Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Too much free speech?

I've long had in my mind a quote that the answer to too much freedom of speech (the press) is more freedom of speech (the press).  I've thought is Winston Churchill but could find no reference.  I've thought it was Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., but could find to reference.

From looking at some articles related to the Citizens United case, I think I found the context.

It was in Whitney v. People of State of California, 274 U.S. 357 (1927).  For her activities in the Communist Labor Party, Miss Whitney was convicted to prison based on the Criminal Syndicalism Act of California.  The U.S. Supreme Court let the judgement of the state court of appeals stand.  Justice Sanford wrote the opinion.

Justice Brandeis concurred but with much more nuance; Justice Holmes joined in this opinion.

Brandeis wrote that the mere statement of an action in the far future does not constitute a threat.  He did concur that the lower court had established that the threat was more imminent.

"If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence. Only an emergency can justify repression. Such must be the rule if authority is to be reconciled with freedom. Such, in my opinion, is the command of the Constitution. It is therefore always open to Americans to challenge a law abridging free speech and assembly by showing that there was no emergency justifying it."

I think it is worthwhile struggling through all the reasoning.  The quote I used is the only place "more speech" is used, and so your browser should find it in the text.