David Benoit Mech v. School Board of Palm Beach County, Florida
Whether the Eleventh Circuit improperly expanded the “government speech” exception to the First Amendment to include circumstances where the government was not itself a “speaker” and had clearly discriminated against private speech on the basis of content.
SUMMARY OF ARGUMENT
The “government speech” doctrine represents a dangerous exception to the First Amendment because it has the potential to cripple speech whenever citizens interact with government. In our complex society, government is everywhere: as a landowner, as the source of funding and contract rights, and as the indispensable partner in a variety of public-private joint ventures.
In such a world, the protections of the First Amendment are more important than ever as a bulwark against government censorship. Traditional First Amendment principles, including public forum analysis and strict scrutiny for content-based decisions, provide a vigorous and reliable means of resolving disputes without the need for an ad hoc and poorly-defined exception to the Constitution.
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