Government's ever-increasing participation in communication processes, Mark Yudof argues, threatens key democratic values that the First Amendment was designed to protect. Government control over the exchange of ideas and information would be inconsistent with citizen autonomy, informed consent, and a balanced and mutually responsive relationship between citizens and their government. Yet the danger of government dominance must be weighed against the necessary role of government in furthering democratic values by proposing and promotion policies and by disseminating information and educating citizens. Restraints on government's ability to control communications processes are desirable, but excessive or inappropriate restrictions threaten democracy. Professor Yudof identifies a number of formal and informal checks on government as disseminator, withholder, and controller of ideas and information. Where more controls are needed, the strengthening of pluralism and legislative oversight is generally the answer. Constitutional redress in the courts should be sought only in extreme instances, he cautions, to avoid judicial interference with legitimate policy objectives.
Mark G. Yudofis President of the University of California. Before becoming president of the UC system, he served as chancellor of the University of Texas and president of the University of Minnesota. Yudof is a distinguished authority on constitutional law, freedom of expression, and education law who has written and edited numerous publications on free speech and gender discrimination.