Dissent, Injustice, and the Meanings of America


"In an era when political philosophers from John Rawls to Michael Walzer to Jurgen Habermas appeal to consensus as the basis of political legitimacy, Steven Shiffrin makes compelling the contrary case that dissent is the lifeblood of democracy, and that freedom of speech is its essential guarantor. This refreshing and accessible tour through the logic and purposes of the First Amendment, buttressed by a host of applications to commercial speech, political speech, and hate speech, is valuable reading for all those interested in the dynamics of democratic politics."--Ian Shapiro, Yale University

"Shiffrin, one of the academy's leading first-amendment scholars, weaves into his account critiques of many of the arguments made by contemporary scholars, not to mention often devastating analyses of current Supreme Court doctrine. His analysis of the hash of current doctrine regarding regulation of advertising is particularly telling."--Sanford Levinson, University of Texas at Austin

"What emerges from this fundamental reorientation is . . . a well rendered account of an embattled national vision: a vision of what it might mean to be an engaged participant in civic life, to be an independent thinker, and ultimately to be an American."--Robin West, Georgetown University

"This book will reinforce Shiffrin's position as one of the leading, if not the leading, theorist of a progressive understanding of free speech."--Frederick Schauer, Harvard University

Additional information

Publisher: Place of publication:
  • Princeton, NJ
Publication year:
  • 1999


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