THE HONORABLE JACQUES L. WIENER, JR.
UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FIFTH CIRCUIT
As the latest addition to this burgeoning multivolume set, Professor Keith Werhan's historical treatment of free speech in the United States assumes its rightful place in Reference Guides to the United States Constitution. His book underscores the preeminence of expression among the individual freedoms protected by the Constitution, enshrined as it is in the second clause (following only freedom of and from religion) of the first of the Bill of Rights' 10 amendments. In recounting the history of the Supreme Court's development of free speech doctrine, the author also makes quite clear that this bedrock individual liberty is not, and has never been, absolute or without exception.1 It is nevertheless this fundamental freedom's historical journey, with its twists, turns, and “speed bumps,” culminating in the Court's present (but still evolving) speech doctrine, that is the foundation of the matrix proffered by Professor Werhan for comprehending the current status of free speech and testing present and future iterations for possible abridgments.
When I accepted the author's gracious and complimentary invitation to write this foreword, I expected to find his research impeccable, his coverage of the topic comprehensive, and his presentation of this series' overarching historical perspective scholarly—which of course I did. I was not prepared, however, for the delightful discovery that Professor Werhan's writing style is not just “simple and direct,”2 but that his crisp and uncomplicated prose would provide a reading adventure unique in my experience: a learned treatise on an historically complex and legally technical subject that is nonetheless a can't-put-it-down “page turner.” I soon found myself racing through the Werhan manuscript in rapt attention, all the while resenting the inevitable interruptions that kept me from completing his book without turning aside to less enjoyable but more pressing chores. It truly is a “reader's read.”