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Has Supreme Court doctrine invited censorship? Not deliberately, of course. Still, it must be asked whether current doctrine has courted censorship — in the same way one might speak of it courting disaster.

The Court has repeatedly declared its devotion to the freedom of speech, so the suggestion that its doctrines have failed to block censorship may seem surprising. The Court’s precedents, however, have left room for government suppression, even to the point of seeming to legitimize it.

This Article is especially critical of the state action doctrine best known from Blum v. Yaretsky. That doctrine mistakenly elevates coercion as the archetype or model of constitutionally accountable government conduct. Even in suits against government, the Blum test normally requires plaintiffs to prove that private action has been coercively converted into government action. In such ways, the Blum state action doctrine is not merely erroneous, but has signaled to government that it can get away with censorship as long as it keeps most of it privatized and not overtly coercive.


Constitutional Law | First Amendment | Law