Stanley Halpin


Hate speech poses a unique problem in the realm of rights protection. Principles of freedom of expression promote its protection, whereas principles of equality favor its restriction. International human rights law, the constitutional law of the United States, and the domestic and constitutional law of Great Britain present different and frequently contradictory doctrines on the resolution of this issue, in spite of their shared common law history and theory of rights protection. The United States Supreme Court’s opposition to absorption of international standards has been strong and exceptionally so when confronted with international rules proscribing hate speech. This experience contrasts with that of Great Britain, which in recent times has been receptive to international human rights standards pronounced by the European Union. However, these standards, in relation to hate speech, are substantially in line with the United Kingdom’s (U.K.) own willingness to allow restrictions of hate speech. Furthermore, the U.K.’s adoption of the Human Rights Act of 1998 brings its domestic law even more in line with the international human rights law of the European Union. However, as this study explores, the practical policy effect of British law may not be so different from that of the United States law. This Article will comparatively analyze these two examples of domestic absorption and examine the impact of international human rights law on each.

Included in

Law Commons