University of Baltimore Law Forum


Most Maryland lawyers are vaguely aware that Maryland's Declaration of Rights contains its own guarantee of free speech that is worded differently from the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. What the Declaration of Rights actually says about free speech, however, and what can be inferred from its distinctive phrasing and legislative history, are not matters that have received much particularized attention. Decisions of Maryland's courts routinely state that Article 40 of the Declaration of Rights - the principal source of state free-speech rights - is construed in pari materia with the First Amendment, which, as a practical matter, has entirely eclipsed Article 40 in safeguarding communicative rights in Maryland. Article 40 contains two principal clauses and one subordinate clause, which differ significantly from the First Amendment's terse, single-clause prohibition against Congressional action infringing freedom of speech and related rights.' Most other states have adopted similar, more detailed formulations of free-speech protection than the simpler federal guarantee.' Displayed side by side for ease of comparison, the Maryland and federal provisions state, respectively, as follows:



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