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Maxwell School
Maxwell / The School


Free-Speech


The Free Speech Repository initiative nurtures interdisciplinary study of free speech policies worldwide — in particular, how such policies are interpreted, altered, and enforced by national courts. Over the past 70 years, the U.S. Supreme Court has developed a full-fledged theory of the First Amendment that authorizes active judicial policing of restrictions on speech. That trend has been observed and variably adopted by constitutional lawyers and judges throughout the world, in nations developing their own distinctive bodies of constitutional free speech jurisprudence. There are as many as 184 nations whose constitutions include guarantees of free expression, but what role do courts play in regulating unavoidable tensions between expression, order, and power?

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Contact: Thomas Keck
With support from the Maxwell School Dean’s Office and donors to the Tenth Decade Fund — and building on a large National Science Foundation grant already supporting free speech research by political scientist Thomas Keck — the Free Speech Repository trains, mentors, and supervises an interdisciplinary, multi-lingual team of student research assistants gathering data on free expression decisions issued by foreign courts. This team is centered at Maxwell and includes collaborative teams from institutions worldwide. Results of their research will include:

  • A major international conference, based at the Maxwell School, on free speech, with a specific focus on Europe;
  • A book-length project examining the political beneficiaries of judicial review worldwide;
  • A publicly available statistical dataset and documentary data collection of broad interest to free-speech scholars; and
  • Data subsets relevant to the interests of participating researchers, leading to collaborative, article-length publications.