Kleindienst v. Mandel

Mary Elizabeth Bezanson

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

    1 Scopus citations


    Citizens of the United States define themselves politically and culturally by the First Amendment's protection for freedom of speech. Few realize that protection would be meaningless without the coextensive protection of the right to receive.1 One reason for this lack of recognition may be that the freedom of speech and the right to receive often are so entangled that they are difficult to distinguish. In only a handful of cases is the right to receive the issue fully before the courts. The 1972 Supreme Court decision of Kleindienst v. Mandel is one of those cases and so remains one of the landmark free speech decisions in the twentieth century. Kleindienst turns in large part on the Court's conception of communication; thus the majority and dissenting opinions make important comments on the Court's perception of the process of communication. The contribution of Kleindienst is conceptual rather than legal. This essay considers the facts of the case, the strength of the precedent line supporting the right to receive, the Court's treatment of the issues in Kleindienst, the conception of communication developed in the decision, and the importance of the decision in subsequent communication law.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Title of host publicationFree Speech On Trial
    Subtitle of host publicationCommunication Perspectives on Landmark Supreme Court Decisions
    PublisherThe University of Alabama Press
    Number of pages15
    ISBN (Print)9780817350253
    StatePublished - Dec 1 2010


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