Would the Real First Amendment Please Stand Up?

This is an on-line book (search) that's well-written, and very witty. As a free speech and First Amendment absolutelist (which simply means that I take it says to be what it says), I've always wondered why people didn't complain when the Supreme Court carved out various exceptions to the First Amendment. But I assumed always that the Supreme Court had the authority to do this. Krusch destroys this notion in his "myths" chapters.

It's clear than ever before, after reading the book, that the courts have carved out various exceptions to the First Amendment, and the people have let them. It's also clear the way things are, Krusch's arguments take on, what is considered a "literal" or "absolutist" view (but in my opinion, the only correct view) of the First Amendment.

The most fascinating part of the book is in the chapter that deals with the First Amendment and Federal Copyright Law. I never thought of Federal Copyright Law as being a violation of the First Amendment (i.e., language wise---I've always thought it was against the notion of free speech and expression).

Krusch makes a strong argument for his viewpoint. Of course, there's some ambiguity in the words "speech" and "press" in the First Amendment, but assuming that Federal Copyright Law abridges those freedoms, shouldn't the logical conclusion be that they are inconsistent with each other (as Krusch notes in the final paragraphs on this topic)?

But the book is not just an anti-copyright argument (in fact, out of 11 or so chapters, it's just one chapter). I found his book illuminating because it really illustrated how so-called First Amendment "rights" have been eroded over the years, and further, that First Amendment "rights" aren't "rights" strictly-speaking but limitations on the power of Congress. The history on the Bill of Rights was new to me---how did the BoR come about? The discussion on America being a Republic and not a Democracy was interesting as well.

I highly recommend this book. At the very least, it brings to light some very interesting Supreme Court cases, and at the best, it'll make you think about how the legislative and judiciary bodies have amassed more power than they're supposed to have (according to the U.S. Constitution) over the years.

Pseudointellectual ramblings || Ram Samudrala || me@ram.org