Hastings Law Journal


In his Address, Judge Reinhardt discusses the current Supreme Court from institutional, doctrinal, and political perspectives. Presidents choose Justices for political and ideological reasons, he explains, and the current Court is extremely conservative- contrary to the perceptions of the popular media. In particular, decisions that are said to represent "victories" for proponents of First Amendment freedoms actually send ambiguous signals, and are more than counterbalanced by other, far more restrictive rulings. Recently, however, many liberals have urged the Court to uphold regulations on speech that, in the liberal view, is harmful. The Court struck down one such hate speech ordinance in R.A. V v. City of St. Paul In view of the Court's strong conservatism, Judge Reinhardt cautions those on the Left against asking the Justices to permit the suppression of any speech. Relying on the Court to distinguish between "good" and "bad" speech, he concludes, would likely lead to restraints on the very speech that most needs and deserves the protection of the First Amendment.

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