Hastings Law Journal


The Information Superhighway, officially called the National Information Infrastructure (NII), exists today only in preliminary stages, and its full scope is impossible to determine. However, it is predicted that the NII will be the basis for dramatic changes to everyday life in the next century. It will open the possibilities for access to enormous amounts of information and for instantaneous communication with people around the world. This new domain, with its emphasis on communication, will lead to new legal insights, especially in the area of constitutional law related to freedom of speech.

In his Article, Mr. Goldstone suggests a thoughtful way to understand one First Amendment doctrine-the public forum doctrine-within this new world. Rather than simply drawing an analogy between the NII and a traditional public forum, like a park, or a nonpublic forum, like an airport terminal, Mr. Goldstone reexamines five sophisticated, theoretical justifications for the public forum doctrine itself.

Applying these theories, Mr. Goldstone argues that the NII should be understood on a larger scale as an entity-like a city-that includes an abundance of both public and nonpublic forums. This Article suggests a basic, minimal definition of "landmarks" with constitutional significance on the NII: government- owned forums operated on a nonprofit basis with unrestricted access to message recipients and viewpoint-neutral access to a large number of message senders. Mr. Goldstone concludes his Article with a discussion of the constitutional relevance of those landmarks, focusing on four sets of issues that will inevitably be raised: forum topic dedication, forum membership, forum costs, and forum closure.

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