Freedom of Speech in the West: A Comparative Study of Public Law in France, the United States, and Germany

By Frede Castberg | Go to book overview

Introduction

The aim of this work is to shed light on the problems of political freedom of speech in three western countries, France, the United States, and the Federal Republic of Germany. These three countries were chosen not least because in them the issue of freedom of speech and its limits has in recent years been a particularly burning one. Constitutional provisions and constitutional practice, legislation and administration, the activity of the courts and public debate have in these countries to a large extent been occupied with freedom of speech and the problem of its proper limits.

These three countries have this in common: they live under free democratic rule. Admittedly, there are wide differences in the ways in which the principles of democracy are put into practice in each of them. The United States has a Constitution characterized by the balance of power between President and Congress. Germany has parliamentary rule. France's Constitution since 1958 shows features both of parliamentarism and of a "presidial" system slightly similar to the régime of the last days of the German Weimar Republic as well as to the American system.

There are also great differences in the judicial control of the ways in which the legislature and the administration in the three countries exercise their authority over the citizens. This is not least apparent when one considers political freedom of speech and its limits. France's 1958 Constitution establishes special control, by a

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