Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Freedom Of Speech In America

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Alien And Sedition Acts

What Does “Freedom of Speech” Mean in the U.S.? | History

In 1798, Congress, which contained several of the ratifiers of the First Amendment at the time, adopted the Alien and Sedition Acts. The laws prohibited the publication of “false, scandalous, and malicious writings against the government of the United States, or either house of the Congress of the United States, or the President of the United States, with intent to defame … or to bring them … into contempt or disrepute or to excite against them … hatred of the good people of the United States, or to stir up sedition within the United States, or to excite any unlawful combinations therein, for opposing or resisting any law of the United States, or any act of the President of the United States”.

The law did allow truth as a defense and required proof of malicious intent. The 1798 Act nevertheless made ascertainment of the intent of the framers regarding the First Amendment somewhat difficult, as some of the members of Congress that supported the adoption of the First Amendment also voted to adopt the 1798 Act. The Federalists under President John Adams aggressively used the law against their rivals, the Democratic-Republicans. The Alien and Sedition Acts were a major political issue in the 1800 election, and after he was elected President, Thomas Jefferson pardoned those who had been convicted under the Act. The Act expired and the Supreme Court never ruled on its constitutionality.

Freedom Of Speech In America

Im Offended, this phrase is one of the most common things we hear in todays society. People in America today have become oversensitive. There are so many things these days that set people off and cause them go on a rampage for the smallest actions or for someone not agreeing with them. People have come to the realization that if you disagree with them that they are all of a sudden a bad person and people feel the need to have control of their words to make people be politically correct. There

Presented By The John Seigenthaler Chair Of Excellence In First Amendment Studies

Eugene V. Debs leaving the Federal Penitentiary in Atlanta, Georgia, on Christmas Day 1921. He had been imprisoned in 1918 under the Sedition Act, for giving a speech against participation in the First World War. President Warren G. Harding commuted his sentence to time served in December 1921.

Freedom of speech often suffers during times of war. Patriotism at times devolves into jingoism and civil liberties take a backseat to security and order.

The pattern has been consistent in American history from the Revolutionary War to the modern-day War on Terror after the infamous terrorist strikes on U.S. soil on Sept. 11, 2001.

Writing for a unanimous U.S. Supreme Court, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes declared in Schenck v. United States that hen a nation is at war, many things that might be said in times of peace are such a hindrance to its effort that their utterance will not be endured so long as men fight, and that no Court could regard them as protected by any constitutional right.

In other words, the Supreme Court declared that the government could restrict speech more in times of war than in times of peace.

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Restrictions On Speech During Revolutionary War Era And Early Years

The Revolutionary War era featured numerous restrictions on free speech and free press. Those who were considered loyal to the King of England loyalists were subject to a host of onerous restrictions by colonial leaders. Some colonies passed laws declaring it treasonous to support the British King.

Even after the United States declared its independence from England, restrictions on speech continued. It is one of the great ironies of history, that many of the same political leaders that ratified the U.S. Constitution and the U.S. Bill of Rights were the same leaders who passed the Sedition Act of 1798 a law inimical to freedom of speech. The law and its companion Alien Acts were a product of the times a silent war with France.

The Sedition Act of 1798 criminalized the writing, printing, uttering or publishing any false, scandalous and malicious writing or writings about the government of the United States. The law was used by the Federalist Party to silence Democratic-Republic newspaper editors men like Matthew Lyon, Benjamin Bache, and William Duane.

The Ongoing Challenge To Define Free Speech

Freedom Of Speech in America

Freedom of speech, Supreme Court Justice Benjamin Cardozo declared more than 80 years ago, is the matrix, the indispensable condition of nearly every other form of freedom. Countless other justices, commentators, philosophers, and more have waxed eloquent for decades over the critically important role that freedom of speech plays in promoting and maintaining democracy.

Yet 227 years after the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution were ratified in 1791 as the Bill of Rights, debate continues about the meaning of freedom of speech and its First Amendment companion, freedom of the press.

This issue of Human Rights explores contemporary issues, controversies, and court rulings about freedom of speech and press. This is not meant to be a comprehensive survey of First Amendment developments, but rather a smorgasbord of interesting issues.

The controversy over what many call hate speech is not new, but it is renewed as our nation experiences the Black Lives Matter movement and the Me Too movement. These movements have raised consciousness and promoted national dialogue about racism, sexual harassment, and more. With the raised awareness come increased calls for laws punishing speech that is racially harmful or that is offensive based on gender or gender identity.

The views expressed here are the author’s and do not reflect those of the ABA Board of Governors.

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White Nationalist Protest Incharlottesville Virginia

In August of 2017, a group of white nationalists beganprotesting the removal of a statue of Confederate General, Robert E. Lee.

Many remember the violence that resulted between theprotestors and anti-protestors during the event, but another debate came to thesurface. Do extreme groups have the right to free speech?

Before the beginning of the protest, the group ofnationalists from “Unite the Right” were issued permits to allow them toprotest. They obtained the proper paperwork to allow them to protest, but wastheir speech and right to protest protected under the law?

Many people argue that they lost their right when membersof the protest fell to violent acts. But was the free speech to blame, andshould the city of Charlottesville have revoked their permit?

From a legal perspective, the lines are sometimes hard todetermine. In 1969, the Supreme Court ruled in a case called “Brandenburg v.Ohio” that inflammatory speech is lawful as long as it doesn’t incite “imminentlawless action.” Or, in other words, it might even be okay to mention lawlessacts so long as the intent isn’t to immediately cause listeners to act on thosewords.

Freedom Of Speech: General

How has the Freedom of Speech been interpreted by the Supreme Court? Explore these landmark cases to better understand this important constitutional right.

Schenck v. United States

Freedom of speech can be limited during wartime. The government can restrict expressions that would create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that Congress has a right to prevent.Read More.

Abrams v. United States

The First Amendment did not protect printing leaflets urging to resist the war effort, calling for a general strike, and advocating violent revolution. Read More.

Debs v. United States

The First Amendment did not protect an anti-war speech designed to obstruct recruiting. Read More.

Gitlow v. New York

The Supreme Court applied protection of free speech to the states through the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Read More.

Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire

The First Amendment did not protect fighting words which, by being said, cause injury or cause an immediate breach of the peace. Read More.

West Virginia v. Barnette

The West Virginia Boards policy requiring students and teachers to recite the Pledge of Allegiance was unconstitutional. Reversing Minersville v. Gobitas , the Court held government cannot force citizens to confess by word or act their faith in matters of opinion. Read More.

United States v. OBrien

The First Amendment did not protect burning draft cards in protest of the Vietnam War as a form of symbolic speech. Read More.

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Internet Speech Online Forums

In a 90 decision, the Supreme Court extended the full protection of the First Amendment to the Internet in Reno v. ACLU, a decision that struck down portions of the 1996 Communications Decency Act, a law that prohibited “indecent” online communication. The court’s decision extended the constitutional protections given to books, magazines, films, and spoken expression to materials published on the Internet. Congress tried a second time to regulate the content of the Internet with the Child Online Protection Act . In 2002, the Supreme Court again ruled in American Civil Liberties Union v. Ashcroft that any limitations on the Internet are unconstitutional.

In United States v. American Library Association , the Supreme Court ruled that Congress has the authority to require public schools and libraries receiving e-rate discounts to install content-control software as a condition of receiving federal funding. The justices said that any First Amendment concerns were addressed by the provisions in the Children’s Internet Protection Act that permit adults to ask librarians to disable the filters or unblock individual sites.

What Does Protected Speech Include

Freedom of the Press: Crash Course Government and Politics #26

First Amendment protection is not limited to “pure speech” — books, newspapers, leaflets, and rallies. It also protects “symbolic speech” — nonverbal expression whose purpose is to communicate ideas. In its 1969 decision in Tinker v. Des Moines, the Court recognized the right of public school students to wear black armbands in protest of the Vietnam War. In 1989 and again in 1990 , the Court struck down government bans on “flag desecration.” Other examples of protected symbolic speech include works of art, T-shirt slogans, political buttons, music lyrics and theatrical performances.

Government can limit some protected speech by imposing “time, place and manner” restrictions. This is most commonly done by requiring permits for meetings, rallies and demonstrations. But a permit cannot be unreasonably withheld, nor can it be denied based on content of the speech. That would be what is called viewpoint discrimination — and that is unconstitutional.

When a protest crosses the line from speech to action, the government can intervene more aggressively. Political protesters have the right to picket, to distribute literature, to chant and to engage passersby in debate. But they do not have the right to block building entrances or to physically harass people.

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The Internet And Information Society

Jo Glanville, editor of the Index on Censorship, states that “the Internet has been a revolution for censorship as much as for free speech”. International, national and regional standards recognise that freedom of speech, as one form of freedom of expression, applies to any medium, including the Internet. The Communications Decency Act of 1996 was the first major attempt by the United States Congress to regulate pornographic material on the Internet. In 1997, in the landmark cyberlaw case of Reno v. ACLU, the US Supreme Court partially overturned the law. Judge Stewart R. Dalzell, one of the three federal judges who in June 1996 declared parts of the CDA unconstitutional, in his opinion stated the following:

The World Summit on the Information Society Declaration of Principles adopted in 2003 makes specific reference to the importance of the right to freedom of expression for the “Information Society” in stating:

According to Bernt Hugenholtz and Lucie Guibault, the public domain is under pressure from the “commodification of information” as information with previously little or no economic value has acquired independent economic value in the information age. This includes factual data, personal data, genetic information and pure ideas. The commodification of information is taking place through intellectual property law, contract law, as well as broadcasting and telecommunications law.

The Aclu And What It Stands For

The ACLU is an organization dedicated to defending therights to free speech.

The ACLU was established in the early 1920s in response to the United State’s reaction to rising fears of communist radicals. In the year 1919, Attorney General Mitchell Palmer took the initiative to round up individuals believed to be radicals. According to the ACLU, “Thousands of people were arrested without warrants and without regard to constitutional protections against unlawful search and seizure. Those arrested were brutally treated and held in horrible conditions.”

The event, now known as the “Palmer Raids,” inspired a small group of people to establish a group called the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU has been defending the right to free speech ever since.

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Big Tech And Free Speech

The internet and technology are growing at such a rapidpace that many argue that United States law is behind the times. Internetgiants like Google, YouTube, and Facebook hold the ability to censor contentand limit speech, but legally should they be allowed?

Since they are private and not public businesses, somebelieve that they should be allowed to censor content as they see fit. Othersbelieve that they hold such control over the way that United States citizensinteract with information, that their censorship guidelines are potentiallydamaging to free speech.

For example, after the investigation of the Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election, many people began to realize the power of persuasion that social media sites have over people’s opinions. have now taken big steps in getting rid of fake accounts on their sites in hopes of avoiding this issue in the future.

In terms of censorship, there have now been claims that enterprises like Facebook, Twitter, and Google, have been intentionally shut down conservative-leaning groups and individuals. According to Breitbart, “Big Tech monsters like Google and Facebook have become nothing less than incubators for far-left liberal ideologies and are doing everything they can to eradicate conservative ideas and their proponents from the internet.” Some wonder whether or not the media is good or bad for society?

History Of Dissent And Truth

America Freedom Of Speech Quotes. QuotesGram
The examples and perspective in this article deal primarily with Western culture and do not represent a worldwide view of the subject. You may improve this article, discuss the issue on the talk page, or create a new article, as appropriate. (

Index Librorum ProhibitorumList of Prohibited Books

Before the invention of the , a written work, once created, could only be physically multiplied by highly laborious and error-prone manual copying. No elaborate system of censorship and control over scribes existed, who until the 14th century were restricted to religious institutions, and their works rarely caused wider controversy. In response to the , and the theological heresies it allowed to spread, the Roman Catholic Church moved to impose censorship. Printing allowed for multiple exact copies of a work, leading to a more rapid and widespread circulation of ideas and information . The origins of copyright law in most European countries lie in efforts by the Roman Catholic Church and governments to regulate and control the output of printers.

Panegyricae orationes septemAreopagitica

Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties.

Golden LegendIndex Librorum ExpurgatorumAnimal FarmLady Chatterley’s Lover

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Things You Need To Know About The First Amendment

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

  • The five freedoms it protects: speech, religion, press, assembly, and the right to petition the government. Together, these five guaranteed freedoms make the people of the United States of America the freest in the world.
  • Before agreeing to accept the Constitution, the Founders of our democratic republic demanded that these freedoms be protected by an amendment to the original document the First Amendment.
  • Theres no legal age you have to reach to exercise your First Amendment freedoms. They are guaranteed to you the day youre born. Theres also no citizenship requirement for First Amendment protection. If youre in the U.S., you have freedom of speech, religion, press, assembly and petition.
  • The First Amendment is neither left-wing or right-wing. It can be used to push for social and political change, or to oppose change. The First Amendment is for everyone.
  • The First Amendment protects us against government limits on our freedom of expression, but it doesnt prevent a private employer from setting its own rules.
  • The Limits Of Free Speech In Social Media

    Partner at Wick, Phillips, Gould & Martin, LLP

    SPRING 2021 ISSUE:

    The public seems to have a fundamental misunderstanding about the true extent of freedom of speech under the First Amendment. Who can or cannot restrict free speech? What type of speech can be restricted? And how does this apply to speech restrictions on social media platforms which have become so prevalent?

    Lawsuits alleging free speech violations against social media companies are routinely dismissed. The primary grounds for these dismissals are that social media companies are not state actors and their platforms are not public forums, and therefore they are not subject to the free speech protections of the First Amendment. Consequently, those who post on social media platforms do not have the right to free speech on these social media platforms. This article will attempt to explain the relationship between social media and free speech so that we can understand why.

    Who Can Restrict Free Speech – State v. Private Actors

    Where Can Speech Be Restricted – Public v. Private Forums

    Social Medias Immunity for User Content – 47 U.S.C. § 230

    What are Permissible Restrictions on Speech

    What Types of Content-Based Restrictions are Permitted

    Misinformation, Defamation, Fraud, Perjury, Government Officials

    Hate Speech and Speech that Incites Imminent Lawless Action

    Harassment andTrue Threats of Violence


    1 Matal v. Tam, 137 S.Ct. 1744, 1757 .

    12 Perry, 460 U.S. at 37.

    29 47 U.S.C. § 230.

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