Must We Defend Nazis?

Why the First Amendment Should Not Protect Hate Speech and White Supremacy

176 pages

January, 2018

ISBN: 9781479857838



Add to Cart Available: 12/22/2017

Also available in




Richard Delgado is John J. Sparkman Chair of Law at the University of Alabama and one of the founders of critical race theory. His books include The Latino/a Condition: A Critical Reader (co-edited with Jean Stefancic; New York University Press) and The Rodrigo Chronicles (New York University Press).

All books by Richard Delgado

Jean Stefancic is Professor and Clement Research Affiliate at the University of Alabama School of Law. Her books include No Mercy: How Conservative Think Tanks and Foundations Changed America’s Social Agenda and How Lawyers Lose Their Way: A Profession Fails Its Creative Minds

All books by Jean Stefancic

A controversial argument for reconsidering the limits of free speech  

Swirling in the midst of the resurgence of neo-Nazi demonstrations, hate speech, and acts of domestic terrorism are uncomfortable questions about the limits of free speech. The United States stands apart from many other countries in that citizens have the power to say virtually anything without legal repercussions.  But, in the case of white supremacy, does the First Amendment demand that we defend Nazis?  

In Must We Defend Nazis?, legal experts Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic argue that it should not. Updated to consider the white supremacy demonstrations and counter-protests in Charlottesville and debates about hate speech on campus and on the internet, the book offers a concise argument against total, unchecked freedom of speech.  

Delgado and Stefancic instead call for a system of free speech that takes into account the harms that hate speech can inflict upon disempowered, marginalized people. They examine the prevailing arguments against regulating speech, and show that they all have answers.  They also show how limiting free speech would work in a legal framework and offer suggestions for activist lawyers and judges interested in approaching the hate speech controversy intelligently. 

As citizens are confronting free speech in contention with equal dignity, access, and respect, Must We Defend Nazis? puts aside clichés that clutter First Amendment thinking, and presents a nuanced position that recognizes the needs of our increasingly diverse society. 


  • "Delgado and Stefancic have written a deeply insightful book about the regulation of hate speech. It is filled with penetrating insights and understandings that come from two scholar steeped in the literature. No doubt I’ll turn to it often. The careful analysis of free speech, race, and equality should influence a generation of scholars and students."

    —Alexander Tsesis, author of Destructive Messages: How Hate Speech Paves the Way for Harmful Social Movements

  • "Delgado and Stefancic are leading figures in the 'critical race theory' movement, a legal approach that sees law through the prism of race. They are, of course, correct in pointing to racial inequality in all areas of American life and to the abuse some minority students suffer at the hands of some insensitive white students."

    —Alan M. Dershowitz, The Washington Post

  • "The book’s value is in starting a debate."