i n th e eye s o f th e law , turne d thei r atten tion— and thei r paint-solvent-soaked , handmad e cros s — toward th e Jones hous e acros s the street . Accompanying Mille r wer e fiv e o r si x oth ers, includin g Jaso n Olson , ag e eighteen , wh o ha d com e t o Miller' s house with tw o o f his friends, hopin g to get some marijuana, an d Rober t Viktora, seventeen , wh o wa s charge d wit h Mille r a s a leade r i n th e inci dent an d whos e prosecutio n unde r th e St . Paul ordinanc e woul d fin d it s way t o th e Suprem e Cour t o f th e Unite d States . Becaus e Viktor a wa s a juvenile, his case , R.A.V. v. City of St. Paul, Minnesota, woul d no t bea r his name, only his initials. The youth s wer e i n a stat e o f inebriate d recklessness ; the y ha d no w been drinking , smokin g marijuana , an d usin g LS D sinc e th e previou s evening. With inep t stealt h th e motle y an d disorderl y grou p crosse d th e street an d entere d th e Jone s yard . Th e hous e wa s dark , fo r th e Jone s family ha d gon e t o bed . A s they place d th e cros s i n th e fron t yard , th e boys wer e anythin g bu t silent , thei r ineffectua l attempt s a t whisper s piercing the dar k nigh t air . No one , of course, admitted placin g the cros s

The Burning Cross I 99 and settin g i t afire ; a s wit h mos t suc h incidents , th e ac t itsel f simpl y emerged fro m thi n ai r a s i f produce d b y the forc e o f wil l alone . Bu t th e boys were all in it together, and i t really doesn't matter whose hand struc k the match, for tha t han d move d a s if directed b y the passion o f each . "Everybody wen t i n th e yard, " Mille r woul d late r tel l th e police . " I don't remembe r wh o li t it. " Bu t a matc h wa s struc k an d place d o n th e soaked fabri c o f th e erecte d cross , an d th e cros s was engulfe d i n flames , its shap e leapin g fort h fro m th e darkness , th e reckles s an d hungr y fir e bringing the cross to life . The boy s watched th e evil symbol emerg e fro m the darkness , transfixe d i n thei r drunke n excitement , an d the n fle d th e scene, returning t o th e darkness . " I wen t int o m y hous e alone, " Mille r said, "i n a coupl e minute s everybod y showe d u p agai n an d waite d fo r the polic e t o leave. " Jaso n Olso n an d hi s tw o friend s wante d t o leav e Miller's hous e "because, " h e said , "the y didn' t hav e an y weed , bu t w e couldn't becaus e there wer e cops outside. " Russ an d Laur a Jone s wer e aslee p i n thei r bedroom . Sometim e afte r midnight the y wer e awakene d b y th e soun d o f voice s outside . A s the y listened, i t becam e apparen t tha t th e voice s wer e comin g fro m thei r yard. The y go t ou t o f be d an d wen t t o th e window . There , i n horror , they witnesse d a blac k family' s wors t nightmare : a cros s burnin g i n front o f thei r house . Shocke d an d frightened , fo r themselve s and , espe cially, for thei r children , the y called 911 . Police were quickl y dispatche d to thei r home . Miller an d hi s friends watche d th e scen e from hi s house. Stil l high o n drugs an d alcohol , the y fel t n o remors e o r guilt—the y couldn' t have , o r they wouldn't hav e done what the y di d next. Their watching was instea d accompanied b y a frenzie d excitement—th e kind , perhaps , tha t accom panies a childhood prank . Onl y thi s wa s n o childhoo d prank , an d thes e were no t children . Th e squa d car s wer e i n th e stree t an d polic e officer s were examinin g th e scene . Miller an d hi s friend s awaite d th e departur e of the police . When th e polic e finall y left , th e youth s di d no t brea k u p an d slithe r away, sobere d b y wha t the y ha d done . The y di d no t retur n t o thei r homes i n the emptines s tha t follow s catharsis , a s a mob sometime s doe s after a lynching . Thei r hunge r wa s no t sated . Instead , the y awaite d th e departure o f th e squa d car s a s a vulture await s a lion's departur e fro m a carcass. "Let's g o bur n som e mor e an d b e crazy," on e o f th e boy s sai d a s th e police departed . An d the y did .

ioo I

The Burning Cross

With thei r emotion s no w raise d t o a n eve n highe r feve r pitc h b y a mixture o f drugs , alcohol , an d adrenaline , Mille r an d hi s friend s returned t o th e basemen t t o begi n th e nex t stag e o f thei r loathsom e enterprise. The y buil t tw o mor e crosses , thi s tim e ou t o f broken-furni ture legs . Again the y tape d th e crosse s together , wrappe d the m i n cloth , and soake d the m i n pain t solvent . Wit h th e polic e gon e an d th e neigh borhood returne d t o darkness , the y lef t Miller' s hous e an d proceede d first t o the corner. There they lit a second cros s across the stree t from th e Jones house . The y the n proceede d tw o block s u p th e stree t t o a n apart ment hous e wher e othe r African-America n familie s lived , wher e the y li t the thir d cross . Twice more the y witnessed thei r crosse s emerg e fro m th e night's darkness , engulfed b y hungry flames . Their deed s now done , the grou p returne d t o Miller' s house . But eve n then thei r malevolen t thirs t wa s apparentl y no t ye t quenched . The y wanted t o d o more , t o continu e thei r craze d enterprise . Thei r furthe r plans wer e dashed , however , when , accordin g t o Olson , Mille r kicke d "us ou t o f hi s house becaus e hi s dad wa s comin g home. " Russ Jones wa s quickl y jolte d ou t o f hi s benig n complacenc y b y th e events of the early morning o f June 21 , 1990. Whatever th e source o f th e earlier incident s o f vandalism , ther e coul d b e n o doub t abou t th e moti vation behin d th e cross-burnin g i n hi s fron t yar d an d th e secon d acros s the street . A powerfu l combinatio n o f emotion s — fear, helplessness , danger, anger , shock , isolation—buffete d Rus s an d Laur a Jone s wit h a n intensity tha t fe w whit e American s coul d understand . Th e burnin g cros s was th e evi l symbo l o f th e K u Klu x Klan . I t conveye d a messag e no t o f oppression bu t o f stark , unmitigate d fear . Morning finall y dawned , followin g wha t mus t hav e bee n a sleeples s night o f fea r an d apprehension , confusio n an d despair . On e ca n imagin e the Joneses looking ou t a t the spot where the symbol o f hatred an d anar chy an d bigotr y ha d burned , perhap s guardin g th e trut h fro m thei r chil dren, wh o wouldn' t understan d an d shouldn' t hav e t o know , findin g little solace in the light of day. Their world—their optimis m an d hop e — had bee n cruelly an d crudel y wrested fro m them . But i t turn s ou t tha t the y wer e no t alone , no r wer e the y unwelcome . With th e mornin g cam e als o a n outpourin g o f sympath y an d suppor t from thei r neighbor s an d fro m cit y officials . Th e polic e investigatio n o f the thre e incident s — as well a s othe r incident s tha t wer e neve r linke d t o Miller an d hi s friends—was swift , an d withi n a few day s Miller an d hi s friends wer e tracke d down . Mille r an d Viktora , allege d t o hav e bee n th e

The Burning Cross I i o i leaders i n th e incidents , were quickl y charge d wit h violatin g th e St . Pau l Bias-Motivated Crim e Ordinance . It was the first tim e the ordinance ha d been used , eve n though i t had bee n o n th e book s sinc e 1982 . Miller wa s charged a s a n adult , pleade d guilty , an d wa s sentence d t o thirt y day s i n jail. He, at least , admitte d hi s guilt an d accepte d hi s punishment . The sam e cannot b e said o f Viktora, who woul d com e to b e known i n the annal s o f th e la w a s R.A.V . H e di d no t plea d guilt y but , instead , challenged th e law' s constitutionality unde r th e First Amendment's guar antee o f fre e speech . Th e juvenil e cour t judg e wh o firs t hear d hi s cas e agreed wit h hi m an d dismisse d th e charges . Bu t the judge' s decisio n wa s appealed b y the Cit y o f St . Paul to the Minnesot a Suprem e Court , wher e the juvenil e cour t decisio n wa s reverse d an d th e cas e sen t bac k fo r trial . The tria l neve r too k place , however, becaus e Viktor a appeale d th e Min nesota Suprem e Cour t decisio n t o th e Unite d State s Suprem e Court , which agree d t o revie w the case . On Jun e 22 , 1992 , almos t tw o year s t o th e da y fro m th e Joneses ' nightmare, th e Suprem e Cour t issue d a n opinio n reversin g th e Min nesota Suprem e Court' s decisio n an d invalidatin g th e St . Paul Bias-Moti vated Crim e Ordinanc e a s inconsistent wit h th e Firs t Amendmen t t o th e United State s Constitution . Th e Court' s opinio n take s bu t tw o sentence s to stat e the facts : In the predawn hour s of June 21 , 1990, petitioner [Rober t Viktora] an d several other teenagers allegedly assembled a crudely-made cross by taping together broken chair legs. They then allegedly burned the cross inside the fenced yar d o f a black family tha t live d across the street from th e house where petitioner was staying. With thi s brief , disembodie d statement , th e Firs t Amendmen t descende d with ful l forc e o n th e Cit y o f St . Paul, Minnesota . The charge s agains t Viktor a unde r th e St . Paul ordinanc e wer e subse quently dropped .

The Supreme Court Opinion "Doctrine Radiated but Not Avowed" Were th e cros s burning s b y Rober t Viktor a an d hi s drug-influence d an d recklessly juvenil e grou p o f friend s act s o f speec h protecte d b y the Firs t

IO2 I

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Amendment o r wer e the y conduc t no t entitle d t o th e Firs t Amendment' s protection? I n the Suprem e Court' s Firs t Amendmen t jurisprudence , thi s question break s dow n int o tw o parts . First , wa s th e ac t o f lightin g th e cross speech ? Second , eve n i f speech , wa s th e ac t sufficientl y brigade d with resultin g conduct—wit h a resulting evil , or harm , tha t governmen t can properl y ac t t o prevent—tha t it s speec h element s wer e transforme d into conduc t fo r purpose s o f the First Amendment ? On th e firs t question—whethe r Viktora' s participatio n i n th e cros s burning wa s speech—th e fiv e justice s wh o joine d th e Suprem e Court' s majority opinio n wer e unanimou s . . . unanimously silent . Thi s surpris ing fact i s hard t o comprehend . It s explanation ca n b e found onl y i n th e peculiar — some woul d sa y Byzantine—pathway s o f Firs t Amendmen t reasoning employe d b y the Court . Whether or not the act was speech or conduct, th e Court' s majorit y opinio n effectivel y stated , th e ordinanc e was unconstitutiona l becaus e i t faile d t o swee p withi n it s prohibitio n other case s involvin g undispute d speec h act s tha t arouse , i n th e word s of th e ordinance , "anger , alarm , o r resentment " o n ground s other than "race, color , creed , religion , o r gender. " Th e ordinanc e wa s therefor e too narro w i n it s scope , violatin g th e Firs t Amendmen t rul e tha t gov ernment restriction s o n speec h must b e neutral, not singlin g out particu lar idea s for punishment . Thi s was a conclusion tha t wen t t o the general terms o f th e ordinance , no t t o Viktora' s particula r case . An d thi s wa s why th e Cour t coul d trea t th e fact s o f Viktora' s cas e almos t cavalierly , for th e fact s reall y weren' t relevan t t o th e genera l issu e th e Cour t chos e to address . The Court' s reasoning , i t shoul d b e added , ha d a peculia r twist . Because th e Cour t reste d th e ordinance' s infirmit y o n th e groun d tha t i t singled ou t onl y some , an d no t all , ground s upo n whic h th e speec h o r conduct subjec t t o it s provision s coul d b e restricte d — only ange r an d alarm grounde d i n race , religion, o r gende r wer e covered—th e effec t o f the Court' s decisio n wa s tha t th e ordinance' s constitutionalit y coul d b e saved onl y b y restrictin g more, no t less , speech. Thi s le d Justice White , in bewilderment , t o dissen t bitterl y fro m "th e foll y o f th e opinion, " which h e characterized a s "a n arid , doctrinair e interpretation , drive n b y the frequentl y irresistibl e impuls e o f judge s t o tinke r wit h th e Firs t Amendment." To which h e might hav e added , quotin g Holmes , "T o rest upo n a for mula i s a slumber that , prolonged , mean s death. "

The Burning Cross I 10 3 When Is Conduct Speech? Can th e questio n o f whether Rober t Viktora' s ac t was speec h b e ignore d as easil y a s th e majorit y opinio n woul d hav e u s believe ? Wa s th e pur e formalism o f th e Court' s approac h t o th e cas e to o clever , a s Justic e White suggested ? If , a s White believed , Viktora's ac t was not speech—i f it was instea d simpl y conduct , "fightin g words " fallin g completel y out side th e Firs t Amendment , a s th e Cour t ha s lon g describe d suc h speech—was ther e an y good justificatio n fo r reversin g Viktora's convic tion, give n tha t his actio n coul d legall y b e punishe d becaus e i t coul d claim no protectio n a s speec h unde r th e Firs t Amendment ? Wh y shoul d Viktora b e absolve d o f responsibilit y fo r hi s conduct simpl y becaus e some othe r perso n engagin g i n som e othe r ac t o f speakin g (us e o f a n offensive wor d o r phrase in a college speech, for example ) a t some futur e time migh t b e wrongly prosecute d unde r th e ordinanc e — an ordinance , it shoul d b e remembered , tha t ha d never bee n use d i n th e eigh t year s o f its existence befor e Viktora , Miller , an d fou r o r fiv e othe r boy s ha d cho sen o n tha t Jun e evenin g o f 199 0 t o drink , smok e pot , tak e LSD , an d finally i n the we e hour s o f th e mornin g t o bur n a cross i n the fron t yar d of th e blac k famil y tha t live d acros s th e street ? Perhaps ther e i s a n adequat e answe r t o thes e questions , bu t t o dis cover wha t i t i s an d the n t o judg e i t on e mus t begi n b y explorin g th e issue th e Cour t chose , expediently , t o ignore : Was Viktora' s ac t speec h for purpose s o f th e Firs t Amendment ? I n th e Cohen v. California case , Justice Blackmun , joined b y Chief Justice Burge r an d Justice Hugo Blac k (the Firs t Amendmen t absolutist) , ha d describe d Pau l Cohen' s wearin g of a jacke t emblazone d wit h th e word s "Fuc k th e Draft " a s a n "absur d and immatur e antic , . . . mainly conduc t an d littl e speech. " I f th e senti ment wa s wrongl y applie d t o Cohen' s act , woul d i t nevertheles s b e a fi t description fo r Viktora's ? Justice Harlan' s opinio n i n Cohen treate d Cohen' s ac t o f wearin g th e jacket emblazone d "Fuc k th e Draft " i n th e Lo s Angele s Count y Court house a s speech becaus e Cohe n wa s intentionall y tryin g to communicat e his view s t o other s throug h th e jacket' s message , an d th e four-lette r expletive wa s a purposefu l mean s o f expressin g hi s emotions , hi s strength o f feelin g o n th e issu e o f th e draf t an d th e war . Cohen' s act , i n short, wa s speaking ; i t was immature , crude , an d insensitive , bu t i t wa s nevertheless par t o f a n effor t b y Cohe n t o communicat e idea s t o others .

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The fac t tha t th e mean s h e use d t o expres s hi s feeling s wer e distastefu l did no t alte r th e basi c speec h qualit y o f th e act . Whether Viktora' s ac t o f burnin g th e cros s (or , mor e accurately , allegedly participatin g i n it s burning ) was , like Cohen' s act , speech , thu s turns o n ho w w e judg e his conduc t an d his motives . The speec h qualit y of Viktora's ac t i s not determine d b y askin g whether an ac t o f burnin g a cross, i n theory , could b e a n ac t o f speaking , o r whethe r th e burnin g cross, itself , ha d expressiv e meanin g a s a symbol . Just a s Justice Harla n insisted i n Cohen tha t th e Firs t Amendmen t questio n revolve d aroun d Cohen's us e o f th e phras e "Fuc k th e Draft " an d no t whethe r th e phras e itself, ou t o f it s particular context , wa s i n som e abstrac t sens e "speech, " so als o th e questio n fo r Viktor a i s whethe r his action s i n burnin g th e cross wer e act s o f speaking. A s Holmes said , th e "characte r o f ever y ac t depends o n th e circumstance s i n which i t is done. " Unfortunately, Viktora' s cas e was see n a s an abstractio n fro m th e ver y start, beginnin g wit h th e juvenil e court' s decisio n t o dismis s th e charge s because the ordinanc e was faulty eve n though it s application t o Viktora' s case may no t hav e been . As a consequence, n o tria l wa s hel d an d n o evi dence adduce d o n th e particular s o f th e boys ' action s tha t June evening . So in addressin g Viktora's conduc t an d his motives, we wil l hav e t o pro ceed o n a certai n degre e o f surmise , base d o n th e fact s availabl e t o u s from public—an d unchallenged—accounts . Bu t what those accounts tel l us, i f true, i s that ther e i s substantial reaso n t o doub t tha t Viktora' s act s constituted "speaking " fo r purpose s o f the First Amendment . The ac t o f speakin g ha s thre e essentia l qualities . I t mus t b e purpose ful, no t inadverten t o r unintended ; i t mus t b e geare d t o communicatin g ideas o r informatio n t o others ; an d th e idea s an d informatio n mus t b e those o f th e speaker . Ampl e roo m fo r doub t exist s o n al l three score s i n Viktora's case . Following hi s arrest, Miller tol d th e police, " I drank al l night. I f I was sober I wouldn't eve n hav e though t abou t goin g along. " I f w e indulg e the well-grounde d assumptio n tha t Viktora , too , wa s b y th e we e hour s of th e mornin g wel l unde r th e influenc e o f alcohol , marijuana , o r LSD , or som e combinatio n thereof , ca n w e easil y assum e tha t h e was capabl e of a "purposeful " act , especiall y on e base d o n th e specifi c inten t t o express a coherent ide a t o a n identifie d audience ? In th e crimina l law , action s undertake n unde r th e compulsio n an d judgment-distorting influenc e o f drug s ca n b e excuse d o r mitigate d (though grudgingl y an d infrequently , i t shoul d b e added ) o n th e theor y

The Burning Cross I 10 5 that on e canno t b e hel d responsibl e o r morall y culpabl e fo r choice s made unde r suc h circumstances. In short, the requisite intent require d b y the crimina l la w canno t b e found . I s i t no t possible , b y analogy , t o sa y that fo r speakin g t o occu r a simila r clarit y o f mind , a coherenc e o f pur pose, mus t exist ? I s the swaggerin g bello w o f th e lurchin g drunkar d o n the cit y stree t lat e a t nigh t somethin g w e shoul d defin e a s speakin g fo r purposes o f th e Constitution ? Even i f i n som e minimall y adequat e sens e Viktora kne w wha t h e wa s doing, wh o wa s h e speakin g to} Speaking , a t leas t fo r purpose s o f th e First Amendment' s protection , require s mor e tha n th e coincidenc e o r inadvertence o f a n audience ; i t require s a n audienc e t o who m th e speaker intends t o expres s himself . Wh o wa s Viktora' s audience ? I t i s improbable tha t Viktora' s conduc t ca n b e see n a s communicatio n t o th e five o r six other boy s who participated wit h hi m in the cross burning, fo r theirs wa s a joint, collectiv e ac t directe d no t t o on e anothe r bu t t o som e other object . Wa s th e objec t simpl y th e ventin g o f hate , th e wil d an d crazy expressio n o f inebriation , pointe d nowher e an d t o n o on e i n par ticular? O r ca n w e sa y tha t i n thei r drunke n mo b psychology , th e boy s had formulate d a pla n t o bur n th e crosse s a s a mean s b y whic h t o express thei r racis m t o th e neighbors , th e city , the publi c a t large ? Per haps so , bu t onl y perhaps , becaus e th e cours e o f events , cappe d of f b y the decision , onc e th e burnin g ha d begun , t o "bur n som e mor e an d b e crazy," belie s an y suc h coheren t communicativ e strategy , muc h les s th e individual capacit y t o for m it s intent . There is , o f course , anothe r possibility . Di d Viktor a an d hi s friend s intend t o communicat e a message— their message—t o th e Jones family , a messag e bearin g th e symboli c imprin t o f th e K u Klu x Klan ? I f i n thei r inebriation the y lacke d th e capacit y t o for m an y meaningfu l intent , much les s this one , we ca n o f cours e dismis s th e possibility . An d eve n i f we assum e tha t the y could s o intend, th e messag e the y se t ou t t o expres s to the Jones famil y must , t o qualif y a s their speech , b e their own . It mus t reflect Viktora's free-wille d decisio n t o expres s th e idea s a s his, o r a t least to expres s th e idea s o f hi s ow n consciou s choice . But Miller's state ment "If I was sobe r I wouldn't eve n hav e though t abou t goin g along " and Jason Olson' s descriptio n o f the decisio n t o bur n agai n a s a decisio n to "b e crazy " sugges t somethin g ver y different . I t suggests that th e Jones family wa s no t th e communicativ e objec t o f a messag e bu t a t bes t th e communicative instrument ; no t the intended recipien t o f the message bu t instead par t o f th e messag e itself . I f thi s i s so , Viktor a woul d no t b e

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"speaking" t o the Jones famil y fo r purpose s o f the Firs t Amendment bu t speaking throug h them , an d thu s th e ac t o f speaking—o f communicat ing t o other s — could no t transpir e i n th e absenc e o f anothe r intende d audience, o f whic h ther e i s no evidenc e whateve r i n th e fact s w e know . And i f ther e wa s n o speakin g b y Viktora, hi s actio n woul d amoun t no t to speec h bu t simpl y to conduct , fo r purpose s o f th e Constitution .

Speech and Harm Let u s assume , eve n i n th e fac e o f al l o f th e informatio n w e have , tha t Viktora wa s capabl e o f formin g th e necessar y intention , an d tha t h e di d in fac t inten d b y hi s ac t t o expres s hi s ow n feeling s o f racia l hatre d an d violence t o th e Jones famil y b y th e ac t o f burnin g a cros s i n thei r yar d and anothe r acros s th e stree t fro m thei r home . Mus t we , base d o n al l of these assumptions , unlikel y a s the y appear , acknowledg e tha t Viktora' s act wa s speec h protecte d b y th e Firs t Amendment ? O r migh t w e eve n then ask , a s Holmes did , whether th e "characte r o f th e act . . . in the cir cumstances i n whic h i t [was ] done " wa s s o brigade d wit h conduct , s o directly an d immediatel y productiv e o f resultin g harm , tha t i t shoul d b e treated, lik e shouting fir e i n a crowded theatre , a s mere conduc t an d no t speech? Thi s vie w o f th e cas e woul d fi t th e classi c mol d o f "fightin g words"—words tha t i n thei r immediac y ar e bu t par t an d parce l o f resulting harm , an d ar e therefore no t protecte d a s speech unde r th e Firs t Amendment; word s tha t ar e directe d specificall y a t anothe r person , intended b y their communicatio n t o tha t othe r perso n simpl y an d solel y to cause immediat e har m t o tha t perso n b y the very idea expressed . This i s a cas e ver y differen t fro m tha t presente d b y Pau l Cohen' s walking throug h th e Lo s Angeles Count y Courthous e wit h a jacket tha t said "Fuc k th e Draft. " I n th e Cohen cas e Justice Harla n wa s quic k t o point ou t tha t ther e wa s n o evidenc e tha t Cohe n intende d t o caus e any one harm , muc h les s that h e intended t o inflic t har m b y the words alon e on an y specifi c an d know n perso n wh o h e knew , i n fact , woul d b e harmed. Cohen' s case , instead , wa s abou t standard s o f tast e an d abou t the freedo m t o expres s th e emotiona l strengt h o f one' s convictio n i n cir cumstances i n whic h peopl e migh t b e shocke d an d offende d bu t no t harmed i n any bu t a n intellectua l way . When th e cas e i s o f a differen t sort , a s wit h Viktora' s intendin g t o hurt and , indeed , expe l th e Joneses fro m th e neighborhoo d b y the ver y

The Burning Cross I 10 7 message h e directe d a t them , woul d muc h o f valu e t o th e Firs t Amend ment b e lost b y a decision t o trea t th e ac t a s conduct, no t speech ? I s the kind o f communicativ e ac t we hav e hypothesized fo r Viktor a reall y dif ferent fro m act s o f fraud , coercion , blackmail , o r extortion , al l o f which ca n occu r throug h th e mediu m o f "speech " bu t non e o f whic h we conside r protecte d act s o f speakin g fo r purpose s o f th e Firs t Amendment? During th e cours e o f th e ora l argumen t i n Viktora' s cas e th e justice s openly worried abou t thi s question . Bu t they di d s o rather aimlessl y an d without ultimat e resolution . Question [posed to Edward Cleary, Viktora's lawyer]: Wit h respec t to word s tha t injure , i s i t you r positio n tha t th e onl y word s tha t injure tha t ca n constitutionall y b e punished ar e threats ? Mr. Cleary: No , Your Honor . Question: Threat s t o immediat e harm ? Mr. Cleary: No , Your Honor . I' m no t suggesting — Question: Ho w d o You—wher e d o you dra w th e line ? Mr. Cleary: I believe , You r Honor , tha t that—I'l l b e ver y honest . I think that' s a very hard lin e to draw , an d I think that' s perhap s th e crux o f thi s cas e t o a certai n degree , i s the offensivenes s ide a an d how— Question: Mr . Cleary , . . . i t depend s cas e b y case o n th e reactio n o f the person wh o hear s the words, is that right ? Mr. Cleary: Tha t i s as I understand it , Your Honor . Question: S o you ca n us e an y languag e whateve r i n a Quake r com munity, i f yo u ar e i n a soli d Quake r community , yo u ca n b e muc h more insultin g tha n yo u ca n somewher e else . Does tha t mak e a lo t of sense ? Mr. Cleary: No , bu t i t doe s rel y o n th e audienc e reactio n . . . th e reflexive violenc e idea , an d everyon e i s going to b e different. . . . Question: Migh t i t no t b e a reasonabl e ma n standard ? I guess yo u would hav e t o conside r Quaker s no t reasonabl e men , a t leas t inso far a s their stron g aversio n t o violence is concerned, bu t migh t tha t not b e th e standard ? I mean , i f yo u happe n t o b e i n a pacifisti c community, wh y shoul d th e la w tak e tha t int o account , wh y should th e la w subjec t thes e peopl e t o tha t kin d o f abus e whic h other peopl e would b e provoked t o respon d t o with violence ? Mr. Cleary: I agree —

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The issu e o f th e precis e har m cause d b y th e boys ' ac t wa s als o th e sub ject o f a colloqu y wit h Thoma s Foley , the attorne y fo r Ramse y County , who argue d tha t th e St . Paul ordinanc e wa s constitutional . Question: Mr . Foley , woul d yo u addres s th e concer n expresse d b y [Mr. Cleary ] tha t th e ordinanc e i s limite d onl y t o fightin g word s [words tha t produc e immediat e harm ] tha t arous e anger , alarm , o r resentment "o n th e basi s o f race , color, creed , religion , o r gender " and no t othe r fightin g word s tha t coul d caus e th e sam e reactio n i n people [fo r reason s othe r tha n race , etc.] ? The argumen t i s that th e statute i s underinclusive . Mr. Foley: You r Honor , it' s ou r positio n tha t th e statut e i s not under inclusive, tha t thi s i s a fightin g word s case , that thi s i s [therefore ] unprotected conduc t [an d no t speech] , and tha t th e Cit y of St . Paul has th e righ t t o determin e whic h harm s i t can proscrib e withi n th e limits o f it s jurisdiction . Question: S o you're sayin g fightin g word s simpl y [are ] no t protecte d speech a s such, and therefor e w e can selec t anything within the cat egory o f fightin g word s . . . i s that wha t you'r e saying ? Mr. Foley: Yes , Your Honor . Question: Wha t i f th e burnin g wer e don e i n fron t o f th e Ramse y County Courthouse ? Mr. Foley: You r Honor , w e believ e thi s ordinanc e woul d no t b e applicable i f th e burnin g cros s wa s don e i n a publi c foru m o r i n a political parad e o f som e sort . It' s onl y whe n th e conduc t i n thi s case i s don e i n a manne r t o inflic t injur y o r caus e a n immediat e breach o f th e peac e tha t i t violates [the ] ordinance . . . . There i s a n element o f inten t wit h th e ordinanc e sayin g [tha t th e cross-burne r must] "kno w o r hav e reaso n t o kno w tha t i t would arouse— " Question: Mr . Foley, I'm havin g trouble wit h terminolog y an d i t ma y be m y fault , bu t I have assume d tha t [thi s court' s prio r decisions ] spoke t o tw o differen t categorie s [o f "fightin g words " tha t coul d be punished] , the "word s tha t injure " categor y an d th e "fightin g words" [tha t incit e other s to violence ] category . Are you claimin g tha t thi s i s a fighting word s cas e o r a word o r expression tha t injure s case ? Mr. Foley: W e rely more heavil y o n the inflict s injur y prong , [tha t th e cross burnin g itsel f inflicte d injury ] t o th e family , th e Jones family . The burnin g o f th e cros s i n the middl e o f th e nigh t outsid e o f thei r

The Burning Cross I 10 9 home i s mor e tha n jus t outrageou s conduct . I t i s direc t har m t o these people, causing fear , intimidation , threats , an d coercion . . . . Question: You r theor y i s tha t becaus e th e categor y o f word s tha t inflict injur y [is ] outside th e First Amendment's protection , i t is no t an objectio n i n this case that th e particular word s . . . are identifie d by conten t [i.e. , race, religion, an d s o on] ? I s that a fai r statemen t of your position ? Mr. Foley: W e think the y ca n b e content-base d unde r thos e circum stances. These exchange s mak e clea r th e Court' s interes t i n definin g th e precis e "harm" t o which the ordinance was directed. Was it the harm th e act di d to th e feeling s o f th e recipient—"anger , alarm , o r resentment"—o r di d the har m tak e mor e objectiv e an d physica l for m throug h th e violen t reaction o f others ? Th e implication , o f course , i s that th e Firs t Amend ment require s thos e o n th e receivin g en d o f speec h t o brac e themselve s against th e offense , anger , an d hur t tha t wil l befal l them , even when the y have bee n single d ou t a s target s b y on e whos e motiv e i s just that , an d nothing else . But jus t ho w firml y mus t w e brac e ourselve s befor e responsibilit y fo r the har m ca n b e shifte d fro m th e listene r t o th e speaker , fro m it s objec t to it s creator? I s it obviou s tha t Rus s an d Laur a Jones' s feeling s o f star k fear an d bruta l intimidatio n ar e a lesse r for m o f har m tha n a physica l assault, perhap s becaus e th e har m i s comprehende d an d internalize d rather tha n physicall y felt ? Wa s th e Klan' s reig n o f terro r an d intimida tion mor e benig n tha n it s act s o f arson ? I s destructio n o f th e spiri t les s condemnable tha n destructio n o f a building ? Where shoul d w e dra w th e lin e betwee n shoutin g fir e i n a crowde d theater an d causin g a pani c i n whic h peopl e migh t b e trampled , o n th e one hand , an d wearin g a jacket emblazone d "Fuc k th e Draft " i n public , knowing tha t childre n wil l b e presen t an d man y hearer s wil l b e deepl y offended an d emotionall y upset , o n th e other ? Tucked beneat h th e smoot h logica l venee r o f th e Suprem e Court' s opinion i n Viktora' s case , disguise d b y th e formalis m o f th e Court' s "underinclusiveness" rationale , lurk s th e inescapabl e line-drawin g ques tion. What harm s cause d b y speech ar e sufficientl y grav e t o justify treat ing the speec h tha t cause s the m a s conduct tha t ca n b e made th e subjec t of regulatio n b y a democraticall y electe d majority ? Har m t o th e hearer' s or reader' s o r viewer' s sens e o f goo d taste , decency , an d soun d value s i s

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not sufficient , accordin g t o Justice Harlan' s opinio n i n th e Cohen case . But th e possibility—indee d likelihoo d — of bein g trample d i n th e the atre i s sufficient, accordin g t o Justice Holmes . Are th e horror , th e star k fear , th e sens e o f helplessness , devaluation , and rejectio n tha t Rus s an d Paul a Jone s fel t sufficien t har m t o justif y treating Viktora' s ac t a s conduct an d no t speech ? O r i s such harm—fo r it surel y is harm—too ephemeral , a product onl y o f though t an d belief ? If "ephemerality " i s the answe r given , i s the resul t i t yields i n Viktora' s case a necessar y (o r a t leas t acceptable ) pric e tha t mus t b e paid fo r free dom o f belie f an d expression ? Why , w e migh t ask , mus t th e Joneses ' freedom t o maintai n their belief s — beliefs o f dignit y an d equalit y an d opportunity an d safet y — be sacrifice d i n th e nam e o f preservin g th e cross-burners' beliefs , especially whe n th e cross-burners ' beliefs , suc h a s they were , wer e onl y diml y i f a t al l visibl e throug h a clou d o f alcohol , marijuana, an d LSD ? This i s a questio n no t o f theor y bu t o f fact . Theorie s provid e a struc ture fo r understandin g facts , no t fo r ignorin g them . Bu t thi s lesso n wa s lost on the Supreme Court' s majority, fo r neithe r fact s no r answer s to th e difficult questio n o f har m ca n b e found i n the majority' s opinio n i n Vik tora's case . The opinio n simpl y refused t o fac e u p to it , escaping throug h a devic e o f pur e abstractio n tha t condemne d th e ordinance' s failur e t o sweep withi n it s reac h al l possibl e kind s o f actio n tha t migh t produc e traumatic emotiona l harm—o r even , fo r tha t matter , al l possibl e kind s of actio n tha n migh t produc e a bonfir e i n one' s fron t yard . I t was lef t t o Justice White , joine d b y Justices Blackmun , O'Connor , an d Steven s i n frustrated an d bitte r dissent , to insist , without th e legal force o f a major ity opinion, that Viktora's ac t was not speech , and t o accuse the majorit y of "legitimating ] hat e speec h a s a form o f publi c discussion. " But if we ar e left withou t a n answe r fro m th e Court' s majorit y i n Viktora's case , we ar e stil l lef t wit h th e question , whic h i s ope n becaus e i t was ignored . Wha t kind s o f har m ar e sufficien t t o justif y restriction s o n speech? I n ponderin g thi s question , w e remain , a t leas t fo r th e present , haunted b y Justice Harlan' s opinio n i n Pau l Cohen' s case , haunte d b y the question s hi s remarkabl e an d factuall y ric h opinio n compel s u s t o address: • I s the pligh t an d th e hur t fel t b y Rus s an d Paul a Jone s whe n con fronted wit h a burning cross in their yard i n St. Paul, Minnesota, i n 1990 differen t i n articulatabl e way s fro m th e shoc k an d revulsio n

The Burning Cross I 11 1 felt b y a family an d thei r childre n whe n confronte d wit h "Fuc k th e Draft" o n Pau l Cohen' s jacke t i n a courthouse corrido r i n 1968 ? • I s the burnin g cros s the cultura l equivalen t today , i n a societ y no w numbed b y expletives an d obscenity , o f the word "Fuck " displaye d on th e bac k o f a jacke t i n a publi c buildin g i n a n earlie r day , i n a very different climat e an d socia l order ? • Ca n w e distinguis h th e family' s claime d right , i n 196 8 o r eve n today, to a public culture that consist s with rather tha n undermine s the value s o f moderation , decency , an d commitmen t t o reason , from a black family' s claime d righ t t o a culture fre e o f racia l terro r and th e relics of racial violence ? When al l i s sai d an d done , perhap s th e onl y differenc e betwee n Robert Viktor a an d Pau l Cohe n i s th e passag e o f tw o decades . W e might, of course, hope that this is not so , for i f it is, the First Amendmen t would hav e to b e taken t o mean, at its base, that the culture can insist o n no publi c virtue s whatever ; tha t n o requirement s o f intention , o f com municative purpose , o r o f consciousl y forme d though t ca n b e placed o n the ac t o f speaking ; an d therefor e tha t w e ca n no t eve n insis t tha t th e protected an d sacre d righ t o f speakin g freel y b e at least a self-consciou s act that "eschew s violenc e coerced by " force . Perhaps th e sentimen t expresse d i n 197 1 i n Cohen' s cas e b y Justic e Blackmun, the n ne w to th e Court , an d share d als o b y Justice Black , the n a vetera n a t th e en d o f hi s career wh o wa s known , amon g al l o f th e justices, a s a n absolutis t o n Firs t Amendmen t issues , someho w seem s les s quaint an d anachronisti c when transplante d t o the present i n the form o f a burnin g cros s li t b y a grou p o f boy s actin g o n whi m an d impulse , under th e influenc e o f alcohol , marijuana , an d LSD . Was Viktora's act , too, a n "absur d an d immatur e anti c . . . mainl y conduc t an d littl e speech?" If not—i f Justic e Harlan' s reasonin g i n Cohen' s cas e i n 197 1 woul d compel a simila r resul t i n Viktora' s cas e i n 1992—ar e w e prepare d t o swallow the bitter pill thus tendered? Justice Holmes put i t well, if unsat isfyingly, i n his famous 191 9 dissen t i n Abrams v. United States: But when men have realized that time has upset many fighting faiths , they may come to believe even more than they believe the very foundations o f their own conduct that the ultimate good desired is better reached b y free trade in ideas—that th e best test of truth i s the power o f the thought t o

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get itself accepte d in the competition o f the market, and that truth i s the only ground upo n which their wishe s safely ca n b e carried out . That at any rate is the theory of our Constitution. It is an experiment, as all life is an experiment. (Italics added) What i f w e coul d as k Holmes , wer e h e aliv e today—th e sam e Holme s who define d trut h "a s th e syste m o f m y (intellectual ) limitations" — whether th e succes s o f th e America n experimen t reall y mus t depen d o n Robert Viktora' s freedo m t o bur n a cross in the Joneses' fron t yard ? We might b e surprised a t hi s answer . Let us return, in closing, to the beginning. What doe s Viktora's case reveal about th e distinction betwee n speec h an d conduc t unde r th e First Amend ment? I t reveals a distinction tha t i s theoretically imperfec t bu t practicall y necessary; an approximatio n onl y o f whe n a n ac t has the necessary quali ties o f speaking . I t reveal s a lin e tha t ca n b e neithe r clearl y draw n no r wholly ignored , an d whos e enforcemen t call s upon th e les s tidy demand s of judgment a s well as the elegant abstraction s o f philosophy . As Alexander Bickel , one o f the greates t constitutiona l scholar s o f th e twentieth century , expresse d i t i n hi s wonderfu l boo k The Morality of Consent, freedo m o f speec h rest s fundamentall y o n th e propositio n tha t for speec h to remain free , "violenc e mus t b e the monopoly o f the State. " Speech must , a t a minimum , b e a produc t o f individua l freedo m an d will, no t o f inadvertenc e o r capric e o r simpl e brut e force . It s qualit y a s expression, no t violence , mus t b e judged , a s i t wa s no t judge d i n Vik tora's case , against Holmes' s observatio n tha t "th e characte r o f ever y ac t depends o n th e circumstance s i n whic h i t i s done. " Fo r i f Rober t Vik tora's undeniabl y "absur d an d immatur e antic " wa s conduct , an d no t speech, th e Suprem e Court' s decisio n t o gran t i t shelte r i n th e nam e o f the Firs t Amendment woul d no t b e folly bu t tragedy . To borro w Justic e Frankfurter' s tur n o f phrase , i t woul d "radiat e a constitutional doctrin e withou t avowin g it. "

ADDITIONAL READIN G

Richard Delgado , "Word s That Wound: A Tort Action for Racia l Insults, Epithets, an d Name-Calling, " 1 7 Harvard Civil Rights/Civil Liberties Law Review 133 (1982).

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Richard Fallon , Jr., "Tw o Sense s o f Autonomy, " 4 6 Stanford Law Review 87 5 (i994)O. W. Holmes, "Natura l Law, " i n Collected Legal Papers 31 0 (1920) . Frederick Schauer , "Th e Phenomenolog y o f Speec h an d Harm, " 10 3 Ethics 63 5 (i993>Clark v. Community for Creative Non-Violence, 46 8 U.S . 288 (1984) .

Story Five

The Artist : Carnal Knowledge as Art, Pornograph y a s Subordination, an d th e V-chip a s Famil y Value s (Jenkins v. Georgia, 418 U.S. 153 (1974)) And now , I said , le t m e sho w i n a figur e ho w fa r ou r natur e i s enlightened o r unenlightened:—Behold ! Huma n being s livin g i n a n underground den , whic h ha s a mout h ope n towar d th e ligh t an d reaching al l alon g th e den ; her e the y hav e bee n fro m thei r child hood, an d hav e thei r leg s an d neck s chaine d s o tha t the y canno t move, an d ca n onl y se e befor e them , bein g prevente d b y the chain s from turnin g roun d thei r heads . Abov e an d behin d the m a fir e i s blazing a t a distance, an d betwee n th e fir e an d th e prisoners ther e i s a raise d way ; an d yo u wil l see , if yo u look , a lo w wal l buil t alon g the way , lik e th e scree n whic h marionett e player s hav e i n fron t o f them, ove r which the y sho w th e puppets . I see. And d o yo u see , I said, me n passin g alon g th e wal l carryin g al l sorts o f vessels , an d statue s an d figure s o f animal s mad e o f woo d and ston e an d variou s materials , which appea r ove r th e wall ? You have shown me a strange image, and they are strange prisoners. Like ourselves , I replied; an d the y [th e prisoners ] se e onl y thei r own shadow s o r th e shadow s o f on e another , whic h th e fir e throw s on th e opposit e wal l o f th e cave ? True, h e said ; ho w coul d the y se e anythin g bu t th e shadow s i f they were neve r allowe d t o mov e thei r heads ? And o f th e object s whic h ar e bein g carrie d i n lik e manne r the y would onl y se e the shadows ? Yes, he said . And i f the y wer e abl e t o convers e wit h on e another , woul d the y not suppos e tha t the y were naming wha t wa s actuall y befor e them ?

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Very true. To them, I said, the truth would be literally nothing but the shadows of the images. —Plato , The Myth of the Cave

Plato's allegor y i s about meaning , abou t ho w th e meanin g o f what w e see i s a functio n o f wha t w e know . Ou r stor y i s als o abou t meaning: th e meanin g o f speech , an d mor e specificall y th e meanin g o f movies abou t sex . I s sexua l intercours e portraye d i n a movi e th e tru e image, o r i s i t instea d a shado w o f anothe r image , suc h a s libert y an d freedom, hopelessnes s an d despair , lus t an d immorality , lov e an d inti macy, subordinatio n an d inequality ? If w e dra w o n Plato' s allegory , th e questio n o f a film' s meanin g is , a t one level , a questio n o f epistemology . Th e ter m "epistemology " i s defined a s the "theor y o f th e natur e an d ground s o f knowledge. " I t thu s concerns how we know what w e know, not ho w we select that which w e might choose t o know. When we hear a "chirp " we perceive a bird, not a car. We hav e no t chosen t o rejec t "car " i n favo r o f "bird, " fo r t o d o s o we woul d hav e t o perceiv e bot h idea s fro m th e "chirp. " Instead , al l w e know fro m th e chir p i s bird ; epistemologicall y speaking , w e d o no t "know" car . What w e kno w i s a resul t o f wha t w e perceive , an d perception , a s Plato understood , i s a subtl e an d complicate d thing . Perceptio n i s th e construction o f a reality, no t the reality . W e d o no t perceiv e th e visua l image tha t lie s befor e us . "Th e ey e an d brain, " Ulri c Neisse r wrot e i n "The Processe s o f Vision," a n important articl e published i n 196 8 i n Scientific American, "d o no t ac t a s a camer a o r a recordin g instrument . I n perceiving, comple x pattern s ar e extracte d fro m tha t inpu t an d fe d int o the constructive proces s o f vision. " Wha t w e perceive, in othe r words , is not th e imag e befor e u s but , rather , wha t ou r neurologica l filterin g sys tems mak e o f th e fragment s o f colo r an d textur e a s they ar e firs t decon structed an d the n reconstructe d i n ligh t o f ou r experience , language , culture, an d socia l relationships . "Th e perceptua l object, " a s Christia n Metz pu t i t i n a 198 0 articl e entitle d "Aura l Objects, " "i s a constructe d unity, socially constructed, an d als o (t o some extent ) a linguistic unity. " The meanin g o f a n ac t o f sexua l intercours e depicte d o n film , then , i s a produc t o f th e viewer' s ac t o f perception . I f th e viewe r see s prurienc e but no t despair—jus t a s a listene r hearin g a chir p woul d se e a bir d an d

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not a car—can w e describ e th e perceptua l ac t o f ascribin g tha t meanin g as a chosen one , a s a self-consciou s social , eve n political , ac t i n whic h the viewe r perceive s a rang e o f possibl e meaning s bu t elect s onl y on e based o n persona l preference s an d value s an d prejudices ? Or migh t the act o f giving meaning instea d b e an epistemologica l one , the produc t o f a n unconscious , deepl y imbedde d proces s reflectin g learned pattern s o f culture , language , an d experience , revealin g t o th e viewer onl y th e imag e tha t passe s throug h th e filterin g len s o f percep tion? I s meaning, a s Plato suggeste d i n The Myth of the Cave, a shado w only, the onl y thing we can se e through a template tha t shape s th e imag e we perceive ? Our stor y involve s the distinctio n betwee n epistemologica l ignorance , on th e on e hand , an d politica l preference , o n th e other . Whic h o f these , ignorance o r politics , explain s a souther n town' s failur e t o perceiv e racism i n th e earl y 1960s ; whic h o f thes e explain s th e sam e souther n town's failur e t o perceiv e th e "art " i n sexua l intercours e a decad e later ; and whic h o f these explain s a northern town' s failur e t o perceive parod y in sexua l bestialit y i n 1995 ? I n eac h instanc e message s imbedde d i n th e images o f racism , sexuality , an d bestialit y wer e ignore d i n th e construc tive proces s o f ascribin g meaning . Wa s eac h town' s ignoranc e a con scious politica l choice , o r wa s i t instea d a sig n o f epistemologica l ignorance: of simpl y not seeing ? Should a communit y whos e ignoranc e i s born e o f epistemolog y — of failure t o se e because th e len s through whic h th e communit y "saw " pre vented th e othe r meanin g fro m bein g perceived , muc h a s a templat e placed upo n a n imag e change s i t int o somethin g els e — be abl e t o pre serve it s ignorance , it s template , muc h a s th e Amis h struggl e t o protec t their childre n fro m knowledg e o f th e outsid e world ? Ca n a communit y be conscious o f it s blindness (thoug h unawar e o f what i t cannot see ) and wish t o preserv e it ? I s such a n ac t a political act , o r a benig n ac t o f epis temological ignorance , th e politica l ac t consistin g instea d i n th e act s o f those who woul d forc e the m t o se e that whic h the y canno t see ? Catharine MacKinnon , a brillian t an d controversia l Firs t Amendmen t scholar, claim s tha t whe n a woman view s a n eroticize d depictio n o f vio lent rap e an d see s no t se x bu t subordination , her s i s a n epistemologica l act, no t a politica l one . Subordinatio n i s the meanin g sh e sees , not th e meaning sh e chooses t o see ; indeed, MacKinnon claims , subordination i s the meaning that most o f us see, male and female , young an d ol d alike . If

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she i s right , the n t o describ e wha t w e see a s a politica l ac t wit h Firs t Amendment consequences , whe n i t i s an epistemologica l one , is to con fuse th e ac t o f refusin g th e forbidde n frui t wit h th e ac t o f forcin g others , through pornography , t o ea t it . The politica l act , MacKinno n claims , i s the pornographer's, no t ours . This issue lies at the center o f another contemporar y development : th e V-chip. Recently embrace d wit h th e forc e o f la w an d th e fervo r o f mora l imperative, the V-chip i s a mechanism t o b e installed i n all television set s that wil l allo w eac h o f u s t o shap e wha t w e an d ou r childre n see , an d thus, perhaps, also to shap e what w e know. By programming th e mecha nism t o bloc k ou t se x o r violenc e i n advanc e eve n o f it s production , much les s it s broadcast , th e viewe r ca n avoi d choice , an d thu s avoi d knowing. Th e V-chi p i s thus muc h mor e tha n a technologica l marvel , i t is an epistemologica l miracle . The debat e ove r pornograph y an d th e V-chi p thu s hav e somethin g i n common. Bot h rais e a fundamenta l questio n a t th e hear t o f th e Firs t Amendment: Mus t th e Firs t Amendmen t b e rea d t o requir e tha t every one els e pay th e pric e fo r th e pornographer' s ac t b y sacrificin g th e igno rance we wish t o maintain ? Not always , a s i t turn s out . Bu t t o fin d ou t whe n an d wh y w e mus t turn t o th e beginnin g o f ou r story , t o th e Dee p Sout h i n th e civi l right s era an d t o th e mysterie s o f obscenit y law .

Carnal Knowledge In 197 2 the movie Carnal Knowledge opene d i n Albany, Georgia . The theate r wa s th e Broa d Avenu e Cinema , locate d i n downtow n Albany. I t coul d hav e bee n th e kin d o f theate r tha t mos t American s fre quented i n thei r youth , wit h Saturda y matinee s fo r th e children , movie s that familie s coul d attend , an d o f cours e popcorn , sof t drinks , an d candy. The theate r manage r wa s Bill y Jenkins, a businessma n wh o man aged th e Broa d Avenu e Cinem a fo r Marti n Theaters , a n Atlant a chain . Carnal Knowledge wa s playing in Albany an d o n Main Stree t i n theater s across th e country, t o a n audienc e o f nearl y twenty millio n people . Albany wa s a tow n tha t believe d i n la w an d order , wit h a n emphasi s on "order. " Jus t a fe w year s earlie r Marti n Luthe r King , Jr., ha d bee n jailed ther e fou r times , each withou t incident . Th e civi l rights movemen t had com e to Albany, beginning i n the bu s depot an d spreadin g thereafter ,

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through protes t an d resistance , to al l quarters o f the community. Bu t th e police chief' s unyieldin g deman d fo r la w and orde r ha d lef t th e civi l rights movement stillbor n i n Albany, forced t o mov e o n t o othe r venues . And in the court o f public opinio n Marti n Luthe r King , Jr., was humble d and th e chief wa s made a national hero . The citizen s o f Alban y wer e fo r th e mos t par t decen t people . Th e community ha d values , an d whil e it s value s ca n b e criticize d fo r th e selectivity with which they were applied , onc e adopted the y were fiercel y embraced. Principa l amon g Albany' s value s wa s th e characteristicall y southern conventio n o f courtesy an d propriet y i n one' s public demeanor . "Obscenity" wa s thus a dirty word, an d i t was given broa d definition . In 197 2 Alban y wa s a town possesse d o f it s own history , it s own cul ture, its own values . Carnal Knowledge wa s no t welcom e there . Albany lie s abou t on e hundre d mile s sout h o f Macon , wel l beyon d th e grasp o f Atlanta' s "Ne w South " orbit . Tuscaloosa , Alabama , lie s som e two hundre d mile s west , ove r occasionall y rollin g bu t dominantl y fla t southern-pine country . Thi s i s th e Dee p South , ho t an d steam y i n th e summer bu t gree n an d lush , too . Alban y i s just eas t o f th e low , rollin g foothills o f th e Piedmont's souther n extreme . The nam e o f th e tow n seem s discordan t t o a northerner , wh o associ ates i t with th e capita l o f Ne w York . S o as not t o confus e Albany , Geor gia, with it s norther n namesake , perhaps , th e nam e i s pronounced wit h the accen t o n th e secon d tf, whic h i s mounte d hig h an d wit h a mute d twang. Th e city' s locatio n i n souther n Georgi a plant s a n imag e o f a small, rural , steamy , raciall y divide d souther n town . Bu t wit h a 197 2 population o f som e sixt y thousand , 4 0 percen t o f who m wer e Africa n American, i t di d no t fi t th e classi c stereotyp e o f th e small , backwate r southern tow n whos e racia l division s wer e enforce d b y a bruta l sherif f and a well-placed railroa d track . Not tha t Alban y ha d n o racia l divide . I t did , an d lik e mos t town s i n the Dee p Sout h th e divid e wa s deepl y ingraine d i n th e culture . I n Albany's case , however, th e railroa d trac k wa s redundant , fo r th e racia l divide wa s enforce d no t b y on e bu t b y tw o officer s o f th e law : a bruta l sheriff and a hard-nosed , astute , take-all-prisoners , law-and-orde r police chief . During th e "tim e o f racia l unrest, " t o whic h w e shal l tur n shortly, th e brutalit y wa s provide d b y Sherif f Cul l Campbell , a n unre constructed ma n give n t o usin g forc e t o solv e problems . Th e la w an d order wa s astutel y provide d b y Polic e Chie f Lauri e Pritchett , describe d

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in a December 196 1 Newsweek stor y a s " a red-haired , red-face d forme r paratrooper" who , b y compariso n wit h Campbell , wa s fairnes s incar nate. A s Howar d Zin n pu t i t i n hi s boo k You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train, "Campbel l woul d bea t somebod y blood y an d Pritchet t would cal l for a n ambulance. " Albany ha s a notable , i f no t alway s commendable , history . Presiden t Jimmy Carter' s childhoo d nanny , Anni e Ma e Rhodes , live s ther e today , as sh e di d i n th e 1930 s whe n sh e travele d twenty-on e mile s nort h o n Route 1 9 an d nin e mile s wes t o n Rout e 28 0 t o Plains , Georgia , wher e she worked i n the Carte r home . There, beginning a t ag e sixteen, she supplied youn g Jimmy wit h sweet-potat o pi e an d peanu t bread , an d a life long friendship . When , i n 1994 , he r Alban y hom e wa s destroye d i n a flood, Presiden t Carte r turne d hi s attentio n fro m nuclea r arm s i n Nort h Korea an d reinstallin g Presiden t Aristid e i n Haiti , rolle d u p hi s sleeves , and helpe d "Mrs . Anni e Mae " ge t bac k o n he r fee t b y working o n he r new hous e fro m Habita t fo r Humanity . Albany i s also th e "Quai l Capita l o f th e World." Eac h yea r th e tow n hosts th e Celebrit y Quai l Hun t attende d b y famou s sports , movie , TV , and entertainmen t VIPs , a s well , recently , a s Genera l Norma n Schwartzkopf an d Chuc k Yeager . The cit y als o bor e th e les s notable dis tinction, i n 1994 , a s the cit y wit h th e nation' s highes t percentag e o f sin gle-parent households , just ahea d o f New Yor k City . But Albany' s mos t notabl e clai m t o fam e trace s bac k t o 196 1 an d 1962, i n th e early , gri m day s o f th e civi l right s movement . I t wa s i n Albany tha t th e fate s o f th e Reveren d Marti n Luthe r King , Jr., Sherif f Cull Campbell , an d Chie f Lauri e Pritchet t woul d b e draw n togethe r with jarrin g an d improbabl e results . I t al l bega n i n lat e 196 1 i n th e wake o f th e Montgomery , Alabama , bu s boycott . Thre e youn g civi l rights activists , Charle s Sherrod , Cordel l Reagan , an d Charle s Jones, of the Studen t Nonviolen t Coordinatin g Committe e (SNCC) , wh o wer e later joine d i n wha t woul d b e know n a s th e Alban y Movemen t b y a coalition o f group s includin g th e NAACP , Congres s o f Racia l Equalit y (CORE), Souther n Christia n Leadershi p Conferenc e (SCLC) , an d th e Baptist Ministers ' Alliance , selecte d Alban y a s the firs t ste p i n a coordi nated effor t t o brin g full-scal e integratio n t o citie s throughou t th e South. Beginnin g wit h th e then-segregate d Alban y bu s depo t an d trai n station, SNC C organize d sit-ins , marches, protests , an d voter-registra tion drive s t o integrat e Alban y fro m to p t o bottom , fro m Cit y Hal l t o department stores , restaurant s t o schools , bu s transportation , theaters ,

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and churches . I t wa s nothin g les s tha n a n attemp t t o transfor m th e city's soul . In th e shor t run , a t least , th e city' s sou l resisted . Bu t th e city' s reputa tion didn't . A s the New Republic pu t i t in March o f 1962 : This sprightly, bu t mannerly an d basicall y well-meaning sout h Georgi a city ha s latel y attaine d a n undesire d an d a t leas t partiall y undeserve d national reputation a s the prototype o f all the relics of the Middle Ages that ar e stubbornly refusing t o surrender t o the 20th Century . This is the result o f th e arrest s o f 700 Negroes , includin g th e Rev . Martin Luthe r King, on the technical charge of parading without a license in a demonstration against segregated seating on the city bus lines. But the reputation is fantastically wrong . Albany is simply a community that has a wolf b y the ears and cannot discover any safe way of letting go. A conflict tha t canno t b e escape d o r resolve d mus t a t leas t b e man aged. Here Chie f Pritchet t shon e through . La w an d orde r wa s hi s theme , and h e pursue d i t relentlessly , arrestin g an d jailin g 5 0 peopl e here , 17 0 there, 1 5 peopl e elsewhere , an d s o on , includin g o n on e occasio n i n 1962 a group consisting o f the Reverend Marti n Luthe r King , Jr., and 69 priests, ministers, an d rabbis . Pritchett' s distinctio n wa s no t t o b e foun d in hi s skill s o f arres t an d prosecutio n (whic h wer e possesse d i n equa l measure b y many police chiefs i n the South ) but , rather, in the evenhand edness wit h whic h h e applie d th e medicine . Hi s answe r wa s simpl y t o arrest everyone , young an d old , blac k an d white , northerne r an d south erner, save d an d sinner . Pritchett's medicin e wa s generousl y dole d ou t fo r ever y breac h o f th e law, distribute d i n a matter-of-fact , nonjudgmental , an d orderl y way . And h e did thi s with a n ey e to quellin g an y eruptio n o f passio n an d vio lence, ofte n removin g th e mos t notabl e o f th e arrestee s t o "livin g quar ters" i n othe r counties . Pritchet t i s reporte d t o hav e arreste d Marti n Luther King , Jr., fou r time s bu t i n eac h instanc e t o hav e release d hi m from custod y quickl y enoug h t o avoi d hi s bein g mad e a martyr . Everyone wh o distribute d handbill s i n violation o f th e Albany ordinance s wa s arrested, whateve r thei r message , a policy describe d b y the New Republic in July o f 196 3 a s a "mocker y o f th e Bil l o f Right s [made ] thu s . . . very precise, being limited principall y t o ideas. " For thi s Pritchet t achieve d no t ignom y bu t fame . H e wa s invite d t o a symposium sponsore d b y the Ford Foundation , where he shared hi s skills and tactic s wit h othe r polic e chiefs . H e wa s widel y praise d i n th e medi a

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for maintainin g la w an d orde r (and , no t coincidentally , segregation ) i n Albany. H e "earne d thi s prais e fro m th e establishmen t press, " accordin g to Howar d Zinn , "b y simpl y puttin g int o priso n ('nonviolently, ' a s h e boasted) ever y man, woman, an d chil d i n the city of Alban y who trie d t o exercise their constitutiona l right s of free speec h an d assembly. " Racial segregation , i t seems , wa s par t o f th e war p an d woo f o f Albany, deepl y ingraine d i n the cultur e an d outloo k o f al l citizens, blac k and white , young an d old . How els e can we imagine a n existenc e perme ated fro m to p t o bottom , imbedde d i n ever y ac t an d gesture , a t ever y moment, b y the horror o f racia l segregation ? Charles Sherrod , Cordel l Reagan , Charle s Jones, and al l of th e other s came t o transfor m Albany' s sou l b y liftin g it s shadowe d vei l o f igno rance—wresting i t away , i n fact . Bu t Albany , fo r th e momen t a t least , could no t b e made to see so easily. It resisted bein g led from th e cave int o the light . One get s th e distinc t impressio n upo n readin g abou t Alban y a t th e tim e of th e civi l right s protest s an d te n year s later , whe n Carnal Knowledge played a t th e Broa d Avenu e Cinema , tha t no t muc h ha d change d between 196 2 an d 1972 . To be sure, the characters wer e new, as was th e surface appearanc e o f th e town . Bu t th e sou l wa s stil l intact— a sou l that consiste d no t onl y of racial divisio n bu t als o of small-tow n souther n values o f mannerliness , religiosity , an d (always ) la w an d order . Ther e was, i t seems , a coherenc e o f values , a belie f i n limits , a n old-fashione d idea o f propriet y i n one' s publi c conduc t and , importantly , i n matter s related t o sex . Or s o it could hav e seemed i n early 197 1 as the sheriff, i n concert wit h the distric t attorney , launche d a program o f investigatio n an d seizur e o f allegedly obscen e film s tha t wer e playin g i n Albany' s movi e houses . Th e enterprise wa s a systemati c an d relentles s on e intende d t o purg e Alban y of obscenity . I n July an d Augus t o f 1971 , for example , a s many a s forty three film s wer e investigated b y the sheriff' s deputies . Six months later , in January o f 1972 , Carnal Knowledge go t caught i n the trap . On a n afternoo n i n early January, Lyn n Stou t wa s amon g th e patron s who walked u p to the ticket boot h a t the Broad Avenue Cinema. He pur chased a ticket an d then proceeded insid e to se e the movie that was play ing. The movie was Carnal Knowledge. Stou t thus joined roughly twent y million othe r American s wh o watche d a critically acclaime d fil m depict ing th e experience s o f tw o youn g me n whos e live s wer e centere d unre -

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pentantly an d unfulfillingl y o n sex . Th e fil m dwelle d o n thei r sexua l activities an d o n thei r conversations , whic h likewis e wer e dominated , with increasin g emptines s an d despair , o n sex . B y today's standard s th e film wa s no t explicit , a t leas t i n th e graphi c sens e t o whic h w e hav e become accustomed ; i t coul d bes t b e described , instead , a s sexua l an d sensual, representational bu t no t explicit . After th e film wa s over , Stout rose from hi s seat and walke d ou t o f th e theater wit h al l o f th e othe r patron s wh o ha d see n Carnal Knowledge that afternoon . Th e dinne r hou r wa s fas t approaching , an d mos t o f th e patrons probabl y heade d fo r home . Bu t hom e wa s no t Stout' s destina tion. He headed , instead , fo r th e distric t attorney' s office . On Januar y 13 , 1972 , Stou t returne d t o th e Broa d Avenu e Cinema , this tim e i n hi s officia l capacit y a s chie f investigato r fo r th e Doughert y County Sheriff' s Office , an d h e wa s arme d wit h a searc h warrant . Wit h 150 o r s o peopl e watchin g Carnal Knowledge a t th e time , Stou t pro ceeded t o serv e the warran t o n Bill y Jenkins, th e manager , an d seiz e th e film. A s Stou t late r testified , Jenkin s "i s th e ma n tha t I served th e war rant on . He' s th e ma n tha t gav e al l th e order s t o rewin d th e fil m an d t o have the people leav e the theater an d etcetera. " Carnal Knowledge, a s i t turne d out , achieve d a specia l distinctio n i n Albany. In the day s following Stout' s visits to th e Broa d Avenu e Cinema , Carnal Knowledge wa s seize d three more time s in other Alban y theaters . Albany, i t seems, took se x seriously . On Marc h 6 , 1972 , a warrant wa s issue d fo r Bill y Jenkins's arres t o n a charg e o f distributin g obscen e material, a violation o f Georgia' s Crimi nal Code . I n a remarkabl e exampl e o f justice' s swiftness , hi s tria l wa s held jus t fourtee n day s later , on Marc h 2 0 - 2 1 . The trial itsel f wa s unexceptiona l a s obscenity trial s go . Characteristi cally fo r Albany , i t wa s orderly , efficient , an d short . Apar t fro m testi mony abou t th e tim e an d circumstance s o f th e seizur e an d arrest , th e location an d admissio n polic y o f th e theate r (th e fil m wa s R rated) , an d testimony abou t othe r dirt y film s an d magazine s tha t ha d no t (yet , on e suspects) bee n seize d i n Alban y b y th e sheriff' s officers , th e onl y direc t evidence o f th e film' s obscenit y wa s th e fil m itself , whic h th e jury , afte r its lunc h break , wa s take n t o vie w i n th e sam e Broa d Avenu e Cinem a from whic h i t had originall y bee n seized . There wa s nothin g untowar d abou t thi s rathe r spar e proceeding ; th e United State s Suprem e Court' s decision s ha d sai d tha t a jur y coul d decide o n a film' s obscenit y base d o n th e jury' s viewin g o f th e film ,

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alone, withou t an y testimon y abou t it s meanin g o r value . An d fo r a lawyer defendin g a n obscenit y cas e i n a smal l rura l souther n town , bringing fanc y movi e critics or academi c types into the courtroom t o lecture th e jur y abou t th e "proper " standard s o f tast e an d aestheti c judg ment coul d b e risky business , indeed. After all , the citizens o f Albany ar e capable o f making their ow n aestheti c judgments. Or s o the theory went . More notabl e tha n th e brevit y o f Jenkins' s trial , i s th e fac t tha t i t occurred no t onc e bu t twice . Th e firs t tria l ende d i n a mistria l becaus e one membe r o f th e twelve-perso n jur y hel d ou t fo r acquitta l an d hun g the jury . The tria l judg e thereupo n dismisse d th e jur y an d se t the matte r for retria l th e nex t day . After a second , similarl y shor t trial , followe d b y a matine e showin g a t th e movi e house , th e cas e wa s onc e agai n submit ted t o th e jury o n Marc h 22 . The stat e prevaile d th e secon d tim e around , bu t no t withou t diffi culty. O n th e afternoo n o f Marc h 2 2 th e judg e charge d th e secon d jury , and th e juror s retire d t o th e jur y roo m fo r deliberations . Th e jur y returned t o th e courtroo m lat e tha t afternoo n t o repor t o n it s delibera tions. The transcrip t reveal s the followin g events : The Court: Mr . Foreman, hav e you bee n abl e to reac h a verdict yet ? The Foreman : No sir , we haven't . The Court: D o no t tel l me how yo u stan d fo r acquitta l o r conviction ; tell me simply how yo u stan d numerically . The Foreman: Well , Judge, w e hav e ha d on e vot e an d I would sa y that i t would b e abou t fiv e an d te n an d tha t woul d no t b e fo r sur e because som e sai d tha t the y were no t committin g themselves . The Court: Well , w e hav e thi s problem . Unde r th e law , yo u ar e required t o sta y togethe r an d experienc e ha s show n tha t i f you g o to a hotel t o ea t that i t will take abou t a n hou r an d a half o r some thing like that . I wa s jus t wonderin g . . . i f yo u woul d lik e t o deliberat e unti l around 7:3 0 an d the n w e wil l arrang e fo r yo u t o b e se t u p ove r a t the hote l an d yo u ca n mak e you r arrangement s t o spen d th e nigh t and hav e your mea l an d resum e you r deliberation s i n the morning . Does that soun d reasonabl e t o you ? The Foreman: Well , it will take awhil e fo r the m t o se t u p a t th e hote l and suppos e w e just wai t i n th e Jury Roo m unti l the y se t u p a t th e hotel an d w e can jus t us e that tim e to deliberate .

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The Court: Al l right, we will do that. I f you haven' t reache d a verdic t at tha t time , then w e wil l jus t le t you mak e arrangement s t o spen d the nigh t an d t o ge t you r mea l an d t o resum e deliberation s i n th e morning. The Foreman: Ca n I ask yo u this ? I think tha t a dictionar y woul d b e of som e hel p i f it were availabl e t o us . The Court: Ordinaril y not . Ther e i s n o dictionar y whic h ha s bee n introduced int o evidenc e an d yo u ca n resum e you r deliberation s and w e will let you kno w whe n arrangement s ar e made . [Later tha t afternoon , th e jury returne d t o th e courtroom. ] The Court: Mr . Foreman, ar e you stil l unable t o mak e a verdict ? The Foreman: W e haven't reache d a verdict o r clos e to it . The Court: Yo u ar e not clos e to it ? The Foreman: No , sir . The Court: Al l right, arrangement s hav e bee n made for whateve r yo u want t o hav e t o ea t a t th e hote l an d arrangement s hav e bee n mad e for rooms . Now, i f yo u will , b e bac k i n th e mornin g afte r havin g you r breakfast ove r ther e an d b e here i n the Courtroo m i n this bo x ove r here a t 9:0 0 o'cloc k i n the morning . . . . The Court [following a discussion with counsel off the record]: I f an y of yo u shoul d wan t t o pic k u p a magazine , i s ther e a magazin e counter ove r there ? I s there an y objectio n t o the m gettin g a news paper fro m ou t o f town ? Doe s anybod y hav e an y objectio n t o that? [There bein g n o objection , th e hearin g wa s the n recesse d an d the jury went t o th e hotel . The nex t morning , Marc h 23 , 1972, the jury returned t o th e courtroom. ] The Court: Al l right, Gentlemen , i f you will , go to your Jury Bo x an d resume you r deliberations . [After a perio d o f deliberation s i n th e Jur y Room , th e jur y returned t o th e courtroom. ] The Court: Mr . Foreman , d o yo u hav e an y communication s tha t yo u would lik e to make ? The Foreman: Well , I think w e hav e jus t finall y reache d it , Judge. I don't kno w i f we staye d ther e 'ti l the 4t h o f July tha t w e would ge t much further . The Court: Ha s ther e bee n an y change ?

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The Foreman: Yes , sir, it's 1 1 to i . The Court: Well , some jury i s going to hav e to pass o n this case . The Foreman: W e have tried ver y diligently t o reach a decision an d i t just look s lik e that i t is impossible. We will b e glad t o d o whateve r you wish u s to do . The Court: Well , try i t a while longe r an d i f yo u the n fin d tha t yo u can't d o it , w e wil l hav e t o re-evaluat e it . A t thi s time , I—woul d like t o reiterat e tha t I am no t tryin g t o forc e a verdict , bu t unles s somebody ha s some deep abiding conviction tha t h e cannot giv e u p through reaso n an d thinking , a verdic t shoul d b e mad e becaus e both th e Stat e an d th e Defendan t want s thi s Jury t o pas s o n thi s question. The Foreman: I can' t sa y tha t i t woul d hel p any , bu t i f i t coul d b e done, i f yo u coul d — could yo u rea d th e charge ? I t migh t hel p some; I don't know . The Court: I s there an y particular par t tha t yo u ar e interested in ? The Foreman: I don't believ e that i t would b e any particular part . We have trie d t o ascertai n th e particula r questio n an d haven' t bee n able to ge t one . The Court: I will b e glad t o d o that i f you thin k i t would b e helpful . The Foreman: I don't kno w whethe r tha t woul d b e in orde r o r not . I thought tha t I would as k it . The Court: D o yo u hav e copie s o f th e cod e Sectio n tha t yo u hav e requested? The Foreman: That' s correct , sir . The Court: I can giv e yo u th e whol e charg e again , bu t I don't kno w that tha t wil l hel p because—wh y don' t yo u g o bac k t o you r Jur y Room an d discus s an y specifi c question s tha t yo u wan t t o as k about th e charg e o r whateve r th e la w ma y b e an d the n writ e ou t your reques t an d I will tell if we can answe r it . The Foreman: Al l right . [Following furthe r deliberations , th e jur y returne d t o th e court room.] The Court: Mr . Foreman, hav e you bee n abl e to reac h a verdict ? The Foreman: W e have, Your Honor . The Court: Al l right , Mrs . Gable , receiv e th e verdic t an d publis h it , please. The Clerk: Stat e versu s Bill y Jenkins. We , the Jury , fin d th e Defen dant guilty , this 2 3 rd da y o f March , William M . Dorsey , Foreman .

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Following the reading of the verdict, the judge promptly dismisse d th e jury. Wit h littl e furthe r ado , th e judg e the n sentence d Bill y Jenkins t o twelve months probatio n an d fine d hi m $750 . A dinne r an d a goo d night' s slee p a t th e loca l hotel , combine d wit h a gentle, last minute nudge from th e judge, appears t o have done wonders . Billy Jenkins appeale d hi s convictio n t o th e Georgi a Suprem e Court , claiming tha t th e jury' s determinatio n tha t Carnal Knowledge wa s obscene wa s unsupporte d b y the evidence , an d tha t th e Georgi a obscen ity la w violate d th e Firs t Amendment . I n a n opinio n issue d o n Jul y 2 , 1973, th e Georgi a Suprem e Court , ove r th e dissen t o f thre e o f it s mem bers, hel d tha t th e evidenc e supporte d th e verdic t o f guilty , tha t th e Georgia obscenit y la w wa s constitutional , an d tha t Jenkins' s convictio n would stand . Jenkins the n sough t t o hav e hi s convictio n reviewe d b y th e Unite d States Suprem e Court . I n th e fal l o f 197 3 th e Suprem e Cour t agree d t o hear Jenkins' s appea l an d se t hi s cas e dow n fo r ora l argumen t o n Apri l 15, 1974 . Th e case , formall y entitle d Billy Jenkins v. Georgia, woul d soon becom e know n a s the Carnal Knowledge case . It i s har d t o imagin e a les s enlightenin g Suprem e Cour t ora l argumen t than tha t whic h occurre d i n th e Carnal Knowledge case . Loui s Nizer , a famous an d extraordinaril y skille d lawye r fro m Ne w Yor k City , argue d on behal f o f Bill y Jenkins. Ther e i s no evidenc e tha t h e too k hi s client' s case for granted , though surel y he was optimistic . Carnal Knowledge ha d been see n b y millions o f peopl e an d ha d me t wit h grea t critica l acclaim . But n o lawye r wh o i s experienced a t ora l argumen t befor e th e Court , a s Nizer surel y was, would expect , much les s be prepared for , near—indee d virtually dum b — silence from th e bench. That i s what h e got . Over th e cours e o f hi s presentation , Nize r wa s aske d fe w questions , none o f which reall y challenged hi s position tha t Carnal Knowledge wa s protected speec h an d no t obscene , an d mos t o f whic h seeme d mor e grudgingly obligator y tha n serious , asked a s if in obeisanc e t o a n obliga tion t o appear intereste d an d engage d tha n genuinel y t o b e so . Betwee n the questions , whic h wer e bunche d togethe r a t thre e points , Nize r wa s left t o fil l seemingl y vas t stretche s o f tim e wit h a monologue — a mono logue tha t becam e increasingl y difficul t t o sustai n withou t repetition , and tha t strike s on e upo n readin g i t no w a s disturbingl y directe d a t n o one, a s i f th e justice s wer e no t reall y listenin g bu t jus t bidin g time , tap ping thei r finger s impatientl y wit h on e ey e o n th e clock . A s he sa t dow n

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at th e completio n o f hi s argument , Nize r mus t hav e fel t disoriented , wondering wh y h e ha d bee n lef t wit h a formalisti c dut y only , a duty , i n effect, t o spen d hal f a n hour talkin g to himself . The lawye r wh o argue d fo r th e Stat e o f Georgia , Ton y Hight , wa s the executiv e directo r o f th e Distric t Attorney s Associatio n o f Georgi a in Atlanta. Hi s experienc e wa s similarl y strange . His ora l argumen t wa s marked b y lon g period s o f silence , perhap s eve n indifference , fro m th e justices, onl y occasionall y punctuate d b y question s focusin g almos t exclusively o n technical , eve n arcane , procedural aspect s o f th e Georgi a jury an d appellat e procedure . Suc h matters , whil e largel y incomprehen sible, wer e no t irrelevan t t o th e case , bu t the y hardl y justifie d th e Court's exclusiv e focu s o n them , a focu s s o dominan t tha t virtuall y nothing wa s aske d abou t th e constitutional issue s presente d b y th e jury's findin g tha t th e fil m wa s obscene . O n th e constitutiona l issue s Hight, lik e Nizer, wa s lef t t o a monologue which , fo r hi m too , seem s t o have ha d n o audience . How ca n w e accoun t fo r th e Court' s utter , an d apparentl y conscious , disinterest i n th e Firs t Amendmen t speec h issue s raise d b y th e Alban y jury's decision ? Ther e ca n b e only on e answe r t o this question : the resul t in the case was obvious to the justices from th e beginning; oral argumen t was a hollow ritua l only , a dut y impose d b y tradition an d carrie d ou t i n form bu t no t i n substance . Thi s woul d becom e clea r late r whe n th e Court announce d it s decisio n i n th e case , a decisio n tha t woul d unani mously revers e Jenkins's convictio n an d declar e tha t Carnal Knowledge was no t obscene . Th e opinio n woul d b e writte n b y Justice Rehnquist , the justic e mos t likely , som e woul d say , to sympathiz e wit h th e Stat e o f Georgia. But i f th e outcom e wa s foreordaine d b y th e tim e o f ora l argument , why di d i t tak e unti l Jun e 24 , 1974 , mor e tha n tw o month s afte r ora l argument an d a t th e ver y en d o f th e Court' s term , fo r Justic e Rehnquis t to announc e th e opinion ? Coul d i t b e tha t explainin g th e decisio n wa s more difficul t tha n arrivin g a t it ? I f s o — and ther e i s reason t o thin k s o based o n reporte d account s o f Rehnquist' s struggl e t o formulat e hi s opinion—the explanatio n ma y li e in two knott y Firs t Amendment mat ters tha t la y jus t beneat h th e surfac e o f th e case : (1 ) whethe r a work' s quality ca n pla y a legitimat e rol e i n measurin g th e degre e o f it s Firs t Amendment protection , an d (2 ) whethe r a work' s meaning ca n b e lef t to a jur y a s th e interpretiv e voic e o f a community' s socia l an d cultura l values.

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Does the First Amendment Foreclose Judgments about Quality? The explanatio n fo r th e Court' s apparen t convictio n fro m th e ver y beginning tha t a tragi c erro r ha d take n plac e i n th e Alban y courtroo m seems clea r enough . Carnal Knowledge wa s not , afte r all , just any dirt y movie. I t wa s no t Sex Kittens, on e o f thos e anonymou s (an d fictitious ) stag film s tha t inhabi t seed y an d decrepi t theater s locate d o n th e wron g side o f town . Carnal Knowledge playe d i n fiv e thousan d theater s o n Main Street s o f virtuall y ever y America n town , t o a hug e nationa l audi ence. It received national attentio n an d critica l acclaim: reviewed b y Vincent Canb y i n the New York Times; writte n abou t b y Studs Terkel i n th e Chicago Daily News an d Georg e F . Will i n th e Washington Post; an d nominated fo r a n Academ y Award . It s actors wer e no t th e nameles s an d invisible denizen s o f th e pornograph y trade . The y wer e instea d Jac k Nicholson, Candic e Bergen , Ar t Garfunkel , Ann-Margret—famou s actors and , mor e t o the point, seriou s an d accomplishe d artists . Carnal Knowledge ma y no t hav e bee n th e ful l fil m equivalen t o f Ulysses, bu t i t surel y wasn' t th e equivalen t o f Sex Kittens. I t wa s no t a movie of sex, bu t on e about sex : about th e emptines s an d ultimat e desti tution an d self-destructivenes s o f se x as sex; abou t mora l despai r an d decay. We can safel y assum e that th e justices knew muc h o f thi s even a s the y gathered t o vot e o n acceptin g th e cas e fo r review , an d w e ca n b e certai n of i t when , followin g ora l argument , the y gathere d i n thei r privat e con ference roo m t o discus s th e cas e an d cas t thei r vote s o n Jenkins' s fate . They ha d bee n repeatedly—indee d relentlessly—reminde d o f th e film' s stature i n th e brief s presente d t o the m i n th e case . The Author' s Leagu e of America , whic h wa s onl y on e o f th e organization s tha t file d brief s amicus curiae (brief s submitte d b y intereste d group s tha t woul d b e affected b y th e decision , a s "friend s o f th e Court") , quote d fro m a review of Carnal Knowledge tha t appeare d o n July 3 , 1971, in the Saturday Review: "No t onl y i s the film , overall , th e bes t acte d i n years ; i t i s also the most matur e o f al l those America n film s tha t hav e attempte d t o deal wit h th e subjec t o f se x i n thes e ultra-liberate d cinemati c times. " "[A]ll o f th e reviewers " o f th e film , th e brie f stated , "considered , an d evaluated, 'Carna l Knowledge ' a s a fil m o f seriou s literar y an d artisti c value." Anothe r amicus brie f wa s mor e direct , declarin g i t "inconceiv able tha t a movi e suc h a s this—whic h man y critic s foun d t o b e on e o f the te n bes t o f th e year ; whic h ha d a sta r (Ann-Margret ) nominate d fo r

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an Academy Award; and whic h score s of reviewers analyzed o n a sophisticated level , debatin g th e idea s an d value s whic h i t containe d — could be foun d t o b e withou t seriou s literary , artisti c o r politica l value. " Ye t another brie f simpl y announced : "Twelv e juror s brin g n o greate r aes thetic expertis e t o 'Carna l Knowledge ' tha n the y woul d t o 'Ulysses, ' 'Waiting fo r Godot, ' o r 'Le s Demoiselles D'Avignon.' " Nizer, however , lef t n o roo m fo r misunderstandin g abou t th e film' s stature an d quality , even a t the lat e dat e o f ora l argument . An d h e didn' t mince words i n doin g so . Mr. Nizer: Indeed , you r honors , . . . i t is unthinkable tha t thi s pictur e should b e confused wit h hardcor e pornography . The fil m depict s tw o colleg e student s ove r a spa n o f abou t 3 0 years. They gro w olde r bu t the y don' t gro w up . They ar e preoccu pied wit h sex . Bu t th e pictur e i s not. I t doe s no t involv e th e sense s with erotica , drivin g ou t al l othe r ideas , which i s the typica l char acteristic o f hardcor e pornography . On th e contrary , i t depict s th e failur e o f th e boys ' lives , thoug h they ar e successfu l i n thei r professiona l careers , becaus e the y can not establis h meaningfu l relationship s an d the y ar e ultimatel y crushed b y boredom, lonelines s an d impotency . The fil m deal s wit h th e huma n predicamen t resultin g fro m th e enthronement o f impersona l detachment , th e inabilit y t o lov e an d the sequell i o f cruelt y an d psychi c illness . An d thi s artisti c treat ment o f thi s proble m whic h beset s thi s decad e ha s evoke d man y social an d philosophica l studies , has bee n th e subjec t o f plays fro m Strindberg t o Tennesse e Williams , an d . . . i s why th e New York Times reviewe r calle d i t "profound " . . . an d th e Catholic Film Newsletter, despit e som e reservations , calle d i t " a perceptiv e an d brilliant put-dow n o f a certai n lifestyle. " [T]h e man y critic s throughout th e countr y wh o hav e heape d simila r prais e upo n thi s picture certainl y coul d no t hav e bee n fantasizing . The stor y i n "Carna l Knowledge " predominate s ove r an y visua l presentation. Th e greates t car e was lavishe d o n sets , lighting, cam era effects , musica l score , brillian t ensembl e acting , al l unde r th e direction o f [Mike ] Nichols , acclaime d amon g th e mos t gifte d o f cinemagraphic artist s wh o synthesize d th e ancien t art s o f painting , writing, composing , actin g i n a ne w universa l mediu m an d th e resulting dominan t effec t o f th e pictur e a s a whole i s a sincer e an d

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earnest effor t t o creat e a literary an d artisti c work . And to confuse that result with pornographic imbecility is cultural illiteracy" To confuse Carnal Knowledge wit h obscenity , as the jury had, "i s cultural illiteracy. " Thes e ar e stron g words , indeed . An d the y ar e n o doub t true, too, depending, o f course , on one' s perspective . But t o confus e suc h baldl y politica l sentiment s wit h th e making s o f a Supreme Cour t opinio n justifyin g th e Firs t Amendment' s protectio n fo r Carnal Knowledge bu t th e absenc e o f suc h protectio n fo r Sex Kittens, i s an altogethe r differen t matter ; fo r Sex Kittens coul d likewis e b e charac terized a s a reflection o n th e moral destitutio n o f se x "fo r it s own sake, " or th e centralit y o f sexualit y t o life , eve n i n a post-Victoria n bu t stil l repressive socia l order . T o b e sure , Sex Kittens di d no t pla y o n Mai n Street; i t wa s no t see n b y twent y millio n people ; it s actor s wer e no t famous; it s directo r wa s no t acclaimed ; it s budge t wa s no t ove r $ 3 mil lion; and i t was certainl y no t seriousl y reviewe d i n all of th e right places . But ca n th e siz e o f th e audience , o r th e fam e o f th e actors , o r th e views o f critic s b e employe d a s th e indici a o f "quality " fo r purpose s o f First Amendment ? Ca n w e affor d t o le t the m b e so ? Sex Kittens migh t have ha d a hug e (thoug h demographicall y different ) audience , too . It s stars ma y b e househol d name s t o million s o f people . It , too , ma y hav e met with critica l acclai m i n its own critica l quarters . To res t judgment s o f qualit y o n suc h factor s i s to choos e no t amon g films bu t amon g cultures . Thi s i s th e dilemm a i n whic h th e la w o f obscenity find s itself , even today . The questio n ca n b e pu t bluntly : I s i t conceivabl e tha t th e Firs t Amendment's protectio n ca n b e mad e t o tur n o n th e quality o f expres sion rathe r tha n o n th e fac t o f it s communication? T o even entertai n th e idea tha t qualitativ e distinction s ca n b e made , tha t goo d film s deserv e more protectio n tha n ba d ones , woul d i n som e quarter s b e heresy . T o expressly adop t i t woul d b e deepl y inconsisten t wit h man y o f th e strongest current s o f Firs t Amendmen t jurisprudence . A s Justice Harla n had declare d i n Cohen v. California jus t thre e year s befor e th e Carnal Knowledge case , "[T]h e constitutiona l righ t o f free expression " i s designed "t o remov e governmenta l restraint s fro m th e aren a o f publi c discussion, puttin g th e decisio n a s to wha t view s shal l b e voice d largel y in the hand s o f eac h o f us. " Matters o f tast e an d style , he continued, ar e left t o th e individua l "largel y becaus e governmen t official s canno t mak e

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principled distinction s i n thi s area. " Jus t a s surely , placin g matter s o f taste an d styl e under th e First Amendment i n the hands o f movie review ers woul d b e equall y pernicious . Wha t i s importan t unde r th e Firs t Amendment, h e said, i s the "fac t o f communication. " In view of this, it may see m odd tha t th e argument s mad e o n behal f o f Billy Jenkins and , throug h him , o f Carnal Knowledge, wer e s o explicitl y couched i n term s o f quality , whic h i n tur n wa s mad e a matte r o f "cul tural literacy. " Thi s wa s a n unfortunat e choic e o f words , bu t th e rule s the Cour t ha d create d i n th e obscenit y fiel d ma y hav e lef t Nize r littl e alternative. After year s o f huddlin g togethe r i n a smal l viewin g roo m dee p i n th e recesses o f th e Suprem e Cour t Building , watchin g allegedl y obscen e movies whose lega l fate ha d bee n lef t t o the final , unreviewabl e aestheti c and cultura l standard s o f "nin e ol d men, " th e Unite d State s Suprem e Court ha d a t las t managed , jus t a yea r befor e th e Carnal Knowledge case, to delegat e question s o f "value " an d communit y standard s o f tast e in obscenit y case s to th e lowes t reache s o f th e polity—t o pu t th e defini tion o f cultur e squarel y i n the hand s o f th e citizen s who inhabi t particu lar cities, towns, and communities . The delegatio n wa s accomplishe d i n a 197 3 Suprem e Cour t decisio n in Miller v. California. Th e Miller cas e involve d th e unsolicite d mas s mailing, b y Miller , o f advertisin g brochure s containin g picture s o f me n and wome n engage d i n grou p sexua l activities . Mille r wa s convicte d under California' s obscenit y la w an d appeale d hi s convictio n t o th e Supreme Court , claimin g tha t th e pictoria l advertisin g brochure s consti tuted speec h protected b y the Firs t Amendment . The Suprem e Court' s prior obscenit y decision s had sai d that material s falling withi n th e lega l definitio n o f "obscenity " di d no t qualif y a s speech an d wer e therefor e no t protecte d b y th e Firs t Amendment . Bu t those earlie r decision s ha d als o left th e Court , no t th e jury, with th e ulti mate responsibilit y i n eac h cas e t o determin e whethe r th e material s were, in fact, obscene . It was this ultimate responsibility tha t had oblige d the justice s i n thei r darkene d basemen t roo m t o watc h th e dirt y movies , read th e dirt y books , vie w th e dirt y magazine s and , i n Miller' s case , t o review th e dirty , unsolicited , advertisin g brochures . B y so doing , eac h justice wa s exercisin g hi s solem n constitutiona l dut y t o supervis e th e quality o f aestheti c an d politica l judgment s rendere d b y juries through out th e United States .

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As it turned out , th e fact s o f th e Miller cas e wer e no t terribl y impor tant t o th e Court' s decisio n i n th e case . This wa s becaus e th e Cour t ha d something very specific i n mind when i t decided to accept the Miller cas e for review . The Court' s interes t la y no t i n Miller' s sleaz y brochure s but , instead, i n announcin g ne w rule s fo r distinguishin g obscenit y fro m expression protecte d unde r th e Firs t Amendment , rule s tha t woul d limit—indeed eliminate—th e Court' s obligatio n t o supervis e th e jury' s qualitative judgmen t b y delegatin g virtuall y complet e authorit y t o th e jury. To this end, the Court' s opinio n i n Miller announce d a new definitio n of obscenity . Juries were thenceforth instructe d b y the Suprem e Cour t t o base their decision s o n three questions : 1. whether , t o "th e averag e person , applyin g contemporary community standards, . . . the work take n a s a whole appeal s t o th e pruri ent interest" ; 2. "whethe r th e wor k depict s o r describes , in a patently offensive way, sexua l conduc t specificall y define d b y th e applicabl e stat e law"; an d 3. "whethe r th e work, taken a s a whole, lacks serious literary , artistic , political o r scientifi c value " (emphasi s added) . The jur y woul d b e required t o answe r eac h o f thes e questions . And i t could d o so , as it di d i n Bill y Jenkins's case , on th e basi s o f n o mor e evi dence tha n th e fil m itself . Thus , fo r th e Alban y jur y th e questio n wa s whether "t o th e averag e perso n applyin g contemporar y communit y standards" o f Albany , Carnal Knowledge appeale d t o th e prurien t inter est; whether, t o thos e citizen s o f Alban y wh o wer e servin g o n th e jury , i t depicted sexua l conduc t i n a patently offensiv e way ; an d whether , take n as a whole, the jurors i n Albany judged i t to lack serious literary , artistic , political, o r scientifi c value . I f th e Alban y juror s satisfie d thei r constitu tional obligatio n t o answe r thes e question s an d reste d thei r judgmen t about th e movie' s obscenit y o n thos e answers , that shoul d b e the en d o f the matter . When i t decide d th e Miller cas e an d announce d th e Miller standard , th e Supreme Cour t believe d that i t had finall y extricate d itsel f fro m wha t th e Court ha d itsel f describe d a s "th e intractabl e obscenit y problem. " B y setting th e threshol d o f "quality " ver y low—onl y expressio n that , a s a

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whole, lacks seriou s literary , artistic , political , o r scientifi c valu e coul d be obscene—th e factua l finding s o f the jury coul d b e made conclusivel y reliable, o r a t leas t nearl y enoug h s o that th e Cour t woul d n o longe r have t o review ever y jur y decisio n an d watch ever y dirt y film . After all , even i f juries canno t b e trusted t o mak e refine d judgment s abou t how much valu e a work has , or wha t kind o f valu e i t possesses , jurie s ca n surely b e trusted t o identif y thos e work s tha t "lack " value , eve n "seri ous" value . So the Cour t thought , a t least . Wit h th e value conundru m thu s dis posed of , th e jury coul d b e trusted t o administe r justic e wisely , judgin g not a work's "value, " itself , bu t its "lack " o f seriousness . An d the justices woul d thu s b e abl e t o extricat e themselve s fro m thei r unseeml y judicial gathering s befor e a small scree n i n the darkened basemen t roo m of th e majestic Suprem e Cour t Building , judgin g wha t the y sa w by their collective judicial sens e of value. The small viewing room i n the Suprem e Court ha d been put out of business forever . The difficult y tha t th e Carnal Knowledge cas e pose d fo r th e Court' s new tes t wa s not, however, th e obvious one . It was not, in other words , that th e Albany jur y ha d set out to def y th e critics, doing s o by applyin g a standar d o f qualit y tha t wa s different fro m an d greater tha n th e minimum "lack s seriou s . . . value" criterion . Whil e ther e ca n be little doub t that thi s wa s the result o f the jury's decision— Carnal Knowledge was , after all , a critically acclaime d movi e wit h a n audience o f twenty millio n people—it canno t b e said tha t defianc e o f the critics was the reason fo r the jury' s decision , becaus e th e Albany jur y reste d it s judgment o n the film alone , no t o n the critics' opinion s o f which , w e must assume , th e jury wa s unaware . Mor e basically , th e Cour t ha d mad e i t clea r i n it s Miller opinio n tha t th e larger contex t afforde d b y a film's nationa l audi ence an d critica l acclai m coul d no t serv e a s a ground fo r reversin g th e jury's decision , for evidenc e o f such matter s di d not have to be presented to the jury, and in any event the jury was free t o apply its own standard s growing ou t of its own community . Instead, th e difficulty pose d b y the Carnal Knowledge cas e wa s tha t the Cour t ha d onl y a narrow fram e i n which t o judge th e film's obscen ity. Th e questio n wa s no t whethe r this jur y ha d simpl y reache d th e wrong qualitativ e judgmen t bu t whether a jury, apprise d o f sufficien t evidence (th e film itself , i n this case ) an d applyin g th e three Miller stan dards, could possibly conclud e tha t Carnal Knowledge lacke d seriou s value. O n this questio n th e Miller definitio n ha d left th e Cour t wit h n o

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artillery a t all , fo r th e Cour t ha d no t sai d tha t th e questio n o f valu e i s one of law fo r th e Cour t t o decide , nor ha d th e Cour t state d any criteria , except fo r th e jury' s thre e factua l conclusions , b y which suc h a questio n might b e answered . In vie w o f thi s ver y limited , an d highl y abstracted , fram e fo r deci sion, i t i s no t surprisin g tha t th e lawyer s defendin g th e fil m o n appea l were s o anxiou s t o suppl y a n answe r t o th e "quality " question ; i t ca n be found , the y said , i n th e budget , th e producer , th e actors , th e audi ence, and , mos t troublingly , th e critics . Bu t th e Suprem e Cour t kne w that t o accep t thi s answe r wa s t o rejec t th e Miller tes t itself ; t o substi tute th e critic s fo r th e regula r jury ; t o ge t itsel f onc e agai n int o th e obscenity business , thi s tim e applyin g no t it s ow n aestheti c judgmen t but it s judgment abou t th e aestheti c judgment o f the film critics . To tak e this ste p woul d b e t o mak e a ba d situatio n eve n wors e b y placin g gov ernment judgments , troublin g a s the y ar e unde r th e Firs t Amendment , in private hands . The fac t o f th e matte r wa s tha t ther e wer e n o standard s b y which th e Court coul d overrid e th e Alban y jury' s decisio n abou t "value. " If , a s th e Court ha d undeniabl y sai d i n it s lon g an d agonizin g lin e o f decisions , movie t o movie , ove r th e cours e o f it s "moviegoing " day s i n th e Supreme Cour t theater , th e Firs t Amendmen t foreclose s makin g an y dis tinctions base d o n th e relativ e "quality " o f Carnal Knowledge an d Sex Kittens, bot h o f whic h ca n b e said t o b e commentaries o n o r representa tions o f socia l disorde r o r th e huma n condition , the n ho w coul d th e Court den y th e possibilit y tha t a jury migh t reac h th e opposit e result — that th e "claimed " qualit y a s a socia l commentar y o r cultura l represen tation jus t wasn' t there ? Ca n i t b e tha t th e Firs t Amendmen t beknight s the critics bu t no t th e members o f th e jury ? The Carnal Knowledge cas e ha d thu s "cornered " th e Court . Th e qualitative judgmen t implici t i n th e Alban y jury' s decisio n wa s essen tially unreviewable . Thi s i s the reaso n Justic e Rehnquis t ha d suc h diffi culty formulating a n opinio n fo r th e Court . An d thi s explains why, whe n he di d finall y issu e hi s opinion , nothing wa s sai d abou t "quality " o r "value" o r eve n the wrongness o f the jury's judgment o n these questions . But th e Cour t coul d no t escap e th e deepe r proble m o f quality—th e on e going t o th e film' s meaning, no t t o it s goodness o r badnes s — for i t wa s firmly entrenche d i n th e case . Indeed, i t wa s embedde d i n th e ver y func tion assigne d t o th e jur y i n fre e speec h cases , fo r qualit y is , fundamen -

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tally, a functio n o f meaning , an d meaning i s assigne d b y th e Court' s Miller standar d t o the jury. Just a s one cannot judg e the quality o f a photograph withou t seein g the photographi c image , as oppose d t o witness ing th e scen e th e photographe r captured , s o als o on e canno t judg e th e quality o f a film withou t "seeing " it . And "seeing " a film, a s opposed t o simply viewin g it , i s an ac t o f interpretation , o f extractin g meaning , sig nificance, an d perceptio n fro m wha t i s otherwis e simpl y a descriptiv e and inchoat e two-dimensiona l representation . The dange r presente d b y th e jury' s contro l ove r th e fat e o f Carnal Knowledge wa s not , really , th e jury' s abilit y t o decid e whethe r th e fil m was "good " o r "bad " theate r but , rather , th e jury' s abilit y t o determin e its meaning. Quality , i n th e sens e o f th e film' s goodnes s o r badness , i s utterly dependen t o n wha t th e fil m i s "seen " t o b e — its meaning . I n Jenkins's cas e th e jur y wa s permitte d b y th e Miller test , indee d practi cally required b y it, to decid e what th e film mean t i n the community an d culture o f Albany , Georgia . An d th e jur y serve d u p a direc t an d unam biguous—and practically unreviewable —answer.

Quality as a Function of Meaning And now look again, and see what will naturally follow i f the prisoners are released and disabused of their error. At first, when any of them is liberated an d compelled suddenl y to stand u p and turn his neck round and walk and look toward the light, he will suffer shar p pains; the glare will distress him, and he will be unable to see the realities of which in his former stat e he had seen the shadows; and then conceive some one saying to him, that what he saw before was an illusion, but that now , when he is approaching neare r t o bein g and his eye is turned towar d mor e real existence, he has a clearer vision—what wil l be his reply? And you may further imagin e that his instructor i s pointing to the objects a s they pass and requirin g him t o nam e them—will h e not b e perplexed? Wil l h e not fanc y that the shadows which he formerly sa w are truer than the object s which are now shown to him? Far truer. And if he is compelled t o look straigh t a t the light, will he not have a pai n i n hi s eye s whic h wil l mak e hi m tur n awa y t o tak e refuge i n the objects o f vision which he can see, and which he will

The Artist I conceive to b e in reality clearer tha n th e thing s which ar e now bein g shown t o him ? True, he said . And suppos e onc e more, that h e is reluctantly dragge d u p a stee p and rugge d ascent , an d hel d fas t unti l h e i s forced int o th e presenc e of th e su n himself , i s he no t likel y t o b e pained an d irritated ? Whe n he approache s th e ligh t hi s eye s will b e dazzled , an d h e wil l no t b e able to se e anything a t al l of what ar e now calle d realities . Not al l in a moment, h e said . He wil l requir e t o gro w accustome d t o th e sigh t o f th e uppe r world. An d firs t h e will se e the shadow s best , nex t th e reflections o f men an d othe r object s i n the water, an d the n th e object s themselves ; then h e wil l gaz e upo n th e ligh t o f th e moo n an d th e star s an d th e spangled heaven ; and h e will see the sky and th e stars by night bette r than th e su n o r th e ligh t o f th e su n b y day ? Certainly. Last o f al l he will b e able to se e the sun , and no t mer e reflection s of him in the water, bu t h e will see him i n his own prope r place , an d not i n another; an d h e will contemplat e hi m a s he is. Certainly. He will then procee d t o argu e that thi s is he who gives the seaso n and th e years , an d i s the guardia n o f al l that i s in th e visibl e world , and i n a certain wa y th e cause o f al l things whic h h e and hi s fellow s have bee n accustome d t o behold ? Clearly, he said, he would firs t se e the su n an d the n reaso n abou t him. And whe n h e remembered hi s old habitation , an d th e wisdom o f the de n an d hi s fellow-prisoners , d o yo u no t suppos e tha t h e woul d felicitate himsel f o n th e change, and pit y them ? Certainly, he would . And i f the y wer e i n th e habi t o f conferrin g honor s amon g them selves on those who were quickest to observe the passing shadows an d to remar k whic h o f them wen t before , an d whic h followe d after , an d which were together; and who were therefore bes t able to draw conclusions as to the future, d o you think that he would care for suc h honor s and glories , o r env y th e possessor s o f them ? Woul d h e no t sa y wit h Homer, "Bette r to be the poor servant of a poor master," and to endure anything, rather than think a s they do and live after thei r manner ? Yes, h e said , I think tha t h e woul d rathe r suffe r anythin g tha n entertain thes e false notion s an d liv e in this miserable manner . —Plato, The Myth of the Cave

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To summariz e wha t ha s bee n sai d s o fa r abou t th e Carnal Knowledge case, we can stat e tw o relativel y clea r propositions . (1 ) Qualit y i s not a n admissible facto r i n th e fre e speec h equation . "On e man' s vulgarity, " a s Justice Harla n ha d aptl y sai d i n Cohen v. California, mus t b e presume d for constitutiona l purpose s t o b e "anothe r man' s lyric. " (2 ) Meaning , however, i s a n altogethe r differen t thin g tha n quality . I t relate s no t t o a film's goodnes s o r badnes s but , rather, to its very identity, to what i s seen or perceived . Meaning i s thus a precondition t o th e interpretiv e judgment s o f qual ity, for qualit y ca n b e judge d onl y i n term s o f th e messag e conveyed , a s Plato suggested , an d identifyin g wha t messag e i s conveyed i s a questio n of meaning. Meaning , th e Suprem e Cour t implies , i s to b e judged i n th e polity, b y th e jury , an d no t i n th e elit e sanctuar y o f th e movi e critic' s review o r th e judge's chamber . At firs t blus h th e tw o proposition s abou t qualit y an d meanin g see m logically inconsistent . Qualit y an d meaning , bein g interdependent , can not b e so easily isolated fro m on e another. Bu t perhaps o n furthe r reflection th e logica l proble m ca n b e solved . Qualit y is , the Cour t implies , a function o f meaning , bu t no t vic e versa . Meaning , i n othe r words , ca n first b e assigned, an d b y so doing a smaller univers e o f possible interpre tation i s defined withi n which question s o f quality ca n b e judged (o r not , as the cas e may be) . In som e instances , then , "on e man' s vulgarity " cannot be "anothe r man's lyric. " The adag e holds true onl y if both me n ar e reading fro m th e same script ; if, tha t is , they ar e bot h reflectin g o n the qualit y o f the sam e message. I f not , i f on e see s a bir d an d th e othe r a car , th e "lyric " stem s not fro m a differen t interpretatio n o f th e "vulgarity's " qualit y bu t fro m an altogethe r differen t messag e tha t contain s n o vulgarity . I n suc h cases , differences o f opinio n ar e no t base d o n differen t standard s o f tast e bu t on th e fac t tha t altogethe r differen t script s ar e bein g read , on e i n shadow, on e in light . This is precisely what happene d i n the Carnal Knowledge case—wit h the Court' s blessing . Upon hearin g the evidence an d viewin g the film, th e jury wa s instructed , i n effect , t o "see " th e film—t o interpre t i t an d giv e it meaning . Th e standar d th e jur y wa s t o brin g t o thi s tas k wa s tha t o f the "community, " whic h w e ca n tak e t o mea n eithe r (1 ) th e values , habits, an d cultur e o f Albany , Georgia , o r (2 ) th e share d values , habits , and cultur e o f th e members o f th e jury, drawn fro m Albany .

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The jur y wa s instructe d t o "see " th e fil m Carnal Knowledge throug h the standard s o f th e community , t o assig n it s meaning b y superimposin g the templat e o f Albany' s communit y standard s an d cultur e an d valu e upon th e screen , extractin g th e message , o r meaning , fro m tha t whic h filtered through . Th e jury' s templat e might , o f course , hav e allowe d a message o f despai r an d meaningles s o f a lif e dominate d b y se x withou t love t o sho w through . I t migh t hav e reveale d th e sam e meanin g whe n applied t o Sex Kittens, a s well. But a differen t templat e o f communit y standards , perhap s th e on e actually use d b y th e Carnal Knowledge jury , ma y hav e bee n mor e con stricting, allowin g muc h les s to b e "seen " an d thu s narrowin g th e jury' s range o f possibl e interpretation . Suc h a templat e migh t hav e yielde d a very different meaning , on e that reveale d littl e more tha n th e excitemen t of sexua l lus t (punctuated , thoug h withou t significance , b y representa tions o r spoke n line s abou t despair) ; o r on e tha t legitimate d sexua l promiscuity (eve n though a t th e ris k o f boredom) ; or on e that containe d a messag e o f mal e dominatio n an d femal e sexua l subordination . Thi s i s the template , perhaps , o f th e communit y tha t ha d no t bee n lifte d fro m the cave to confront, an d thu s to "know, " th e new image revealed b y the light o f th e sun . With th e meanin g thu s reveale d b y th e template , th e Carnal Knowledge jur y wa s lef t t o judge , in light of its assigned meaning, whethe r th e film, taken as a whole, appeale d t o th e prurien t interest ; whethe r i t depicted i n a patently offensiv e wa y sexua l conduc t specificall y define d by Georgi a law ; an d whethe r th e film , taken as a whole, lacke d serious literary, artistic , political , o r scientifi c value . I f fo r th e Alban y jur y tha t judged Carnal Knowledge th e template reveale d a meaning equivalen t t o that conveye d b y Sex Kittens, i t i s hardly surprisin g tha t Carnal Knowledge wa s judge d t o b e obscene . Mor e important , i t woul d b e virtuall y impossible t o revers e th e jury' s decisio n withou t th e Court' s onc e agai n going into the movi e business . The Suprem e Cour t wa s abl e t o avoi d thi s resul t an d revers e Jenkins' s conviction onl y b y relyin g o n a technicality . Obscenity , th e Cour t said , must i n al l cases involve th e depictio n o f sexua l conduct , a term tha t th e Court dre w from th e specific languag e o f the Miller tes t and the n took lit erally. I n Carnal Knowledge muc h an d varie d sexua l conduc t wa s implied. Its concrete imagination coul d not b e escaped. But the act of sexual intercourse , t o stat e bu t on e possibl e example , wa s no t literally an d

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explicitly depicte d o n th e screen . No matte r ho w powerful th e film' s evo cation, how prurient it s appeal, how offensive it s content, how lacking its value, n o fil m tha t stop s shor t — just short , a s w e kno w fro m experi ence—of actua l depictio n o f intercourse, the Cour t said , is obscene. This is , surely, a technicalit y only , an d a n unconvincin g one . I t bear s no sensibl e relationshi p t o th e community' s standard s o r t o th e presenc e or absenc e o f seriou s literary , artistic , political , o r scientifi c value . I t yields the incongruou s — obscene seem s a mor e fittin g word , actually — result that Sex Kittens, i f craftily filme d t o avoi d an y frames showin g th e physical ac t o f penetration , mus t b e allowed t o pla y i n Albany , bu t Carnal Knowledge, i f i t contain s bu t on e suc h graphi c sequence , nee d not . This peculiar resul t flie s i n the fac e o f the very purpose o f the Miller test . For this reason, i f no other , it is small wonder tha t Justice Rehnquis t ha d such apparen t difficult y craftin g th e Court' s opinion . But i f we se t th e technicalit y o f th e Carnal Knowledge opinio n aside , the mor e basi c question s raise d b y th e Court' s community-standard s approach ar e clearl y revealed . Why , w e shoul d ask , ough t th e questio n of meaning b e lef t t o th e community ? Ar e ther e n o limit s tha t ca n b e practically enforce d o n th e rang e o f meaning s tha t a community' s tem plate reveals ? The firs t questio n ha s man y answers . Communitie s do hav e differen t standards bor n o f differen t cultures , histories , aspirations , an d values . Albany, Georgia , is very different fro m Albany , New York . Times Squar e is even differen t fro m Wal l Street . Mus t th e maintenanc e o r destructio n of thos e differences , man y o f whic h ar e valuable , b e lef t onl y t o marke t forces? Time s Squar e wouldn' t sel l on Wall Street , which i s why th e tw o places ar e different . Bu t i f a foolis h entrepreneu r want s t o tr y a littl e Times Squar e i n Wall Street, must we let him d o it ? We know fro m ou r experienc e tha t th e sam e message ofte n mean s dif ferent thing s i n differen t place s an d t o differen t people . Thus a rule tha t flatly protect s al l sexually explicit speech , for example , would no t i n fac t be equa l i n it s consequences. A rule tha t prohibite d tal k o f fornication , for example , woul d affec t a religiou s communit y differentl y tha n i t would affec t a communit y devote d t o sexua l liberation . Likewise , a rul e that permitte d al l use s o f a racia l epithe t woul d yiel d uneve n result s depending o n wh o expresse d it , how i t was expressed , o r whethe r i t wa s used i n a community o f white supremacists , i n an integrated community , or i n th e targete d racia l communit y b y member s o f tha t communit y toward on e another .

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No rule , in short, ca n b e crafted i n a way tha t assign s onl y on e mean ing, o r eve n a rang e o f meanings , unles s exception s t o i t ar e allowed . Given this, the issue of the appropriate rol e of the jury, if any, boils dow n to whethe r w e must simpl y accept , i n the nam e o f th e Firs t Amendment , a rul e tha t al l speec h i s absolutely protecte d notwithstandin g th e unfor tunate bu t necessar y fac t tha t som e o f it s meaning s wil l surel y produc e harm; o r whethe r roo m ma y instea d b e left fo r exception s i n light o f th e certainty o f harm flowin g fro m differen t meanings . The first alternative , absolute protection fo r al l speech, has never bee n accepted b y th e Suprem e Court , an d i t isn' t likel y t o b e adopte d i n th e foreseeable future . I t i s not, afte r all , a violatio n o f th e Constitutio n t o use zoning t o kee p adul t movi e theater s fro m settin g u p sho p i n residen tial neighborhoods; nor i s government prohibite d fro m restrictin g publi c school classroo m activitie s t o educatio n o r fro m regulatin g th e tim e an d manner o f telemarketin g i n th e interes t o f preservin g ou r solitude . Eve n Justice Hug o Black , th e Firs t Amendmen t "absolutist, " lef t roo m fo r government t o regulate the speech activitie s that coul d tak e place in public libraries, or aroun d courthouses , o r i n courtrooms . So, absen t a constitutiona l revolutio n w e ar e lef t wit h th e secon d alternative: that som e exceptions t o the freedom t o spea k ca n b e made i n recognition, amon g othe r things , o f th e differentia l harm s tha t a give n instance o f speec h may produce i n different time s or places o r communi ties. And thi s alternativ e lead s us , finally, t o th e Court' s solutio n i n th e obscenity arena , fo r i f exception s ca n b e mad e i n recognitio n o f differ ences i n meanin g an d harm , w e mus t ask : "Wh o wil l b e assigne d th e task o f makin g them? " The Court' s answe r i n Miller wa s tha t exception s shoul d b e crafted b y the jury an d th e community , no t b y the legislature , not b y the judges, no t by the speakers, not b y the invisible hand o f the free market , an d certainly not by the critics. An d th e common-sens e reaso n fo r selectin g th e jur y flows naturall y fro m th e recognition tha t harm , lik e quality, i s a functio n of meaning ; tha t meanin g i s a produc t o f interpretation ; tha t onl y tha t which ca n b e see n ca n b e interpreted ; an d tha t interpretatio n base d o n shared value s i s preferable becaus e i t is more restraine d tha n interpreta tion a t th e leve l o f th e individual , an d i n an y even t interpretatio n a t th e community leve l is but a more finel y tune d approximatio n o f th e excep tions that would b e carved a t the legislative, judicial, or executive levels. If thi s b e s o — if, i n othe r words , th e Alban y jury' s decisio n wa s a n epistemological one , concernin g wha t i t sa w an d therefor e knew , an d

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not a political one , concerning wha t i t preferred—who bu t th e jur y an d the communit y i s better situate d t o judg e the question s o f meanin g fro m which conclusion s abou t valu e an d har m spring ? B y wha t reasonin g would w e judg e th e Georgi a legislatur e mor e abl e tha n a jury i n Alban y to ascertai n th e consequence s Carnal Knowledge woul d produc e i n Albany, Georgia ? Surely th e Suprem e Cour t woul d no t hav e reverse d Bill y Jenkins's con viction o n a technicalit y i f a n alternativ e wer e availabl e t o it . Bu t i f w e accept, a s the Cour t did , the correctnes s o f th e jury' s rol e i n definin g th e template throug h whic h th e fil m woul d b e seen , w e mus t confron t th e second questio n pose d earlier : Is there an y ground upo n whic h th e jury' s range o f discretio n ca n b e effectively limited ? At on e level , of course , we kno w tha t ther e is . If the Jenkins cas e ha d involved Ulysses rathe r tha n Carnal Knowledge, fe w woul d doub t tha t the cas e involve d somethin g ver y differen t fro m Sex Kittens, an d tha t a template yieldin g th e sam e meanin g fo r bot h i s simply , becaus e obvi ously, wrong, eve n i n Albany , Georgia . Thi s i s the ver y poin t Mr . Nize r was making with hi s crude bu t effectiv e charg e o f "cultura l illiteracy. " I t is also th e poin t tha t Justic e Stewar t mad e i n 196 4 i n Jacobellis v. Ohio when h e wrote , i n obviou s frustration , tha t whil e h e couldn' t defin e obscenity, " I kno w i t whe n I see it"—t o whic h h e migh t hav e adde d with respec t t o Carnal Knowledge, a s he di d in Jacobellis, "an d thi s cas e is not that! " But knowin g tha t th e jur y ha d gon e to o far , tha t th e templat e wa s simply wrong, i s an entirel y differen t matte r fro m explainin g wh y tha t i s so. Th e Suprem e Cour t doesn' t simpl y decid e cases . It gives reason s fo r its decisions , reason s tha t relat e t o th e purpose s an d principle s o f th e Constitution, an d reason s tha t provid e guidanc e fo r th e decisio n o f future case s that migh t arise . So mere foo t stompin g won't do . Some genera l limit s tha t migh t b e place d o n th e jury' s authorit y ar e obvious. On e o f the m i s representativeness . I f th e jur y i s t o mak e a value- an d culture-base d judgmen t fo r th e community , i t ough t t o reflect th e communit y fo r whic h i t speaks . Th e jur y ough t t o know , also, whethe r th e templat e i t select s i s bein g applie d evenhandedly , an d thus i n pursui t o f th e community' s standards , o r whethe r th e patter n o f prosecution suggest s selectiv e enforcement . I f th e latter , somethin g other tha n th e community' s value s i s a t work , an d th e jury' s template ,

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no matte r ho w appropriate , shoul d no t serv e a s a shiel d fo r othe r aims . These ar e enforceable, practica l limit s that coul d b e judicially applie d t o limit the jury's power, bu t i n the Carnal Knowledge cas e (wher e th e second jur y wa s al l male , bu t raciall y diverse ; an d wher e th e la w enforce ment effor t wa s anythin g bu t discriminatin g o r selective ) the y wer e o f doubtful utility . Another possibilit y fo r limitin g th e jury' s discretio n i s to requir e tha t the juror s hea r th e judgmen t o f th e critic s s o that , eve n i f the y don' t accept it , the y ar e awar e o f th e rang e o f possibl e meaning s th e fil m ha s been given . Here , however , th e problem s ar e substantial . I f th e questio n is really on e o f th e community' s standards , ho w ar e th e critics ' interpre tations relevant ? I f the y ar e relevan t onl y fo r comparative—fo r educa tional—purposes, ca n th e jury' s us e o f the m b e s o limited ? Th e danger , of course , i s no t tha t th e jur y wil l b e swaye d t o th e critics ' vie w bu t exactly the opposite: that th e jury's reaction t o their testimon y wil l caus e a backlash , reinforcin g th e jurors ' convictio n tha t th e everything-goe s moral relativis m o f Time s Squar e shoul d a t leas t b e confine d t o Time s Square an d certainl y no t exporte d t o Albany . This , of course , i s the ver y reason tha t a defense lawye r i n a case such as Jenkins's might decid e tha t prudence i s the bette r course . Nothin g no w prevent s th e defens e fro m introducing suc h evidence , bu t requirin g tha t i t d o s o woul d b e a n unprecedented, an d unwise , step . So we are left wit h nothin g mor e than " I know i t when I see i t. . . and this cas e i s not that. " Ther e i s precious littl e intellectua l satisfactio n i n this ending . Bu t i t i s the en d o f Bill y Jenkins's story . Hi s convictio n wa s reversed, for whic h w e can perhaps b e grateful, bu t littl e was don e i n th e course o f his case about th e still-intractabl e "obscenit y problem. "

Images The Suprem e Cour t ha s worke d mightil y t o extricat e itsel f fro m th e movie business—fro m th e rit e o f gatherin g togethe r nin e wis e an d well educated me n an d wome n o f th e la w i n th e darkene d roo m i n th e base ment o f th e Suprem e Court . I n this , at least , i t seem s to hav e succeeded , for th e moment a t least . The Carnal Knowledge cas e left th e jury's powe r intact an d virtuall y unreviewable , a necessary result i f closing the Court' s theater wa s the ultimat e aim . But we are entitled t o ask : "A t what cost? "

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Image O n e : Pornograph y a s Subordinatio n Bellingham, Washingto n (Courtes y o f th e New York Times, N o v e m ber 26 , 1 9 9 5 , sec . 1 , p . 3) : Two decade s afte r Justic e Potte r Stewar t o f th e Unite d State s Suprem e Court define d obscenit y b y saying, simply, " I know i t when I see it," a pair of Washingto n shopkeeper s wil l stan d tria l fo r seein g satir e wher e prose cutors sa w smut . Ira Stohl , the owner o f The Newsstand, a magazine sho p and coffe e ba r here, an d th e shop' s manager , Kristen a Hjelsand , ar e schedule d fo r tria l January 2 2 [1996 ] i n Whatcom Count y Superio r Court , charge d wit h sell ing a n issu e o f th e alternativ e magazin e "Answe r Me, " tha t graphicall y discussed rape . . . . [T]he Whatcom Count y prosecutor , Davi d S . McEachran, wh o brough t the charges , sai d th e rap e issu e o f "Answe r Me " wa s unacceptabl e t o th e majority o f Bellingham's 20,00 0 citizens. He cited the issue of "Answe r Me " that features storie s of a rape from th e rapist's perspective, a fictional accoun t of a man torturin g a girl with Dow n syndrome , photographs o f decapitate d crime victims and a pull-out sectio n called "Th e Rape Game. " . . . The arrest s hav e bee n a hot topi c fo r nearl y a year i n this town, nestle d between Moun t Bake r an d Puge t Soun d [an d hom e o f Wester n Washing ton University] . . . . [The] charge s wer e bor n o f a n inciden t las t January i n whic h . . . a n English majo r a t Western Washingto n Universit y . . . threatened a studen t boycott o f Th e Newsstan d unles s it s owner s yanke d th e publication . Th e merchants di d no t budge . Bu t when a criminal complain t wa s file d b y th e Women's Crisi s Center—t o whic h th e student s ha d als o complained — and th e cas e wa s referre d t o loca l prosecutors , th e shop' s owner s stoppe d selling "Answe r Me. " I n it s place , the y erecte d a shrine , o f sorts , t o fre e speech: a cop y o f th e magazin e boun d i n chain s an d padlock , wit h a sig n that read s "no t fo r sale. " . . . The cas e ha s . . . put feminis t group s o n th e defensiv e an d fre e speec h activists in the spotlight . Katy Casey , th e executiv e directo r o f th e Whatco m Count y Women' s Crisis Center, said: "It' s not just offensive , it' s destructive. It relates a glorified violenc e to sex . This magazine normalize s somethin g we don't thin k i s normal." . . . Jim an d Debbi e Goa d o f Portland , Ore. , wh o publis h "Answe r Me, " say it is designed t o shock. But rather tha n glorif y violence , Mr. Goad said , the dispute d issu e o f th e magazin e trie d t o offe r a s grisl y a portrai t o f

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depravity as possible to underscore the horror of rape. "We present rape in all its ugliness," Mr. Goad said. The magazine is described b y its owners as having " a National Lam poon-style sensibility fused wit h a snuff-film esthetic. " Meaning i s a functio n o f culture , values , aspirations , an d experience , derived throug h a proces s o f interpretation . I n "Foucault' s Pendulum " Umberto Ec o quote s (allegorically , I suspect ) Elphia s Levi , writin g i n 1856: "Allegory , mothe r o f al l dogmas , is the replacemen t o f th e sea l b y the hallmark , o f realit y b y shadow ; i t i s the falsehoo d o f truth , an d th e truth o f falsehood. " I s there "truth " i n th e meanin g o f Answer Me} I s that truth , a s Kat y Case y woul d hav e it , "glorificatio n o f violenc e i n sex"; th e normalizatio n o f th e abnormal ; th e representatio n o f wome n and childre n a s dominate d sexua l objects ? I s th e "truth, " a s Jim an d Debbie Goa d insist , the allegor y itself, the depravit y o f satirizin g " a griz zly portrait o f . . . the horror o f rape"? I s it the truth o f falsehood, o r th e falsehood o f truth ? O r migh t bot h allegorie s b e tru e because , fo r Kat y Casey an d fo r Ji m an d Debbi e Goad , th e tru e meanin g o f Answer Me i s a functio n o f what the y se e and therefor e wha t the y know ? If, i n ponderin g thes e questions , w e conclud e tha t th e onl y "truth " is allegory an d tha t becaus e ther e ar e man y possibl e allegories , ther e ar e many truths , mus t w e the n als o conclud e tha t al l allegorie s mus t b e admitted t o th e marketplace ? O r migh t w e conclud e instea d tha t sinc e there i s no real trut h bu t onl y allegory , w e violat e n o trut h b y selectin g the preferred allegor y an d rejectin g th e others ? The jury's template i s its preferred allegory , grounded i n the collectiv e preferences an d value s an d aspiration s an d norm s o f th e community : Albany, Georgia ; Bellingham , Washington ; intellectuals ; parents ; femi nists. Feminists d o not se e the pornographic representatio n o f women a s dominated se x objects a s a political statement . The y instea d se e pornog raphy a s a n allegory , a templat e throug h whic h th e value s an d aspira tions o f th e audienc e ar e shaped , throug h whic h th e community' s preferred norm s o f family , decency , and equalit y ar e wrested fro m it . Fo r them, th e templat e tha t reveal s wome n a s dominate d se x object s i s no t theirs o r th e community's . I t i s instead th e knowledg e tha t come s fro m being force d t o se e the light . Th e Firs t Amendment , the y argue , shoul d not b e read t o prohibi t th e community' s insistenc e o n its own template , its own allegory , its own epistemology . The political figh t abou t th e Tightness o f th e community' s templat e — are w e a communit y o f dominanc e

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or peace , equalit y o r violen t submissio n — can tak e plac e i n th e open , free, an d reasoned marketplac e o f argument . To consign the argumen t t o allegory i s unnecessary and , mor e important , dangerous . For many , th e feminists ' vie w i s littl e mor e tha n foolishness ; a n unprecedented divisio n o f freedo m o f speec h int o separat e camp s o f rea son an d emotion , argumen t an d allegory ; an d a n unjustifie d fea r o f th e power o f storie s to mov e us , unconsciously an d therefor e surreptitiously , to adop t attitude s tha t w e woul d not , unde r th e civilizin g influenc e o f reason, consciously embrace . But fo r others , the feminists ' vie w ha s th e rin g o f trut h t o it : we rais e our childre n o n thos e allegorie s tha t teac h th e righ t lessons ; we distin guish conduct , whic h i s often emotio n incarnate , fro m th e mor e dispas sionate an d reasone d form s o f speech ; ou r institution s — schools, libraries, businesses , government s — are larg e allegorie s o f civilization . Prohibiting Answer Me i n Bellingham , Washington , o r Carnal Knowledge i n Albany , Georgia , i s not a n ac t o f censorshi p but , instead , on e o f authority ove r the preferred allegory , a claim of right to the image we see rather tha n th e imag e other s woul d forc e u s to see . Many devotee s o f th e Firs t Amendment , o f course , woul d vie w th e matter ver y differently . Fo r them , rejectio n o f th e Alban y jury' s verdict i s a necessar y ste p i n th e struggl e agains t ignorance . Afte r all , to borro w from Plato' s allegory , wasn' t i t to make the m "se e th e light " tha t peopl e were force d fro m th e cave ? An d afte r the y wer e acclimate d t o th e ligh t and behel d it s ne w wonder s — after the y sa w th e object s o f whic h the y had formerl y see n onl y th e shadow s — didn't th e peopl e reflec t o n thei r fellows who were still in the cave, and "pit y them," preferrin g "t o endur e anything, rather tha n thin k a s they d o an d lov e after thei r manner" ? But Plato's allegor y i s neither a s simple nor a s comforting a s this vie w of th e First-Amendment-as-Ligh t woul d hav e it , fo r i t turn s ou t tha t lightness an d darknes s ar e epistemologicall y th e same , opposit e side s o f the sam e coin, s o to speak , neithe r superio r t o the other . While revealin g new image s t o th e peopl e wh o emerge d fro m th e cave , th e ligh t als o blinded the m t o wha t the y ha d see n before . Fo r Plato , ligh t an d dar k represent th e falsehoo d o f truth , an d th e trut h o f falsehood , a closed cir cle revealed a t hi s Myth of the Cave's end : Imagine once more, I said, such a one coming suddenly out of the sun to be replaced i n his old situation; would he not b e certain to have his eyes full of darkness?

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To be sure, he said. And if there were a contest, an d h e had t o compete in measuring the shadows with the prisoners who had never moved out of the den, while his sight was still weak, and before hi s eyes had becom e steady (and the time which would b e needed to acquire this new habit o f sight might b e very considerable), would he not be ridiculous? Men would sa y of him that up he went an d dow n h e came without hi s eyes; and that i t was better no t even to think o f ascending; and if any one tried to loose another an d lead him up to the light, let them only catch the offender, an d they would pu t him to death. No question, he said. If w e ca n understan d th e disturbin g allegor y o f sexua l violenc e an d domination i n Bellingham, Washington, an d th e felt nee d t o bloc k i t out , is it suc h a stretc h t o understan d th e allegor y o f Sex Kittens i n the jury' s interpretation o f Carnal Knowledge} I f th e templat e use d b y the jur y i n the Carnal Knowledge cas e is a true reflectio n o f values o f mannerliness , propriety, religiosity , an d order , ca n w e den y th e good-fait h intentio n o f the jur y i n Albany , Georgia , t o guar d it s templat e fro m subversio n b y a competing allegor y th e meanin g o f which its template woul d distort ? Perhaps not . Perhaps , whe n i t come s t o speech , template s shoul d b e inadmissible. But even if this is so, we can a t leas t hope that th e templat e used b y the Alban y jur y wa s trul y base d o n decency , respect , love , for i f by 197 2 this had becom e the preferred allegor y in Albany, we might con clude that it s soul ha d a t las t bee n transformed . Image Two: The V-chip an d Famil y Value s In January o f 199 6 Presiden t Clinton , with Vic e President Gor e a t hi s side, stood i n the Grea t Hal l o f th e Librar y o f Congress , a national sym bol o f free an d ope n inquiry . O n thi s elaboratel y stage d occasio n th e president signe d th e Telecommunication s Ac t o f 1996 , a centra l compo nent o f whic h i s th e V-chip , a smal l compute r chi p tha t ha d com e t o symbolize th e family-and-cultural-value s hig h ground . The Telecommunications Ac t requires that V-chips be installed i n every new television set , thus enablin g parents (o r anyon e else , for tha t matter ) to control i n advance th e kind o f programming the y will receive. Accord ing to the president, the V-chip will permit parents (wit h a little help fro m broadcasters an d progra m producers , wh o mus t encod e a rating fo r vio lence an d sexua l conten t i n thei r programming ) t o regai n contro l onc e

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again o f their children' s television viewing habits by impressing their ow n template o f values an d cultur e o n the meaning s tha t ar e admitte d t o thei r television screen . In this moment o f political obeisanc e to family values , a strengthened commitmen t t o community , an d morality , th e president' s comments seeme d eeril y reminiscen t o f th e sentiment s expresse d b y th e Supreme Cour t i n Miller. But th e ide a embodie d i n th e V-chi p i s ver y differen t fro m tha t reflected i n th e Court' s obscenit y jurisprudence . I t ma y a t on e an d th e same tim e b e bette r and worse , fo r i n successfull y delegatin g authorit y over cultur e an d valu e beyond th e community , t o th e individual , i t ma y jeopardize bot h th e Firs t Amendment an d community . For thos e wh o resis t th e very idea o f obscenit y ou t o f fait h i n individ ual freedo m an d distrus t o f communit y standards , th e V-chi p signifie s nothing les s tha n anothe r effor t t o introduc e prejudic e an d narrow mindedness int o th e Firs t Amendment , t o reinstal l censorshi p bu t a t a n even lowe r an d les s visible level . Is legally sponsore d privat e censorshi p better simpl y becaus e i t i s hidden fro m view ? I s it someho w no t censor ship because , being programmed i n advance, the V-chip does not requir e the "censor " t o choos e wha t shoul d b e watched ? I s th e V-chi p mor e benign becaus e i t i s a n epistemologica l rathe r tha n a politica l tool , reflecting th e choice of those who remaine d i n Plato's cave, "pitying" th e one who wa s blinde d b y the light ? For thos e wh o suppor t th e Court' s effor t i n th e Miller cas e ou t o f a belief tha t cultur e an d meanin g mus t b e locate d i n communities , th e Vchip signifies somethin g equall y bad . Ou r society' s problems, they woul d say, are cultural, no t individual ; onl y through cultura l norm s an d value s can ou r base r instinct s b e civilized . Th e V-chip , i n profoun d contrast , rests o n th e oxymoroni c assumptio n tha t cultur e ca n b e atomized , pre served a t th e leve l o f th e individual . Suc h a view deprive s th e ter m "cul ture" o f al l meaning. T o allow everyon e th e freedo m t o se e the ligh t an d then retur n t o th e shadow s i n th e cav e woul d surel y destro y th e cultur e of the cave . In th e end , th e V-chi p represent s nothin g les s than a legitimatio n o f censorship, bu t a t suc h a discret e an d individualize d leve l that it s conse quences approac h libertarianism . Censorshi p an d libertarianis m ar e strange bedfellows , indeed . The New York Times stor y also reported tha t Bellingha m residents whos e tastes run t o "unabashedl y hard-core " pornograph y nee d walk onl y tw o

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14 9

short block s beyon d Th e Newsstan d t o Grea t Norther n Books , the loca l dirty-book store , where th e smu t i s unsullied b y avant-gard e an d intel lectual fare . Business is thriving. They don' t sel l Answer Me there .

ADDITIONAL READIN G

Catharine A. MacKinnon, "Pornography, Civil Rights, and Speech," 20 Harvard Civil Rights/Civil Liberties Law Review 1 (1985). Catharine A. MacKinnon, Feminism Unmodified (1987). Report of the Attorney General's Commission on Pornography (1986). Nadine Strossen , Defending Pornography: Free Speech, Sex, and the Fight for Women's Rights (1995). Miller v. California, 413 U.S. 15 (1973).

PART 3

The Audienc e

Speech consist s o f thre e parts : a speaker , a message , an d a receiver. W e no w tur n ou r attentio n t o th e thir d par t o f th e trilogy , th e receiver. In this ag e of explodin g form s o f communicatio n ther e i s really no good , singl e ter m t o describ e th e recipien t o f a communication—w e read, w e hear , w e feel , w e visualize , w e imagine , singl y an d i n ever y combination. Ye t th e ter m "receiver " seem s bot h cumbersom e an d impersonal. S o I will us e th e admittedl y inaccurat e bu t commo n ter m "audience" t o describ e the many role s in which we find ourselve s o n th e receiving en d o f th e communicatio n process . We will conside r th e relationshi p o f th e audienc e t o th e freedo m o f speech throug h tw o storie s tha t dea l wit h tw o aspect s o f th e audience' s role. I n th e firs t story , "Th e Pharmacist, " w e wil l explor e th e way s i n which audience s giv e meanin g an d significanc e t o speech ; th e way s i n which audience s defin e th e speec h tha t i s bein g receive d an d brin g i t t o life through thei r resultin g action . As we will see, the audience' s interpre tation o f speec h ca n ofte n b e surprising , eve n t o th e speaker . Audience s can b e obstinate, a s anyone i n th e advertisin g busines s wil l freel y admit . What role , i f any , shoul d th e audienc e pla y i n decidin g whethe r speec h has take n place , especiall y whe n th e audience' s interpretatio n follow s a script differen t fro m tha t intende d b y th e speaker ? Shoul d th e Firs t Amendment protec t the advertiser a s a speaker, or the audience a s a frus tratingly independen t receive r o f speech ? In th e second , "Th e Mediu m an d th e Message, " w e wil l prob e th e mysteries o f medium s o f speech , th e variou s channel s throug h whic h audiences receiv e speech . Man y o f u s ar e stil l creature s o f th e print based culture ; we indulg e th e old-fashione d habi t o f readin g book s an d magazines an d poetr y an d newspapers . Th e mor e moder n o f u s increas ingly rel y o n th e newe r counterpart s o f print , suc h a s e-mail , Interne t "conversations," an d "surfing " fo r text-base d informatio n o n th e ne w "superhighway."

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Whether th e medium i s the book , th e poem, the newspaper, o r e-mail , however, th e exercis e i s fundamentall y th e same , base d i n th e abstrac t yet, a s Marshal l McLuha n observed , als o "cool " an d mor e persona l medium o f text . I n the prin t mediu m th e autho r i s an abstractio n who m we neither se e nor know . As readers, therefore, ou r jo b i s to brea k dow n the messag e a s i t i s given u s in it s stark , single-sensor y for m an d the n t o fill i n th e gaps , t o internaliz e it , transformin g i t fro m th e wor k o f another t o ou r ow n work . We , a s readers , becom e th e author , infusin g the tex t wit h ou r experiences , ou r analysis , ou r emotion , ou r imagina tion, an d ultimatel y ou r passion . We thus transform th e most apparentl y dispassionate mediu m int o th e mos t persona l an d passionat e medium . This persona l involvemen t an d transformatio n i s what McLuha n mean t when h e called a medium "cool. " Today, however, we increasingly communicat e throug h many , not jus t one o r two , senses ; through combination s o f aural , visual , an d tactil e stimuli. We communicate i n "hig h definition " wit h picture s an d word s and soun d rathe r tha n wit h word s alone ; wit h photographi c imag e rather tha n abstrac t representation—w e lack , i n othe r words , th e gap s or voids that w e fill with ou r ow n experiences , perceptions, imagination , and passion . An d w e communicat e i n "rea l time, " withou t th e opportu nity to gai n perspective an d frame s o f personal referenc e tha t th e dimen sions o f tim e an d spac e hav e traditionall y afforde d u s i n th e largel y after-the-fact medium s o f th e printe d word , th e photograph , or , earlier , the ora l tradition . In thi s multisensor y worl d o f televisio n an d cabl e an d satellit e an d instant communicatio n w e becom e les s th e judg e tha n th e participant , less the objec t tha n th e subjec t an d th e verb . We have mor e dat a ye t les s capacity for understanding . In this world, ironically, we are at once mor e impassioned ye t les s passionate , mor e physicall y an d emotionall y involved ye t ou r relatio n t o wha t w e see i s strangel y impersonal . Th e events i n whic h w e participat e becom e th e author , no t us . This i s wha t McLuhan describe d a s a "hot " medium , a place where b y involving our selves we give up ou r self . The ne w medi a engag e ou r sense s an d eras e spac e an d tim e fro m ou r comprehension, makin g u s participat e i n rathe r tha n reflec t upo n an d internalize what w e see and hea r an d feel , spectator s connecte d t o event s in strangel y abstrac t an d impersona l ways , a s i f i n a n out-of-bod y expe rience. Do these kinds o f changes i n the way we communicate transfor m our understandin g o f speech ? D o the y mak e th e idea s o f speaker s an d

The Audience I 15 3 speech deepl y ambiguous ? I s the speake r th e producer , th e camer a oper ator, th e organizatio n tha t construct s th e mediu m i n sensor y an d tim e and spac e ways, o r eve n th e even t itself ? D o thes e change s alte r als o th e influence an d rol e of the audience , requiring that we greet with consider able skepticis m th e clai m tha t th e audienc e i s a significan t acto r i n th e speech transaction ? These ar e comple x an d subtle , perhaps als o unanswerable , questions . But a s we ente r wha t man y hav e calle d th e ne w telecommunicatio n ag e with it s marvels o f technology , it s threatening uncertainties , an d it s risk s of monopolization an d contro l o f the channels o f communication, wher e the power o f a medium ma y b e as important a s the content o f a message, they ar e important question s tha t mus t b e asked, if not full y answered . We begin th e inquir y wit h a discussio n o f th e mysterie s o f advertisin g in "Th e Pharmacist. " I t wa s throug h advertising , afte r all , tha t th e power o f medium wa s firs t discovered .

Story Six

The Pharmacist : Speec h an d Its Consumer s (Virginia State Board of Pharmacy v. Virginia Citizens Consumer Council, 425 U.S. 748 (1976)) Introductory Note The rol e o f the audienc e unde r th e Firs t Amendment i s a subject tha t ha s alread y bee n touche d upo n bu t no t directl y confronte d i n many o f th e earlie r stories . I t wa s raise d i n a glancin g wa y i n th e firs t story, "Th e Jacket," wher e Justice Harlan addresse d th e conflict betwee n Paul Cohen' s righ t t o wea r a jacke t i n th e courthous e emblazone d wit h the word s "Fuc k th e Draft, " o n th e on e hand , an d th e offens e th e mes sage coul d engende r i n thos e wh o sa w th e jacket , o n th e other . Th e rol e of th e audienc e wa s raise d mor e directly , althoug h narrowly , i n "Th e Author," wher e w e surmise d that , especiall y wit h fiction , meanin g an d characters com e to life largely , and ofte n idiosyncratically , i n the mind o f the reader , no t i n th e min d o f th e autho r o r i n th e text . An d i n "Th e Artist" w e explore d th e natur e o f "meaning " a s supplie d b y the Albany , Georgia, jur y fo r th e movi e Carnal Knowledge an d b y th e Whatco m County Women' s Crisi s Cente r fo r th e magazine Answer Me. We no w tur n ou r attentio n directl y t o th e rol e playe d b y th e audi ence— the readers , listeners , viewers , bystander s — under th e Firs t Amendment. Th e audience' s rol e is a critical one , for speec h is a process, not a n isolate d act . Speec h involve s a speaker, a message, an d a n audience to which the speaker's message is transmitted. Without th e audienc e the ide a o f speec h woul d b e stillborn , fo r th e tex t woul d hav e n o inter personal o r socia l significance . It i s thi s interpersona l an d socia l significanc e o f speec h tha t wil l occupy u s a s we explor e th e functio n playe d b y the audienc e unde r th e First Amendment. W e will as k tw o questions :

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First, shoul d th e meanin g an d significanc e give n t o speec h b y th e audience b e the controllin g one , even when th e audience' s interpretatio n differs fro m th e speaker' s o r eve n fro m th e "plain " meanin g o f th e text ? If, fo r example , I hold ou t a tin cu p t o be g fo r mone y becaus e I need it , but thos e wh o se e me fin d i n m y ple a a messag e o f socia l despair , i s m y act o f beggin g on e o f speaking , an d i f s o wha t messag e shoul d I b e understood t o b e communicating fo r purpose s o f th e Firs t Amendment ? Just who , in short , i s doing the speaking ? Second, wha t rol e shoul d th e interpersona l an d socia l functio n o f m y speech pla y i n measurin g th e amoun t o f Firs t Amendmen t protectio n that shoul d b e accorde d it ? If , fo r example , th e interpersona l an d socia l value o f beggin g i s judged t o b e minimal an d thu s warrants littl e protec tion unde r th e Firs t Amendment , bu t th e messag e o f socia l despai r reflected i n m y ac t i s judged t o b e o f grea t valu e t o a free , compassion ate, an d self-governin g peopl e an d thu s t o b e entitled t o substantia l pro tection unde r th e Firs t Amendment , d o w e elec t to us e bu t one , or both , values in ou r constitutiona l calculus ? There ar e many fascinatin g storie s that coul d b e used to explor e thes e important questions , stories abou t burnin g draf t cards , desecrating flags , camping ou t i n Lafayett e Squar e acros s fro m th e Whit e House . Ou r story, however, involve s th e mor e universa l an d peculiarl y America n fig ure o f th e "A d Man. " Whe n th e A d Ma n speaks , who i s in control , th e Ad Ma n o r we ? Thi s i s a question , th e Suprem e Cour t tell s us , o f Firs t Amendment protectio n fo r "commercia l speech"—speec h tha t doe s n o more than propos e a commercial transaction .

The Pharmacist Do consumer s hav e a constitutional righ t t o pric e advertising ? The question aros e in the early 1970 s when a public interest organiza tion, th e Virgini a Citizen s Consume r Council , challenge d a rul e o f th e Virginia Stat e Boar d o f Pharmac y tha t prohibite d pharmacist s fro m advertising th e pric e o f prescriptio n drug s an d thu s engagin g i n pric e competition. Mos t o f th e pharmacists , w e ma y safel y assume , wer e happy wit h th e rul e agains t pric e advertising , especiall y th e loca l phar macists wh o undoubtedl y feare d competitio n fro m th e large r discoun t pharmacies. Fo r the m lif e wa s comfortabl e an d profitable , i n a marke t defined solel y b y convenience , service , an d th e persona l touch , unim peded b y the distortin g influenc e o f price competition .

The Pharmacist I 15 7 The Virginia Citizen s Consume r Council , o f course, disagreed, believ ing that pric e advertisin g an d competitio n woul d driv e price s dow n an d thus serv e th e consumers ' pocketboo k interests . I n a forerunne r o f th e wars no w ongoin g wit h Wal-Mar t i n citie s throughou t th e country , th e Consumer Counci l brough t a lawsuit, arguin g that lowe r prices were no t inconsistent wit h persona l service , an d tha t i n an y even t i f persona l ser vice were importan t t o th e consumer , h e o r sh e would b e willing knowingly t o pay a higher pric e fo r it . When th e Virginia Pharmacy cas e arrive d a t th e Suprem e Court , i t took th e for m o f a Firs t Amendmen t claim . I n a n interestin g twis t o f irony, the claim was that th e pharmacists, most o f whom preferre d no t t o advertise, had a Firs t Amendmen t right—possibl y eve n a n obligation — to d o so . The pharmacists , i n short , wer e lef t t o argu e against thei r ow n freedom. Bu t the y coul d no t eve n d o this , for the y wer e nowher e t o b e found i n the case . It was th e consumers ' case , and th e pharmacist s wer e not partie s to it . Perhaps becaus e o f thi s ironi c twist , th e Firs t Amendmen t focu s quickly shifte d t o th e audience—t o th e consumer s o f prescriptio n drug s who claime d a constitutional interes t i n receivin g th e speec h tha t wa s t o be communicated b y the unrepresente d an d no t altogethe r willin g phar macists. I t shifted , i n othe r words , t o th e audience ; t o it s interpretatio n and us e of a message, an d t o when , i f ever, a message's valu e t o a n audi ence ca n transfor m a speaker' s differen t an d inconsequentia l messag e into somethin g o f muc h greate r constitutiona l significance . I s " a ros e b y any othe r nam e bu t a rose, " fo r purpose s o f th e Firs t Amendment , o r can i t b e more ? The stor y wil l b e tol d throug h th e edite d transcrip t o f ora l argumen t in the case, elaborated a t points with discussio n o f the issues and contro versies that emerg e in the course o f the colloquies amon g the justices an d with th e lawyers . Th e ora l argument , a s w e shal l see , involve d muc h higher stake s tha n pric e advertisin g fo r prescriptio n drug s i n Virginia . But first, som e necessary background . The tradition o f government regulatio n o f advertisin g an d othe r compet itive practice s b y pharmacists, lik e opticians , doctors , lawyers , accoun tants, an d a hos t o f othe r profession s an d businesses , ca n b e trace d a t least to the Progressive Era a t the turn o f the century. Beginning then an d continuing t o thi s da y suc h regulatio n ha s bee n enacte d pervasivel y a t both th e stat e an d federa l levels . This is , after all , the "stuff " o f moder n government, rangin g fro m antitrus t regulation , trut h i n advertising ,

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occupational safety , consume r safety , environmenta l protection , affirma tive action, harassment i n the workplace, an d o n an d on . For a time a t th e daw n o f thi s ne w er a th e Suprem e Cour t attempte d to cur b th e progressiv e appetit e fo r intrusiv e regulatio n o f th e economy . It di d s o unde r th e mantl e o f th e du e proces s clause s o f th e Fift h an d Fourteenth Amendments , reasonin g tha t privat e enterpris e mus t b e granted th e liberty to use its own device s to achiev e productive economi c results, eve n i f thos e device s include d excessiv e hour s an d unhealth y working conditions , child labor , eve n monopoly . But al l o f tha t cam e t o a n abrup t en d afte r th e Grea t Depression , when th e Cour t switche d course , concluding tha t th e Constitutio n o f th e United States , as Justice Olive r Wendel l Holmes , Jr., put i t in hi s famou s 1905 dissen t i n Lochner v. New York, "doe s no t enac t Mr . Herber t Spencer's Socia l Statics. " Th e Cour t thu s free d governments , stat e an d federal alike , fro m th e heav y constraint s o f th e du e proces s clauses , allowing governmen t pervasivel y t o regulat e th e econom y i n pursui t o f new vision s o f th e publi c interest—an d t o d o s o eve n fo r reason s tha t might b e widely though t t o b e sill y an d t o borde r o n th e irrational . Du e process n o longe r functione d a s an y rea l constrain t o n th e insatiabl e appetite fo r regulation . It wa s i n thi s ne w an d free r environmen t tha t th e Stat e o f Virginia , like mos t others , enacte d a broa d rang e o f regulation s limitin g workin g hours, prohibitin g chil d labor , settin g minimu m wages , an d controllin g monopolistic an d anticompetitiv e practices . Along with thes e commend able advance s i n the rol e o f governmen t i n the econom y cam e som e oth ers that might not b e seen in such a positive light. Virginia's limitation o n price advertisin g o f prescriptio n drug s i s a n example . I t wa s enacte d i n 1969 a s par t o f a regulator y schem e tha t licensed , an d thu s controlle d entry into , the pharmac y business , an d tha t migh t b e sai d t o protec t th e "club" o f pharmacists a s much, i f not more , than th e consumer . Without pric e competition , profit s coul d b e assure d an d busines s could b e easy. Of course , suc h a comfortable an d profitabl e lif e coul d b e endangered i f to o man y peopl e caugh t o n an d decide d t o becom e phar macists. But this risk was dispose d o f b y the power t o license , and there fore limit , thos e wh o coul d practic e th e trade . Virginia decide d t o plac e this powe r squarel y i n hand s tha t coul d bes t wiel d i t to thei r advantage : the pharmacists themselves . One migh t describ e Virginia' s regulator y schem e fo r pharmacist s a s bad publi c policy , sill y economics, eve n a s pur e protectionis m cynicall y

The Pharmacist I 15 9 cloaked i n th e gar b o f th e "publi c interest, " bu t non e o f thes e descrip tions, eve n i f wholl y accurat e an d provable , mad e i t unconstitutional . Silliness an d untowar d motives , th e Suprem e Cour t ha d firml y con cluded, were the exclusive province o f the elected democrati c process . As Justice Holme s pu t i t i n hi s Lochner dissent , " a constitutio n i s no t intended t o embod y a particula r economi c theory , whethe r o f paternal ism and th e organi c relation o f citize n to th e Stat e o r o f laisse z faire. I t is made fo r peopl e o f fundamentall y differin g views. " In vie w o f th e Suprem e Court' s wholesal e retrea t fro m judgin g th e constitutionality o f stat e legislatio n unde r th e du e proces s guarantees , the Virgini a Consume r Counci l wa s oblige d t o res t it s challeng e t o th e pharmacist advertisin g ba n o n differen t constitutiona l grounds . It picke d the First Amendment. Thi s was not a n obviou s choice , for th e Cour t ha d said i n 194 2 i n Valentine v. Chrestensen, durin g th e cours e o f it s whole sale retrea t fro m judgin g th e constitutionalit y o f stat e economi c regula tion, tha t th e Firs t Amendmen t place d n o "restrain t o n governmen t a s respects purel y commercia l advertising. " An d ther e coul d b e little doub t that advertisin g th e pric e o f prescriptio n drug s was , fo r pharmacists , "wholly commercia l advertising. " Bu t tha t earlie r cas e wa s old , i t wa s virtually th e Court' s onl y statemen t o n th e subject , an d muc h wate r ha d passed ove r th e Firs t Amendment da m i n the intervenin g years . The Consume r Council' s Firs t Amendmen t theor y face d tw o majo r obstacles. First, the Cour t ha d t o b e convinced tha t it s earlier, 194 2 deci sion coul d b e distinguishe d fro m th e Virgini a case , o r tha t i t shoul d b e overruled. I n this th e counci l ha d bee n helpe d b y a case decide d jus t on e year earlie r an d tha t als o aros e i n Virginia . Tha t case , Bigelow v. Virginia, involve d a Virginia la w tha t prohibite d th e publicatio n o f adver tisements fo r abortion s performe d i n othe r state s wher e abortio n wa s legal. The Suprem e Cour t declare d th e Virgini a statut e unconstitutional , even thoug h abortio n wa s illega l i n Virgini a a t th e time , becaus e i t restricted speec h protected b y the Firs t Amendment . The speech that Virginia ha d attempte d t o regulate in the Bigelow cas e was clearl y advertising , an d thu s th e Virgini a Consume r Counci l coul d take som e comfor t i n th e Court' s earlie r decisio n a s i t planne d it s chal lenge to the pharmacy law . But the Bigelow cas e had bee n decide d o n th e heels o f th e Court' s abortio n decisio n i n Roe v. Wade, an d th e abortio n problem wa s then, as it remains today , unique. Whether th e First Amend ment's protectio n fo r a lega l abortio n advertisement , whic h clearl y involved a matte r o f considerabl e publi c importanc e an d controversy ,

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would carr y ove r t o "purel y commercia l advertising " o f dru g price s b y pharmacists wa s fa r fro m obvious . The secon d obstacl e face d b y the Consume r Counci l was more funda mental, going to the heart o f the First Amendment speec h guarantee: just whose speec h wa s t o b e protected ? I f th e speec h clai m reste d o n th e pharmacist's freedo m o f expressio n th e cas e migh t fal l apart , fo r n o pharmacist wa s claimin g an y righ t t o speak . An d eve n i f a pharmacis t could b e foun d t o mak e suc h a claim , th e clai m woul d res t o n a n asserted Firs t Amendmen t freedo m t o d o n o mor e tha n propos e a com mercial transaction—to advanc e purely economi c interest s b y undercut ting th e pric e o f othe r competitor s i n th e commercia l marketplace . Thi s was hardl y th e loft y stuf f o f th e Firs t Amendment . Ther e was , afte r all , more tha n a grai n o f trut h i n th e Court' s earlie r statemen t tha t "purel y commercial advertising " possesse s little of value for purpose s o f the Firs t Amendment. In an y event , th e council' s interes t wa s i n th e consumers—th e audi ence for th e advertisement—an d their freedo m t o hav e an d mak e us e of the price information a s they sa w fit. Thi s interest, o f course , had littl e if anything t o d o with th e pharmacist's motiv e i n advertising. More funda mentally, i f the counci l base d it s First Amendment clai m o n th e "rights " of th e consumers , no t th e pharmacist—o n th e right s o f th e audience , not th e speaker—wher e di d that leav e the pharmacist, wh o afte r al l was the on e speakin g an d o n whos e speec h th e interest s o f th e audienc e depended? Were the First Amendment table s to b e turned fro m th e Cohen v. California cas e decide d jus t fou r year s earlier ? Wa s th e audience , no t th e speaker, t o b e place d i n control , wit h th e speake r becomin g littl e mor e than a n instrumen t fo r th e need s an d preference s o f th e audience ? Wa s the audienc e t o b e place d i n contro l o f th e messag e itsel f (th e pric e advertisement i s no longe r simpl y on e means o f commercia l competitio n but no w usefu l informatio n upo n whic h peopl e ca n bas e thei r economi c decisions i n the fre e market) ; in contro l o f it s value (no t highe r sale s bu t greater publi c choice) ; and ultimatel y i n contro l o f th e speaker ? I f th e audience ha s a First Amendmen t righ t t o information , ca n i t not clai m a right t o force someon e t o provide the information , eve n if he or sh e doe s not wan t t o giv e it? The audience, it seems, poses some serious problems for th e First Amend ment i f i t i s brought full y int o th e speec h equation . An d thes e problem s

The Pharmacist I 16 1 were no t los t o n th e Suprem e Court , a s ora l argumen t i n th e Virginia Pharmacy cas e revealed . The Cour t tha t gathere d fo r ora l argumen t o n Tuesda y afternoon , November n , 1975 , wa s no t muc h change d fro m th e Cour t tha t decided Pau l Cohen' s cas e jus t fou r year s earlier . Bu t while fe w i n num ber, the change s were notable . Justice Harlan , wh o ha d writte n th e Cohen opinion , ha d retire d i n 1971 an d die d shortl y thereafter . Justic e Hug o Black , th e Firs t Amend ment absolutis t ("N o la w mean s No Law!") , ha d als o retire d an d die d the sam e year . Thes e tw o grea t justice s ha d bee n replace d b y Lewi s F. Powell an d Willia m H . Rehnquist . Powel l wa s a Virginian an d a patri cian who woul d com e to b e compared wit h Justice Harlan fo r th e crafts manship an d balanc e o f hi s decisions , an d wh o woul d ofte n cas t th e deciding vot e o n a divide d Cour t fo r th e nex t twent y o r s o years. Rehn quist ha d bee n appointe d fro m withi n th e Nixo n administration . Hi s conservative credentials had bee n won i n Arizona politics . He was a ma n of conservativ e belief s an d considerabl e kindnes s an d humanity . B y an d large, however , h e reserve d hi s humanit y fo r after-wor k hours , fo r hi s job was not t o evoke Scriptur e bu t t o interpre t th e Constitution , a decid edly dispassionat e an d utilitaria n tex t wit h a ver y specifi c histor y an d a limited rang e o f meaning. Rehnquist, o f course, was to becom e chie f jus tice some ten years later . This wa s a Cour t no w firml y i n transition . A conservative bloc k o f justices wa s forming , bu t i t woul d b e mor e tha n twent y year s befor e i t became dominant . I n th e meantim e th e Cour t woul d remai n divide d (and occasionall y divisive) , with shiftin g coalition s holdin g th e Cour t firmly t o th e middl e path . Bu t thi s Cour t wa s no t incapabl e o f breakin g from th e past , settin g ou t i n ne w an d importan t constitutiona l direc tions. The Virginia Pharmacy cas e would prov e that . The lawyer s wh o stoo d a t th e fron t o f th e Cour t beneat h th e banc a s the justices entered were both abl e and experience d advocates . Anthony F. Troy, of Richmond , wa s the chief deput y attorne y genera l of Virginia. Hi s duty was to defend th e Virginia rule prohibiting price advertising b y phar macists. Alan B . Morrison wa s a public interes t lawye r fro m Washington , D.C. He had argue d befor e th e Suprem e Cour t o n man y occasions , representing th e client s an d cause s hi s publi c interes t la w organizatio n sup ported. Tro y an d Morriso n wer e bot h awar e tha t th e Virgini a cas e wa s very important an d potentiall y groundbreaking—an d tha t th e issue s th e case presented wer e difficult, complex , subtle, and far-reaching .

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At precisely 1:2 7 P.M . Tro y ros e an d approache d th e podiu m beneat h the banc, surveyin g th e nin e justice s befor e hi m behin d th e elevate d bench. Mr. Chief Justice Burger: W e wil l hea r argument s nex t i n No . 74 895, Virgini a Stat e Boar d o f Pharmac y agains t Virgini a Citizen s Consumer Council , e t al. Mr. Troy . Mr. Troy: Mr . Chie f Justic e an d ma y i t please th e Court . I t ha s bee n traditional tha t th e practic e o f profession s ar e t o b e abov e th e morals o f th e marketplace . Thi s cas e present s th e questio n o f whether th e practic e o f pharmac y an d th e disposin g o f drug s should b e subject t o th e moral s o f th e marketplace . Should prescriptio n drug s b e advertised ? The concern s o f thi s case , however , ar e no t onl y i n th e profes sional pharmac y but , rather , i n eac h an d ever y profession : law , medicine, optometry, dentistry , and an y other profession controlle d by the State . The tru e question , then , i s the abilit y o f a legislature t o regulat e these professionals withi n th e economi c an d socia l policies deeme d provident. Question: Mr . Troy, let me get this straigh t out . Ho w d o you defin e a profession? Mr. Troy: You r Honor , th e Genera l Assembl y ha s define d thi s profes sion. I t ha s define d i t within th e framewor k o f wha t ha s tradition ally bee n define d a s a profession : a learne d profession , a requirement o f a degree , a requiremen t o f som e protectio n t o th e health, safety , an d welfar e o f th e people . An d i n thi s cas e i t ha s been shown , no t onl y b y th e statut e bu t i n th e recor d itsel f [evi dence presente d a t trial] , tha t th e pharmacis t i s th e las t profes sional wh o interpose s himsel f betwee n a patient an d a drug . He ha s a vital rol e i n the medica l healt h team . A pharmacist , i n dispensin g drugs , i s doin g mor e tha n I , a s a layman, woul d comprehend . Th e entir e educationa l trainin g o f a pharmacist i s geared t o impar t t o hi m a knowledg e greate r tha n a physician a s relates t o drugs , their chemica l compositio n an d thei r reactions, contraindication s o r synergisti c effect s o f suc h chemica l elements. Question: Well , if that i s the case, why doesn't h e write prescriptions ? Mr. Troy: I' m sorry , your Honor ?

The Pharmacist I 16 3 Question: I f that i s the case , why doesn' t h e write prescriptions ? Mr. Troy: Th e reaso n tha t h e doesn't writ e prescriptions, o f course , is that hi s educatio n i s t o th e exten t o f knowin g th e chemica l ele ments o f drug s an d thei r contraindications . The doctor , o f course , i s the on e tha t know s wha t th e therapeu tic effect o f these drug s i s for th e particula r disease . Question: An d thei r contraindications . Mr. Troy: An d thei r contraindication s i n som e cases. Question: I n some cases ? Mr. Troy: I n some cases, yes, your Honor , becaus e . . . pharmacists d o keep medica l profil e record s containin g a patient's allergies , sensi tivities, or reaction s t o drugs . Question: Wha t happen s i f somebod y give s a prescriptio n t o thei r butler an d tell s him t o g o over an d ge t it filled ? Mr. Troy: Unde r th e medica l profil e record s tha t a pharmacist woul d have, your Honor , th e prescription , o f course , would b e written i n the name o f th e individual , th e record woul d b e in the nam e o f th e individual. Th e pharmacist , b y lookin g a t th e recor d an d compar ing the prescriptio n abou t t o b e filled , coul d tel l i f ther e woul d b e any sid e effects . Question: Mr . Troy, you hav e mentione d th e importanc e o f druggist s compounding drugs . A s I understand [it] , 95 percen t o f th e drug s dispensed d o no t requir e compoundin g b y the druggist . Mr. Troy: Tha t i s exactly correct , you r Honor , an d i t could b e even a little more , bu t th e poin t i s . . . that toda y a s compare d t o prio r years whe n druggist s use d t o compoun d drugs , today w e ar e talk ing about drug s that hav e a benefit o f curin g rather tha n jus t a palliative effect . . . . While the y hav e th e benefi t o f curing , [they ] als o have th e abilit y t o d o grea t harm . In his opening statement an d his early responses, Troy had succeede d i n doing two things . First, he cast the Virginia advertisin g restrictio n a s par t of a general schem e for regulatin g th e profession o f pharmacy; h e empha sized th e importan t rol e playe d b y the pharmacist , and , mos t important , he portrayed th e regulation a s but one aspect of the state's admitted powe r to regulate economic activities in the interest o f the health, safety, an d welfare of citizens. It was this broad power that the Supreme Court had largel y abdicated t o stat e government s i n th e post-depressio n era , an d Tro y wanted th e Cour t t o se e the Virgini a cas e a s on e tha t woul d requir e th e

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Court, wer e i t t o strik e th e regulatio n down , t o revers e it s cours e onc e again an d entertai n challenge s t o al l measure o f stat e regulatio n o f busi ness and economi c activity . This, of course, the Court would no t do . Second, Troy succeeded i n upping the stakes in the Virginia Pharmacy case by placing the challenged regulatio n alongsid e those imposed o n th e other professions. Decidin g this case in favor th e of the Consume r Coun cil, i n othe r words , woul d ope n a Pandora' s bo x o f challenge s t o th e licensing an d conduct , includin g advertising , o f lawyers , doctors , den tists, optometrist s — even opticians , veterinarians , barber s an d beauti cians, and s o on an d s o on . Troy, o f course , kne w tha t thi s strategy , a s importan t a s i t wa s fo r placing the cas e in a perspective, would no t succee d fo r lon g in divertin g the Court' s attentio n fro m th e Firs t Amendment. An d i t didn't . Question: Mr . Troy , ma y I ask , I don' t quit e understan d ho w thi s argument addresse s th e questio n tha t yo u presented , whethe r o r not . . . the prohibitio n o f pric e advertisin g i s a violatio n o f th e First Amendment. I s that th e issu e we have ? I thought th e questio n yo u gav e us was whether o r no t commer cial advertisin g ha d Firs t Amendment protection . Mr. Troy: Yes , your Honor , an d thi s i s the connection . Th e statut e here is a measure addresse d t o the public health. It is, as Mr. Justice Stewart [sai d i n a n earlie r du e proces s opinion ] "withi n th e mos t traditional concep t o f wha t i s compendiousl y know n a s th e [state's] polic e power " [th e power t o regulat e economi c activit y i n the interests o f public health, safety an d welfare] . The lower cour t pai d li p service only to the [Court' s du e proces s decisions] an d foun d tha t thi s wa s no t a [du e process ] cas e bu t rather, wa s a Firs t Amendmen t cas e becaus e i t violate d th e con sumers' right t o know . Question: An d yo u disagre e with that ? Mr. Troy: Yes , your Honor , fo r thi s reason . . . . Somehow [th e lowe r court] reasone d tha t approachin g thi s cas e fro m a consumer view point woul d no t b e a n intrusio n upo n th e State' s regulatio n o f pharmacists. I suggest tha t th e court' s decisio n i s analytically unsound . I t ha s set at war th e Firs t an d Fourteent h Amendments . How ca n ther e b e a constitutiona l righ t t o receiv e informatio n which th e Stat e ha s a legitimat e an d constitutiona l righ t unde r th e

The Pharmacist I 16 5 Fourteenth Amendmen t i n prohibitin g th e disseminatio n o f tha t very same information ? There can onl y be two answers . One, that th e right to kno w i s a concomitant right . I t i s no t a n independen t righ t whic h woul d allow acces s t o an y information , commercia l o r otherwise , whic h perhaps ha s a n economi c impac t o n th e consumin g public . The secon d answe r i s that a n independen t constitutiona l righ t would exis t an d consequently , i f so , [thi s Court' s du e proces s case s granting th e stat e broa d authorit y t o regulat e economi c an d busi ness affairs] mus t b e overruled . The two ar e diametricall y oppose d an d canno t stan d together . Now, thi s Cour t ha s no t grante d a righ t t o kno w wher e ther e has not bee n a concomitant Firs t Amendment righ t t o speak . Troy ha d don e a n admirabl e jo b o f definin g th e issu e i n th e cas e a s a conflict betwee n th e state' s generou s power s o f regulation , o n th e on e hand, an d th e Firs t Amendment , o n th e other . A decisio n favorin g th e First Amendmen t woul d breac h th e da m o f th e Fourteent h Amendmen t and immers e th e Cour t onc e more i n detaile d supervisio n o f th e wisdo m and fairnes s o f stat e economi c regulation . T o b e sure , th e supervisio n would b e carried ou t unde r th e mantl e o f freedo m o f speec h rathe r tha n due process , bu t i t woul d carr y simila r consequence s an d a simila r ris k that th e Cour t migh t attemp t agai n t o enac t "Mr . Herber t Spencer' s Social Statics " unde r th e guis e of constitutiona l law . But Tro y stil l face d a Cour t skeptica l o f th e valu e o f Virginia' s pric e advertising ban—perhap s eve n doubtful o f whether it s true purpose wa s public healt h o r instea d economi c protectionism fo r pharmacists . Question (by Justice White): Wha t i s the State's interest i n prohibitin g the advertising? T o forbid—to d o away with competition, o r what ? Mr. Troy: No , your Honor , i t is a health matter . Justice White: Well , I know, bu t ho w doe s it protect health ? Mr. Troy: A s I have indicate d — let m e answe r thi s directl y . . . consumers coul d pu t th e need s o f thei r pocketbook s abov e thei r reme dial needs . Justice White: S o if yo u advertise d pric e — so-called "pric e cutting, " you think i t might lea d everyone to cut prices, which lower s profit s which woul d pu t th e druggis t i n a poorer positio n t o d o hi s job. Is that it ?

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Mr. Troy: Th e Genera l Assembl y [o f Virginia ] i n it s wisdo m ha s decided tha t th e deliver y o f a prescriptio n dru g i s part an d parce l entwined wit h th e health car e that mus t b e given. Justice White: Al l right. Now, ho w doe s advertisin g imping e o n that ? Mr. Troy: Th e advertising , o f course , woul d induc e consumer s t o think o f thi s a s a mer e commodit y an d woul d b e deceptiv e i n an d of itsel f becaus e they would no t realiz e what. . . . Question: Well , the General Assembly, in its wisdom, hasn't—doesn' t fix price s o n drug s an d i t doesn' t preven t a druggis t fro m cuttin g a price at the request o f a consumer . Mr. Troy: Tha t i s correct, you r Honor . Thi s has no effec t o n prices . Question: An d i t wouldn't prevent , I suppose, consumer s picketin g a drugstore t o sa y that th e druggis t wa s chargin g to o hig h a price. Mr. Troy: No , I don't thin k i t would a t all . Question: An d i t wouldn't eve n preven t on e druggis t fro m picketin g another. Mr. Troy: Well , the statut e — Question: Woul d it ? Would it? Mr. Troy: —doe s no t inten d t o regulat e price . Question: S o if a druggis t want s t o sel l the drug s mor e cheapl y tha n his competitors, h e may d o s o without interference . Mr. Troy: Tha t i s correct . Question (by Justice Rehnquist): Well , bu t doesn't—i f yo u ar e talk ing abou t a Fourteent h Amendmen t typ e o f analysi s wher e [an y rationale fo r th e statute , whethe r righ t o r wron g i n fact , ca n b e used t o defen d th e state' s law] , don't yo u hav e t o ge t bac k t o Justice White's earlie r questio n [an d argu e i n suppor t o f th e advertis ing ban ] tha t i f yo u hav e pric e advertisin g yo u ar e goin g t o hav e price war s an d i f th e pharmacis t doe s hav e a responsibl e positio n the les s he can charg e fo r th e uni t th e les s time h e is able t o devot e to supervisin g it s distribution ? Mr. Troy: Well . . . that i s perhaps a n analysis , Justice Rehnquist . Justice Rehnquist: Than k you . (Laughter) Mr. Troy: Th e — sorry—that jus t cam e out . Wha t I meant t o sa y i s that, thoug h w e di d no t rel y o n tha t analysi s per se i n th e lowe r court, wha t w e fel t wa s tha t thi s monitorin g situation , i f yo u hav e advertising, yo u ar e goin g t o induc e patrons , patients , t o sho p around—to sho p fro m pharmac y t o pharmac y an d b y no t havin g

The Pharmacist I 16 7 price advertising , yo u are , in effect , creatin g a system whereby per haps a physician-pharmacist relationshi p woul d exist . The Genera l Assembl y . . . found tha t ther e wa s a rationa l rela tionship betwee n [th e absenc e o f pric e competitio n and ] monitor ing— between [n o price advertisin g and ] havin g patient s g o to th e same pharmacist an d consequently, on that basis , enacted the statute. The Court' s reservation s abou t th e advertisin g restrictio n wer e no t t o be resolved . Ther e seeme d littl e doub t tha t th e Genera l Assembly' s assumptions — that wit h n o pric e advertisin g consumer s wer e mor e likely t o remai n wit h th e sam e pharmacist , wh o woul d the n hav e bette r information base d o n pas t experienc e wit h whic h t o monito r th e bes t drug o r dosag e an d t o avoi d drug s tha t migh t caus e unwante d sid e effects fo r th e custome r — were reasonable , thoug h the y wer e blunt edged an d exacte d a significan t cost . I t wa s entirel y possible , fo r exam ple, tha t eve n wit h pric e advertisin g mos t customer s woul d remai n wit h the sam e pharmacist bu t woul d enjo y th e adde d benefi t o f lowe r prices . But further discussio n o f the rationality o f th e Virginia schem e woul d have to awai t Mr . Morrison's late r argumen t o n behal f o f th e Consume r Council. Fo r th e moment , th e tid e o f question s instea d turne d t o th e more importan t an d theoretica l Firs t Amendment problem s presente d i n the case . Exactl y wh o — or what—wa s th e speake r i n th e case , an d what, precisely , was the speech ? Question: I s there an y Firs t Amendmen t interes t [of ] th e druggis t t o take accoun t o f i n this case ? Mr. Troy: No , I don't thin k so . . . . In thi s case , what i s advertised i s commercial advertisin g i n its purest sense . [Unlik e the Court' s deci sion las t ter m i n th e Bigelow v. Virginia case , involvin g advertise ments fo r legal , out-of-stat e abortions, ] phrase s suc h a s "compare , save, pay less , o r dial-a-discount " d o no t . . . convey informatio n of interes t regardin g th e form , th e subjec t matte r o f th e la w i n another state , o r advertise d activit y whic h pertain s t o a constitu tional interest , abortion. Suc h phrases d o no more than simpl y propose a commercia l transaction . The y ar e entitle d t o little , i f any , constitutional weight . Now, a s I hav e said , thos e phrase s woul d create , perhaps , a retail incentiv e fo r pric e competition , bu t wher e i s th e constitu tional righ t t o th e lowes t pric e possible ?

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If a balancing of whatever First Amendment interest s are involved must b e made , the n . . . i t shoul d b e don e i n ligh t o f thi s Court' s recognition fo r ove r 4 0 year s o f th e inheren t interest s o f th e Stat e through it s polic e powe r t o regulat e th e variou s professions . [Th e Virginia pric e advertisin g ban ] ha s bee n found , b y [the ] distric t court. . ., t o hav e . . . a rational an d reasonabl e basis . The Virgini a statute , wis e o r foolish , economicall y soun d o r improvident, shoul d b e sustained . B y doing so , this Cour t wil l b e sustaining th e constitutional framewor k tha t legislativ e bodies , no t courts, must decid e the wisdom o f economi c an d socia l policies. Chief Justice Burger: Than k you , Mr. Troy. Mr. Troy's time was up and h e returned t o his seat at the counsel tabl e behind th e podium . A s he di d so , he was n o doub t reflectin g o n th e ora l argument tha t ha d jus t transpired, perhap s wit h satisfaction . On th e on e hand, h e seemed t o hav e succeede d i n keeping the Court' s attention focuse d o n th e importanc e o f preservin g th e state' s regulator y authority ove r th e professions , an d t o hav e emphasize d effectivel y th e danger o f th e Court' s enmeshin g itsel f onc e agai n i n judging th e wisdo m of th e economi c an d socia l policie s adopte d throug h th e democrati c leg islative proces s a t th e stat e level . To decide th e cas e i n favo r o f th e Con sumer Council , i n othe r words , th e Cour t woul d hav e t o surmoun t tw o imposing obstacles : it s long-establishe d histor y o f deferenc e t o stat e social an d economi c polic y choices ; and th e well-entrenched traditio n o f pervasive stat e regulation o f the professions . Troy ha d als o responde d directl y an d clearl y t o th e Firs t Amendmen t questions pose d b y th e Court . Th e question s ha d bee n phrase d i n pre cisely th e wa y h e wished : "Wha t ar e th e Firs t Amendmen t right s o f th e pharmacist?" Thi s phrasin g allowe d Tro y t o assert , accurately , tha t th e pharmacist's clai m was fo r th e right t o d o n o mor e tha n propos e a com mercial transaction—"dial-a-discount, " a s Tro y deftl y pu t it . I t wa s thus, inferentially , simpl y a clai m b y th e discounter s an d bi g chain s t o invade th e settle d territor y o f loca l pharmacists , wh o provide d valuabl e continuity o f car e an d attentio n t o thei r customers , a clai m tha t coul d not easil y b e distinguishe d fro m tha t o f a used-ca r dealer . Th e righ t t o engage i n pric e competitio n b y mean s o f speec h contribute d littl e o f value t o th e large r Firs t Amendmen t end s o f individua l freedo m o f thought an d conscienc e an d democrati c self-government , an d i t wa s clearly differen t fro m th e speec h (thoug h i n advertisemen t form ) abou t

The Pharmacist I 1 69 the availabilit y o f lega l abortion s tha t wa s a t issu e i n th e Court' s earlie r decision i n the Bigelow case . But Troy might also have entertained a doubt o r two abou t th e cours e that ora l argumen t ha d taken . Th e Firs t Amendmen t issu e was, after all , hardly touche d upo n b y the Court , ye t th e issu e was a t th e cente r o f th e case an d involve d difficul t an d subtl e question s tha t th e Cour t ha d no t seen fi t t o pres s upo n him . Tha t th e Firs t Amendmen t issu e coul d b e s o easily dismisse d o n th e basi s o f th e pharmacist' s relativel y wea k interes t without mentio n o f the interests o f the consumers, the audience , was to o good t o b e true. The Cour t had , afte r all , agreed t o se t the case down fo r briefing an d ora l argument , an d wit h specifi c referenc e t o th e Firs t Amendment claim . Yet i n it s limite d questioning , th e Cour t ha d no t give n Tro y muc h chance t o engag e th e Cour t i n ora l argumen t o n th e significan t theoreti cal and practica l problem s pose d b y a First Amendment theor y premise d not o n th e speaker' s clai m o f righ t bu t o n th e audience's . I f th e freedo m of a n advertisemen t depend s o n it s valu e t o th e audience , ho w d o w e judge the audience, and ho w d o we determine it s selection o f "value" ? I s the audience' s Firs t Amendmen t interes t simpl y on e o f utility , s o tha t information tha t ca n b e usefull y employe d i s thereby protected ? O r i s the audience's interest grounded someho w i n the constitutional libert y of the member s o f th e audience ? If, fo r example , a n individua l read s a n advertisemen t announcin g th e price o f a use d car , is the Firs t Amendment' s protectio n fo r th e a d base d on it s usefulness t o tha t individua l a s a potential buye r o f a used car ? O r can w e distinguish , fo r purpose s o f th e Firs t Amendment , th e utilit y o f used-car price s fro m th e utilit y o f prescriptio n dru g prices , prescriptio n drugs bein g mor e importan t t o th e individual' s well-bein g or , perhaps, a more basi c necessit y o f life ? I f suc h distinction s ar e t o b e drawn , ho w can w e fin d a principle d basi s fo r drawin g the m i n th e Firs t Amend ment? Aren' t suc h distinction s th e very question s o f indeterminat e socia l policy tha t ar e bes t lef t t o th e electe d branche s o f government , an d no t to the courts ? Couching the interest i n used-car price s in terms o f liberty rather tha n the information' s utilit y doesn' t i n th e en d chang e th e analysis . The lib erty to bu y prescription drug s rathe r tha n a used car, after all , isn't mor e easily distinguishable tha n th e utilit y interest i n one versus the other . Ar e prescription drug s someho w mor e centra l t o libert y tha n a use d car ? I f so, isn' t tha t because , fo r a specifi c membe r o f th e audience , drug s ar e

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more important , an d th e libert y interes t lie s in that individual's abilit y t o make tha t trade-off , no t th e government' s (o r th e Firs t Amendment's) ? But admitting this, what connectio n doe s an individual's personal prefer ence fo r use d car s rathe r tha n prescriptio n drug s hav e t o d o wit h th e First Amendment, whic h deal s with expression ? To b e sure , the Firs t Amendmen t deal s wit h speech ; speec h include s information a s well a s ideas ; and informatio n enable s individual s wh o receive i t t o kno w more , t o furthe r develo p thei r thought s an d beliefs , and t o ac t i n a more independent , autonomou s way . In thi s sens e speec h inevitably tend s towar d greate r freedo m i n others , whic h i n tur n tend s toward ne w belief an d insigh t and ultimatel y to new speech, which begin s the circle again. But if this is what the First Amendment i s about, we mus t account fo r th e man y unanticipated , an d eve n bizarre , result s i t yields . The same "circl e of enlightenment" argumen t applie s not just to informa tion an d idea s receive d b y a perso n fro m th e speec h ac t o f anothe r per son. It applies, as well, to virtually all stimuli: the song of a bird, the crash of thunder, the fel t textur e o f a rug, the experienc e o f pain o r disease , the perception o f tim e an d space , indee d everythin g tha t assault s th e sense s and consciousness , perhap s eve n the unconscious . All of thes e contribut e to ou r thought s an d beliefs , to ou r sens e of self, and thu s t o ou r indepen dence, autonomy, an d ultimatel y t o ou r speech . The Firs t Amendment could , o f course, be interpreted t o protect al l of these things : t o foreclos e governmen t fro m denyin g u s th e bird' s song , the experienc e o f nature ; t o safeguar d ou r righ t t o experienc e pai n an d disease. Bu t suc h a Firs t Amendmen t woul d b e radicall y differen t fro m the on e w e know , an d fro m th e muc h mor e limite d on e th e Suprem e Court ha s enforced . Unde r suc h a Firs t Amendment , w e wouldn' t nee d the Endangere d Specie s Act , fo r b y permittin g loggin g o f th e federall y owned habita t o f th e spotte d ow l the governmen t woul d b e denying ou r First Amendmen t righ t t o hea r an d se e the owl , denyin g u s the informa tion thu s t o b e gathered , assimilated , an d reflecte d i n newl y expresse d ideas an d beliefs . This woul d b e a sill y result , Tro y migh t hav e argued , tha t coul d b e avoided onl y b y drawin g lines , b y distinguishin g amon g stimul i o r among type s o f information , base d o n thei r valu e i n th e hand s o f th e audience. S o whether w e ar e talkin g abou t a bird' s son g o r prescriptio n drug prices , the Firs t Amendmen t questio n whe n viewe d fro m th e per spective o f th e audience' s interest , no t th e speaker' s freedom , come s down t o a line-drawin g question . An d a s such , i t require s th e Cour t t o

The Pharmacist I 17 1 engage i n th e ver y sam e inquir y int o valu e o r utilit y tha t a n approac h based o n th e pharmacist's freedo m t o spea k required . Is informatio n abou t used-ca r price s distinguishable , i n principle , from informatio n abou t prescriptio n dru g prices? I f there is a distinctio n between them, is it not unavoidabl y a distinction base d o n expedient an d temporal consideration s o f wis e socia l polic y o r nake d democrati c pref erence bes t lef t t o th e electe d branche s o f government ? I f court s mus t rest thei r action s o n th e tex t o f th e Constitutio n o r a t leas t o n genera l principles o f constitutiona l origi n tha t transcen d th e outcom e reache d i n the cas e a t hand , wher e i n th e Firs t Amendment, whic h read s "Congres s shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom o f speech," ca n such a principle b e discovered ? This i s th e argumen t Tro y migh t hav e mad e ha d h e bee n give n th e chance. Th e argument , t o b e sure , i s no t withou t it s weaknesse s (i f n o principle ca n b e judicially crafted , fo r example , ho w ca n th e distinctio n between "purel y commercia l speech " an d othe r form s o f speec h b e defended), bu t i t i s a powerfu l on e tha t goe s deepl y t o th e real proble m in the case . Mr. Troy was not allowe d t o make the argument . I t was instead lef t t o the justice s t o mak e i t i n th e for m o f th e question s pose d t o Mr . Morri son, wh o wa s arguing , ultimately , o n behal f o f th e audience . A s Morri son rose and steppe d t o the podium, h e may als o have bee n reflecting o n these very questions. In an y event, he surel y knew wha t wa s coming . Mr. Morrison: Mr . Chie f Justice an d ma y i t please the Court . This i s a Firs t Amendmen t case . There i s only on e questio n an d that i s the constitutionalit y o f th e Virgini a statut e whic h prohibit s the advertisin g o f th e price o f prescriptio n drugs . The Pharmac y Boar d [an d th e Stat e o f Virginia ] rel y o n . . . the proposition tha t commercia l advertisin g i s entitled t o no protectio n under th e Firs t Amendment . Now, whatever th e merits o f that positio n ma y have bee n befor e June 16t h o f las t yea r whe n thi s Cour t decide d Bigelow [th e abor tion advertisemen t case] , that positio n simpl y has no meri t today . Bigelow clearl y an d unmistakabl y foreclose s an y . . . argumen t . . . that al l commercial advertisin g i s outside the First Amendment . Bigelow sai d you hav e got to loo k a t the informatio n bein g con veyed . . . and fin d a clear relationshi p betwee n th e prohibitio n [o f the information ] an d th e goal s o f th e State .

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The Pharmacist Whichever wa y yo u strik e th e balance , th e scal e tip s s o heavil y in favo r o f publi c disclosur e o f thi s informatio n unde r th e Firs t Amendment tha t unde r eve n the mos t relaxe d rationa l relationshi p test the plaintiffs wil l prevail . [This case involves] the interes t tha t th e consumers hav e i n find ing ou t . . . how muc h the y ar e goin g t o pa y fo r drug s tha t ma y save their lives . . . .

Mr. Morrison' s openin g statement , interrupte d b y a fe w technica l questions abou t th e scop e o f th e dru g pric e ba n tha t hav e no t bee n included here , succeede d i n placin g th e cas e i n th e mos t favorabl e ligh t to him . The Firs t Amendment , h e asserted , require d tha t th e drug-price advertising ba n bea r a reasonabl e relationshi p t o th e end s i t wa s designed to achieve—improved qualit y o f pharmaceutical service s to th e customer. As the discussion with Mr . Troy had revealed , this relationshi p was tenuou s a t best , an d th e specte r o f protectionis m fo r loca l pharma cists wa s ever-presen t i n th e statute' s operation . Tenuou s reasonin g might b e enough unde r th e du e process clause , but th e Firs t Amendmen t clearly required more . Once firml y plante d o n Firs t Amendment ground , therefore, Morrison' s argumen t wa s nearly ope n an d shut . The proble m i n th e case , o f course , wa s gettin g t o an d holdin g th e First Amendmen t ground . Her e Morriso n ha d manage d t o skat e ove r virtually al l o f th e difficul t terrain , choosin g instea d t o plan t hi s fee t strongly o n th e Court' s earlie r Bigelow decision . He di d so , to hi s credit , with decisivenes s an d aplomb . But no t wit h success , for Justic e Rehnquis t quickl y sense d th e sleigh t of han d tha t ha d bee n attempte d i n Morrison' s statement—no t argu ment—that th e case involved th e "consumers' . . . interest i n finding ou t how muc h the y ar e goin g t o hav e t o pa y fo r drug s tha t ma y sav e thei r lives." Justice Rehnquist: I s that a constitutional interes t that you ar e talkin g about? Mr. Morrison: Ye s it is, Mr. Justice Rehnquist. I t is the right to receiv e information unde r th e First Amendment an d th e concomitant righ t on th e par t o f th e pharmacis t t o spea k freel y an d whil e th e phar macist i s subjec t t o regulatio n unde r th e Fourteent h Amendment , there ar e still specific Firs t Amendment prohibition s tha t canno t b e overruled.

The Pharmacist I 17 3 We might accus e Morrison o f dissemblin g jus t a bi t i n hi s answer . H e starts out clearly enough: "I t is the right to receive information unde r th e First Amendment . . . . " Th e Firs t Amendmen t right , i n othe r words , belongs t o th e audience ; i t consist s o f th e receip t o f information , no t it s production. But Morriso n the n turns , a s perhap s h e must , t o th e pharmacist , fo r the audienc e canno t hav e a right t o receiv e informatio n tha t i s not give n (unless, of course , th e Firs t Amendmen t i s interpreted t o forc e someon e to giv e it , muc h a s a constitutiona l righ t o f acces s woul d do) . H e describes th e pharmacist' s righ t a s a "concomitan t righ t . . . t o spea k freely." Wit h thi s seemingl y innocuou s phras e Morriso n ha s execute d a clever sleigh t o f hand . I f th e pharmacist' s righ t i s a "concomitant " one , of wha t i s it concomitant ? Morriso n assert s tha t i t i s concomitant with , and implicitl y dependen t on , th e audience' s righ t t o receiv e informatio n from th e pharmacist. H e thus manages i n a short phras e to turn th e Firs t Amendment upsid e down : a speaker's freedo m flow s fro m th e audience' s right t o hear , rather tha n th e othe r wa y around . Traditional Firs t Amendmen t theory , i n contrast , make s th e speaker' s freedom primar y an d th e audience' s secondary . Th e audience' s elucida tion, in other words , is a by-product o f the speaker's liberty; a happy an d important one , to b e sure , bu t a by-produc t nevertheless . I f thing s wer e put th e other wa y around , th e Firs t Amendment woul d protect , i n effect , only thos e idea s tha t a n audienc e wishe d t o hear , a resul t tha t woul d seriously undermin e th e Firs t Amendment' s commitmen t t o protectin g dissent an d safeguardin g th e opportunit y fo r idea s believe d fals e t o com pete with conventiona l "wisdom. " Mr. Morriso n wa s save d fro m havin g t o confron t thi s problem , a t least fo r th e moment , b y th e nex t question , whic h shifte d th e focu s t o another difficul t proble m tha t Mr . Troy had plante d i n the Court' s mind : must lawyers , too, b e allowed t o advertise ? Question: Bu t wha t abou t your—i f you r argumen t i s applied t o th e legal professio n . . . i s the stat e ba r regulatio n prohibitin g lawyer s from advertisin g a violation o f the Firs t Amendment ? Mr. Morrison: Well , I want t o answe r tha t questio n directl y becaus e it is something tha t ha s bee n allude d t o a number o f times . Question: Tha t i s your nex t case . Mr. Morrison: Th e firs t poin t I wan t t o mak e i s tha t th e mod e o f analysis employe d i n Bigelow . . . requiring th e recognitio n o f a

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The Pharmacist First Amendmen t righ t an d requirin g th e balancin g o f th e tw o kinds o f interests , tha t is , the i n t e r e s t . . . i n obtainin g th e . . . specific item s o f informatio n . . . against th e interes t tha t th e stat e ha s in precludin g th e disseminatio n o f tha t information , tha t kin d o f balancing tes t woul d mos t definitel y hav e t o b e engage d i n a cas e similar t o the on e that yo u suggested . I can se e a wide distinction , fo r instance , betwee n informatio n about wha t a lawye r charge s o n a specifi c per-hou r basis , o n th e one hand , an d a lawye r wh o stipulate d t o mak e th e sam e kin d o f guarantees tha t th e dentis t di d i n a simila r case , saying " I guaran tee n o pain,"—whateve r th e lega l equivalen t o f tha t ma y b e — "and I guarantee satisfaction. " Thos e ar e tw o differen t kind s o f questions an d the y would hav e to b e looked a t differently . . . . Similarly, w e don' t kno w an d w e don' t hav e a record , a s w e have here , o n wha t specifi c justification s th e Ba r woul d pu t forth . Here, we have the monitorin g justification . [With lawyers] the state has an interest i n seeing that profession als do not engag e in what w e call overreaching activitie s and i t may very wel l b e that i n th e contex t o f analyzin g wha t professional s — who, afte r all , ar e license d b y th e state , give n a n imprimatu r o f going ou t t o th e publi c an d say , you ar e a professional—th e stat e may well—and I don't sugges t that ther e is a definite answer—bu t may well b e able to say : "Hol d on . You can't sa y the sam e thing a s soap makers. "

Morrison ha d dance d wit h sprightl y ambiguit y throug h th e lawye r minefield, bu t i n th e en d i t didn' t reall y matte r much . Th e justice s wer e perfectly awar e o f th e fac t tha t thei r decisio n i n thi s cas e woul d hav e clear implication s fo r othe r license d professiona l setting s . . . and tha t among th e firs t suc h claim s t o arriv e a t th e Cour t woul d b e claim s b y lawyers. Morrison kne w this , too. But what Morriso n ma y no t hav e anticipate d wa s th e coming twis t i n the road , fo r hi s statement tha t th e stat e ba r migh t b e abl e to limi t wha t lawyers ca n sa y in advertisement s t o sayin g les s than th e "soa p makers " brought Morriso n int o a head-on collisio n with th e rights o f the speaker . It was Justice Brennan , thi s time, who quickl y jumpe d in . Justice Brennan: Bu t yo u can' t d o that , I gather, fro m wha t yo u ar e suggesting here. Your next ste p is going to b e that yo u can't d o tha t as to the consumer .

The Pharmacist I 17 5 Mr. Morrison: Well , the — Justice Brennan: I f they ar e evaluatin g th e conduc t o f th e profession als themselves , tha t i s on e thing , bu t her e yo u ar e talkin g abou t whether th e consumer i s entitled t o thi s information . Mr. Morrison: No , I would say , Justice Brennan , tha t bot h o f thos e interests can properly b e focused. W e can focu s o n th e entir e trans action. Justice Brennan: Right . Mr. Morrison: An d I do no t mea n t o sugges t tha t th e stat e coul d no t focus o n it . Justice Brennan: Al l right . Mr. Morrison: Indeed , I think ther e ar e very many important interest s that ca n b e protected agains t b y deceptive an d fraudulen t advertis ing. All I am suggestin g i s that i n th e contex t o f a particula r cas e with regar d t o th e regulation s o f a particular profession , w e hav e to loo k a t th e particular informatio n unde r th e kin d o f analysi s w e are suggestin g here . . . . Justice Brenna n had , surprisingly , le t th e issu e sli p away , an d the n Morrison ha d manage d t o bur y i t furthe r i n a fog o f ambiguit y couple d with a n irrelevan t diversio n int o deceptiv e an d fraudulen t advertising . How, Justice Brenna n ha d asked , coul d th e state' s denia l o f informatio n about lawyer s b e justifie d a t al l if , a s Morriso n ha d asserted , th e pri mary Firs t Amendmen t righ t i s the audience' s righ t t o receiv e th e infor mation, makin g whateve r us e o f i t i t chose ? Morrison' s tal k o f balancing interest s i n th e context s o f particula r case s i s mere diversion , for i t i s no t responsive . An d hi s tal k o f preventin g frau d an d decei t i s beside the point, fo r neithe r th e lawye r advertisin g exampl e no r th e Virginia Pharmacy cas e involve d an y elemen t o f frau d o r deceit . Morriso n could, o f course , hav e mad e th e argumen t tha t al l lawye r advertisin g i s inherently deceptive , bu t h e didn' t mak e tha t argument , an d h e didn' t want to . So w e ar e lef t t o wonde r wh y Justic e Brenna n le t Morriso n of f th e hook. I t wa s no t unti l a late r poin t i n th e argumen t tha t Justic e Black mun returne d t o th e issue . Justice Blackmun: Mr . Morrison , le t m e as k yo u thi s an d I hope i t isn't irrelevant . I thin k tha t drug s b y trad e name s generall y ar e more expensiv e tha n drug s b y their basi c chemical — Mr. Morrison: Generi c names .

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Justice Blackmun: —o r generi c names . Suppos e Virgini a ha d a statute requirin g physician s t o prescrib e i n th e generi c name . Would thi s b e unconstitutional, d o you think ? The questio n pose d b y Justice Blackmu n wasn't , o f course , irrelevant . It was i n fact ver y crafty, fo r i t would flus h Morriso n ou t o n th e issu e of exactly whos e right s wer e a t stak e i n th e case , th e pharmacists ' o r th e audience's. Morrison , o f course , electe d th e audience , an d thu s foun d himself righ t bac k wher e Justice Brenna n ha d inexplicabl y lef t off . Mr, Morrison: Well , I would firs t sa y tha t I—m y firs t offhan d reac tion i s that tha t woul d no t b e a Firs t Amendmen t issue . I woul d think tha t th e stat e woul d hav e a legitimat e interes t i f i t mad e a factual determinatio n tha t pill s ar e pharmacologically identical , t o be abl e t o sa y t o th e doctor , "Yo u mus t prescrib e tha t unles s ther e is some medical reason fo r doin g so. " Question: Woul d yo u think , i n furthe r answe r t o Justice Blackmun' s question, tha t a physician ha d a First Amendment righ t no t t o pre scribe i n th e generi c nam e an d yo u woul d the n balanc e th e state' s interest to se e whether h e would prevai l o r th e state ? Mr. Morrison: Well , I don' t se e th e speec h elemen t o f th e Firs t Amendment comin g in . Question: Well , why shouldn' t th e docto r b e abl e t o prescrib e a cer tain proprietar y dru g i f h e jus t think s i t i s bette r o r h e jus t want s his customers t o us e that drug ? Mr. Morrison [seeming a bit confused by the turn the question has taken]: Well , my — Question: I mean, why isn' t i t at leas t a First Amendment issue ? Mr. Morrison: Well , i t migh t be . As I say, I haven't focuse d o n it . I t would see m to me that it is not a traditional kind of expression issue. Morrison should hav e focuse d o n th e issue . Afte r all , i s the doctor' s claimed righ t t o prescrib e a proprietary dru g al l that differen t fro m th e pharmacist's right to advertise the price of the drug? Bot h could b e seen t o be speaking. And i n both case s the audienc e (patient ) woul d receiv e infor mation that would b e useful an d that the state was attempting to prohibit . But Morrison' s surprisin g uncertaint y wa s onl y a prelud e t o wha t would com e a s Justice Stewar t turne d th e focu s onc e agai n t o lawyer s and, more important , t o the basi s for Morrison' s "righ t t o know. "

The Pharmacist I 17 7 Justice Stewart: Mr . Morrison, befor e yo u g o o n . . . , I'll tr y t o pu t a fairly straightforwar d factua l situation . As yo u know , mos t lawyer s hav e a n hourl y rate , a t leas t fo r internal recor d purposes , an d th e firs t ste p i n mos t lega l charg e computations i s to loo k a t one' s recor d an d see ho w man y hour s have bee n devote d t o th e representation . Let's assum e a desir e o n th e par t o f lawyer s — or assum e tha t the issu e wer e whethe r o r no t lawyer s woul d b e allowe d t o adver tise that their hourly rate for non-litigatio n advic e was $2 5 a n hou r or whatever i t might be . What woul d you r reactio n t o that be ? Mr. Morrison: Well , my firs t reactio n woul d b e that tha t i s certainl y an ite m o f informatio n tha t consumer s woul d wan t t o know . Justice Stewart: Right . Mr. Morrison: Tha t th e lawye r woul d wan t t o b e abl e t o disseminat e that, eithe r becaus e h e want s t o b e sur e th e peopl e h e i s attractin g can pay the fee or becaus e he thinks that he will get people to com e in at that rat e becaus e h e thinks i t is a good, competitiv e rate . Now, o n th e assumptio n tha t w e ar e talkin g abou t a dignifie d notice . . . I woul d se e n o interes t o f th e stat e o f th e kin d tha t I would thin k woul d b e sufficien t t o overtur n it , b u t . . . before w e prejudge a cas e . . . the stat e o u g h t . . . t o hav e a n opportunit y t o present whateve r justification , th e equivalen t o f monitorin g o r whatever, th e stat e ha s t o pu t forth . . . . My ow n judgmen t woul d be . . . that ther e i s no sufficien t interes t o f th e stat e involved . . . . Justice Stewart: Well , even i f ther e were , accordin g t o you r submis sion, a s I understand it , th e Firs t Amendmen t o f th e Constitutio n would overrid e it . Mr. Morrison: Well , the First Amendment — Justice Stewart: I f there is a right to know. If there is, as you submit , a constitutional righ t t o kno w o n th e par t o f potentia l client s o r potential customer s o f pharmacists . Mr. Morrison: Well , in ever y case , of course , there woul d b e a stron g presumption tha t th e right t o know woul d be — Justice Stewart: Well , if he has a right to know . Mr. Morrison: Yes . But ther e could—ther e i s alway s engage d i n th e permissible balancin g tes t that ther e ar e certain kind s o f case s — [Here Morrison i s not wafflin g bu t i s rather observin g that ther e are n o absolut e right s o r absolut e answer s i n constitutiona l la w — even hi s "righ t t o know " woul d countenanc e exception s i f th e

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state's interest , suc h a s the interes t i n preventin g fraud , wer e suffi ciently great. ] Justice Stewart: Well , some people thin k so , but other s don't . Mr. Morrison: Tha t i s right. Justice Stewart: Other s thin k i f ther e i s a clea r constitutiona l right , that i s the en d o f i t an d an y stat e statut e tha t impede s o r interfere s with tha t righ t i s invalid. Mr. Morrison: I think tha t i s correct, Mr . Justice Stewart . Justice Stewart: Tha t i s not you r submission , a s I understand it . You r submission i s that i n thi s instance , the stat e interes t doe s no t over ride the righ t t o know . Isn't tha t it ? Mr. Morrison: I think tha t i s right . Justice Stewart: Firs t o f all , o n a n absolutis t vie w o r an y othe r view , you hav e t o loo k a t the Constitution , don' t you ? Mr. Morrison: Tha t i s correct . Justice Stewart: An d wher e d o yo u fin d i n th e Constitutio n an y righ t to know ? Mr. Morrison: Well , it's the correlativ e — Justice Stewart: Particularl y i f you wer e a n absolutist . Mr. Morrison: I t is the correlative, I would say , of the right to speak — freedom o f speec h tha t I think Justic e Brenna n sai d tha t th e mar ketplace [o f ideas ] woul d b e a barre n plac e indee d i f w e ha d onl y sellers an d n o buyer s an d w e hav e recognize d th e righ t t o receiv e information specificall y i n a numbe r o f contexts , [includin g the ] Lamont cas e [whic h involve d posta l restriction s o n wha t peopl e could receiv e i n the mail] . Justice Brennan: I don't thin k anyon e joine d i n sayin g that , though , did they ? Wasn't I alone? Mr. Morrison: Yes . [But] you wer e concurring . We are now a t the heart o f the matter: Is there a "righ t t o know " pos sessed b y the audienc e unde r th e Firs t Amendment; an d i s the right inde pendent o f th e righ t o f th e speake r t o speak ? Morriso n ha d earlie r implied tha t th e right t o know—th e audience' s righ t t o receiv e informa tion—was freestanding , no t dependen t o n th e speaker' s primar y right . In hi s exchang e wit h Justice s Stewar t an d Brenna n h e ha d shifte d ground, sayin g that th e right t o kno w wa s correlative of—an d therefor e impliedly secondar y to—the righ t to speak . This ambiguity , which Mor rison ma y have wished t o maintain, disguise d th e problem tha t la y at th e

The Pharmacist I 17 9 center o f hi s case , for th e pharmacist s wh o woul d clai m a Firs t Amend ment righ t t o spea k wer e nowher e t o b e found . Thi s fac t presente d i n stark relie f a fundamenta l questio n o f Firs t Amendmen t interpretation : Just whose righ t ar e we talking about ? But i f maintainin g ambiguit y wa s Morrison' s aim , th e Cour t woul d have non e o f it . Question: On e may full y accep t [th e audience's critica l role in speech ] and stil l sa y tha t th e Constitutio n protect s th e righ t t o kno w b y guaranteeing th e right t o spea k o r th e right t o a free press , and tha t those were the constitutional guarantee s an d anythin g else is derivative and i s not protecte d directl y b y the Constitution . Mr. Morrison: Well , w e woul d certainl y sa y tha t t o th e exten t tha t there is a direct right t o speak , tha t woul d plainl y suppor t th e righ t to receiv e the information , bu t ther e have bee n a couple o f case s i n which th e righ t to spea k ha s no t bee n a t issue . . . . Question: Well , you ar e no t suggesting , ar e you , tha t th e consumer s have a righ t t o kno w eve n thoug h th e pharmacist s don' t hav e a right t o speak ? Mr. Morrison: Well , I think th e pharmacist s d o hav e a right t o spea k in this case. Question: But they are not here. Mr. Morrison: Bu t they are not her e and I do sa y that ther e have bee n cases i n thi s Cour t an d I simply mak e th e observation , I think tha t the rights [o f the speake r an d th e audience ] ar e equal an d th e sam e and tha t whe n yo u vie w the entir e transaction togethe r considerin g all of th e rights involved , that yo u d o hav e a constitutional righ t t o have this information disseminate d an d receive d i n this case . What I a m sayin g i s tha t ther e hav e bee n a coupl e o f case s where th e righ t t o receiv e ha s seemingl y bee n elevate d abov e th e right tha t th e perso n wh o wa s makin g th e statemen t ha d unde r our Constitution . Justice Blackmun: Mr . Morrison , mayb e thi s i s why I , fo r one , any way, a m alway s a littl e uneas y abou t usin g a phras e suc h a s th e right t o know . I think I [would rathe r say ] something lik e the free flo w o f infor mation. I t put s a littl e les s emphasi s o n "righ t t o know " o n on e party an d th e "righ t t o speak " o n th e other , an d w e have restricte d them her e a little bit. I am groping , obviously .

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"Groping" ma y wel l b e th e righ t term . Resolvin g th e constitutiona l tension betwee n th e individual' s righ t t o spea k an d th e audience' s righ t to receive , o r t o "know, " b y the phras e "fre e flo w o f information " doe s little more tha n euphemiz e th e ambiguity . To be sure, in most case s ther e will b e n o conflic t betwee n th e speaker' s righ t an d th e audience' s right , for bot h ar e ordinaril y willin g participants . Bu t i n som e case s — and th e pharmacists' cas e ma y b e one—th e tensio n wil l b e inescapable : i f th e speaker doe s not want t o speak , does the audience's right to know never theless compe l th e speake r t o d o so ? I f a politician ha s a secre t tha t th e public wants t o know , must h e or sh e disgorge it ? For th e moment , Morriso n grasp s franticall y a t th e "fre e flo w o f information" stra w tha t Blackmu n ha s tendered . Mr. Morrison: I agre e wit h you , on e hundre d percent , Mr . Justic e Blackmun. I don' t thin k — and I rea d m y brie f agai n wit h tha t specifically i n min d — that w e specificall y adopte d th e "righ t t o know" phraseolog y i n this Court . . . . Question: Bu t you don' t sugges t tha t th e Firs t Amendment , th e righ t of fre e speech , mean s tha t yo u mus t hav e somethin g t o say , d o you? This i s a very goo d question . I f th e Firs t Amendmen t rest s o n a righ t to know , the n somethin g wort h knowin g mus t b e said . If , o n th e othe r hand, th e Firs t Amendment protect s th e individual' s libert y to speak , th e "worthiness" o f what i s spoken i s irrelevant, fo r i t is the individual's lib erty to expres s himsel f o r hersel f tha t i s protected . Mr. Morrison: No , I don't . Question: Then , i f you — Mr. Morrison: Somethin g meaningfu l t o say ? Question: Yes . Then i f yo u ar e goin g t o measur e [th e Firs t Amend ment] b y th e fre e flo w o f information , informatio n presumabl y meaning "somethin g t o say, " yo u hav e pu t a limi t o n th e Firs t Amendment, haven' t you ? Mr. Morrison: Well , I don't thin k so . I am onl y talking about — Question: A person ha s th e sam e righ t t o spea k o r t o writ e eve n i f what h e is speaking o r writing i s utterly foolish , doesn' t he ? Mr. Morrison: Tha t is absolutely correct. I am only talking about thos e cases i n which a stat e i s claiming tha t som e interes t i n prohibitin g

The Pharmacist I 18 1 certain kind s o f informatio n ma y b e raise d an d i n thos e case s I think tha t i t is proper t o take a look a t the kind o f information tha t we are talking about . That wa s my onl y point . Question: Well , if we ar e only speaking o f information . Mr. Morrison: Yes . Yes. At this point, Chie f Justice Burger thanked Mr . Morrison fo r hi s argu ment an d invite d hi m to resume his seat behin d th e counsel table. Morri son's tim e wa s up . H e wa s thu s save d fro m furthe r questionin g an d allowed t o leav e th e "righ t t o know " issu e i n th e cloude d ambiguit y o f the "fre e flo w o f information. " The Firs t Amendmen t wa s thu s lef t i n logica l limbo . Thre e alterna tive— and radicall y different—view s o f th e Firs t Amendmen t ha d emerged i n the course o f th e ora l argument . The firs t alternativ e i s a Firs t Amendmen t tha t rest s primaril y o n th e right o f th e individua l t o speak , wit h th e freedo m o f th e speec h t o "flow" an d th e audienc e "t o know " deriving from th e speaker' s libert y and, mor e important , dependin g o n it . I t wa s thi s vie w tha t underla y Justice Harlan's opinio n i n Paul Cohen' s case, discussed i n "Th e Jacket. " Under thi s view the pharmacists' righ t t o spea k woul d b e paramount . The secon d alternativ e i s a Firs t Amendmen t tha t protect s th e speech and its flow, wit h th e speaker' s righ t t o spea k an d th e audience' s righ t t o "know" derivin g fro m th e speech's liberty , o n th e theor y tha t th e mar ketplace o f speech—th e "flow " o f speech—woul d b e " a barre n plac e indeed i f we had [no ] sellers an d n o buyers. " Thi s i s the vie w tentativel y expressed b y Justic e Blackmu n an d Morriso n a t th e clos e o f th e ora l argument. I t is also, notably, a view that woul d res t o n a "balancing " o f the value o f the speec h agains t th e state' s regulator y interest . The balancin g approach , ironically , wa s precisel y th e argumen t Tro y had mad e o n behal f o f Virginia . I f a distinctio n betwee n th e valu e o f used-car price s and prescriptio n dru g prices is to b e made, the democrat ically electe d branche s o f governmen t shoul d mak e it . Court s ar e ill equipped t o formulate suc h broa d socia l policy preferences . The thir d an d fina l alternativ e i s a Firs t Amendmen t tha t protect s th e audience's "righ t t o know, " wit h th e freedo m o f th e speec h t o "flow " and th e individual' s righ t t o spea k derivin g fro m (an d therefor e bein g subservient to ) th e audience' s elucidation . This , whe n al l i s sai d an d done, was Morrison' s theor y i n th e Virginia Pharmacy case , though h e

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was carefu l no t t o pres s i t to o far , preferrin g t o disguis e i t i n Justic e Blackmun's "fre e flo w o f information " metaphor . The Suprem e Court' s problem la y in crafting a n opinio n base d o n on e of thes e thre e ver y differen t view s o f th e Firs t Amendment . Th e Stat e o f Virginia woul d b e happ y wit h eithe r o f th e firs t tw o alternatives . I f th e First Amendmen t rest s o n th e righ t o f th e speake r t o speak , th e absenc e of th e pharmacist s i n th e cas e coul d crippl e th e Consume r Council' s case. I f th e Firs t Amendmen t protect s speec h an d it s flow , Virgini a would argu e that a balancing o f interests was therefore require d an d tha t deference shoul d b e paid b y the Cour t t o th e state' s powe r t o formulat e basic socia l policy free o f intrusiv e judicial supervision . Viewe d thi s way, the cas e wa s littl e differen t fro m Virginia' s preferenc e fo r generi c rathe r than brand-nam e drugs , o r t o dra w o n a mor e contemporar y example , the federa l government' s desir e t o limi t tobacc o advertising . Onl y th e last alternative , whic h elevate d th e audience' s interes t t o dominanc e under th e Firs t Amendment , woul d provid e a clea r pat h t o victor y fo r Morrison an d th e Virginia Consume r Council . Perhaps th e difficult y o f reasonin g t o a conclusion i n th e cas e o n th e basis o f on e o f thes e thre e ver y differen t Firs t Amendmen t theorie s explains the Court' s dela y in issuing an opinion . Ora l argumen t ha d bee n held o n November n , 1975 , but the Court' s opinio n was not announce d until Ma y 24 , 1976 , nearly si x months later . Bu t whe n th e opinio n wa s finally released , th e Cour t seeme d surprisingl y united . Th e opinio n wa s written b y Justice Blackmun, who had authore d th e opinion on e year ear lier i n th e Bigelow case . Blackmun's opinio n wa s joine d b y the chie f jus tice an d Justices Brennan , Stewart , White , Marshall, an d Powell . Justice Douglas ha d retire d fro m th e Court , an d shortl y thereafte r ha d died . H e was replace d b y Justice Stevens , who di d no t participat e i n th e decision . The sol e dissenter wa s Justice Rehnquist . Justice Blackmun' s opinio n fo r th e Court , i t shoul d firs t b e said , attempted t o avoi d a clea r choic e amon g th e thre e competin g Firs t Amendment view s expresse d above . Language ca n b e found i n the opin ion t o suppor t eac h view . "Freedo m o f speech, " Blackmu n began , "pre supposes a willin g speaker . Bu t wher e a speake r exist s . . . , th e protection afforde d i s t o th e communication , t o it s sourc e an d t o it s recipients both. " Thi s was th e judicial equivalen t o f a "ha t trick. " But i n the en d th e logi c o f hi s opinio n reste d o n th e righ t o f th e audi ence:

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18 3

As t o th e particula r consumer' s interes t i n th e fre e flo w o f commercia l information, tha t interes t ma y b e a s keen , i f no t keene r b y far , tha n hi s interest i n the day' s most urgen t politica l debate . . . . Generalizing, societ y als o ma y hav e a strong interes t i n the fre e flo w o f commercial information . Eve n a n individua l advertisement , thoug h entirel y "commercial," ma y b e of genera l publi c interest . . . . Advertising, howeve r tasteless an d excessiv e i t sometime s ma y seem , i s nonetheless dissemina tion o f informatio n a s t o wh o i s producing an d sellin g wha t product , fo r what reason , a t wha t price . S o long a s w e preserv e a predominantly fre e enterprise economy , th e allocatio n o f ou r resource s i n larg e measur e wil l be mad e throug h numerou s privat e economi c decisions . I t i s a matte r o f public interest tha t those decisions , in the aggregate, be intelligent an d wel l informed. . . . Virginia i s free t o requir e whateve r professiona l standard s i t wishe s o f pharmacists; i t ma y subsidiz e the m o r protec t the m fro m competitio n i n other ways . But it may not d o s o b y keeping the public in ignorance. . . . There i s n o escapin g th e conclusio n tha t i t wa s th e audience' s interes t in th e pric e information , it s valu e t o t h e m a n d th e us e t h a t the y coul d m a k e o f it , t h a t accounte d fo r th e Firs t A m e n d m e n t protection . An d i t was likewis e th e state' s consciou s desig n t o kee p th e informatio n fro m the c o n s u m e r s — t o kee p the m i n ignoranc e — and not th e restrictio n o f the p h a r m a c i s t s ' freedo m t o tak e o u t a d s , t h a t explaine d th e law' s unconstitutionality. "I n thi s sense, " Justic e Blackmu n declared , "th e jus tifications Virgini a ha s offere d fo r suppressin g th e flo w o f prescriptio n drug pric e information , fa r fro m persuadin g u s t h a t th e flo w i s no t pro tected b y th e Firs t Amendment , hav e reinforce d ou r vie w tha t i t is . We s o hold." T h e C o u r t ' s relianc e o n th e audience' s Firs t A m e n d m e n t right s w a s not lost , o f course , o n Justic e Rehnquist , w h o wa s lef t t o objec t i n lon e dissent: The issu e o n th e merit s i s not , a s th e Cour t phrase s it , whethe r "[o]u r pharmacist" ma y communicat e th e fac t tha t h e "wil l sel l yo u th e X pre scription dru g a t th e Y price." N o pharmacis t i s assertin g an y suc h clai m to s o communicate. Th e issu e i s rather whethe r . . . consumers ma y over ride th e legislativ e determinatio n tha t pharmacist s shoul d no t advertis e even though th e pharmacists themselve s d o not object . . . . Here the rights of the [consumers ] see m to me to b e marginal a t best . . . . On th e othe r hand , th e societa l interes t agains t th e promotio n o f dru g us e

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for ever y ill , real o r imaginary , seem s to b e extremely strong . I do no t believe that the First Amendment mandates the Court's "ope n doo r policy" toward such commercial advertising. Notwithstanding Justic e Rehnquist' s dissent , th e di e had bee n cast . I n the year s tha t followe d th e Virginia Pharmacy case , th e Court' s ne w "commercial speec h doctrine " flourished , an d lawyers , physicians , den tists, optometrists , accountants , an d eve n bee r companie s an d gamblin g casinos walked throug h th e Court' s ope n door . But Mr. Morrison's victor y was no t complete . As th e year s passe d an d th e tru e an d virtuall y limitles s scop e o f th e open doo r becam e evident , th e Cour t bega n cuttin g back , placin g limit s on th e insatiabl e appetit e o f audienc e claims—claim s now brought , o f course, b y purveyors i n th e nam e o f a n audienc e that , lik e th e pharma cists, wa s no t present . Thu s whe n i n 198 9 purveyor s o f Tupperwar e claimed Firs t Amendmen t protectio n fo r th e college-studen t audience' s right t o hav e Tupperwar e partie s i n a college dormitory , th e Cour t pu t a stop t o it . I t ca n safel y b e sai d tha t th e student s wer e no t picketin g fo r Tupperware, an d Tupperwar e partie s hardl y seeme d a fittin g occasio n for celebratin g th e Firs t Amendment . I t wa s perfectl y reasonable , th e Court said , fo r th e universit y t o kee p commerc e ou t o f th e dormitories , even i f in so doing ignoranc e wa s bred . But i n callin g a hal t i n th e Tupperwar e cas e th e Cour t stoppe d wel l short o f a counterrevolution . Commercia l speec h i s stil l protecte d b y the Firs t Amendment , eve n i f n o longe r a s stringently . Th e Cour t thu s managed t o sidestep , as it had sinc e the Virginia Pharmacy decision , th e perplexing question s tha t la y beneat h th e surfac e o f th e commercia l speech cases : who, exactly , constitute s "th e audience" : An d ho w d o w e measure th e speech' s valu e throug h th e audience' s eyes ? Ar e som e sub jects o f advertisements , suc h a s th e qualification s o f politica l candi dates, mor e importan t tha n others , suc h a s whethe r t o bu y a use d car ? Indeed, notwithstandin g Justic e Biackmun' s opinio n i n th e Virginia Pharmacy case , ther e remain s considerabl e uncertaint y abou t th e mos t basic question : Just wh o — or what—i s th e Firs t Amendmen t protect ing here, anyway ? In another respect , too, Morrison's victor y was not complete . Shortl y after Justic e Biackmun' s opinio n wa s announced , ther e wa s a wav e o f

The Pharmacist I 18 5 excitement i n First Amendment circle s abou t a coming revolutio n i n th e First Amendment. Thi s was not a n unwarrante d reaction , fo r i f the ide a that th e audienc e i s th e principa l possesso r o f right s unde r th e Firs t Amendment ha d spread , a wholesal e an d fundamenta l transformatio n in First Amendmen t la w would indee d hav e take n place . Newspapers, representin g their audiences , woul d hav e bee n abl e t o claim a right o f acces s to al l sorts o f informatio n eve n though th e partie s possessing i t wer e unwillin g t o divulg e it . Newspaper s migh t also , o f course, hav e bee n mad e mor e responsibl e t o thei r audience , an d thu s compelled i n th e interes t o f providin g ful l an d accurat e informatio n t o be fai r an d t o admi t an d correc t thei r errors . After all , radio an d televi sion ha d bee n mad e t o d o jus t that , an d th e requiremen t ha d bee n upheld agains t Firs t Amendment challeng e o n precisel y the sam e groun d as th e Virginia Pharmacy majorit y ha d reste d it s decision : th e right s o f the audienc e ar e paramoun t unde r th e Constitution , an d whe n thos e rights conflic t wit h th e broadcasters ' claime d liberty , thei r libert y mus t give way t o government-impose d rule s designe d t o assur e fai r an d accu rate an d importan t informatio n fo r th e public . Perhaps mor e fundamental , audience s migh t hav e bee n place d mor e firmly i n control o f the meaning t o b e given speech , and o f it s value. The Court's problemati c approac h t o obscenity , whic h lef t th e question s o f meaning an d valu e t o th e jur y as audience woul d hav e spread , wit h th e risk tha t i n al l speec h setting s a speaker' s word s woul d b e mad e subjec t to th e audience' s interpretatio n o f them , an d thu s th e speaker' s freedo m would b e placed i n the hand s o f others . None o f this , o f course , ha s transpired , an d i t i s not likel y t o d o so . The reaso n i s tha t th e commercia l speec h doo r ha s bee n confine d t o commercial speec h only . The right s o f th e audienc e continu e t o live , bu t only when th e speec h a t issu e i s "pur e commercia l speech " tha t doe s n o more tha n propos e a commercia l transaction . Th e audience' s indepen dent First Amendment claim s are safely confined , maroone d an d isolate d on the tight littl e islan d o f commercia l speech . Perhaps that i s for th e best . There, at least , the audienc e get s no mor e than i t ask s for , indee d wha t i t already believes . In hi s 199 1 book , Promotional Culture: Advertising, Ideology, and Symbolic Expression, Andrew Wernic k claim s tha t "th e poin t o f advertisin g i s to identif y th e product wit h wha t targete d consumer s ar e know n alread y t o cheris h and desire. " Advertisin g i s thus " a kin d o f iner t gas, " reinforcing , no t

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challenging o r addin g to , what audience s kno w an d believe . As on e A d Man pu t it : "Wha t we'r e doin g i s wrapping u p you r emotion s an d sell ing them bac k t o you. " With advertising , a t least , thi s i s the pictur e w e hav e com e t o expect . But just think wha t th e consequences woul d b e if this were the picture o f political speech .

ADDITIONAL READIN G

Ronald Collin s and David Skover, "Commerce and Communication," 7 1 Texas Law Review 697 (1993). Thomas Jackson and John Jeffries, "Commercia l Speech: Economic Due Process and the First Amendment," 6 5 Virginia Law Review 1 (1979). Alex Kozinski and Stuar t Banner , "Who' s Afraid o f Commercia l Speech? " 76 Virginia Law Review 627 (1990). Red Lion Broadcasting Co. v. Federal Communications Commission, 395 U.S. 367 (1969).

Story Seven

The Burnin g Flag : The Mediu m and th e Messag e (Texas v. Johnson, 491 U.S. 397 (1989))

In part i w e explored th e relationship betwee n speec h an d it s author throug h th e stor y o f Margare t Mclntyr e an d he r anonymou s leaflet. I n the stor y abou t th e Michigan Chambe r o f Commerc e an d cor porate politica l speech , w e explore d th e closel y relate d questio n o f th e need fo r a n autho r (whethe r identifie d o r not ) a s a precondition t o Firs t Amendment protectio n o f speec h i n th e nam e o f libert y o r freedom . I n both cases we came to understan d th e importance o f a n author , someon e speaking his or he r ow n mind , t o the protected ac t o f speaking . But ther e i s more tha t shoul d b e sai d o n th e subject , fo r th e deman d that speec h hav e an autho r als o involve s stakes tha t ar e infinitely greate r than thos e involve d i n Mclntyre' s anonymou s leaflet , o r eve n th e politi cal o r commercia l speec h offere d b y th e Michiga n Stat e Chambe r o f Commerce o r b y General Motors . It wa s Marshal l McLuha n wh o coine d th e phrase , wel l befor e it s time, tha t "th e mediu m is th e message. " Hi s dictu m suggest s tha t fo r some speech , the sourc e o f meanin g ma y b e neither a n individua l no r a n organization bu t th e mediu m itself ; that television , fo r example , project s a differen t meanin g simpl y becaus e i t i s television. I n today' s worl d o f new communicatio n technologies , w e ca n perhap s bette r appreciat e hi s foresight—and th e challenge s it s poses for th e Firs t Amendment . In a growing crescend o o f alarm , scholar s hav e begu n t o expres s con cern ove r th e impac t o f ne w communicatio n technologies . Computers , telecommunications, an d relate d technologie s hav e remove d spac e an d time fro m th e communicatio n process , permitting instantaneou s world wide transmissio n o f information . Mor e important , thi s ne w real-tim e communication take s the form no t of printed letters or analytically dispassionate words—codes tha t requir e the deconstructio n an d reconstructio n

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of message s i n a linea r an d print-base d for m — but o f multisensor y visual an d aura l image s tha t plac e th e viewe r in th e event s bein g por trayed, no t outsid e them . I t i s different , s o th e argumen t goes , t o rea d about a n attempte d cou p in Russia tha n t o watch i t unfold a s it happens . This i s no t a ne w insight . Th e la w ha s fo r decade s distinguishe d sharply betwee n a written accoun t o f a n executio n an d th e televisin g o f it. But the stake s may no w b e higher. Because o f technology , w e now ar e able (perhap s eve n forced ) simultaneousl y t o see , hear, feel , an d partici pate i n communicatio n i n way s unimaginabl e i n th e earlie r age s o f ora l (often face-to-face ) an d writte n communication . Wit h th e multisensor y and real-tim e stimul i characteristi c o f th e ne w form s o f communication , we fee l an d kno w bu t ma y no t thin k an d understand ; becaus e w e ar e made participant s i n what w e ar e bein g told, we have no context, we ar e afforded n o perspective, for events , when lived , cannot provid e them . It i s understandable tha t i n thi s real-time , visual , participator y com munication setting , th e distinctio n betwee n speec h an d conduct , a reli c of th e ora l an d prin t ages , is made les s relevant, fo r wha t w e communi cate i s representation no t o f word s o r languag e bu t o f conduct . A liv e broadcast o f a child fallin g t o his death fro m ato p a n apartmen t buildin g blurs an y distinctio n betwee n speec h an d conduct . Wer e we witnesses a t the scene , we woul d hardl y cal l th e traged y "speech. " If , instead , tech nology allow s u s t o "b e there, " what , exactly , account s fo r it s Firs t Amendment transformatio n int o "speech" ? Conduct, then , i s understandably a more centra l par t o f multisensory , real-time communication ; indeed , i t i s how w e communicate . W e hav e seen thi s fo r man y year s i n advertising , whic h ha s bee n ahea d o f th e game al l along . Th e advertiser , arme d wit h th e multisensor y powe r o f communication, know s tha t th e coldl y rationa l an d print-base d ide a o f giving peopl e informatio n upo n whic h t o mak e reasone d decision s i s anachronistic. People' s behavio r and beliefs ca n b e bette r influence d b y appeal t o image , b y direc t encouragemen t o f conduc t (bu y a n Infinit i and realiz e your imagination) . The advertisement , i n thi s view , ca n mak e consumer s fee l thei r con duct, thu s circumventin g reason , analysis , rationa l an d self-intereste d choice. Interpretation , i n short , i s made a s clos e t o a purel y emotiona l and physica l ac t — and a s distan t fro m a thinkin g act—a s possible . What i s important abou t thi s i s the rol e o f medium , no t (a t leas t i n th e rational wa y w e think abou t th e term ) message . The government' s futil e efforts t o requir e inclusio n o f a message—facts abou t price , health risk ,

The Burning Flag I 18 9 and abou t "truth " i n what i s claimed — are effectivel y los t i n the domi nant multisensory , sublimina l forc e o f emotio n tha t effectiv e advertise ments convey . And it is medium, no t content itself , tha t contribute s th e multisensory "message. " If, then , mediu m i s as important a s (perhap s mor e importan t than ) message, we must thin k abou t medium , itself , a s communication. An d one wa y to thin k abou t "medium " i s to as k whether it has an author . Can a medium sometime s "spea k fo r itself" ? Ca n its power transfor m meaning eve n when no one intends it ? Should w e not ask the same ques tions abou t th e origin o f the medium's messag e whe n th e medium i s the emotional forc e o f multisensory imag e as we ask when the medium is the consciously chose n wor d "Fuck " writte n o n th e bac k o f Pau l Cohen' s jacket, o r a burnin g cross ? An d shouldn' t w e make thos e wh o contro l and manipulat e message s throug h a medium defen d thei r clai m t o lib erty—justify thei r ac t as speech an d not conduct—just a s we demande d that Pau l Cohe n an d Robert Viktor a defen d theirs ? We will explor e thes e question s i n the story tha t follows . I t is not a story abou t hig h technology , abou t th e Internet , cabl e television , o r other ne w medium s o f communication . I t i s instea d abou t burnin g a flag—the flag , in fact. Fla g burning, of course, is an act often engage d in to express a view. But the flag is a medium i n which the act occurs; much like the printed word , film , photographs , o r words o r pictures broadcas t through th e airwaves ar e mediums o f speaking . The questio n tha t wil l occup y u s is whether, jus t a s the medium o f a live picture o f a n even t contribute s som e distinc t meanin g t o the even t being portrayed , th e fla g itsel f contribute s somethin g distinc t t o th e meaning o r messag e bein g conveye d b y an ac t of desecration . Doe s th e flag itself , a s a medium throug h whic h th e communicative ac t occurs , have a meaning o r contribute a message o f its own? O r is the flag a content-free-medium, lik e a stick tha t migh t b e set afire an d waved befor e a crowd, addin g force , perhaps , but not new meaning to a message? I s it a bit o f both , addin g meanin g an d als o transformin g meanin g a t on e and the sam e time, much a s a film o f a lynching give s new meaning to lynch ing itsel f an d als o bring s i t to lif e i n a new way undisclosed b y writte n accounts? The America n fla g wil l hel p u s bette r t o understan d an d t o ponde r the significanc e fo r th e Firs t Amendmen t o f McLuhan' s dictu m "th e medium is the message. " Th e questio n presente d b y the flag-burnin g case, ultimately , i s whether th e relationshi p betwee n speec h an d con-

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duct, whic h w e have previously explored , i s really on e betwee n mediu m and message . The yea r 198 4 wa s th e yea r o f th e Reaga n landslide . Presiden t Ronal d Reagan wa s completin g hi s first term ; inflatio n wa s dow n an d th e econ omy was expanding ; an d Americ a wa s i n the mids t o f a remarkable mil itary buildu p that would, i n the view of many, soon result i n the breaku p of th e Sovie t Union, Reagan' s "evi l empire. " The Republica n Part y hel d it s 198 4 Nationa l Conventio n i n Dallas , Texas. Dalla s was , generally , friendl y countr y fo r th e Republicans . Texas wa s th e hom e stat e o f Vic e Presiden t Georg e Bush . Bu t eve n i n Dallas ther e wer e demonstration s agains t th e militar y policie s o f th e Reagan administratio n an d agains t th e corporat e interest s tha t bene fited fro m them . A series o f suc h demonstration s wa s planne d fo r th e street s o f Dalla s on Augus t 22 , 1984 , durin g th e cours e o f th e convention . Dubbe d th e "Republican Wa r Ches t Tour," th e demonstration s consiste d o f protests , "die-ins," an d relate d event s a t a serie s o f corporat e an d governmen t offices i n downtow n Dallas , with th e participant s marchin g fro m sit e t o site, ending in a demonstration an d speeche s in fron t o f Cit y Hall . The demonstration , a s it turned out , wa s no t large , consisting o f onl y a hundre d o r s o people. One o f the protesters wa s Gregor y Le e Johnson. Johnson an d hi s fello w demonstrator s marche d throug h th e streets , stopped t o stag e "die-ins " a t som e corporat e offices , spray-painte d slo gans o n th e sid e o f a fe w buildings , an d proceede d ultimatel y t o Cit y Hall. The demonstrator s wer e accompanie d b y Dalla s polic e officers . On e of th e officer s testifie d a t tria l tha t whe n th e demonstrator s arrive d a t the Mercantile Ban k Building , "severa l o f th e protesters ben t a flagpole " in fron t o f th e buildin g an d "remove d a n America n flag. " Th e fla g wa s then hande d t o Johnson , wh o "wadde d i t u p an d stuc k i t unde r hi s Tshirt." The demonstrator s the n move d o n t o othe r downtow n sites . "Whe n they go t t o Cit y Hall, " th e office r "sa w Mr . Johnso n remov e th e fla g from unde r hi s shirt . H e trie d t o ligh t i t wit h a cigarett e lighter . I t would no t light . Someon e fro m th e crow d the n hande d hi m th e ca n o f lighter fluid . H e soake d it , ignite d it , an d th e fla g burned. " A s th e fla g burned, th e grou p chante d "America , th e red , white , an d blue , we spi t on you. "

The Burning Flag I 19 1 The fla g burnin g wa s th e demonstration' s catharsis . Shortl y afte r i t occurred, th e demonstratio n ende d an d th e protesters , includin g John son, lef t th e are a i n front o f Cit y Hall . As th e demonstrator s disbursed , a ma n wh o ha d witnesse d th e fla g burning quietl y walke d t o th e plac e wher e Johnson ha d ignite d th e flag . He proceede d carefully , eve n reverentially , t o collec t th e ashe s an d remains fro m th e ground, too k the m home , and burie d the m i n his yard . Within a hal f hou r o r s o o f th e fla g burnin g Johnso n wa s arrested , along wit h a numbe r o f othe r protesters . Johnson, alone , wa s charge d with a crime . The charg e wa s desecratio n o f a venerate d object , i n thi s case the America n flag , a Clas s A misdemeanor. Johnso n wa s tried , con victed, an d sentence d t o a year i n jail an d a $2,00 0 fine . After on e unsuccessfu l appea l t o th e Texa s Distric t Cour t o f Appeals , Johnson succeede d i n havin g hi s convictio n overturne d i n th e Texa s Court o f Crimina l Appeals . Th e Stat e o f Texa s the n brough t a n appea l to th e Unite d State s Suprem e Court , arguin g tha t th e Firs t Amendmen t to th e Unite d State s Constitutio n di d no t giv e Johnson th e righ t t o dese crate the American fla g b y publicly burnin g i t as part o f a protest agains t the governmen t o f th e United States . At on e leve l the Johnson cas e presente d a prett y simpl e an d straight forward questio n fo r th e justice s o f th e Suprem e Cour t t o decide . John son wa s clearl y expressin g hi s politica l view s a t th e tim e h e burne d th e flag, an d th e flag-burnin g wa s indisputabl y par t o f hi s expression . Speech protecte d b y th e Firs t Amendment , i n othe r words , wa s clearl y taking place . But a t anothe r leve l th e cas e pose d a difficul t problem . Th e Stat e o f Texas agree d tha t Johnso n wa s exercisin g hi s freedo m t o speak , bu t claimed tha t h e wa s no t arreste d fo r speakin g but , instead , fo r burnin g the flag . Th e questio n thu s pose d wa s wha t relatio n th e ac t o f settin g th e flag afir e ha d t o Johnson's speech . Thi s question , i t turns out , wa s not a simple an d straightforwar d one . Was the flag, itself , speech becaus e o f it s symbolic meaning? O r wa s the flag th e medium throug h whic h Johnson' s protest message against nuclear war wa s expressed? I f it was the medium , what contributio n di d it make to the speech , and wha t amoun t o f protec tion, if any, should i t have as a medium unde r th e First Amendment ? In it s argumen t befor e th e Unite d State s Suprem e Court , th e Stat e o f Texas too k th e positio n tha t burnin g th e flag , eve n a s part o f Johnson' s effort t o communicat e hi s sentiment s abou t th e Reaga n militar y buildu p

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and th e threa t o f nuclea r war , wa s no t protecte d b y th e Firs t Amend ment. Th e state' s positio n wa s presented— very ably , it should b e said — by Kathi Alyc e Drew, a n assistan t distric t attorne y fo r Dalla s County , i n the ora l argumen t tha t wa s hel d befor e th e Suprem e Cour t a t 2:0 0 P.M . on Tuesday, March 21 , 1989. Ms. Drew: Th e issu e befor e thi s Cour t i s whether th e publi c burnin g of a n America n fla g whic h occurre d a s par t o f a demonstratio n with politica l overtone s i s entitled t o Firs t Amendmen t protection . We believe that preservatio n o f th e fla g a s a symbo l o f nationhoo d and nationa l unit y i s a compellin g an d vali d stat e interest . W e fee l certain tha t Congres s ha s th e powe r t o bot h adop t a national sym bol an d t o . . . prevent th e destructio n o f that symbol . Question from the Court: Now , wh y does—wh y di d [Johnson's ] actions destro y th e symbol ? Hi s action s woul d hav e bee n useles s unless th e fla g wa s a ver y goo d symbo l fo r wha t h e intende d t o show contemp t for . Hi s actio n doe s not mak e i t any les s a symbol . Ms. Drew: You r Honor , w e believ e tha t i f a symbo l ove r a perio d o f time i s ignored o r abused , i t can, in fact, los e its symbolic effect . Question: I think no t a t all . I think . . . when somebod y doe s tha t t o the flag , th e fla g become s eve n mor e a symbo l o f th e country . I t seems t o m e you'r e runnin g quit e a differen t argument : no t tha t [Johnson] wa s destroyin g it s symboli c character , bu t tha t h e wa s showing disrespect fo r it ; that yo u wan t no t jus t a symbol, bu t yo u want a venerate d symbol . Bu t I don't se e how yo u ca n argu e tha t he's making i t an y les s of a symbol than i t was. Ms. Drew: You r Honor , I' m force d t o disagre e with you . Texas is not suggestin g that we can insist on respect. We are suggesting tha t w e hav e th e righ t t o preserv e th e physica l integrit y o f the fla g s o tha t i t ma y serv e a s a symbo l [an d that ] it s symboli c effect i s diluted b y certain flagran t publi c act s o f fla g desecration . All Texa s i s suggestin g . . . i s that w e hav e go t t o preserv e th e symbol b y preserving th e fla g itsel f becaus e ther e reall y i s no othe r way t o d o it . The argumen t Dre w i s making i s subtle bu t crucial . Sh e is not arguin g that Texa s ca n compe l peopl e t o respec t th e flag , fo r thi s woul d b e jus t another wa y o f requirin g peopl e t o b e patrioti c an d t o hol d patrioti c

The Burning Flag I 19 3 beliefs. Freedo m o f speec h an d though t woul d clearl y b e violate d b y such a law . Nor i s Drew arguin g tha t Johnso n wa s arreste d an d charge d becaus e of th e particula r politica l sentiment s tha t h e was expressin g throug h th e symbolic mediu m o f th e flag , fo r thi s woul d mea n tha t w e ca n us e th e flag i n furtheranc e o f onl y certain , patriotic , views . I t couldn' t matter , for Drew' s argument , whethe r Johnso n wa s pro-Reaga n o r anti-Reagan . Indeed, i t couldn't matte r whethe r Johnson wa s lighting the flag t o mak e a poin t o r t o star t a charcoal fir e o n which t o roas t ho t dogs . The state, she claimed, was neither tryin g to enforce respec t for a message no r censo r belief . Instead , i t was simpl y tryin g t o preserv e th e flag , which exist s i n a physica l and a symboli c form . Bot h dimension s o f th e flag's existenc e ar e utterl y interdependent , muc h a s the physica l wall s o f a buildin g ar e inextricabl y boun d t o it s architecture , o r aestheti c effect . To prohibi t spray-paintin g o n th e wall s o f a buildin g i s no t t o enforc e respect for , o r agreemen t with , a n aestheti c idea o r architectura l styl e bu t simply to preserve tha t architecture , whatever on e thinks o f it . The difficulty wit h this argument, however , is that the symbolic effect , or meaning , o f th e fla g i s not neutral , lik e architecture , bu t i s itself polit ical. Patriotism , nationhood , nationa l unity , ar e th e symboli c meaning s the flag represents—indeed , the y ar e the messages the fla g itsel f emit s a s a symbol , jus t a s natur e an d harmon y ar e th e message s emitte d b y a Frank Lloy d Wright house . The fac t tha t wit h th e fla g th e symboli c meanin g correspond s wit h a political ide a complicate d Drew' s argument . I t i s too eas y to respon d b y arguing tha t preservin g a symbo l wit h a specifi c political meanin g i s a very differen t matte r unde r th e Firs t Amendmen t fro m preservin g cubism i n art, o r modernis m i n architecture , o r historica l integrit y i n ol d structures; too easy , but als o incorrect . Thi s i s because Drew' s poin t ha d nothing t o d o wit h th e flag' s particula r messag e o r meanin g but , rather , with it s qualit y a s a symbol , a s a mediu m throug h whic h Johnson' s expression too k place . If a medium o f communicatio n ha s significanc e independentl y o f tha t which is being communicated throug h th e medium, should the medium b e deemed speec h protected unde r the First Amendment? Shoul d the State of Texas b e prohibite d fro m protectin g th e integrit y o f th e flag , i n othe r words, because the fla g itself has a meaning (patriotism) ? Doe s a requirement tha t th e fla g b e preserve d amoun t t o a n effor t b y governmen t t o

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legislate one idea—patriotism—and prohibi t th e expression o f another ? Is the stat e prohibited, i n effect, fro m censorin g the flag} The Suprem e Court' s answe r woul d b e yes. The flag, th e Cour t woul d ultimately conclud e i n Johnson's case , has a meaning, a s if it were speak ing its own message . To restrict us e o f th e fla g i n ways tha t ar e inconsis tent with that meaning , in ways that conflict wit h the flag's expressio n o f its message , i s censorship , becaus e i t amount s t o a la w preferrin g th e flag's messag e ove r competin g ones . At firs t blus h thi s seem s t o b e a sensibl e an d persuasiv e basi s fo r th e Court's decisio n t o revers e Johnson' s convictio n an d prohibi t th e enforcement o f fla g desecratio n law s agains t people , lik e Johnson, wh o would us e the flag a s a medium fo r expressin g belief s tha t ar e not consis tent with thos e symboli c meanings th e flag itsel f expresses . But the ques tion whether a medium's messag e is itself "speech " protecte d b y the Firs t Amendment i s a bit trickier tha n that . Take, fo r example , th e proble m o f violence . Man y thoughtfu l stu dents o f medi a an d cultur e conclud e tha t th e depictio n o f violenc e o n today's high-definitio n television—McLuhan' s "hot, " emotional , tribal izing mediu m — has a differen t effec t tha n it s depictio n i n print , prin t being a "cooler, " mor e dispassionate , and rationa l medium . The mediu m of television , i n othe r words , migh t wit h depiction s o f violenc e hav e a meaning of its own, a messag e o f legitimac y an d compulsio n (rathe r than patriotis m an d unity ) tha t ca n b e traced t o th e mediu m itself , to it s symbolic effect. Shoul d an y government effort s t o regulate o r control th e impact o f the mediu m o f televisio n itsel f o n violenc e b e flatly prohibite d as censorship, jus t a s Texas's attemp t t o contro l th e impact , o r symboli c effect, o f th e fla g wa s als o foreclosed ? What abou t public-schoo l dres s codes, another fa d o f late ? Clothes , it might b e said , ar e simpl y that : clothes . Bu t fo r most , i f no t al l o f us , clothes ar e symbol s wit h meaning ; medium s tha t reflec t idea s suc h a s seriousness, conformity , discipline , obedience . I n thi s respec t the y ar e indistinguishable fro m th e flag , whic h symbolize s patriotis m an d unity . Clothes thu s "speak " jus t a s th e fla g speaks . An d requirin g certai n clothes i n schoo l i n orde r t o preserv e thei r symboli c meanin g i n tha t place i s likewise a n attemp t t o impos e tha t meaning , tha t referent , an d thus, b y the Suprem e Court' s logic , to violate the Firs t Amendment . And wha t abou t cigarett e advertisin g an d th e Marlbor o Man ? Th e freedom an d independenc e symbolize d b y th e Marlbor o Ma n i n a T V advertisement ar e certainl y evocative . I f th e symbo l ha d n o meaning ,

The Burning Flag I 19 5 and i f the television mediu m ha d n o message , we would presumabl y stil l find suc h ad s o n th e airwaves . Yet Congress chos e t o outla w the m man y years ago , and n o objectio n ha s bee n voiced b y the Suprem e Court . Advertising, i t ha s bee n said , consist s mainl y o f packagin g ou r ow n emotions an d sellin g them bac k t o us . In this sens e medium i s everythin g in the advertisin g business , not becaus e th e messag e i s unimportant but , rather, becaus e the medium is the message. When R . J. Reynold s Tobacc o Company produce s a TV advertisemen t usin g the Marlboro Man , ther e is little doub t tha t R . J. Reynold s i s speaking, just a s Johnson wa s speakin g when h e burne d th e flag . Bu t it is equally clea r tha t th e Marlboro Ma n i s speaking, too, for th e Marlboro Man i s a symbol with meaning of its own. Should th e Firs t Amendmen t protect , a s speech , th e Marlbor o Man' s meaning a s i f "he " wer e speaking ? Th e la w permit s R . J . Reynold s t o control th e symboli c meanin g o f th e Marlbor o Man , preventin g other s from usin g i t o r alterin g it . I t doe s s o unde r th e headin g o f trademar k and copyrigh t protection . I s the la w inconsisten t wit h th e Firs t Amend ment becaus e i t restricts what th e Marlboro Ma n ca n say , just lik e Texa s was trying to restric t what th e fla g woul d say ? Just a s virtuall y al l thing s hav e symboli c meanin g i n ou r socia l an d political culture , s o als o on e migh t asser t tha t al l mediums , whethe r objects suc h a s flag s o r clothe s o r car s o r houses , o r processe s suc h a s print o r televisio n o r fil m o r cabl e o r satellite , o r characteristic s suc h a s delayed versu s live broadcast o r hea d sho t versu s panorama, hav e mean ing too . Thi s i s the messag e o f th e medium . I t i s the medium' s speech , not th e speec h o f th e perso n wh o speak s throug h it , whether th e perso n be Johnson speakin g throug h th e flag , R . J. Reynold s speakin g throug h the Marlboro Man , o r Te d Turner speakin g through CNN . This wa s th e essenc e o f Texas' s argumen t a s Dre w expresse d i t i n Johnson's case . Johnson wa s fre e t o expres s his views, whether the y con cerned Presiden t Reaga n o r the meaning o f the flag. Bu t he was not mak ing a poin t abou t th e flag . H e wa s instea d usin g th e fla g a s a mediu m through whic h t o mak e a poin t abou t th e president , foreig n policy , an d nuclear war . I n prohibiting Johnson fro m burnin g th e fla g a s a means o f expressing thos e views , th e stat e wa s regulatin g th e mediu m throug h which Johnson spoke , not th e idea s h e was expressing . Drew recognize d tha t medium s "speak " i n th e sens e tha t the y con tribute meanin g o r impac t o f thei r own—the y evok e image s an d emo tions an d consequence s — but sh e argue d tha t the y ar e no t b y virtu e o f that fac t "speaking " fo r purpose s o f th e Firs t Amendment . Governmen t

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can regulat e th e meanin g an d impac t o f th e America n fla g a s a symbo l when use d a s a medium, jus t a s i t can choos e no t t o fl y th e Confederat e flag ove r the stat e capitol, just a s it can regulate schoo l attire , and jus t a s it can regulat e th e medium s o f television , radio , cable, or satellit e broad casting, a t leas t wit h respec t t o th e impac t the y hav e a s medium s inde pendently o f th e idea s expresse d throug h them . Drew ha d define d he r argumen t wit h grea t car e an d subtlety . Perhap s too muc h subtlet y fo r th e Suprem e Cour t o n tha t day . Question from the Court: Ms . Drew , yo u begi n b y sayin g tha t [th e flag is ] a symbol an d b y acknowledging, a t least in this part o f you r argument, tha t wha t [Johnson ] di d was speech , is that correct ? Ms. Drew: W e ar e assumin g tha t [Johnso n wa s engage d i n Firs t Amendment speech ] for purpose s o f [thi s argument]. Question: Al l right. At this point. What i s the [rule ] you ar e asking u s to adop t i n orde r t o sa y we ca n punis h thi s kin d o f speech ? Just a n exception fo r flags ? It' s jus t a—there' s jus t a fla g exceptio n t o th e First Amendment ? Ms. Drew: You r Honor , I think Texa s . . . has mad e a judgment tha t certain item s ar e entitled t o mor e protection . Question: I understand that . Bu t u p t o no w w e hav e neve r allowe d such a n ite m t o b e declare d a nationa l symbo l an d t o b e usabl e symbolically onl y i n on e direction , whic h i s essentiall y wha t yo u are arguing. You can honor i t all you like , but you can't dishono r i t as a sign o f disrespec t fo r th e country . Ms. Drew: No , You r Honor . W e are not arguin g that a t all . Question: Oh ? Ms. Drew: No t a t all . We ar e i n n o wa y arguin g tha t on e canno t dis honor th e fla g o r tha t on e canno t demonstrat e disrespec t fo r th e flag. Individual s hav e that right . What w e ar e arguin g i s that yo u ma y no t publicl y desecrat e a flag regardles s o f th e motivatio n fo r you r action . Question: Well , one hardl y desecrate s i t in orde r t o hono r it . I mean , you onl y desecrat e i t i n orde r t o sho w you r disagreemen t wit h what i t stands for , isn' t that right ? So , it's sort o f a one-way statute . Ms. Drew: I don't thin k tha t i t i s exactly , You r Honor , becaus e . . . there ar e othe r form s o f conduc t whic h ar e equall y prohibited . Le t me put i t this way. The same conduct i s prohibited regardles s o f th e motive o f th e actor .

The Burning Flag I 19 7 Question: Wil l yo u giv e m e a n exampl e wher e . . . somebody dese crates th e fla g i n orde r t o sho w tha t h e agree s wit h th e policie s o f the United States ? (Laughter) Ms. Drew: I think i t i s possible . . . that a n individua l coul d bur n a flag a s a n hono r fo r al l th e individual s wh o die d i n Vietnam . Thi s is their mos t prize d possession . They ar e going to take i t in front o f the Dalla s Cit y Hall i n the midst o f a hundred peopl e i n the middl e of th e afternoon , the y ar e goin g t o soa k i t wit h lighte r fluid , an d they ar e goin g t o ignit e it , an d the y ar e doin g thi s t o hono r th e Americans wh o die d i n Vietnam . Question: You r statut e woul d cove r tha t exampl e . . . ? Ms. Drew: Ye s it would , You r Honor , becaus e i t doe s no t g o t o th e motive of the actor. If a vandal takes a flag . . . i n front o f Dallas Cit y Hall, soak s i t wit h lighte r fluid , set s i t o n fire , [th e vandal ] i s . . . liable unde r thi s statute . [He ] has desecrate d th e flag , [though ] wit h no inten t t o dishono r th e country . . . [or] to dishono r th e flag . [He ] has no intent to do anything except, oh . . . vandalize]. In this exchange, Drew i s emphasizing he r argumen t tha t i t is the fla g as a symbo l wit h it s ow n meanin g tha t i s bein g protecte d unde r th e Texas law . The Texa s la w i s not directe d agains t Gregor y Le e Johnson' s ideas o r eve n hi s ac t o f speaking ; i t doesn' t matte r unde r th e la w whether th e desecratio n take s plac e durin g th e cours e o f someone' s speech. Instead , th e Texa s la w functions , unde r Drew' s theory , almos t like a First Amendment protectio n for th e flag: i t protects th e flag's abil ity to carr y it s symbolic messag e without interferenc e wit h tha t messag e by others . This i s a tricky positio n fo r Drew , fo r whil e th e Texa s statut e does , in fact, protec t th e flag' s message , i t als o assign s tha t messag e t o th e flag . The Texa s statut e thu s assume s tha t th e fla g ca n hav e a message , bu t that i t canno t b e a speake r fo r purpose s o f th e Firs t Amendment . Th e flag's messag e o f patriotism , i n othe r words , i s not speec h protecte d b y the Firs t Amendment. Th e stat e ca n therefor e ac t to preven t interferenc e with tha t message . The argumen t i s ingenious, however , fo r i t effectivel y shift s th e bur den o f persuasio n t o Johnson, wh o mus t argu e tha t th e flag' s messag e is speech, an d tha t th e flag i s therefore, i n some metaphysical way , at least , "speaking" fo r purpose s o f th e Firs t Amendment . Thi s i s wher e th e

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questions fro m th e Cour t woul d no w turn , althoug h i t i s not clea r tha t the justice s ar e full y awar e o f th e complexit y o f th e issu e the y ar e addressing. Question from the Court: I f [your ] theory alon e i s enough t o suppor t the statute , I suppos e yo u coul d hav e suc h statute s fo r Star s o f David an d crosse s an d maybe— I don' t know—Salmo n Rushdie' s book o r whatever, whateve r migh t incit e people. . . . Ms. Drew: You r Honor , again , there ar e othe r section s o f thi s statut e where othe r item s ar e protected , specificall y publi c monuments , places of burial an d worship. I don't believ e that anyon e could sug gest tha t on e ma y pain t swastika s o n th e Alam o i n Sa n Antonio . That i s desecration o f th e Alamo . Question: Bu t t h a t. . . but that' s becaus e it' s public property — Ms. Drew: True . Question: —an d unles s yo u wan t t o sa y tha t th e fla g i s someho w public propert y o f u s al l an d ignor e traditiona l distinction s o f property, the n you r exampl e jus t doesn' t work . That, o f course , i s precisely wha t Dre w must , an d does , argue . Th e flag i s publi c propert y — in it s capacit y a s a nationa l symbo l an d a s a medium throug h whic h tha t symboli c meanin g i s communicated. Thi s doesn't mea n tha t th e Stat e o f Texa s claim s physica l ownershi p o f al l flags; i t means instea d tha t Texa s claims ownership o f the symbolic message. The fla g i s the medium, an d th e medium i s the message . And medium s aren' t th e sam e a s message s unde r th e Firs t Amend ment: they don' t speak . Ms. Drew: You r Honor , I believ e tha t [m y Alam o example ] doe s work. I believe i t does . The brie f file d o n behal f o f Mr . Johnson i n this case by the American Civi l Liberties Union confesse s tha t ther e is no Firs t Amendmen t interes t i n protectin g desecration s o f eithe r public monuments, or places of worship o r burial , becaus e they ar e "Someone else' s cherished property. " I thin k th e fla g i s thi s nation' s cherishe d property , tha t ever y individual ha s a certain interes t [i n it.] The governmen t ma y main tain a residua l interest , bu t s o d o th e people . An d yo u protec t th e flag becaus e i t is such a n importan t symbo l o f nationa l unity .

The Burning Flag I 19 9 Question: I f w e sa y so , i t become s so . Bu t i t certainl y isn' t self-evi dent that— I neve r though t tha t th e fla g I owne d i s you r flag . I mean. . . . (Laughter) Ms. Drew: Man y Justice s o f thi s Cour t hav e hel d tha t th e fla g i s a national property . On tha t note , Dre w returne d t o he r seat , havin g acquitte d hersel f extremely well in a subtle an d comple x argument . I f her argumen t failed , it was perhap s th e justices' failure t o comprehen d it—o r thei r consciou s decision t o ignor e it s nettlesome implications . Johnson wa s represente d b y William Kunstler , a well-known lawye r from Ne w Yor k wh o ha d bee n associate d wit h libera l an d radica l cause s throughout hi s entir e career . Hi s argument , whic h need s n o recountin g here, wa s bombasti c an d ofte n wandering , eve n har d t o follow . I t focused o n a centra l assertion : tha t Johnso n ha d bee n arreste d an d con victed fo r wha t h e said , no t wha t h e did , an d mor e specificall y tha t h e had bee n arreste d an d convicte d becaus e th e idea s h e expresse d throug h the flag-burnin g offende d onlookers . Johnson , i n short , wa s punishe d for hi s idea s becaus e thos e idea s gav e offens e t o others . Suc h a vie w o f the cas e woul d compe l reversa l o f Johnson's convictio n unde r th e Firs t Amendment. This is precisely why Dre w ha d worke d s o hard t o structur e he r argu ment aroun d th e state' s interes t i n preservin g th e symboli c meanin g o f the fla g a s a medium, a n interes t tha t ha d nothin g t o d o wit h wha t idea s Johnson wa s expressin g — indeed wit h whethe r h e wa s expressin g an y ideas a t al l — or wit h whethe r an y person s witnessin g th e fla g burnin g were i n fact offended . Kunstler's argumen t thu s passe d Drew' s argumen t a s if they were tw o ships i n th e night , neithe r engagin g no r eve n acknowledgin g th e other . But Kunstler' s vie w o f th e cas e ha d a n importan t advantage : i t woul d allow th e Cour t t o revers e Johnson's convictio n whil e a t th e sam e tim e avoiding th e issue s raise d b y Drew . Kunstle r thu s provide d a convenien t means o f escape , and th e Suprem e Cour t too k it . The Suprem e Court' s opinio n i n Gregor y Johnson's cas e wa s no t issue d until nea r th e en d o f th e Court' s Term , som e thre e month s afte r ora l argument. O n Jun e 21 , 1989, the 5- 4 decisio n i n favo r o f Johnson wa s

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a n n o u n c e d . Justic e Brenna n w r o t e th e opinio n fo r th e majority , whic h consisted o f himsel f a n d Justice s M a r s h a l l , B l a c k m u n , Scalia , a n d Kennedy. T h e dissentin g justice s wer e Chie f Justic e Rehnquis t an d Jus tices White , O'Connor , an d Stevens . The majorit y opinio n addresse s Drew' s argumen t directl y an d reject s it explicitly , thoug h perhap s withou t ful l appreciatio n o f th e implication s of doin g so : If we were to hold tha t a State may forbid flag burnin g wherever i t is likely to endange r th e flag' s symboli c role , bu t allo w i t whereve r burnin g a flag promotes tha t role—as where , for example , a person ceremoniousl y burn s a dirt y flag—w e woul d b e sayin g tha t whe n i t come s t o impairin g th e flag's physica l integrity , the flag itsel f ma y b e used a s a symbol—as a sub stitute fo r th e writte n o r spoke n wor d o r a "shor t cu t fro m min d t o mind"—only i n on e direction . . . . We never befor e hav e held that th e Governmen t ma y ensure that a symbol b e used t o expres s onl y on e view of tha t symbo l o r it s referents. . . . To conclude tha t th e governmen t ma y permi t designate d symbol s t o b e used t o communicat e onl y a limited se t o f message s woul d b e to ente r ter ritory havin g n o discernibl e o r defensibl e boundaries . Coul d th e govern ment, o n thi s theory , prohibi t th e burnin g o f stat e flags? O f copie s o f th e Presidential seal ? O f th e Constitution ? [To ] decid e whic h symbol s wer e sufficiently specia l . . . , we woul d b e force d t o consul t ou r ow n politica l preferences, an d impos e the m o n th e citizenry , i n th e ver y wa y tha t th e First Amendment forbids . The dissentin g opinion s o f Chie f Justic e Rehnquis t an d Justic e Steven s w e r e equall y t o th e p o i n t , a n d s a w th e cas e i n dramaticall y differen t terms. Rehnquis t wrote : Only two Terms ago the Court held that Congres s could grant exclusive use of th e wor d "Olympic " t o th e Unite d State s Olympi c Committee . Th e Court though t tha t thi s "restrictio n o n expressiv e speec h properl y [was ] characterized a s incidental t o the primary congressiona l purpos e o f encour aging an d rewardin g th e USOC's activities. " A s the Cour t stated , "whe n a word [o r symbol ] acquire s valu e a s th e resul t o f organizatio n an d th e expenditure o f labor, skill, and money b y an entity , that entit y constitution ally ma y obtai n a limited propert y righ t i n th e wor d [o r symbol]. " Surel y Congress o r th e State s may recogniz e a similar interes t i n the flag. . . . [T]he Firs t Amendmen t doe s no t guarante e th e righ t t o emplo y ever y conceivable metho d [o r medium ] o f communicatio n a t al l time s an d i n al l places. The Texa s statut e deprive d Johnso n o f onl y on e rathe r inarticulat e

The Burning Flag I 20 1 symbolic form of protest. . . and left him with a full panoply of other symbols and every conceivable form o f verbal expression to express his deep disapproval of national policy. Thus, in no way can it be said that Texas is punishing him because his hearers — or any other group of people—wer e profoundly oppose d t o the message that h e sought to convey. . .. I t was Johnson's use of this particular symbol , and not the idea that he sought to convey by it, for which he was punished. Justice Steven s was eve n more pointe d i n his dissenting opinion : The Court i s . . . quite wrong in blandly assertin g that respondent "wa s prosecuted fo r hi s expression o f dissatisfactio n wit h th e policies o f thi s country, expression situate d a t the core of our First Amendment values." Respondent was prosecuted because of the method he chose to express his dissatisfaction wit h those policies. Had he chosen to spray-paint—or per haps convey with a motion picture projector—his messag e of dissatisfac tion on the facade o f the Lincoln Memorial, there would b e no questio n about the power o f the Government t o prohibit hi s means of expression . The prohibition woul d b e supported b y the legitimate interest in preserving the quality o f an important nationa l asset . Though th e asset in this case is intangible, given its unique value, the same interest supports a prohibition on the desecration of the American flag. In the end Texas lost its case; Johnson wo n his . The fla g ca n b e burne d with impunity . Its messag e i s protected speech ; the fla g i s a speaker , eve n as it burns ; and it s final gas p o f speech , a t whoever' s hands , must b e per mitted eve n i f the gas p i s a wail o f protes t a t th e us e to whic h i t i s bein g put. The message of the flag, its message as a medium, is fully protecte d b y the First Amendment an d canno t b e proscribed o r limited b y government . What, exactly , doe s th e Suprem e Court' s decisio n i n Johnson' s cas e mean fo r othe r medium s o f expressio n an d th e government' s abilit y t o regulate them ? Som e medium s ar e lik e th e flag , the y hav e on e o r a lim ited numbe r o f "messages " i n th e for m o f symboli c meanings : th e Lin coln Memorial , a s Justic e Steven s suggeste d i n hi s dissent ; o r th e Marlboro Man , who m th e governmen t ma y n o longer , afte r th e John son case , be abl e t o kee p of f th e airwaves ; a schoo l dres s code ; a gradu ation exercise ; a priz e o r award . Johnson' s cas e clearl y mean s tha t th e government's abilit y t o preserv e thei r meaning , thei r ceremonia l sym bolism, will b e severely limited .

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But there ar e othe r medium s tha t als o have messages , though the y ar e messages o f a somewha t differen t sort , an d th e Johnson cas e will surel y have implication s fo r government' s abilit y to regulat e them, a s well. Th e classic "mediu m wit h a message" i s television. Television, unlike print, i s a multisensory , visua l an d aural , medium . Ou r involvemen t wit h th e television mediu m i s intense an d participatory , no t dispassionate ; emo tional rathe r tha n rational ; ye t a t th e sam e tim e televisio n make s u s fee l strangely indifferen t rathe r tha n mentall y engaged . Televisio n an d othe r multisensory, participatory, electroni c mediums, Marshall McLuha n pre dicted, woul d "restor e . . . a triba l patter n o f intens e involvement . Th e nonspecialist electroni c technolog y retribalizes, " h e said , shiftin g arrangements fro m larg e grou p t o small , fro m grou p t o individual , breeding attitude s o f alienation , isolation , an d insecurity . "The meanin g o f a message," Kennet h Bouldin g sai d i n 195 6 in "Th e Image: Knowledge i n Life an d Society, " "i s the change which i t produce s in the image. " The meanin g o f televisio n a s a medium—its message—i s the chang e i t produce s i n th e viewer' s imag e o f wha t i s being broadcas t or th e viewer' s understandin g o f it s significance . Thi s i s the messag e o f television a s a medium : passion ; indifference ; isolation ; individualism ; tribalization. Thes e ar e th e equivalen t messages , fo r television , o f th e messages o f patriotism an d nationa l unit y fo r th e flag . In his recent book , The Roar of the Crowd, Michae l O'Neil l offer s u s a compellin g description : What set s television apar t fro m al l other form s o f communicatio n eve r invented is its ability to transmit human experiences in real time over great distances with a visual power an d motio n tha t mimic s life itself—that , indeed, can so intensify experienc e through the manipulation an d repetition o f images that th e real world ofte n suffer s b y comparison. . . . The printing press . . . promoted the standardization, preservation, and proliferation o f knowledge. . . . Television uniquely sweep s knowledge acros s the barrier s o f literacy , transforming al l of lif e int o moving images an d sensory stimuli . I t create s impression s instea d o f idea s an d emotion s instead of thought. . . . [With print] time and distance intervene; the event must be re-created . . . and you r reaction s reconstructe d ou t o f remembere d association s and emotions . Inevitably , th e effec t i s attenuate d b y a n elemen t o f detachment. . . . The separation o f language from sense s is more congenial t o deliberativ e though t an d th e reasoning process . [Language , the stuff o f words,] is linear. . . .

The Burning Flag I 20 3 "There is nothing linear or sequential about the total field of awareness that exists in any moment o f consciousness," McLuhan observed . "Con sciousness i s not a verbal process. " Th e actua l sensor y world , i n othe r words, is more closely approximated b y TV images than by writing. "When sensation s dominat e though t an d feeling s substitut e fo r deliber ation," O'Neil l concludes , "the y den y wisdo m it s place i n bot h persona l and publi c affairs . Whe n th e process of knowing i s altered b y the mediu m of knowing, then life itself i s changed becaus e knowledge i s its mold. " To man y people , suc h sentiment s ar e gros s oversimplifications , th e last gasp s o f protes t b y relic s o f th e prin t era . Bu t ther e i s likel y some , perhaps eve n much , trut h i n wha t McLuhan , Boulding , an d O'Neil l ar e saying. The disput e center s o n whethe r th e change s the y describ e ar e fo r the bette r o r th e worse . The importan t poin t fo r presen t purposes , however , i s not th e Tight ness o r th e wrongness , th e bette r o r th e worse , o f th e argument . I t i s instead wha t w e dra w fro m it . Medium s lik e televisio n do hav e mes sages— symbolic an d perceptua l effect s tha t ar e distinc t fro m th e partic ular subjec t matte r bein g carrie d o n th e set , whethe r tha t b e COPS o r Nightline o r Charlie Rose —just a s a fla g ha s a messag e tha t i s distinc t from th e ideas an y given individua l use s the flag t o express . Are those effect s significan t enoug h t o warran t ou r seriou s attention ? Is the Firs t Amendment a n obstacl e t o ou r doin g anythin g abou t them ? Of late , concern s hav e begu n t o b e expresse d abou t th e impac t o f th e newest mediu m o f communication , th e Internet . Th e concern s ar e i n many respect s closely related t o those presented b y television. Some individuals claim that informatio n i s provided o n th e Internet i n vast quanti ties, i n multisensor y forms , an d i n way s tha t compe l participation , emotion, an d reaction , bu t not detachment , reason , and reflection . Spac e and tim e n o longe r serv e a s gatekeeper s o r filter s fo r communications ; instead, unrelieve d immediac y i s th e norma l fare . Exposur e t o vas t amounts o f informatio n provide d a t retail , unfiltere d an d withou t per spective an d distance , an d ofte n anonymously , ma y chang e th e meanin g and valu e o f informatio n itself . With n o effectiv e control s o n th e accu racy o r significanc e o f information , nothin g ma y b e believed . Culture an d individua l character , moreover , ar e shape d b y th e com mon languag e o f experience . What w e kno w an d believ e ar e affected , i f not determined , b y what w e se e an d hear . I f ther e ar e n o effectiv e way s

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to contro l wha t ca n b e experience d — seen an d hear d — on th e Interne t because th e medium , b y technological definition , i s beyon d control , th e cultural effect , th e symboli c meanin g an d message , o f th e Interne t a s a medium wil l surel y transcen d th e particula r item s o f informatio n foun d there. This is , of course , what th e V-chip i s all about , a technological devic e to place a measure o f control ove r exposure to content bac k i n the hand s of th e user . I t i s als o th e basi s fo r effort s t o prohibi t indecenc y o n th e Internet, suc h a s th e recentl y enacte d federa l Telecommunication s Act , or effort s t o implan t filter s i n computer chip s that wil l scree n ou t certai n types o f material . But doe s th e Firs t Amendmen t permi t suc h step s t o b e taken , eve n when the y ar e directe d no t a t censorin g wha t someon e want s t o sa y bu t at regulatin g th e quit e distinc t an d implici t (an d therefor e arguabl y insidious) messag e o f th e mediu m throug h whic h the y choos e t o sa y it ? Might th e Stat e o f Texas , drawin g o n th e V-chi p example , enac t a la w that permit s flag-burning , bu t onl y afte r thos e wh o migh t unknowingl y witness it are informed o f i t in advance s o that the y can refrai n fro m see ing that whic h offend s them ? Th e statut e migh t read : Flag Desecration. No person may desecrate a flag by burning it unless that person has provided reasonabl e notic e that th e desecration will occur in advance of the desecration an d i n such a manner a s to permit other s t o avoid witnessing it. Or migh t a la w b e enacte d prohibitin g fla g burnin g i n certai n places , places wher e significan t number s o f unwittin g an d unwillin g witnesse s would b e present an d thu s forced t o experience th e medium's messag e o r its desecration ? Or d o thes e example s abou t fla g desecratio n law s sugges t somethin g else? D o the y sugges t tha t th e Suprem e Court' s decisio n i n Gregor y Le e Johnson's cas e wen t furthe r tha n i t shoul d have , eve n tha n i t neede d to , and a s a consequenc e i t threatens , i n th e nam e o f th e Firs t Amendment , to foreclos e governmen t fro m enactin g suc h measure s a s the V-chip ? D o the example s mak e i t clea r tha t i n protectin g th e righ t t o bur n th e fla g the Cour t wen t to o far , extendin g Firs t Amendmen t protectio n no t onl y to th e idea s w e expres s bu t t o th e medium s i n whic h w e expres s them , and mos t disturbingl y t o th e message s those mediums convey, b e the y symbolic, metaphorical, perceptual, or cultural? A t a time when the buy ing and sellin g o f mediums—cabl e television ; movi e productio n proper -

The Burning Flag I 20 5 ties; multimedi a distributio n networks ; Interne t acces s — is on e o f th e biggest businesse s i n America, hav e w e foun d ourselve s strangel y unabl e distinguish th e First Amendment interes t in AT&T's Interne t connection , or Disney' s vertica l integration , fro m a n individual' s righ t t o hol d an d express hi s or he r beliefs ? Is i t reall y necessar y i n orde r t o safeguar d ou r libert y o f speec h tha t schools b e prohibite d fro m enforcin g dres s code s becaus e t o permi t states t o d o s o woul d b e t o permi t state s t o promot e th e message s o f order an d obedienc e tha t ar e implici t i n th e prescribe d clothin g prac tices? Must th e First Amendment b e interpreted t o require that th e arres t of a protester wh o spray-paint s th e Lincol n Memoria l b e base d onl y o n the government' s interes t a s a "propert y owner " (harme d t o th e tun e o f the cost o f paint remova l only ) rather tha n o n a collective interes t i n preserving the symboli c messag e o f th e memorial ? Is i t possibl e tha t ou t o f a fea r tha t an y distinction s tha t migh t b e made (suc h a s betwee n flag s an d th e Marlbor o Man , o r betwee n th e broadcast an d th e prin t mediums ) woul d b e imperfect , w e hav e arrive d at a point a t whic h non e ma y b e permitted a t all ? Can w e affor d tha t luxury , eve n i n the nam e o f th e Firs t Amendment , especially when wha t i s at stak e is our collectiv e cultural interes t i n regu lating the message s o f ou r mediums , not ou r minds ?

ADDITIONAL READIN G

M. Ethan Katsch, "Rights , Camera, Action: Cyberspatial Setting s and the First Amendment in Cyberspace," 10 4 Yale Law Journal 1681 (1995). Michael J. O'Neill, The Roar of the Crowd (1993). Marshall McLuhan, Understanding the Media (1964). Federal Communications Commission v. Pacifica Foundation, 43 8 U.S . 72 6 (1978). Reno v. ACLU, 117 S.Ct. 232 9 (1997).

Reminiscences Reflections on Enduring First Amendment Questions

October o f 199 5 marke d th e star t o f a ne w Ter m o f th e Supreme Court . I t ha d bee n twenty-fiv e year s exactl y sinc e th e Cour t took u p th e cas e o f Cohen v. California, th e cas e that , Justic e Harla n observed, "ma y see m a t firs t blus h to o inconsequentia l t o fin d it s wa y into ou r books " bu t tha t presente d a n issu e "o f n o smal l constitutiona l significance." An d i t was a ne w Suprem e Court , too , fo r b y 199 5 non e of th e justice s wh o ha d bee n presen t a t th e argumen t o f Cohen v. California remaine d o n th e Court . On Octobe r 7 , 1995 , the firs t Monda y i n October , th e Suprem e Cour t justices gathere d together , a s the y alway s do , t o begi n th e ne w Ter m o f the Court . I t would b e the 199 5 Term , running fro m Octobe r o f 199 5 t o the end o f June 1996 . The justices gathered shortl y befor e 10:0 0 A.M . i n the robing roo m jus t behin d th e Suprem e Cour t chamber , o r courtroom . They pu t o n thei r robes , exchange d pleasantries , shoo k on e anothers ' hands, an d proceede d acros s th e hal l t o a n are a behin d th e hig h purpl e curtain tha t separate d the m fro m th e imposin g courtroom . I n th e court room th e cler k o f th e Suprem e Cour t announce d thei r entrance , calling , "Oyez, Oyez , Oyez, all rise. . . ." I n order o f seniority , with th e chief jus tice first, the y parted th e curtain, entere d th e courtroom fro m behin d th e elevated bench , an d proceede d t o tak e thei r seat s behin d th e bench , again i n order o f seniority . Thus the 199 5 Ter m o f th e United State s Suprem e Cour t began . The Cour t tha t assemble d o n tha t firs t Monda y o f Octobe r 199 5 wa s very differen t fro m th e Cour t tha t ha d assemble d i n 197 0 t o hea r argu ments i n Pau l Rober t Cohen' s case . I n mos t respect s othe r tha n th e absence o f Chie f Justic e Ear l Warren , tha t earlie r Cour t ha d remaine d

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the Warre n Court . I t wa s a n activis t Cour t tha t focuse d muc h o f it s energy o n th e part s o f th e Constitutio n tha t guarantee d th e individua l rights o f fai r trial , freedo m fro m self-incrimination , th e righ t t o counsel , equality befor e th e law , and, o f course , the right o f fre e expression . Twenty-five year s later, the faces o f the justices were all new. The chie f justice wa s no t Ear l Warre n bu t Willia m Rehnquist , a n extremel y able , thoughtful, an d generou s man , a conservative appointe d t o th e Cour t i n 1971 b y President Nixo n wh o ha d rise n no w t o the position o f chie f jus tice, "firs t amon g equals, " a s th e justice s describe d th e post , an d wh o was als o th e mos t senio r membe r o f th e Court . Followin g hi m i n orde r of seniorit y wer e Justice John Pau l Stevens , a moderate an d ofte n unpre dictable justic e fro m Illinois , who wa s President Ford' s sol e appointmen t to the Court ; Justice Sandr a Da y O'Connor , th e first woma n justice , wh o was generall y conservative , appointe d fro m Arizon a b y Presiden t Rea gan; an d Justic e Antoni n E . Scalia , a n ardentl y conservativ e judg e an d former la w professo r appointe d als o b y Presiden t Reagan . Thes e fou r were followe d b y Justice Anthon y Kennedy , als o a forme r la w professo r and judg e fro m California , appointe d b y Presiden t Reagan ; Justic e David Soute r o f Ne w Hampshire , a forme r stat e cour t judg e appointe d by President Bus h after th e nomination o f Robert Bor k had bee n waylai d in th e Senate ; and Justice Clarenc e Thomas , als o appointe d b y Presiden t Bush, an d th e secon d Africa n America n t o serv e o n th e Court . Th e Court's tw o newes t justices , an d th e onl y justice s appointe d b y a Demo crat, cam e last , occupyin g th e tw o seat s a t th e en d o f th e bench . Thes e were Presiden t Clinton' s appointees : Rut h Bade r Ginsburg , a federa l judge an d forme r la w professor , an d th e secon d woma n justic e t o serv e on th e Court ; an d Stephe n Breyer , a well-respected an d moderat e federa l judge an d als o a former la w professor . With th e ne w face s o n th e Cour t ha d com e ne w approache s t o inter preting th e Constitution . Th e Warre n Cour t ha d bee n solicitou s o f indi vidual right s an d ofte n suspiciou s o f governmen t action , especiall y law s enacted b y th e states . The Constitutio n stoo d a s a fir m restrain t o n th e power o f bot h th e stat e an d federa l legislatures . The Rehnquis t Court , i n contrast, wa s mor e skeptica l abou t claim s o f individua l right s an d mor e solicitous o f th e decision s o f th e democraticall y electe d branche s o f th e state an d federa l governments . I n th e earl y 1990 s th e Rehnquis t Cour t had manifeste d a renewed confidenc e i n th e law s enacte d b y legislature s and a growing concer n abou t th e Court' s power , a s a n unelecte d branc h of government , t o se t asid e th e produc t o f legislativ e bodies , eve n i f th e

Reminiscences I 20 9 laws the y enacte d wer e ofte n confused , messy , an d inconsistent . Suc h qualities, after all , were characteristi c o f the specia l interest s an d shiftin g coalitions tha t governe d th e making o f law s b y the legislativ e an d execu tive branches . But the Rehnquist Cour t di d no t follo w thi s path unwaveringly . Ther e were exception s t o a rul e o f restrain t an d deferenc e b y courts , an d th e First Amendmen t seemed , often , t o b e just suc h a n exception . A s Justice Holmes ha d sai d decade s before , i n hi s 191 9 dissen t i n Abrams, "Perse cution fo r th e expressio n o f opinion s seem s t o m e perfectl y logical . I f you hav e n o doub t o f you r premise s o r you r powe r an d wan t a certai n result wit h al l you r hear t yo u naturall y expres s you r wishe s i n la w an d sweep awa y al l opposition . . . . But whe n me n hav e realize d tha t tim e has upset man y fightin g faiths , the y may com e to believ e even more tha n they believ e th e ver y foundation s o f thei r ow n conduc t tha t th e ultimat e good desire d i s bette r reache d b y fre e trad e i n ideas—tha t th e bes t tes t of trut h i s the powe r o f though t t o ge t itsel f accepte d i n th e competitio n of th e market . . . . " Thu s th e Rehnquis t Court , devote d wit h a s muc h activism a s th e Warre n Cour t t o th e opposit e goa l o f judicia l restrain t with respec t t o stat e a s well a s federa l legislation , approache d th e 199 5 Term an d th e 199 6 Ter m tha t woul d follo w i t als o wit h a n activis t com mitment t o freedo m o f speec h guaranteed b y the Firs t Amendment . The Court' s docke t fo r th e 199 5 Ter m would includ e a broad rang e of free speec h cases , som e o f whic h ha d alread y bee n accepte d fo r revie w by th e firs t Monda y i n October , other s o f whic h woul d b e accepte d a s the Ter m unfolded . Th e case s include d on e fro m Colorad o challengin g the constitutionality o f a restriction o n the freedom o f political parties t o speak throug h advertisement s o n behal f o f it s candidates . Anothe r Col orado cas e involve d a cabl e company' s righ t t o decid e whethe r indecen t programming woul d b e carried o n it s public acces s an d lease d channels . A cas e fro m Rhod e Islan d challenge d a stat e la w tha t barre d liquo r stores fro m advertisin g th e pric e o f bee r o n th e theor y tha t pric e compe tition woul d encourag e consumption . Finally , a grou p o f case s fro m Chicago raise d th e questio n whethe r politica l patronage—i n thes e case s the awardin g o f contract s t o privat e companie s — could tur n o n th e political views of the contractors seekin g the public contracts. What else , one might ask , is patronage? In man y o f thes e case s th e Cour t woul d b e closel y divided . I n al l o f them ther e woul d b e arden t dissent s fro m som e o f th e justices . In a fe w of the m th e Court' s opinion s woul d b e muddle d an d confused , eve n

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purposely ambiguous . An d th e issue s pose d i n eac h o f th e case s woul d find thei r roots , interestingly enough , i n the storie s we have told . The Colorad o cas e tha t challenge d th e righ t o f politica l partie s t o advertise i n suppor t o f th e party' s candidate s turne d o n th e rol e an d function o f organize d politica l parties. Like the Michigan Stat e Chambe r of Commerce' s advertisemen t o n behal f o f Richar d Bandstra , th e cas e ultimately woul d tur n o n whethe r politica l partie s wer e sufficientl y coherent i n thei r politica l view s tha t th e party' s speec h coul d b e sai d t o represent th e view s o f th e members . Ar e th e Republica n o r Democrati c parties, i n short , mor e lik e th e ACL U an d th e NAACP , o r lik e Genera l Motors an d th e Michiga n Stat e Chambe r o f Commerce ? The liquor-pric e advertisin g cas e fro m Rhod e Islan d sa w th e Cour t visiting, onc e again , th e perplexin g questio n o f whethe r commercia l advertising shoul d b e treate d a s speec h full y protecte d b y th e Firs t Amendment. Lik e th e Virginia Pharmacy case , th e questio n lurkin g beneath th e surfac e o f th e Rhod e Islan d cas e was simpl e bu t fundamen tal: Whos e interests , th e speaker' s o r th e consumers' , ar e protecte d b y the Firs t Amendment ? I s fre e speec h protectio n accorde d t o th e liquo r store's libert y interes t i n advertisin g fo r customers , o r t o th e utilit y tha t price information ha s fo r th e purchaser ? The patronag e case s woul d spaw n dee p division s o n th e Court . Th e right t o d o th e public' s busines s b y winnin g a trash-haulin g contract , some justice s woul d say , i s to o fa r remove d fro m th e ac t o f speakin g one's mind tha t th e First Amendment protects ; moreover, a government' s decision t o awar d a contract , o r no t t o d o so , is more aki n t o conduct , and th e bidder' s politica l allegiance s shoul d no t immuniz e th e bidde r from th e traditiona l practice s tha t th e patronag e syste m ha s engage d i n from tim e immemorial . Shoul d Rober t Viktora' s politica l view s abou t race immuniz e hi m fro m th e law' s comman d tha t privat e propert y b e respected an d tha t race-base d act s of vandalism, suc h a s the burnin g o f a cross i n th e fron t yar d o f a blac k famil y i n th e neighborhood , mus t b e punished? Wa s the privat e compan y seekin g th e publi c contrac t "speak ing" throug h it s application, an y mor e than Viktora , i n his drunken an d drug-induced stupor , was "speaking " a s he conspired t o ignit e the cross ? Perhaps th e mos t interestin g case , however , wa s th e Colorad o cas e that involve d th e cabl e operator' s righ t t o scree n ou t programmin g wit h indecent content , jus t a s a newspape r migh t decid e t o rejec t (o r edit ) a n article tha t faile d t o compor t wit h it s standard s o f decency , o r news , o r even wit h th e view s th e newspape r preferre d t o express . I s th e cabl e

Reminiscences I 21 1 operator, lik e th e newspape r editor , a speake r entitle d t o virtuall y com plete freedom t o decid e what t o publish? O r doe s cable television, a s on e of th e ne w technologie s o f communication , presen t a n entirel y differen t and additiona l se t o f problems ? I s cable television , i n short , a mediu m that carrie s no t onl y th e message s o f other s bu t als o a messag e o f it s own, a message of intrusiveness, o f communicative powe r differen t fro m print's, o f immediacy , o f appea l t o emotio n an d passio n rathe r tha n rea son an d dispassion ? I s th e messag e o f thi s ne w medium , a s Texa s ha d argued i n th e fla g case , a dimensio n tha t warrant s a degre e o f govern mental oversigh t tha t woul d no t b e permitted i n th e mor e familia r an d domesticated worl d o f prin t journalism ? And i f the qualitie s o f power, immediacy, emotion, passion, an d intru siveness do , i n fact , warran t a measur e o f governmen t regulatio n o f cable an d th e othe r ne w technologie s o f communication , wha t plac e i n the ne w Firs t Amendmen t equatio n d o w e giv e Justice Harlan' s opinio n in Pau l Cohen' s case , fo r i t wa s Harla n wh o justifie d Firs t Amendmen t protection fo r th e painte d letterin g "Fuc k th e Draft " o n Cohen' s jacke t because o f it s "emotive " force . Fre e speech , h e said , i s not limite d t o th e realm o f reasoned discours e but , instead , involve s passion, emotion , an d affront, eac h o f which , w e migh t say , wer e a produc t no t o f Cohen' s message bu t o f it s medium . The Suprem e Cour t woul d b e deepl y divide d i n th e Colorad o cabl e television case , permittin g th e government , no t th e cabl e company , t o make judgment s abou t decency . Th e Court' s opinio n wa s a s narrowl y couched a s possible , decidin g onl y thos e question s tha t coul d no t b e escaped, an d the n doin g s o i n th e mos t limite d way . The Cour t candidl y acknowledged dee p uncertainty , a reluctanc e t o trea d wher e n o on e ha d before, an d a recognitio n o f th e fundamentall y conflictin g direction s i n which th e Court' s prio r decisions , includin g th e Michiga n Stat e Cham ber o f Commerc e cas e (wh o i s a speake r unde r th e Firs t Amendment? ) and Pau l Robert Cohen' s case (whe n is emotion an d th e force o f commu nication speech , itself?), pulled . During th e nex t Ter m o f Court , th e 199 6 Ter m runnin g fro m mid 1996 t o mid-1997 , th e sam e Cour t woul d addres s fewe r free speec h cases, bu t th e case s would presen t eve n mor e fundamenta l Firs t Amend ment questions . Th e firs t o f th e case s involve d a clai m b y a n Arizon a state employe e tha t a n Arizon a la w requirin g he r t o spea k onl y i n Eng lish while o n th e jo b violate d he r freedo m o f speech . Th e cas e thu s pre sented a difficul t questio n abou t governmen t contro l o f employe e

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speech, an d mor e basicall y abou t whethe r ou r libert y t o spea k freel y depends o n th e capacit y i n whic h w e spea k — as a privat e perso n o r a s an employe e — much lik e th e R.A.V . cross-burnin g cas e involve d th e capacity (inebriatio n an d aimles s immatur e antics ) i n whic h th e boy s burned an d "go t crazy, " o r lik e th e Michiga n Chambe r o f Commerc e case involve d th e capacit y i n whic h a corporatio n an d it s "agents, " b e they advertiser s o r executives , purpor t t o speak . Thes e question s th e Court manage d effectivel y t o avoid , however , b y dismissin g th e Arizon a case withou t addressin g the m becaus e th e stat e employe e ha d lef t he r public jo b b y th e tim e th e cas e wa s argue d i n th e Suprem e Court , an d therefore th e cas e was "moot. " Two othe r case s decide d durin g th e 199 6 Ter m involve d technolog y and it s implication s fo r Firs t Amendmen t freedoms . Th e firs t involve d a claim b y Turne r Broadcastin g Corporatio n tha t th e government' s requirement tha t Turner' s cabl e companie s carr y loca l over-the-ai r chan nels i n th e communitie s Turne r serve s violate d Turner' s righ t t o free speech. Turner , i n othe r words , claime d th e righ t t o spea k onl y its own views. To require i t to carr y th e speec h o f loca l broadcaster s rathe r than , for instance , MT V o r C-Span , woul d b e th e equivalen t o f th e Stat e o f Texas requiring tha t th e fla g b e treated wit h respect . To mak e suc h a claim , however , Turne r woul d hav e t o argu e tha t i n deciding o n th e channel s i t woul d carr y i t wa s actin g a s a full-fledge d speaker wit h Firs t Amendmen t right s equivalen t t o your s o r mine , o r t o a newspape r reporter' s o r editor's . Th e argumen t wa s made , bu t failed . Turner Broadcastin g i s a corporatio n makin g busines s decision s abou t who else' s speec h t o carr y o n it s cabl e channels ; i t i s no t makin g deci sions abou t speec h o f it s ow n making . Th e Suprem e Cour t thu s viewe d Turner a s mor e lik e th e Michiga n Chambe r o f Commerc e o r Genera l Motors rathe r tha n lik e yo u o r m e o r eve n th e ACL U o r th e NAACP . The government' s requiremen t tha t loca l channel s b e carrie d wa s upheld, an d Turner' s Firs t Amendment clai m wa s rejected . Perhaps th e mos t interestin g an d potentiall y far-reachin g cas e th e Court decide d i n th e 199 6 Ter m wa s th e Interne t case , entitle d Reno v. ACLU. Th e cas e involved a challenge b y Internet user s to a 199 6 federa l law tha t restricte d indecen t an d sexuall y explici t materia l fro m bein g placed o n th e Interne t i f childre n coul d ge t acces s t o it . Th e cas e thu s presented a raw clas h betwee n th e mos t fundamenta l libert y interest s o f the individual , o n th e on e hand , an d th e powe r o f technolog y an d th e impact o f medium , o n th e other . I t wa s a clas h betwee n Pau l Cohen' s

Reminiscences I 21 3 right t o wea r a jacke t emblazone d wit h "Fuc k th e Draft " i n a publi c place an d Texas' s interes t i n regulatin g th e "medium " (no t th e message ) of the flag . Libert y won an d th e 199 6 law was stricken , bu t th e decisio n was narro w an d confine d t o voluntar y transmissio n o f indecen t mater ial. For this, the Internet worked jus t like a postal system , though a n effi cient an d reliabl e one , unlike th e alternative . The moral o f the Court' s 199 5 an d 199 6 Terms, and th e moral o f the stories we have considere d here , is twofold. Th e firs t i s that th e mysteries o f the Firs t Amendment , th e mysterie s o f th e meanin g o f speech , o f speak ing, and o f th e powe r o f languag e an d imag e i n th e huma n imagination , still continue to plague the Court's efforts t o establish a theoretical syste m in which the goals of the Constitution's inscrutabl e text—"Congress shal l make n o law abridging th e freedom o f speech" —can b e identifie d and , then, well served . The secon d mora l i s that th e question s presente d b y these storie s wil l continue to persist without an y clear resolution, at least so long as huma n imagination an d ingenuit y exist . Ther e are , a s Justice Holme s suggested , no pat answers , but onl y interesting questions . But that i s as it should be . "Truth," Holme s sai d i n his essay Natural Law, i s but "th e syste m o f m y (intellectual) limitations. " T o reduc e "truth " t o law , especiall y Firs t Amendment law , would b e t o "radiat e constitutiona l doctrin e withou t avowing it. " We shoul d wish , therefore , no t fo r answer s fro m th e Suprem e Cour t but, instead , fo r continuin g struggl e an d disagreement , mess y a s tha t seems a t times . This i s the natur e o f constitutiona l law : uncertain , adap tive, intellectually stimulating , constantly shiftin g an d changing . Just lik e the human conditio n upo n whic h i t rests.

Index

Abridge, freedo m o f speech , 5 . See also Firs t Amendmen t Absolutism, i n protection o f speech , 2 3 - 2 4 , 10 3

ACLU, 6 , 59 , 68-69 , 72.-73 ? 75, 85-86, 88 , 198 , 210 , 21 2 Advertising, 47 , 56 , 153 , 155-86 , 188-90, 194-95 , 2 °55 cigarette , 194-95; b y lawyers, 173-75 . See also Commercia l speech ; Corporations, a s speakers ; Medium Aesthetic speech , 32 , 45, 114-49 , 187-88; meaning , n 6-18 , 136-49; quality , 129-3 6 Albany, Georgia , 118-27 , 140 , 142 , i45> 14 7 Albany Movement , 120-2 2 Anonymous speech , 6 , 37 , 60-61 ; b y corporations, 79-80 , 86-87 ; a n d fact, 45-50 ; an d opinion , 50-55 . See also Author ; Intentio n Art, 114-49 . See also Aestheti c speech Audience, 2 , 28-29 , 45 > 104-6 , 151-53, 155-86 ; an d commercia l speech, 159-61 , 165 , 175-81 ; an d meaning, 46 , n 6-18 , 136-49 , 151-53; an d speech , 104-6 , 155-56, 168-73 , I 7 5 ~ 8 i ; an d value, 129-36 , 165-67 , 169 , 183-86. See also Meaning , o f speech

Author, 3 , 6 , 34~35 5 37~3 8> 43~58 , 187; and audience , 45 ; an d authority, 47-55 ; meaning of , 43-47; an d medium , 202-5 . See also Aestheti c speech ; Anonymou s speech; Fact ; Opinion , a s speec h Bandstra, Richard , 59 , 62-6 3 Beckett, Samuel , 46, 55 , 57 , 6 0 Beliefs, an d speech , 188-90 ; shape d by speech , 188-89 . See also Fre e will; Ideas, an d speec h Bellingham, Washington , 144-4 7 Bickel, Alexander M. , 4 , 11 2 Black, Justice Hugo , n , 24 , 29 , 103 , i n , 141 , 16 1 Blackmun, Justice Harr y A. , n , 29-30, 86 , 103 , n o , i n , 175-76 , 179-80, 182-84 , 20 0 Boulding, Kenneth, 202- 3 Brandeis, Justice Louis , 9 1 Brennan, Justice William, n , 25 , 77, 86, 174-76 , 178 , 182 , 20 0 Breyer, Justice Stephen , 20 8 Brown, Hon . James Harvey , 1 0 Burger, Chie f Justic e Warren, n , 14 , 29, 103 , 162 , 167 , 18 1 Burke, Edmund, 3 Cable television , 211-1 2 Campaign, speech , 3 , 56-57 , 60-61 , 62-89, 209-10 ; independen t expenditures, 70-71 ; mone y as ,

215

2i6 I

Index

60-62, 66-67 . See also Politica l campaigns Carnal Knowledge, 122-4 3 Caruso, Loui s J., 61 , 64-77, 8 9 Censorship, 3 , 20, 65-6 6 Chamber o f Commerce . See Michiga n State Chambe r o f Commerc e Cigarette advertising , 194-9 5 Cleary, Edward , 10 7 Clemens, Samuel , 4 5 Cohen, Pau l Robert , 7-11 , 14-17 , 21, 27-28, 33-34 , 102-3 , I O ^ 5 I I 3 : ? 189, 207 , 211-1 2 Collective speech , 2 , 78 , 81-88 ; an d technology, 2 . See also ACLU ; Ideology, an d speech ; Labo r unions; NAAC P Commercial speech , 32 , 155-86 , 210 ; economic role , 157-60 , 162-63 , 171-81; an d laissez-fair e econom ics, 157-60 , 163-64 , 168 , 183 ; value of , 156 , 162-8 6 Communication, 60 , 187-90 ; an d First Amendmen t speech , 23-24 ; and medium , 187-205 ; an d speech, 60-6 1 Communication technology , 2 , 151-53, 187-90 , 202-5 , 212-13 ; and collectiv e o r grou p speech , 2 ; and fre e speech , 2 Conduct, 24 , 29-30 , 91 , 102-6, 188 ; versus speech , 24 , 32 , 35 , 93-96 , 187-205 Constitution, 44 , 55 . See also Firs t Amendment Content-based restriction , 102 . See also Censorshi p Corporations: a s authors , 57 ; endorsements, 74 ; political speech , 64-89; a s speakers , 6 , 56-57 , 59 , 60-61, 64-89 . See also Commercial speech ; Fre e will ; Ideology, an d speec h Deconstruction, 47-48 , 116-1 8 Defamation. See Falsit y

Democracy, an d speech , 3 , 30-31 ; and change , 93-94 ; an d self-gov ernment, 3 , 19 , 3 0 Discourse, a s speech . See Democracy , and speech ; Emotion , an d speech ; Ideas, an d speech ; Public discus sion; Reaso n Disturbing th e peace , 9; b y offensiv e and tumultuou s conduct , 10 , 1 8 Douglas, Justice Willia m O. , 11 , 18 2 Draft, military , 7 Dress codes , 194-9 5 Drew, Kath i Alyce , 192 , 196-99 , 20 0 Emotion, an d speech , 14-15 , 17 , 19-20, 25-33 , 95> 185 , 188-89 ; and Firs t Amendment , 94-96 ; ver sus reason, 20 . See also Force , of speech Epistemology, an d meaning , 116-18 , 136-49 Equality, o f speech , 66-6j, 8 1 Fact, an d speech , 45-5 0 Falsity, 47-58 ; o f fact , 47-50 ; o f opinion, 50-55 . See also Meaning , of speec h Federalist Papers , 51 , 54 Feelings, an d speech , 187-90 . See Emotion, an d speec h Feminism, 117-18 , 143-4 7 Fiction, 45-4 6 Fighting words , 95 , 106 , 107 , 10 9 First Amendment , 44 , 55 , 95, 213; and th e rol e o f audience , 155-56 , 168-73; an d dissent , 1 , 50-58 ; freedom, 1 ; history, 14 ; interpreta tion, 44 , 95-96; scop e of , 5 ; an d technology, 1 , 187-90 ; text , 5 , 213. See also Speec h First Amendmen t speech , 5 , 17 , 60-61, 76 ; commercial speech , 157-60, 181-82 ; compare d wit h communication, 23-24 , 60-61 ; b y corporations, 74-76 , 86-88 ; an d medium, 187-20 5

Index I Flag desecration , 189-20 5 Foley, Thomas, 108- 9 Force, o f speech , 25-26 , 32-33 , 187-90. See also Emotion , an d speech; Medium; Time , place, an d manner o f speakin g Frankfurter, Justic e Felix , 95, 11 2 Freedom: t o speak , 11 , 20, 34-35 ; of speech, 57 . See also Firs t Amendment; Fre e wil l Free will , 2 , 33-35 , 56 , 88 , 104-5 , 112; an d corporat e speech , 86-89 ; and individua l identity , 27-28 ; an d speech, 2 , 20 , 6 0 General Motors , 6 , ^9, 73-74 , 83 , 85-86, 88 , 21 0 Ginsburg, Justice Rut h Bader , 20 8 Goldberger, Davi d A. , 5 3 Hamilton, Alexander , 5 4 Harlan, Justice John Marshall , 12 , 2-!-355 57 , 103-4 , 106 , 110-11 , 131, 138 , 161 , 211 Harm, o f speech , 106-12 ; b y con duct, 108-9 ; a s functio n o f mean ing, 141-43 ; by words, 107-1 0 Hate speech , 3 , 28 , 32 , 96-11 2 Hight, Tony , 12 8 Holmes, Justice Olive r Wendell , Jr., 93-94, 102 , 106 , i n , 158-59 , 209, 21 3 Ideas, an d speech , 18 , 28-33 , I O 3 - 6 , 185 Ideology, and speech , 48, 64, 78, 83, 85-86; an d meaning , 116-18 , 136-49; an d meanin g o f fact , 47-48; b y organizations, 78 , 81-82, 83-85 , 87-88 . See also Firs t Amendment; Meaning , o f speec h Intention, 2 , 29 , 33-35 , 9 1, 103-6 , 189; an d Firs t Amendmen t speech , 17, 29-33 , 104-5 ; a n d messag e communicated, 17 , 19 ; and speak ing, 2 , 14-16 , 29-33 , I O 4 " 5

21 7

Internet, 203- 4 Interpretation, o f speech , 44 , 47-50 , 116-18, 136-49 . See also Audience; Intention; Meaning , o f speech James, P . D., 4 5

Jay, John, 54

Jenkins, Billy , 118 , 122-27 , I 3 2 ~ 3 3 , 142-43 Johnson, Gregor y Lee , 190 , 194 , 199 , 201, 20 4 Journalism, 45 , 47, 48, 18 5 Kennedy, Justice Anthony , 6y, 72-73 , yj9 200 , 20 8 King, Rev . Martin Luther , Jr., 118-2 1 Kunstler, William , 19 9 Labor unions : political contributions , 79-80; speec h by , y^, 87-88 . See also Unite d Aut o Worker s (UAW ) Libel. See Falsit y Liberty to speak . See Freedom, to spea k Literature. See Aesthetic speec h Mackinnon, Catharine , 11 7 Madison, James , 3 , 5 4 Markets, an d speech , 3 , 31-32 , 93-94; an d efficiency , 3 , 157-60 , 162-64, 168 , 183 ; and ideas , 32 , 93-94 Marshall, Justice Thurgood , 11 , 15, 18, 21 , 77, 86-87 , 182 , 20 0 Mclntyre, Margaret , 38-58 , 59 , 18 7 McLellan, Richar d D. , 76-8 9 McLuhan, Marshall , 29 , 152 , 187 , 189, 194 , 202- 3 Meaning, o f speech , 3 4-3 5 > 44 , 45-50, 116-18 , 136-49 , 151-53 ; and audience , 156 ; and communi ty, 140-43 ; and culture , 135-43 ; and medium , 187-90 ; an d politica l ideology, 145-46 . See also Audience; Author; Intention ; Medium

218 I

Index

Medium, 2 , 187-205 , 211 ; and forc e of speech , 25-26 ; an d market , 2 ; and meaning , 34 , 202- 5 Message, 188-89 ; a n d medium , 187-205. See also Ideas , an d speech; Mediu m Michigan Stat e Chambe r o f Commerce, 6 , 59 , 61-8 5 Mill, John Stuart , 9 4 Mind, an d speaking , 6 . See also Fre e will; Intention; Speaker , an d speec h Misrepresentation. See Falsit y Money, an d speech , 2 , 65 , 66, 67-7 4 Morrison, Ala n B. , 161 , 167, 171-81 , 184 Multisensory speech , 187-90 , 202- 5 NAACP, 6 , 59 , 85 , 89 , 21 0 Newspapers, 18 5 Nimmer, Melville , 14-16 , 1 9 "Nine Ol d Men, " 11-12 , 13 2 Nizer, Louis , 127-28 , 130-31 , 14 2 Nonfiction, 46-58 . See also Fact , an d speech; Opinion , a s speec h Obscenity, 12 , 20 , 22 , 27 , 60 , 118-43; jury , role of , 135-43 ; an d speech, 21 , 1 2 9 - 4 3 ; t e s t f° r> 132-36 O'Connor, Justice Sandr a Day , 42-43 , 65, 69, 70 , 72 , 77 , n o , 200 , 20 8 Offensive speech , 10 , 18 , 20; emotion, an d speech , 20 , 22-24 ; mean ing of , 2 2 O'Neill, Michael , 202- 3 Opinion, a s speech , 46-47 , 50-5 5 Organizations, speec h by , 64-8 9 Patriotism, an d speech , 193-9 4 Persuasion. See Fact, an d speech ; Nonfiction; Opinion , a s speech ; Reason Plato, 54 , 115-16 , 136-38 , 146-4 7 Political actio n committees , 32 , 69 , 8 0 Political campaigns , 4 1 , 70-71; an d anonymous speech , 51-52 ; mone y

and speech , 43 ; reform, 4 1 , 48-49, 51, 56-57 , 62-63 , 74-76 , 83-84 ; speech in , 2 Pornography, 3 , 117-18 , i43"4 7 Powell, Justice Lewi s F. , Jr., 161 , 18 2 Professional speech , 3 , 171-8 1 Pseudonym, 4 5 Public discussion , 23 ; diversity o f views, 2 3 Quality o f speech , 129-49 ; aesthetic , 129-36; relatio n t o meaning , 135-49 Racist speech , 3 , 28 , 30 , 96-112. See also Hat e speec h Rationality, an d speech . See Democracy, an d speech ; Reaso n Reason, 20 , 25 , 53-54 , 93~94 ; an d democracy, 20 , 50-55 ; and Firs t Amendment, 30-31 ; an d persua sion, 53 , 93-94; an d speech , 25-2 7 Rehnquist, Chie f Justic e Willia m H. , 6i> 75, 77> I 2 -8, i35> I ^ i , 166 , 172, 183-84 , 200 , 20 8 Right t o know , 171-80 . See also Audience; Commercia l speec h Sauer, Michael , 8 , 14 , 18-19 , 20 , 2 1 Scalia, Justice Antonin , 66, 71, 72 , 74, 77 , 200 , 20 8 Self, expression of , 27-28 . See also Emotion, an d speech ; Fre e will ; Intention Self-government. See Democracy, an d speech Shakespeare, William, 4 5 Souter, Justice David , 20 8 Speaker, an d speech , 2 , 21-22 , 31, 55-58, 59-89 , i^o , 167-68 , 171-80, 210 ; impact o f medium , 187-90, 195-96 ; relation t o free dom, 2 , 75 ; relation t o fre e will , 2 , 75; an d speaking , 31-33 , 55 , 9 1, 105-6, 194-96 , 197-98 . See also Author

Index I Speaking. See Speaker, an d speec h Speech, 1 , 60-61 , 9 1 , 93-96, 102-12 , 188-89; a s artifact , 6 , 17 , 34-35 ; as a collective act , 2 , 59-89 ; freedom of , 1 , 5 ; and harm , 106-12 ; as a n individua l act , 1 , 5-6 ; mean ing of , 1-2 , 5 , 103-6 , 116-18 , 136-49, 187-90 ; an d medium , 187-205; mone y as , 2 , 67-74 ; relation t o author , 2 , 37-38 , 42-58, 60-61 ; socia l function , 155-56; an d speaker , 2 , 5 , 49, 86-89, 171-80 ; an d text , 5 , 29-3 3. See also Conduct ; Money , and speech ; Speaker , an d speec h Speech codes, 9, 28 , 30, 97-98, 110-1 1 Stevens, Justice John Paul , yy, 87 , n o , 182 , 200-201 , 20 8 Stewart, Justice Potter , n , 14 , 20 , 144, 164 , 176-78 , 18 2 Supreme Court . See United State s Supreme Cour t Sutter, Andrew L. , 51-5 2 Symbols, and speech , 190-20 5 Technology, 187-90 . See also Communication technolog y Text, an d speech , 43-58 ; and medi um, 182-20 5

21 9

Thomas, Justice Clarence , 20 8 Time, place, an d manne r o f speaking , 17-18 Troy, Anthony R , 161-7 2 Trump, Donald , 59 , 66-6 '7, 8 8 Truth, a s goal , 93-94 , 111-1 2 United Aut o Worker s (UAW) , 59 , 65 , 79 United State s Suprem e Court : build ing, 11 ; courtroom, n , 14 ; ora l argument before , n , 1 3 Value, o f speech , 24 , 129-36 , 203-5 ; artistic, 129- 3 6; in relatio n t o message, 35 , 136-43 ; public virtue, i n ; t o receiver , 169-71 ; social, 107-9 , z 5 5S 6 5 ^ 66-69, 203-4 V-Chip, 118 , 147-49 , 20 4 Vulgarity, 138 . See Obscenity ; Offensive speech ; Pornograph y Warren, Chie f Justic e Earl , n , 20 7 Warren Court , n , 20 8 Wernick, Andrew , 18 5 White, Justice Byron , n , 77 , 87 , 102 , n o , 165 , 166 , 182 , 20 0

About th e Autho r

Randall Bezanso n i s a professo r o f la w a t th e Universit y o f Iowa. A graduate o f Northwester n Universit y an d th e Iow a La w School , he serve d a s a la w cler k t o Justic e Harr y A . Blackmu n o f th e Unite d States Supreme Cour t durin g the 197 3 Term . In addition t o teaching an d writing i n th e field s o f constitutiona l la w an d freedo m o f expression , Professor Bezanso n ha s serve d a s a vic e presiden t o f th e Universit y o f Iowa an d a s Dean o f the Washington &c Lee University Schoo l of La w i n Lexington, Virginia . Hi s book s includ e th e award-winnin g Libel Law and the Press, coauthore d wit h Gilber t Cranber g an d John Soloski , an d Taxes on Knowledge in America: Exactions on the Press from Colonial Times to the Present. Professor Bezanso n live s in Iowa City , Iowa, an d Cla m Lake , Wiscon sin, with hi s wife Elaine , and thei r tw o dogs . They have two grow n chil dren, Melissa an d Peter .

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