FREEDOM OF SPEECH IN THE CONSTITUTIONAL HISTORY OF FRANCE
1. Special significance of the Declaration of Rights. In any attempt to throw some light on the historical background for the freedom of speech in France today, it is natural to take as one's point de départ the constitutional laws of the French Revolution, especially the "Déclaration des droits de l'homme et du citoyen" of 1789. Not because the history of French constitutional law during the period preceding the Revolution is without interest. As we know, recent French policy has more than once been marked by a struggle for and against trends originating in the period prior to the Revolution. But the constitutional law under which France lives today still has its roots in the political ideas of the Great Revolution. The classical formulation of these principles is to be found first and foremost in the Declaration of 1789. It possesses particularly high authority. In its preamble the French Constitution of 27 October 1946 declared that "every human being, without distinction of race, religion, or faith, possesses inalienable and sacred rights". Here the French people solemnly reaffirm the liberties of man and of the citizen hallowed by the Declaration of Rights of 1789. And in the first lines of the préambule to the Constitution of 1958, the French people once again solemnly asserts its attachment to the Rights of Man "as defined by the Declaration of 1789".