Federalist Society Guest Speaker Discusses Censoring Unwanted Speech

Patrick Garry, an associate law professor at the University of South Dakota School of Law and director of its Center for Empirical Legal Research, recently spoke at a meeting of the LSU Law Federalist Society on the topic of “Rediscovering a Lost Freedom: the First Amendment Right to Censor Unwanted Speech.”

His talk focused on the theory that current first amendment doctrine protects low value speech—indecency and graphic violence, for example—more than it does high value speech, i.e. political speech. Garry argued that the first amendment extends its highest protections to political speech, and consequently, non-political media entertainment does not qualify for that same protection.

He also concluded that one of the speech freedoms most threatened by the current media environment is the freedom to avoid or reject certain types of unwanted, non-political speech. He then argued ways in which that freedom might be protected without violating the free speech clause.

Garry holds a J.D. and Ph.D. in Constitutional History from the University of Minnesota. Before joining the faculty at South Dakota, he was a partner and shareholder with the third-largest law firm in Minnesota. He also served as a research scholar at the Forum Media Studies Center and a visiting scholar at Columbia University Law School.

Over the past two years, Garry has been a lecturer at more than 40 law schools and universities. He has published nine books, been published in a number of academic journals, and written for the Chicago Tribune, Washington Times, and Cincinnati Post.