Book Review: Speaking Freely (2005)

Floyd Abrams earned his reputation as one of this country’s leading First Amendment lawyers in the trenches as a trial lawyer. His Speaking Freely: Trials of the First Amendment is a welcome addition to the history of First Amendment law.

Abrams takes the reader inside his involvement with seven particular cases — including ones he won and ones he lost — to demonstrate the diversity of First Amendment jurisprudence. The cases range from the Pentagon Papers case to defamation lawsuits to artistic freedom to campaign finance reform and illustrate the wide impact of the First Amendment. Abrams also talks about the development of strategy in the cases and his generous use of transcript excerpts show how that strategy was put into practice. Finally, it is a reminder that, rather than being a relic, First Amendment law has developed significantly in the last 30 years.

Those in journalism and law, and students of those fields, will find this book a welcome addition to their bookshelves. Yet its prose is such that it will interest and educate anyone who has even a passing interest in the First Amendment and its relevance to modern life.

A free press is not necessarily an accurate or wise one.

Floyd Abrams, Speaking Freely: Trials of the First Amendment

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