The right to free speech is meaningless without some place to exercise it. But constitutional scholarship generally overlooks the role of judicial doctrines in ensuring the availability of spaces for speech. Indeed, when scholarship addresses doctrines that are explicitly concerned with speech spaces such as public forums and media or Internet forums, it generally marginalizes these doctrines as “exceptions” to standard First Amendment analysis. By overlooking or marginalizing these decisions, scholarship has failed to explicate the logic underlying important doctrinal areas and what these areas reveal about the First Amendment’s normative underpinnings.
This Article adopts a different interpretive approach. It identifies and interprets the Court’s role in ensuring, requiring, or permitting government to make spaces available for speech. Across a range of physical and virtual spaces, the Article identifies five persistent judicial principles evident in precedent and practice that require or permit government to ensure spaces to further particular, substantive speech-goals.
Further, rather than quarantining these speech-principles as exceptions to the standard analysis, this Article explores the significance of these principles for “core” speech doctrine and theory. The resulting analysis poses fundamental challenges to conventional wisdom about the First Amendment and the normative principles generally believed evident in doctrine. Consequently, the Article provides timely guidance for legislators and judges, particularly for shaping access to the technology-enabled virtual spaces increasingly central to Americans’ discourse.