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The Origins of First Amendment Federalism

Jud Campbell writes that Jeffersonian Republicans developed the idea of First Amendment federalism in response to the Sedition Act of 1798. Republicans were deeply suspicious of federal judges and juries and thus came to insist that the First Amendment deprived the federal government of any authority to regulate speech or the press. Campbell also contends that Republicans’ invention of First Amendment federalism suggests that modern speech doctrine could perhaps be “guided less by a particular theory of why speech is special and more by practical concerns about political entrenchment and politically biased enforcement.” Read more here.