Course Details

Ideas of the First Amendment

Freedom of the mind. The marketplace of ideas. The right of the people to criticize their representatives. These are abstract ideas, but they play a powerful role in shaping contemporary First Amendment law. This course, an introductory study of the First Amendment, differs from most such courses (including those previously taught by this instructor) by focusing on the germinal writings on freedom of speech in the Anglo-American tradition, and examining the implications of those writings for the most important doctrinal questions. Instead of attempting to cover the details of the doctrinal subcategories generated by the Court, this class will closely read the writings of John Milton, James Madison, John Stuart Mill, Learned Hand, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Louis Brandeis, and Alexander Meiklejohn, examining modern case law primarily as a way of testing those ideas. The course focuses, in short, on the roots rather than the branches of modern First Amendment doctrine. Those who have taken First Amendment in the past will find much that is new here, but no previous knowledge of First Amendment law is required. If you'd like a sense of the general approach that the course will take and the reasons for coming at the First Amendment in this way, look at the casebook, excerpts from which can be viewed for free at The course's basic philosophy is laid out in Blasi's very short Preface.

Catalog Number: CONPUB 670
Practice Areas: Constitutional LawLaw and Philosophy
Additional Course Information: Perspective Elective

Course History

Fall 2017
Title: Ideas of the First Amendment
Faculty: Koppelman, Andrew M. (courses | profile)
Section: 1     Credits: 3.0
Capacity: 65     Actual: 12