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Privacy, Property, and Free Speech: Law and the Constitution in the 21st Century  By  cover art

Privacy, Property, and Free Speech: Law and the Constitution in the 21st Century

By: Jeffrey Rosen,The Great Courses
Narrated by: Jeffrey Rosen
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Publisher's Summary

Although the courts have struggled to balance the interests of individuals, businesses, and law enforcement, the proliferation of intrusive new technologies puts many of our presumed freedoms in legal limbo. For instance, it's not hard to envision a day when websites such as Facebook or Google Maps introduce a feature that allows real-time tracking of anyone you want, based on face-recognition software and ubiquitous live video feeds.

Does this scenario sound like an unconstitutional invasion of privacy? These 24 eye-opening lectures immerse you in the Constitution, the courts, and the post-9/11 Internet era that the designers of our legal system could scarcely have imagined. Professor Rosen explains the most pressing legal issues of the modern day and asks how the framers of the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights would have reacted to aspects of the modern life such as full-body scans, cell phone surveillance, and privacy in cloud servers.

Called "the nation's most widely read and influential legal commentator" by the Los Angeles Times, Professor Rosen is renowned for his ability to bring legal issues alive - to put real faces and human drama behind the technical issues that cloud many legal discussions. Here he asks how you would decide particular cases about liberty and privacy. You'll come away with a more informed opinion about whether modern life gives even the most innocent among us reason to worry.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2012 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2012 The Great Courses

What listeners say about Privacy, Property, and Free Speech: Law and the Constitution in the 21st Century

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Biased Expertise

I am of two minds when it comes to this series.

On the one hand, Professor Rosen is undoubtedly an expert whose performance is both clean and crisp (so much so, that he almost certainly read his remarks in a studio to canned applause). His course organization is outstanding and the course flows to a thought-provoking conclusion.

What galls, though, is Professor Rosen's open liberal partisanship. That he is liberal should not surprise - after all, he is a legal affairs commentator at the New Republic. But his performance tilts so far left that the listener is left to wonder how stupid or evil Justices who disagree with him are. His sins are mostly of the omission type - he does not give a lot of air time discussing opposing viewpoints. But he also peppers his lectures with gushing praise for Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Bryer, and especially, Louis Brandeis. The sole praise for a "conservative" that I can recall goes to Chief Justice Roberts, but in a segment preceding Rosen's discussion on the Obamacare decision and Roberts's crucial role in upholding the law.

The Great Courses series could not have gotten a more qualified man to speak on this topic than Rosen. That said, it's a shame that the series comes across as high-grade liberal talking points.

94 people found this helpful

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One Sided and Misleading

This provides a basic introduction into the Supreme Court's First and Fourth Amendment decisions in the 20th Century, but the analysis is not balanced. Rosen approaches the subject from an extreme civil libertarian point of view, and seems utterly unable to present the other side's arguments with any sympathy, even if those arguments persuaded a majority of the Supreme Court.

66 people found this helpful

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Entertaining & thought-provoking. Highly recommend

A well-organized and structured lecture that takes a look at constitutional law and historical legal precedent, with particular emphasis on the 4th, 5th, and 1st amendments.

Professor Rosen keeps the lecture interesting and thought provoking, forcing the listener to consider their own views on the concepts described. He supports his assertions with multiple references to case law without coming across as pedantic. I would rate this as relatively "light reading" with moderate information density.

The narration was good but not excellent: obviously a polished speaker, but not rising the the quality of Audible's best professional narrators. The annoying and obviously added-in-post-production applause at break points between lectures was a poor creative choice.

If this is indicative of the other "great courses" audiobooks I look forward to listening to more.

46 people found this helpful

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  • K
  • 01-23-16

Useful overview of your rights. Good to know.

I found this quite interesting and useful. It isn't a replacement for a lawyer, but it might help you figure out when your rights are being violated as well as where certain laws come from, their backgrounds and intent, etc. Really good to know. Will definitely listen to a second time around, to pick up details.

18 people found this helpful

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Humanist, socialist perspective on law

Good book for understanding the modern view of law but it falls flat in one respect, it is based on a prevalent school of thought - Living Document - which is diametrically opposed to the U.S. Founding.

According to the Founder's understanding individual rights were God given and applied to all individuals, and because the vast majority of Founders opposed slavery, for a majority of the Founders this also meant full rights for those people who were even then slaves (see Abraham Lincoln's Cooper Union speech, he documents this extensively). Because of this the Law - and then Constitution - was limited to protecting individual rights. It was assumed that all rights naturally rested with We the People and that government was only granted a limited number of delegated, enumerated powers. Ironically, in the modern Humanist, socialist tradition the law is simply whatever the most powerful person or group of people decide the law ought to be, and it is not limited to protecting rights against other's fault, it can be used to force whatever the most powerful entity thinks is proper thinking, proper daily behavior, proper living. In this view it is assumed that all rights naturally reside with government which then dictates limited, enumerated rights to individuals. That's completely backwards.

And so the answer to 90% of the questions addressed in this course should simply be: What protects individual life, liberty and property? And the answer to this question was generally believed by the U.S. Founders to be a strong national defense, impartial arbitration, robust competition law and entrusting government with a very small handful of natural monopolies like roads and water. But Professor Rosen says in effect for the questions presented throughout the course (paraphrase) Gee, how interesting, I wonder what the courts will arbitrarily dictate that us individuals have to do in a given area of our lives? This kind of Statist thinking is why the European Union's constitution is hundreds of pages long and begins with the words, "His Majesty, King of the Belgians..." In contrast our constitution is only 12 pages long and begins with the words "We the People...". But Professor Rosen never explains that, nor it's implications, nor the original framework of the Constitution anywhere in this course.

16 people found this helpful

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Dire straights

I’m not an American. I’m a Canadian. But I lived in the US for a number of years and have American family that I am very fond of.

When I was younger I thought of the US as a grand experiment in democracy. Americans valued personal freedom and civil liberties like no other nation on Earth and the benefits of that kind of respect for individual citizen was paying dividends as the US grew in wealth and respect. American always seemed to me to be the exact opposite of Nazi Germany were any official could, at any time, demand to see, “Your papers, please!”

My thinking on this has taken an about-face. Hearing Prof. Rosen describe the melting away of judicial respect for individual liberty in the Land of Liberty was a very sobering. And worrisome.

15 people found this helpful

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Great entry level law book for those interested.

What made the experience of listening to Privacy, Property, and Free Speech: Law and the Constitution in the 21st Century the most enjoyable?

Jeff Rosen's ability to provoke you into thinking the concepts he speaks on.

What other book might you compare Privacy, Property, and Free Speech: Law and the Constitution in the 21st Century to and why?

None that I have read, this is my first law based book

What does Professor Jeffrey Rosen bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

He wrote the book which gives him insight into the tones he is trying to address you in and he already understands all the concepts which makes it easier for him to read them to you.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Sort of. It invoked a feeling of gratefulness. Gratefulness based on the fact that we live in a country where such rights are given, and grateful someone like Jeff Rosen is around to teach us about them.

12 people found this helpful

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Solid set of lectures for lawyers and laypeople

Timely and important set of lectures. Though I was familiar with a good deal of the law covered (especially later, as it came to free speech), I had not realized how incredibly eroded privacy was in other contexts or how reluctant the court is to guard privacy. Given current events (including being asked at borders for devices, social media passwords, and the like), these lectures are more relevant than ever and therefore all the more disturbing. Professor Rosen is an engaging lecturer and repeatedly stresses that you should consider the facts and policy at issue, and that you should make sure whatever reasoning you apply to one case you'd apply to another (in that often reasoning may produce a result you agree with in one case, but decry in another). A set of courses rigorous enough for lawyers, but approachable enough for lay-people.

8 people found this helpful

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A lot to think about

What made the experience of listening to Privacy, Property, and Free Speech: Law and the Constitution in the 21st Century the most enjoyable?

Considering rights and liberties that are very quickly falling into grey area within the law.

Any additional comments?

Some points ought to be taken lightly, for instance when Professor Rosen is talking about what rights an officer has to search and seize. I have cops that are friends, and there is a bit of scare tactic in some of the Professor's points, but overall, as a society there needs to be a very real and immediate discussion on where to take the law in the wake of ever dominating technology.

7 people found this helpful

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Basically a political diatribe, not at all what I expected

Was hoping this would have a lot of interesting insights, through a legal lens, into technology and how it's changing our world.

Instead, it's basically hour after hour of opinion and carefully selected stats to make an argument that police and conservative judges are biased, evil, etc.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Marc Schultz
  • 01-13-17

Excellent series of lectures

Context! This series provides a great overview with context and examples. Well worth the time to better appreciate the US Constitution and its implications on Privacy. Time we understand the implications of the power shift from Government to Corporations.