Free Speech Is the Most Fundamental American Value

This is the text of a speech Judge Silberman delivered Sept. 2 at Dartmouth College, his undergraduate alma mater.

This is a Constitution Day lecture. So I’m going to address one of today’s most contentious constitutional issues – the protection of free speech under the First Amendment. As I recently stated in a report, the First Amendment guarantee of free speech is not just a legal doctrine. It represents the most fundamental value in American democracy. A national commitment to uninhibited political speech is a critical aspect of our country’s culture. It is the penumbra surrounding the First Amendment, which in itself only prohibits government control of speech. Unless all American institutions are committed to free political expression, I fear that the burden of First Amendment guarantees will become unbearable. Free Speech Is the Most Fundamental American Value

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