Heckler’s Veto Case Law as a Resource for Democratic Discourse
Almost forty years ago, Jerome Barron proposed a listener-centered First Amendment right. He argued that the central concern of the First Amendment should be with the listeners—that difficult questions of competing First Amendment rights should be resolved with the goal of increasing the viewpoints to which listeners are exposed. While that approach remains an important part of the existing Supreme Court jurisprudence with respect to First Amendment analysis of broadcasting, the Court rejected its application to newspapers, and has not expanded the approach beyond broadcasting. Many legal scholars and policymakers nonetheless remain concerned about the current law as it applies to the mass media, raising concerns that it grants too much power to the owners of media, and pays insufficient attention to the public, to the listeners and viewers that media serves.