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Liberty's Refuge: The Forgotten Freedom of Assembly Hardcover – January 24, 2012

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Editorial Reviews


"Inazu offers the most thorough survey we have of the changing conceptions of freedom of assembly in America."—Andrew Koppelman, author of A Right to Discriminate? How the Case of Boy Scouts of America v. James Dale Warped the Law of Free Association
(Andrew Koppelman 2011-07-15)

“The Framers of the Bill of Rights took care to protect not just speech, but speech in association with others, which they called "freedom of assembly."  The Supreme Court, of late, has reduced this important right to a mere appendage to freedom of speech.  This important book explains why an independent right of assembly or association matters to civil liberties, and why it is in danger,”—Michael McConnell, Richard & Frances Mallery Professor and Director of the Constitutional Law Center, Stanford Law School.
(Michael McConnell 2011-08-09)

“An original, important, and provocative (in a good way) work… Inazu writes beautifully, he has researched exhaustively, and he keeps the reader’s attention through an impressive range of topics and history…The book is a pleasure to read,”—Robert K. Vischer, author of Conscience and the Common Good: Reclaiming the Space Between Person and State

(Robert K. Vischer 2011-07-07)

“The First Amendment's guarantee of "the right of the people peaceably to assemble" is the neglected stepchild of modern constitutional law.  John Inazu's Liberty's Refuge breathes new life into the clause. His careful historical and analytical reading of the clause explains it as a core component of the constitutional protections available to all individuals”—Richard Epstein, Design for Liberty:  Private Property, Public Administration, and the Rule of Law
(Richard Epstein 2011-08-08)

"This is a splendid act of retrieval. John Inazu argues that the courts for years have focused on the invented doctrine of “freedom of association,” a doctrine that is focused narrowly on speech and easily overcome by competing state interests. As a result, a key First Amendment right—the right to peaceably assemble—has disappeared. In arguing for its return, Inazu reminds us of a strong American tradition of assembly: one that recognizes that state is not the only “sovereign” in American life, that groups play a vital role in our social infrastructure, and that their meaning goes far beyond their “message.” His book provides a strong challenge to current law and scholarship, and raises deep questions about the meaning of the First Amendment and the nature of society. Thoughtfully argued, beautifully written, drawing on a wealth of sources, Inazu’s book is a valuable contribution to First Amendment law and theory." —Paul Horwitz, Gorden Rosen Professor, University of Alabama School of Law    (Paul Horwitz 2011-08-31)

“An important new book.”—Michael W. McConnell, First Things

(First Things)

About the Author

John D. Inazu is associate professor of law at Washington University in St. Louis.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (January 24, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300173156
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300173154
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #975,361 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

John Inazu is an Associate Professor of Law and Political Science at Washington University in St. Louis. He teaches a first-year criminal law course, an upper-level law and religion course, and various other classes on the First Amendment, law and philosophy, and religion and politics. His scholarship focuses on the First Amendment freedoms of speech, assembly, and religion, and related issues of political and legal theory. John's first book, Liberty's Refuge: The Forgotten Freedom of Assembly, was published by Yale University Press in 2012. He has written broadly for mainstream audiences in publications including USA Today, CNN, The Hedgehog Review and The Washington Post.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Liberty's Refuge: The Forgotten Freedom of Assembly is an interesting, informative read. Inazu's arguments are coherent, supported by policy considerations, and presented in such a way as to be approachable for someone without a background in first amendment jurisprudence. Part of what makes the book so comprehensible is its excellent organizational structure, which helps the reader make sense of Inazu's detail-filled (but not verbose) route to the final chapter, where he expertly pulls together his earlier discussions and creates a concise, compelling argument for revisiting the possibility of claiming rights from the largely-untouched freedom of assembly.

Professor Inazu's primary objection to the current state of law is a lack of adequate protection for dissenting and minority groups, the result of the Court's preference for principles of equality over group autonomy. Inazu makes his case for a new standard, rooted in the right of assembly (as opposed to the unenumerated right of association) by discussing the political, jurisprudential, and theoretical factors that influenced the rights of assembly and association leading up to the present day. Professor Inazu critically evaluates the evolution of these rights, pointing out how public opinion, the courts, or theory have, in different ways and at different times, contributed to the current weak state of group autonomy.

The crown jewel of Liberty's Refuge is a forceful, entertaining, and thoughtful dissent (authored by Inazu but attributed to Justice Rutledge) to the Court's opinion in Roberts v. United States Jaycees. The dissent provides a showcase for how Inazu's suggested understanding of the freedom of assembly could be applied in practice.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a well-argued and potentially very important book about the almost forgottent right of assembly. It points out how the right of assembly has been subsumed under freedom of association and freedom of speech. Prof. Inazu makes a very strong case that the right of assembly is essential to our democracy, but the Supreme Court has not addressed the right of assembly for almost 3 decades. Because this First Amendment right affords protections that go beyond freedom of speech and freedom of association (a term that does not appear in the First Amendment), it is vital to our democratic ideals to resurrect the freedom of assembly and to explore what it means for our citizens and their fundamental freedoms. The book is very well written and, while it isn't always easy reading, Prof. Inazu's arguments are accessible to nonlawyers as well as lawyers. As an extra bonus, the reader learns a lot about American history in addition to purely legal matters. This book could change the way our judiciary address issues that involve ideals Americans hold dear, and, if so, it could be one of the most influential books on The Constitution in many, many years..
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a scholarly book, written in a style that is accessible to anyone with a serious interest in the freedom of assembly in the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. Inazu's historical narrative is important, and his normative arguments are deep and interesting. Although scholars will have quibbles (about his treat of Rawls, for example), this is the best contemporary book about this topic.
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