First Amendment Architecture Online Symposium

Next week, the Stanford Technology Law Review is holding its “First Amendment Challenges in the Digital Age” conference in celebration of its 15th year anniversary.  One of the panels will center on Marvin Ammori’s First Amendment Architecture article and the important concerns that he raises about doctrine and normative theory concerning speech spaces in our networked environment.  At CoOp, we will participate in that discussion online, bringing together guest blogger Marvin Ammori with thought leaders (and guest bloggers) Marc Blitz, Brett Frischmann, Gregory Magarian, Zephyr Teachout, and Tim Zick to discuss Marvin’s article and broader concerns about expressive spaces in the twenty-first century.

We will be holding an online symposium on Julie Cohen’s Configuring the Networked Self in March as well as one on Brett Frischmann’s book on Infrastructure (forthcoming Oxford University Press).  Hopefully, we can do the same for Tim Zick’s book on The Cosmopolitan First Amendment (forthcoming Cambridge University Press 2013).  This discussion will be a terrific way to begin our long-term commitment to thinking through what architecture means and should mean for civil liberties.

Here’s the abstract for Marvin’s article:

The right to free speech is meaningless without some place to exercise it. But constitutional scholarship generally overlooks the role of judicial doctrines in ensuring the availability of spaces for speech. Indeed, when scholarship addresses doctrines that are explicitly concerned with speech spaces such as public forums and media or Internet forums, it generally marginalizes these doctrines as “exceptions” to standard First Amendment analysis. By overlooking or marginalizing these decisions, scholarship has failed to explicate the logic underlying important doctrinal areas and what these areas reveal about the First Amendment’s normative underpinnings.

This Article adopts a different interpretive approach. It identifies and interprets the Court’s role in ensuring, requiring, or permitting government to make spaces available for speech. Across a range of physical and virtual spaces, the Article identifies five persistent judicial principles evident in precedent and practice that require or permit government to ensure spaces to further particular, substantive speech-goals.

Further, rather than quarantining these speech-principles as exceptions to the standard analysis, this Article explores the significance of these principles for “core” speech doctrine and theory. The resulting analysis poses fundamental challenges to conventional wisdom about the First Amendment and the normative principles generally believed evident in doctrine. Consequently, the Article provides timely guidance for legislators and judges, particularly for shaping access to the technology-enabled virtual spaces increasingly central to Americans’ discourse.

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