Volume 20

Freedom From Speech

by Mary Anne Franks

The importance of freedom of speech in a democratic society is usually taken as a given, but freedom from speech is no less important in safeguarding the values of truth, autonomy, and democracy. Freedom from speech includes both the right of the individual to not be forced to speak and the freedom to avoid the speech of others. This essay attempts to highlight the significance of freedom from speech in order to clarify the importance of the First Amendment right against compelled speech; provide an explanation for when the right of free speech yields to other rights; and offer a framework for evaluating unsettled or contentious questions about free speech doctrine and practice.

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