Author granted license

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International

Document Type


Publication Date





Washington College of Law, American University




This Article proposes a speech-based right of court access. First, it finds the traditional due process approach to be analytically incoherent and of limited practical value. Second, it contends that history, constitutional structure, and theory all support conceiving of the right of access as the modern analogue to the right to petition government for redress. Third, the Article explores the ways in which the civil rights plaintiff's lawsuit tracks the behavior of the traditional dissident. Fourth, by way of a case study, the essay argues that recent restrictions - notably, a congressional limitation on the amount of fees counsel for prisoners may recover - violates the right of access to the courts.

Find on SSRN



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.