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11 Seton Hall Const. L.J. 375 (2000-2001)
Pornographic Movies, Obscene Books, Fighting Words, and Pink-Haired Students: Constitutional Freedom of Expression and Some Comparisons with Irish Constitutional Law

handle is hein.journals/shclj11 and id is 381 raw text is: CONSTITUTIONAL FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION

Carol Daugherty Rasnic*
My dear, I don't care what they do, so long as they don't do it in the
streets and frighten the horses.
Beatrice Stella Tanner Campbell, Early 20th Century British actress
Dame Campbell's words might well have been directed toward the liberality
of American constitutional freedom of speech and expression. Perhaps even the
drafters of the American Bill of Rights would cringe over the breadth of the judi-
ciary's construction of this provision. Or would they concur with the latitude of
protection the courts have provided with regard to freedom of expression?
This first of the 27 amendments to the 1787 United States Constitution was
ratified and adopted in 1791, simultaneously with those others among the first 10
amendments (collectively known as the Bill of Rights).' Its four freedoms'2
have provided the source for a geometrically increasing rise in litigation. The
freedom of speech provision in particular has been noted as the most absolute in
its terms among all those provisions in the constitution securing rights of the
people against undue restriction by federal and state governments.3
* Professor of Employment and Labor Law, Virginia Commonwealth University, Rich-
mond, Virginia U.S.A.
U.S. CONST. amend. I -X.
2 The First Amendment prohibits the federal government from interfering with the peo-
ple's freedom of speech, press, and religion, and the right peaceably to assemble and to redress
the government for grievances. U.S. CONST. amend. I.
This paper will address only freedom of speech.
3 See William Van Alstyne, FIRST AMENDMENT, CASES, AND MATERIALS 5 (2d. ed.
1995). It is significant to note that the Bill of Rights assures the people of their freedom from


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