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First Amendment Institutions Hardcover – November 19, 2012

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Editorial Reviews


In this comprehensive and original analysis of the First Amendment's multifaceted applications, Paul Horwitz deftly argues that constitutional law should take institutions and their variety into account―libraries, newspapers, churches, and beyond. This book opens new lines of discussion and criticism for a new generation of scholars. (Mark Tushnet, Harvard University)

As the world becomes more socially, industrially, governmentally, and technologically complex, it is increasingly implausible to imagine the protections of freedom of speech and press applying in exactly the same way in all contexts. An important dimension of the First Amendment is institutional competence. Which institutions should be trusted to make which kinds of content-based determinations of what is or is not said, or published? Paul Horwitz sets out the case for an institutional perspective on the First Amendment with careful argument, admirable balance, and meticulous scholarship. (Frederick Schauer, University of Virginia)

[A] thought provoking work...This is a rich work at the forefront of a growing movement to think of the First Amendment in a contextual and an institutional context. All scholars and students of the First Amendment should read it.
(M. W. Bowers Choice 2013-09-01)

About the Author

Paul Horwitz is Gordon Rosen Professor at the School of Law at the University of Alabama.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press; Sew edition (January 7, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674055411
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674055414
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.2 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,363,571 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Paul Horwitz is the Gordon Rosen Professor of Law at the University of Alabama School of Law, where he teaches constitutional law, law and religion, and legal ethics. He is also one of the principal members of the popular legal blog Prawfsblawg.

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Format: Hardcover
The Federalist Society has an interesting podcast featuring Horwitz being interviewed about this book . One valuable part of the argument he describes is that it emphasizes the value of social and institutional situations over a too rigid formalist framework for understanding American Law, especially as related to the First Amendment. In the course of the description, Horwitz even asserts that the actual social situation would require a change in the formalist categories themselves. Of course there were convenient conceptual escape- hatches provided as well in an almost literary sense by the author. The interesting thing is that the author may not have noticed that on its face his argument undermines any possibility of congruence between the Catholic Natural Law tradition, and American Constitutional law. In making room for the view qua "institution" (which no person of goodwill would ever deny to any group of people operating for the public welfare) he has, perhaps unwittingly dismantled one of the cherished goals of Natural Law theorists. Because the CNLT requires that some categories be immovable even in matters of emphasis, in the consideration of laws' ultimate meaning and implementation. Horwitz is astute contextualizor , so I am sure there is another heuristic by which he discerns that this incongruence is not so imperative with his argument. Yet simple coherence shows that this would be the primary implication, a sort of side-benefit for some, of the very analysis he has provided.
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