The Fight for Free Speech: Ten Cases That Define Our First Amendment Freedoms, Ian Rosenberg

Reviewed by Kevin A. Johnson



The Fight for Free Speech: Ten Cases That Define Our First Amendment Freedoms contributes to the aim that “everyone can have a practical working knowledge of free speech law” (p. 2). “The trick,” according to Ian Rosenberg, “is to ditch jargon and academic theory, and make an effort to describe how First Amendment law applies to the controversies of today. Wisdom can be condensed without being dumbed down” (p. 2). I believe that this is true, and that doing so requires a tremendous amount of skill in translating advanced legal texts into narrative storytelling. On this measure, the book is exemplary.

While reading this book, I was reminded of excellent lectures that I attended as an undergraduate that took on difficult subjects with the nuances of complex narratives. Rosenberg writes in an accessible style while providing highlights of the complicated twists and turns in the events that formed the 10 cases he uses to define our First Amendment freedoms. In each of the stories, I believe the reader is able to easily discern the material that forms the basis of complicated legal doctrine while also getting a sense of the underlying values that are inherent in our First Amendment rights.

I particularly appreciated the focus on the First Amendment values and the way those values relate to the U.S. Sup

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