Edwin Baker

C. Edwin Baker(1947-Present)

I. Biographical and Historical Information.

A. Edwin Baker was born in Nashville, Tennessee on May 28th, 1947. He was educated at Stanford University from where he received his BA in 1969. He then went to law school at Yale where he studied law and economics. He graduated from there in 1972. He chose to take the path of teaching law as opposed to practicing it. From 1972 to 1975, he taught at the University of Toledo. From 1972 until 1982, he taught at the University of Oregon. In 1982, he moved to the University of Pennsyl vania Law School in Philadelphia, where he still teaches today. He currently teaches courses in Constitutional Law, Mass Media Law, and Jurisprudence. He has a wife, Nancy, and three daughters. His E-mail address is ebaker@oyez.law.upenn.edu.

B. He has written two books and numerous articles that have been published in law journals. In 1989, he wrote the first of his books titled Human Liberty and Freedom of Speech. This is the book that this outline will focus on in detail. Most recently, in 1994, he authored another book titled Advertising and a Democratic Press. This book focuses more on how advertising affects the mass media's contribution to a free and democratic press, both theoretically and economically.

II. Major Relevant Work. A. Human Liberty and Freedom of Speech, Chapter 3: The Liberty Theory.

1.) The main argument of this book is for a "Liberty Theory" of the First Amendment. Baker summarizes his theory by stating, "The liberty model holds that the free speech clause protects not a marketplace, but rather an arena of individual liber ty from certain types of governmental restrictions. Speech or other self-expressive conduct is protected not as a means to achieve a collective good but because of its value to the individual."

2.) Baker argues his theory is superior to others, including the popular "marketplace of ideas model". This model assumes that freedom of speech is justified, not because it fosters individual self-fulfillment, but because it is a means of rational decision making. This theory was first expressed by John Milton. Baker rejects this theory by arguing that "there is no such thing as objective, discoverable truth, that people are not always rational, and that different people perceive the truth in different ways.

3.) Baker believes the First Amendment protects "nonviolent, noncoercive, expressive activity" and seeks to further these values. "Expressive activity" is not limited to only the verbal. When nonverbal conduct expresses the same values as verb al expression, the nonverbal should be viewed as speech and therefore protected.

4.) The liberty theory has two key points or values. They are self-fulfillment and participation in change. These values are founded on "respect for individual autonomy and equality and imply a notion of freedom oriented toward self-realizatio n, and self-determination."

5.) Speech should be seen as going beyond words and phrases and should include such things as artistic expression and expressive conduct. He bases this on the premise that "free persons have the right to define speech for themselves". The liberty model does not protect "violent or coercive expression that undermines another's will or causes direct or actual harm". Some situations like blackmail and coercion are debatable based on whether or not they are furthering the value of the First Amendment, however, espionage is not protected.

III. Contribution to Free Speech Theory. C. Edwin Baker's major contribution to free speech, so far, is his liberty theory. While Baker is another who chooses to make exceptions in speech, as opposed to being an absolutist one way or another, his alternative ideas on this theory are both novel and valid. Baker sees freedom of speech as an ongoing struggle of Constitutional interpretation and in turn, a constant struggle for justice.

IV. Bibliography.

Baker, C. Edwin. Advertising and a Democratic Press. Princeton University Press: Princeton, NJ. 1994.

Baker, C. Edwin. Human Liberty and Freedom of Speech. Oxford University Press: New York, NY. 1989.

Tedford, Thomas L. Freedom of Speech in the United States. McGraw-Hill Inc.: New York, NY. 1985, 1993.


Information by Jeff Wheatley