Fearless Speech

Breaking Free from the First Amendment

Coming Soon


By Mary Anne Franks

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  1. Audiobook Download (Unabridged) $24.99
  2. ebook $18.99 $24.99 CAD
  3. Hardcover $29.00 $38.00 CAD

A powerful debunking of First Amendment orthodoxy that critiques "reckless speech," which endangers vulnerable groups, and elevates "fearless speech," which seeks to advance equality and democracy.

Freedom of speech has never been more important—or more controversial. From debates about what's permissible on social media, to the politics of campus speakers and corporate advertisements, the First Amendment is incessantly in the news and constantly being held up as the fundamental principle of American democracy. Yet, in reality, it has contributed more to eroding our democracy than supporting it.

In Fearless Speech, Dr. Mary Anne Franks emphasizes the distinction between what speech a democratic society should protect and what speech a democratic society should promote.  While the First Amendment in theory is politically neutral, in practice it has been legally deployed most visibly and effectively to promote powerful antidemocratic interests: misogyny, racism, religious zealotry, and corporate self-interest, in other words, reckless speech. Instead, Franks argues, we need to focus on fearless speech—speakers who have risked their safety, their reputations, and in some cases their lives, to call out injustice and hold the powerful accountable. Whether it be civil rights leaders, the women of the #MeToo movement, or pro-choice advocates, Franks shows us how their cases and their voices can allow us to promote a more democratic version of free speech. 

Told through an accessible narrative and ending with a call for change that urges us to reevaluate the legal precedents and uses of the First Amendment, Fearless Speech  is a revelatory new argument that urges us to reimagine what our society could look like. 


On Sale
Oct 15, 2024
Hachette Audio

Mary Anne Franks

About the Author

Dr. Mary Anne Franks is a nationally and internationally recognized expert on the intersection of civil rights, free speech, and technology. She is the Eugene L. and Barbara A. Bernard Professor in Intellectual Property, Technology, and Civil Rights Law at George Washington University School of Law. Her areas of research and teaching expertise include First Amendment law, Second Amendment law, criminal law and procedure, family law, and law and technology. She is also an Affiliated Faculty member of the Miami College of Arts and Sciences and an Affiliate Fellow of the Yale Law School Information Society Project.
She is the author of The Cult of the Constitution: Our Deadly Devotion to Guns and Free Speech (Stanford University Press 2019), which won a 2020 Independent Publisher Book Award Gold Medal and was named the 2020 Association of American Publishers PROSE Excellence Award in Social Sciences. 
Dr. Franks holds a J.D. from Harvard Law School as well as a doctorate and a master’s degree from Oxford University, where she studied as a Rhodes Scholar. She previously taught at the University of Chicago Law School as a Bigelow Fellow and Lecturer in Law and at Harvard University as a lecturer in social studies and philosophy.

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