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Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly

Abstract

Two doctrines have equally influenced and informed the debate regrading the scope of the First Amendment free speech guarantee: absolutism versus the balancing of competing interests. Despite the language of the United States Constitution that suggests the application of absolutes, the courts have often resorted to balancing in the resolution of cases. This Article examines the debate by comparing the different approaches taken by the courts in the United States and Canada. This examination reveals that perhaps the two doctrines do not need to negate each other in their application, and that a recent decision by the United States Supreme Court signals a drift towards Canadian-style balancing in free speech cases.

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