Skip to content

Sawyer Law and Politics Program: Erik Bleich

341 Eggers Hall

Add to: Outlook, ICal, Google Calendar

Contemporary liberal democracies face a difficult challenge when drawing the line between protecting free speech and punishing hate speech. Nowhere is this truer than in France, where laws have assumed an acute significance in the wake of the January 2015 Charlie Hebdo and Hyper Casher massacres. This paper offers a unique perspective on how France handles hate speech by drawing on evidence from an original dataset comprising every decision taken by the French Court of Cassation regarding racist hate speech between passage of its foundational 1972 antiracism law and the end of 2012. The data demonstrate that the high court is much more likely to side with restricting allegedly racist speech when it targets prototypical minority groups than when it targets majority groups such as Catholics, Christians, whites, and “French.” To understand why, I apply a theoretically-oriented, mixed-method approach that uses both cross-case correlational analysis and within-case process tracing analysis. This project contributes to an understanding of hate speech rulings in France, of hate speech adjudication beyond France, and to the judicial behavior literature more broadly.

Open to




Contact to request accommodations

Exterior of Maxwell in black and white when there was no Eggers building

We’re Turning 100!

To mark our centennial in the fall of 2024, the Maxwell School will hold special events and engagement opportunities to celebrate the many ways—across disciplines and borders—our community ever strives to, as the Oath says, “transmit this city not only not less, but greater, better and more beautiful than it was transmitted to us.”

Throughout the year leading up to the centennial, engagement opportunities will be held for our diverse, highly accomplished community that now boasts more than 38,500 alumni across the globe.