As campus speech codes enjoy a renaissance surrounding microaggressions and trigger warnings, understanding how and whether such speech codes can stand up to constitutional scrutiny is crucial. This project offers a historical overview of the evolution of free speech in U.S. history, with a particular focus on the jurisprudential history of hate speech and the “first wave” of litigation surrounding campus speech codes in the 1980s and ’90s. I use two theoretical frameworks, liberalism and communitarianism, to analyze the judiciary’s response to speech codes and to understand whether that response aligns with either framework. Lastly, I offer three proposals for future consideration of speech codes in the courts, with an emphasis on current speech controversies. My primary research question is this: Have the judiciary’s decisions regarding campus speech codes been more similar to a liberal or a communitarian conception of speech, and should a new approach be considered as colleges move into a new era of speech regulations?


Weaver, Mark

Second Advisor

Moskowitz, Eric


Political Science


Constitutional Law

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis Exemplar



© Copyright 2016 Madeleine G. O'Neill