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Early proponents of the freedom of speech such as John Milton, John Stuart Mill, and Louis Brandeis emphasized the role expressive liberty plays in strengthening the character of persons entrusted with such freedom. These theorists argued that character traits such as civic courage, independence of mind, and the capacity to learn from experience and adapt are nurtured by trusting citizens with dangerous ideas. Today there is much talk about good character in relation to free speech disputes-but all on the side of those who would regulate speakers. It is time to remember that a concern about character cuts both ways in these matters. Exactly how that is so is the subject of Professor Vincent Blasi's Melville B. Nimmer Memorial Lecture.


Constitutional Law | First Amendment | Law