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The author examines the state's role in ensuring freedom of speech. Because what is at stake is less the expressive interest ofthe speakers than the interest of the citizenry hearing debate on issues of public concern, the state, primarily through the judiciary, should act to ensure equal access to the debate. In the controversial areas of hate speech, pornography and campaign finance, the state should serve as a parliamentarian, using its power to guard against the silencing of less powerful voices. A too rigid adherence to the requirement that regulation of speech be content-neutral wouldseriously impair the state's capacity to serve in this way as a friend of freedom.

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