Catholic University Law Review


Recently the literature on free expression has turned to the question, should the law of free expression be adjusted because of the availability of new information technologies (hereafter NIT), and if so, how? The only thing about NIT that distinguishes them from traditional media is that disseminating expression via NIT is much less expensive than doing so via traditional media. The tenor of recent scholarship on NIT and free expression is that the invention of NIT does support some modification of free expression law. This Essay argues that that conclusion might be correct, but that many of the arguments offered in support move much too quickly. The Essay tries to slow them down and in so doing to suggest that the arguments require complex and contestable judgments about exactly how an expansion of expression might elicit new rules regulating it. My goal is to identify the lines of analysis that need to be pursued before we conclude that the existing law of free expression should be modified in response to NIT. In that somewhat limited sense the Essay is contrarian. The Essay’s overall theme is that the First Amendment rules in place probably already accommodate the concerns that motivate arguments for adjusting the law of free expression. The First Amendment, that is, is not obsolete.