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Eloquence and ReasonCreating a First Amendment Culture$
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Robert L. Tsai

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780300117233

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: October 2013

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300117233.001.0001

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Linguistic Transformation

Linguistic Transformation

(p.49) 3 Linguistic Transformation
Eloquence and Reason

Robert L. Tsai

Yale University Press

This chapter evaluates four significant developments in First Amendment thought: the free market reformation of the postwar imagination, the reversal of the rhetoric of fire during the same period, African Americans' reinvention of assembly-based forms during their struggle for equal rights, and the religious revival that destabilized the wall of separation as a governing construct. The first two experiences predate Brandenburg; the last two transpired in its wake. Untangling these discursive trends reveals that linguistic transformation is a genus of constitutional revolution. These patterns of reconstitution, in turn, challenge prevailing models of legal change. Every faith tradition has its creation stories; the First Amendment is no exception. The civic myth that recounts the birth of the right to speak one's mind in America begins with the missed opportunities of the World War I decisions, and the “end of the story” is the 1969 decision Brandenburg v. Ohio, in which the promise of expressive liberty is ultimately realized.

Keywords:   free market reformation, First Amendment thought, rhetoric of fire, assembly-based forms, equal rights, religious revival, wall of separation

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