Legal discourse in the digital public square is driven by memoranda, motions, briefs, contracts, legislation, testimony, and judicial opinions. And as lawyers are taught from their first day of law school, the strength of these genres of legal communication is built on authority. But finding that authority often depends on a duopoly of for-profit legal research resources: Westlaw and Lexis. Although contemporary legal practice relies on these databases, they are far from ethically neutral.
Special Issue Digital Public Sphere Series
Since 2021, thirty-four U.S state legislatures have introduced bills regarding technology companies’ moderation of users’ content. Of these, three have successfully become law, most notably in Texas and Florida, which, in a national first, have banned social media companies from censoring users’ opinions or de-platforming political candidates.
Far before online platforms tried to imagine communities, the United States Supreme Court had to decide on how much their standards mattered. In this essay, Kendra Albert walks through the history of obscenity’s community standards doctrine, arguing that the Supreme Court’s debates and disagreements about how to regulate speech in that context presage more modern conversations over content moderation online.
Constitutional law in the European Union has become, in recent years, geared towards the mutual stabilization of liberal democracies. The vigilance required thereto is greatly facilitated by digital media. A major role has come to be played by social media platforms like Twitter and blogs such as the Verfassungsblog. While the rise of authoritarianism is one major concern, public law scholarship becomes increasingly involved in a controversy over its proper task.