Rabban, David M. 1949-

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RABBAN, David M. 1949-


Born 1949. Education: Wesleyan University, B.A., 1971; Stanford University, J.D., 1974.


Office—School of Law, University of Texas, 727 E. Dean Keeton St., Austin, TX 78705.


Called to the Bar of New York State, 1975, and the District of Columbia, 1980. Murray A. Gordon, P.C., New York, NY, associate, 1974-76, American Association of University Professors, Washington, DC, associate counsel, 1976-80, counsel, 1980-82, general counsel, 1998—; University of Texas, Austin, assistant professor, 1983-86, professor of law, beginning 1986, became Dahr Jamail, Randall Hage Jamail, and Robert Lee Jamail Regents Chair and University Distinguished Teaching Professor. University of Michigan Law School, visiting professor.


Phi Beta Kappa.


Journal of the History of Ideas, Forkosch Prize for best book in intellectual history published in 1997, for Free Speech in Its Forgotten Years; Wesleyan University Service Award, 1988-89; Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, fellow, 1994-95.


Free Speech in Its Forgotten Years, Cambridge University Press (Cambridge, NY), 1997.

Contributor to journals and scholarly periodicals, including the Yale Law Journal, Stanford Law Review, and the University of Chicago Law Review.


Writer, legal historian, and attorney David M. Rabban is an educator at the University of Texas, Austin. He teaches and researches topics such as American legal history, labor law, and the intersection of higher education and the law. A biographer on the University of Texas School of Law Web site noted that Rabban is "best known for his path-breaking work on free speech in American history." This work, Free Speech in Its Forgotten Years, presents Rabban's deeply researched account of the state of free speech in the United States between 1886 and 1919, how concepts of free speech were radically different during those years, and how free speech evolved through legal means, activism, and other methods to more closely resemble the concept as it stands today. Rabban "sets out to correct the received wisdom that in the period between Reconstruction and World War I, 'free speech' was not much of an issue and no relevant litigation of significance took place," according to Edward de Grazia in the Nation. During this time period, speech was not protected as it is today; unpopular opinions and speech were often suppressed and vigorously stifled by draconian and often illegal government methods, and persons and organizations who tried to practice free speech often met with legal repercussions, harsh punishment, imprisonment, deportation, and other sanctions. Resistance to the draft, speaking out on labor issues, decrying injustice—all were sufficient to raise the possibility of government intervention, legal punishment, or even vigilante violence. "Civil liberties and excessive individualism were not top priorities on the Progressive political agenda, as Rabban points out in a brilliant chapter on their social thought," commented William Preston, Jr., in Social Justice. Free Speech in Its Forgotten Years "shows us how vulnerable to violation, how unprotected by law and the courts, were the people's rights of free speech in those years," de Grazia related.

However, Rabban also shows how legal opinion began to change and free speech protection came to be considered essential in the years after World War I. What Rabban has done in Free Speech in Its Forgotten Years "is significant enough," commented Daniel A. Farber in Constitutional Commentary. "In the course of his research, he has unearthed a lost world of legal thought. By bringing the First Amendment's 'forgotten years' back to light, he has done all of us a great service," Farber concluded. "This enlightening work fills a void in First Amendment civil liberties studies," commented Stephen Kent Shaw in Library Journal. Reviewer Clyde Spillenger, writing in Law and Social Inquiry, called Rabban's book "a welcome contribution to a legal-historical literature on civil liberties that is variable in its depth and chronological scope." Preston concluded: "All in all, this is a major contribution based on vast and meticulous research."



Constitutional Commentary, winter, 1998, Daniel A. Farber, review of Free Speech in Its Forgotten Years, p. 571.

Labor History, February, 1999, Mark L. Kleinman, review of Free Speech in Its Forgotten Years, p. 101.

Law and Social Inquiry, winter, 2001, Clyde Spillenger, review of Free Speech in Its Forgotten Years, p. 209.

Library Journal, October 1, 1997, Stephen Kent Shaw, review of Free Speech in Its Forgotten Years, p. 102.

Michigan Law Review, May, 1999, Gregory A. Mark, review of Free Speech in Its Forgotten Years, p. 1673.

Nation, September 7, 1998, Edward de Grazia, review of Free Speech in Its Forgotten Years, p. 35.

Social Justice, summer, 1998, William Preston, Jr., review of Free Speech in Its Forgotten Years, p. 205.

Wilson Quarterly, summer, 1998, Timothy Gleason, review of Free Speech in Its Forgotten Years, p. 106.


University of Texas School of Law Web site,http://www.utexas.edu/law/ (September 29, 2006), biography of David M. Rabban.

Wesleyan University Web site,http://www.wesleyan.edu/ (September 29, 2006), "Wesleyan University Service Award Recipients, 1988-89."*

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