Global Freedom of Expression

Esha Bhandari: Developments in U.S. Law – Government Speech Doctrine; Online Speech

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  • Region
    North America
Below is an excerpt from Esha Bandari’s presentation given at the annual Justice for Free Expression on 4 April, 2016. Download the full pdf version below.

Two decisions in 2015 demonstrate the possible expansion, and potential limits, on the “government speech” doctrine as it implicates U.S. First Amendment rights. These are Walker v. Texas Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans, in which the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a First Amendment challenge to a state license plate scheme, and In re Tam, where the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit struck down part of the federal trademark registration law on First Amendment grounds. In the realm of online speech, the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Elonis clarified the nature of the intent standard required to prosecute the communication of threats.


Esha Bhandari

Deputy Director, ACLU's Speech, Privacy and Technology Project, USA