Professor Laura Weinrib Honored by National Communication Association for Research on Free Expression

The National Communication Association honored University of Chicago Law School Professor Laura Weinrib with its 2018 Franklyn S. Haiman Award for Distinguished Scholarship in Freedom of Expression.

The award is given annually to an NCA member who has authored outstanding published research on freedom of expression over the prior three years. The award committee noted that Weinrib’s book, The Taming of Free Speech: America’s Civil Liberties Compromise (Harvard University Press, 2016), “should be essential to the personal library of any First Amendment scholar or anyone whose research implicates First Amendment issues.”  

“NCA’s annual awards honor communication scholars’ teaching, scholarship, and service,” NCA Executive Director Trevor Parry-Giles said. “Dr. Weinrib’s contributions to the communication discipline are noteworthy, and NCA is proud to recognize them with this award.”

In The Taming of Free Speech, Weinrib reconstructs First Amendment history to uncover its radical roots, arguing that we can trace our modern understanding of civil liberties to the early-twentieth-century political clashes over workers’ right to strike.

“If we want to have a productive conversation about the meaning and boundaries of our contemporary First Amendment, we have to understand where our commitment to judicial enforcement of free speech came from,” Weinrib said. “It turns out to be the product of a conflict over economic inequality at a time when the Supreme Court was under pressure for elevating the constitutional rights of corporations over the rights of workers. That’s a story with powerful implications for debates about the First Amendment today. I am deeply honored that the NCA considered the book to be deserving of this recognition.”

The NCA supports the work of communications scholars, teachers, and practitioners who are its members. Dedicated to fostering and promoting free and ethical communication, NCA promotes the widespread appreciation of the importance of communication in public and private life, the application of competent communication to improve the quality of human life and relationships, and the use of knowledge about communication to solve human problems. Weinrib’s award will be presented on November 10 at the NCA 104th Annual Convention in Salt Lake City.

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