First Amendment Theories

Classic Model of First Amendment Theory: A number of positivist theorists explain what the First Amendment should mean by explaining what positive value the First Amendment should protect. In other words, they believe that we are protecting speech because some speech must be of greater importance.

Attributes of a Positive Theory:

Criticisms of Positive Theories:

Positivist theorists can be classified according to their ultimate goals of protecting either society or the individual. That ultimate goal shapes the specific values of speech that each theorist believes should be the most protected under the Constitution and which should receive little or no protection.


Positivist Theories and Originators:

Marketplace of Ideas/Search for Truth: Open debate, through which there is an exchange or competition of ideas, is the only way for people to discern the truth and reject falsehood.

Political Self-government: First Amendment is intended to safeguard & protect individual self-governance in a free and democratic society.

Checking Value: Media act as a counterweight to the government.

Safety Valve: Allowing dissidents to expound their views enables them to let off steam. Free speech provides a balance between stability and change in a society.

Self-Fulfillment: Individual realization of character and potential as a human being means the right to form your own beliefs/opinions and the right to express those belief/opinions.

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