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Freedom for the Thought That We Hate: A…
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Freedom for the Thought That We Hate: A Biography of the First Amendment

by Anthony Lewis

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This book is a decent overview of 1st Amendment cases throughout history in the United States. It doesn't go terribly deep into things most of the time but it was interesting to see how things progressed over time.
  walterqchocobo | Apr 8, 2013 |
A solid history of the issues involving the First Amendment since its inception, and one that is extremely readable. The author writes in a lucid style, without a lot of excess verbiage, and gives the basic details of how jurisprudence surrounding the freedom of speech and the press has evolved. He talks about some of the challenges to First Amendment guarantees, starting with the Sedication Act passed by our second president, John Adams, and continues right up through the George W. Bush administration (though he does not cover the PATRIOT Act, a real downside). He examines the efforts to limit the first amendment to only cover speech that everyone finds acceptable, and gives his own interpretation in many places. He spends a chapter on hate speech, one of the current challenges to first amendment rights. One weakness of the book is the failure to discuss the Comstock laws, a long-lasting and significant challenge to speech and press freedom. Otherwise, a good basic primer, especially for someone just beginning to get interested in this issue. ( )
  Devil_llama | Apr 7, 2012 |
Lewis, the author of the terrific Gideon's Trumpet, among other legal books, presents an overview of issues, cases, and trends involving the First Amendment. When I was in law school, I always thought that cases involving the First Amendment were difficult, often with more than one party having a compelling argument, but they had interesting facts.

This book is geared to the non-attorney and is not at all technical. It gets into a lot of interesting First Amendment subjects. Not just freedom of speech, freedom of the press, or freedom of association, but also such topics as obscenity (including the infamous legal line "I know it when I see it"), censorship, hate speech, flagburning, and campaign financing limits.

Unfortunately, the book is from 2007 because I would have loved to have read Lewis' take on more recent First Amendment cases, such as the Citizens United case (applying the First Amendment to corporations) from earlier this year.

Overall, though, I would highly recommend this book. ( )
5 vote lindapanzo | Jun 8, 2010 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0465039170, Hardcover)

More than any other people on earth, Americans are free to say and write what they think. The media can air the secrets of the White House, the boardroom, or the bedroom with little fear of punishment or penalty. The reason for this extraordinary freedom is not a superior culture of tolerance, but just fourteen words in our most fundamental legal document: the free expression clauses of the First Amendment to the Constitution. In Lewis’s telling, the story of how the right of free expression evolved along with our nation makes a compelling case for the adaptability of our constitution. Although Americans have gleefully and sometimes outrageously exercised their right to free speech since before the nation’s founding, the Supreme Court did not begin to recognize this right until 1919. Freedom of speech and the press as we know it today is surprisingly recent. Anthony Lewis tells us how these rights were created, revealing a story of hard choices, heroic (and some less heroic) judges, and fascinating and eccentric defendants who forced the legal system to come face-to-face with one of America’s great founding ideas.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:20 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

More than any other people on earth, Americans are free to say and write what they think. The media can air the secrets of the White House, the boardroom, or the bedroom with little fear of punishment or penalty. The reason for this extraordinary freedom is not a superior culture of tolerance, but just fourteen words in our most fundamental legal document: the free expression clauses of the First Amendment to the Constitution. In this book, the story of how the right of free expression evolved along with our nation makes a compelling case for the adaptability of our constitution. Although Americans have gleefully and sometimes outrageously exercised their right to free speech since before the nation's founding, the Supreme Court did not begin to recognize this right until 1919. Freedom of speech and the press as we know it today is surprisingly recent. The author tells us how these rights were created, revealing a story of hard choices, heroic (and some less heroic) judges, and fascinating and eccentric defendants who forced the legal system to come face-to-face with one of America's great founding ideas.… (more)

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