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Confessions of a Free Speech LawyerCharlottesville and the Politics of Hate$
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Rodney A. Smolla

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781501749650

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501749650.001.0001

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Heckler’s Veto

Heckler’s Veto

(p.220) 25 Heckler’s Veto
Confessions of a Free Speech Lawyer

Rodney A. Smolla

Cornell University Press

This chapter draws attention to Craig Brown and Lisa Robertson, who were the principal in-house lawyers providing legal counsel to the city manager and council of Charlottesville. It investigates Brown and Robertson's view that any attempt at outright cancellation of the Unite the Right rally would be immediately overturned by courts as a violation of the First Amendment. It also explains “heckler's veto” as a free speech jurisprudence that raises the rhetoric of defiance and confrontation that could help counterprotesters to shut down the rally. The chapter discusses the First Amendment in modern times that generally stands against acceding to the power of heckling counterprotesters in order to cease messages with which they disagree. It clarifies that when hecklers and protesters gather to express their disagreement with a speaker's message, the rights of that speaker are in tension.

Keywords:   First Amendment, counterprotesters, heckler's veto, free speech jurisprudence, Unite the Right rally, Craig Brown, Lisa Robertson

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