A Right of Access to Court Under the Petition Clause of the First Amendment: Defining the Right

njdiver

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A Right of Access to Court Under the Petition Clause of the First Amendment: Defining the Right

This Article explores the use of the Petition Clause as a vehicle for gaining access to courts. Professor Andrews reviews the English origins of the right to petition, the formation of the American version of the right, and Supreme Court decisions addressing court access generally and the right to petition in particular, all with a view to determining whether the right to petition properly extends to courts. She concludes that a right of access to the courts does exist via the Petition Clause. However, she argues that this right is limited and "'protects a person's right only to file winning claims within the court's jurisdiction." Professor Andrews concludes by proposing protections borrowed from free speech doctrine in order to ensure and to effectively broaden this right of court access.

 

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