chapter  Eight
22 Pages

Access, Enablement, and the First Amendment

WithVirginia Held

This chapter focuses on the questions of access and enablement. If the issues concern access to advertising space, it is presumed that the persons wishing to express themselves in an advertisement have the economic resources with which to purchase space. One way to recognize individual rights to free expression in a culture dominated by the media would be to take the issue of access seriously. Defenders of the Fairness Doctrine have suggested that "fair but content neutral regulation of access is a real possibility," Some have offered a variety of proposals to ensure "fairness in communication on controversial issues of public importance" and to bring it about that all citizens have "equal access to 'the indispensable instruments of effective political speech."' Benno Schmidt wrote that "the judicial decisions that make up the body of First Amendment law are most notable for an absence of unifying theory and a disinterest in confronting basic assumptions."