This Essay is a slightly expanded version of the inaugural Mellinkoff Lecture in Law and Humanities, presented at the UCLA School of Law last April in honor of the memory of Professor David Mellinkoff, the distinguished author of ground-breaking work on the nature of legal language.
It addresses four related questions. What is the nature of the kind of speech and expression that realizes most completely the human capacity for finding and expressing meaning? How does our own world of public speech measure up to that standard? How, indeed, does our own talk in the law measure up, especially our talk about free speech as a "marketplace of ideas"? Can we find a better way to imagine the activity of speech that is the subject of the First Amendment, and a better way to engage in it too, as legal writers and speakers?