Document Type


Publication Date



Mental illness is usually described as an impaired ability to communicate effectively. Yet the societal response--both historically and under modem psychiatric practice--has been to retard, rather than encourage, the acquisition of linguistic skills. This impediment to normal social intercourse leaves individual interests in free expression ineffectuated; it concerns the legal profession because the government condones and enforces the restriction of first amendment rights in a potentially large segment of the population. This article examines the philosophical justification for free communication for the mentally handicapped. It further suggests a systematic application of the first amendment to the particular problems of the mentally defective.

Publication Citation

50 Notre Dame Law. 419-447 (1975)