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Freedom of expression is the most fundamental American value

This is the text of a speech Judge Silberman delivered on September 2 at Dartmouth College, his undergraduate alma mater.

This is a Constitution Day talk. So I’m going to tackle one of the most contentious constitutional issues today: the First Amendment’s protection of free speech. As I noted in a recent opinion, the First Amendment guarantee of free speech is not just a legal doctrine. It represents the most fundamental value of American democracy. A national commitment to uninhibited political discourse is a crucial aspect of our country’s culture. It is the gloom around the First Amendment, which, by itself, only prohibits government control of speech. Unless all American institutions commit to free political expression, I fear the pressure on First Amendment guarantees will become unbearable.

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