Hastings Communications and Entertainment Law Journal


David Greene


Politics and art make for a volatile combination both socially and jurisprudentially. Although the capacity of artistic expression to relay political ideas was one of the driving forces behind the recognition of strong First Amendment rights for artistic expression, governmental officials tend toward the censorious when art communicates too much and "offends" or causes "controversy." Indeed, when art is "public," that is funded or exhibited by a governmental entity, public officials would often prefer that it contain no message at all. This article reviews the evolution of First Amendment protection for artistic expression, discusses why artistic expression is protected by the First Amendment even when it communicates no discernible message, and looks at what happens when government attempts to discriminate against "political" art in making arts funding decisions.