First Amendment: Speech Case Comment

Two Concepts of Freedom of Speech

Vol. 124 No. 1 In Two Concepts of Freedom of Speech, Professor Kathleen Sullivan observes that Citizens United tracks the philosophical divide between competing conceptions of free speech. The “free-speech-as-equality” camp reads the First Amendment to allow speech regulations that promote political equality, while the “free-speech-as-liberty” camp views the Amendment as a negative constraint on any speech regulation, regardless of its motivation. This dichotomy is important not only for analyzing the forces at play in Citizens United, but also for understanding the changing alliances of Justices in other First Amendment cases. Professor Sullivan argues that any political reforms that may arise from Citizens United would be well-served by accounting for and accommodating both conceptions of free speech.