Monday, November 27, 2023

Freedom Of Speech In The United States

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Free Speech For Hatemongers

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

The ACLU has often been at the center of controversy for defending the free speech rights of groups that spew hate, such as the Ku Klux Klan and the Nazis. But if only popular ideas were protected, we wouldn’t need a First Amendment. History teaches that the first target of government repression is never the last. If we do not come to the defense of the free speech rights of the most unpopular among us, even if their views are antithetical to the very freedom the First Amendment stands for, then no one’s liberty will be secure. In that sense, all First Amendment rights are “indivisible.”

Censoring so-called hate speech also runs counter to the long-term interests of the most frequent victims of hate: racial, ethnic, religious and sexual minorities. We should not give the government the power to decide which opinions are hateful, for history has taught us that government is more apt to use this power to prosecute minorities than to protect them. As one federal judge has put it, tolerating hateful speech is “the best protection we have against any Nazi-type regime in this country.”

At the same time, freedom of speech does not prevent punishing conduct that intimidates, harasses, or threatens another person, even if words are used. Threatening phone calls, for example, are not constitutionally protected.

What Does Protected Speech Include

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.

Forms Of Speech Protected By The Principle Of Freedom Of Speech

We need to understand the scope of this freedom for a better understanding and application of the subject matter. Freedom of speech extends to both oral and written communication, as well as other forms of communication like the use of symbols.

There are various ways through which we express our thoughts and views. It does not necessarily have to be by way of spoken or written words. It could also be a form of symbolic communication. Symbolic communication is the use of symbols to express your thoughts, views, and affiliations. Certain symbols and rituals have a symbolic implication for certain sects of people. In such circumstances, the laws must protect their right to freedom of speech.

Apart from oral, written, and symbolic expressions, there are other forms of communication covered by the principle of freedom of speech. They are posts made online, commenting, and liking posts on social media, movies and television shows, drama, dance, clothing, donating money to fund ones social or political interest, etc.

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American Free Speech: A Unique But Contested Concept

For many Americans, freedom especially freedom of speech is the most cherished founding principle of the nations identity, and they see it is a tenet of American exceptionalism. It is true that the United States is different from other democracies in that it holds what is sometimes called an absolutist view of freedom of speech. In American law, even hate speech is protected, and the Supreme Court has repeatedly confirmed that there is no exception for hate speech in the First Amendment .

Former national legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union Steven Shapiro calls the United States unique in this regard. He points to the countrys reservations on Article 20 of the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which requires signatories to prohibit hate speech, even though the US signed and ratified this international human-rights treaty in 1992.

The United States Free Speech Laws

United States First Amendment Freedom of Speech Short

In the United States, free speech refers to the First Amendment Rights in the Constitution.

The First Amendment states, “Congress shall make no lawrespecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercisethereof or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press or the right ofthe people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redressof grievances.”

United States law allows people the right to practicereligion freely, speak freely, for the press to speak freely, and for people toassemble or petition peacefully. These rights are foundational to the way theUnited States works, and they were exceptional when the founding fathers wrotethem into the constitution.

Still, they are not without controversy and are often called into question when other people feel that speech is harmful, offensive, or dangerous.

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Transcription Of The 1789 Joint Resolution Of Congress Proposing 12 Amendments To The Us Constitution

Congress of the United States begun and held at the City of New-York, on Wednesday the fourth of March, one thousand seven hundred and eighty nine.

THE Conventions of a number of the States, having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best ensure the beneficent ends of its institution.

RESOLVED by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, two thirds of both Houses concurring, that the following Articles be proposed to the Legislatures of the several States, as amendments to the Constitution of the United States, all, or any of which Articles, when ratified by three fourths of the said Legislatures, to be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of the said Constitution viz.

ARTICLES in addition to, and Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, proposed by Congress, and ratified by the Legislatures of the several States, pursuant to the fifth Article of the original Constitution.

Article the second… No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of Representatives shall have intervened.


What Rights To Expression Do I Have

Again, the First Amendment protects us from government interference or restraint of most of our speech. But the First Amendment does not prohibit private entities, such as private corporations, from limiting the speech of its employees. The First Amendment only applies to governments and agencies of government. Public schools are considered agencies of government but can engage in some limited forms of restraint of speech that are not allowed for other government agencies, for example, in school newspapers.

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Private Actors Private Property Private Companies

Despite the common misconception that the First Amendment prohibits anyone from limiting free speech, the text of the amendment only prohibits the US Congress from doing so. Starting with the 1925 U.S. Supreme Court decision Gitlow v. New York, this prohibition has been incorporated to apply to state and local governments as well, based on the text of the Fourteenth Amendment.

A major issue in freedom of speech jurisprudence has been whether the First Amendment should be interpreted to merely run against these state actors, or whether it can run against private actors as well. Specifically, the issue is whether private landowners should be permitted to use the machinery of government to exclude others from engaging in free speech on their property . The right of freedom of speech within private shopping centers owned by others has been vigorously litigated under both the federal and state Constitutions, most notably in the cases Lloyd Corp. v. Tanner and Pruneyard Shopping Center v. Robins .

Internet Speech Online Forums

The Freedom of Hate Speech a Call for Civil Dialogue | Katia Campbell | TEDxMSUDenver

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.

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What Are Narrow Restrictions In Reference To Reasonable Restrictions

Nothing in the first amendment shall affect the operation of any existing law or prevent the estate from making any law as such law imposes.

It is never restrictions on the exercise of the right conferred by the congress in the interest of the sovereignty and integrity of the State.

The security of the state friendly relations with foreign States public order decency or morality or in relation to contempt of court defamation or incitement to an offense based on certain grounds.

This article puts certain reasonable restrictions on the freedom of speech.

Lets check out those grounds in brief.

  • Security of the estate:

    If there is any threat to the interest of the security of the state reasonable restrictions can be imposed security threat may be violence intended to overthrow the government waging of war rebellion against the government external aggression or war etc.

  • Relation with foreign states:

    If someone is intended to jeopardize the friendly relation of the United States with other states in such a case the reasonable restriction can be applied.

  • Disturbance of Public Safety:

    If someone intentionally attempts to disturb the public peace safety and tranquility then reasonable restrictions can be imposed.

  • if someone violates the decency and morality in a society the possible restrictions can be imposed however the parameter of morality varies through time to time and from place to place.

  • Why Is Freedom Of Expression Important

    The right to freedom of expression is enshrined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which sets out in broad terms the human rights that each of us has. It was later protected legally by a raft of international and regional treaties.

    Defending freedom of expression has always been a core part of Amnesty Internationals work and is vital in holding the powerful to account. Freedom of expression also underpins other human rights such as the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion and allows them to flourish.

    It is also closely linked to freedom of association the right to form and join clubs, societies, trade unions or political parties with anyone you choose and freedom of peaceful assembly the right to take part in a peaceful demonstration or public meeting.

    However, these very freedoms come under regular attack by governments that want to stifle criticism.

    For example, in Egypt it is currently extremely dangerous to criticize the government. Over the course of 2018, the authorities arrested at least 113 individuals citing a host of absurd reasons including satire, tweeting, supporting football clubs, denouncing sexual harassment, editing movies and giving interviews.

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    Case Study: Poland And The Right To Protest

    Amnesty International has documented how people in Poland have taken to the streets to express their opinions despite restrictive legislation combined with heavy-handed policing, surveillance, harassment and prosecution which threaten to strangle the right to peaceful protest.

    Since 2016, tens of thousands of people have protested against repressive legislation aimed at curbing womens rights and undermining the independence of the judiciary. Protesters have routinely been met with a show of force and restrictive measures that infringe their right to be seen and heard. Hundreds have found themselves in police custody and facing lengthy court proceedings.

    In parallel with tightening the laws affecting the exercise of the right to freedom of peaceful assembly, the government has vastly expanded the surveillance powers of law enforcement agencies with evidence that these expanded powers have been used against people engaged in organizing and participating in peaceful protests.

    When Free Speech Is Questioned


    Free speech is not always a given, especially when itcauses harm or offense to others. When these instances occur, people begin toask if freedom of speech trumps the feelings of others, or if the basic rightof free speech is inherently more valuable.

    Below are some current issues and concerns surrounding the first amendment right to free speech. One should also understand the usage of fake news. The law is being tested in the current society with many free speech lawsuits being mentioned in the news on college campuses, Silicon Valley tech giants, and media broadcasts.

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    Free Speech In The United States

    In the United States freedom of speech and the constitutional limits to it have been defined, in practice, by rulings of the Supreme Court. Originally the free-speech guarantee of the 1st Amendment applied only to acts of Congress. In the 20th century, however, the Supreme Court began to interpret the due process clause of the 14th Amendment to mean that the states are also bound by the provisions of the 1st Amendment. This was one of the major new doctrines of Gitlow v. New York .

    Restrictions on freedom of speech have occurred most often in time of war or national emergency. The Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 were the first incursions by Congress on this freedom. These laws were never tested in the courts and were allowed to expire after several years.

    What Is The Meaning Of Freedom Of Speech First Amendment

    The Constitution of United States guarantees the freedom of speech to every citizen of this country with the objective to provide right to express ones feelings and opinions without any fear by means of words of mouth, writing, printing, pictures or any other mode of such time because of this reason that freedom of speech is considered as the most fundamental condition of liberty.

    Freedom of speech is the integrity of a democratic governance and it has leaked hate to people to speak, give opinions without any fear of restrictions, attribution or representation by the government.

    Freedom of speech helps people to organize and strengthen their hostile, societal and political stance and also help others to become a responsible citizen of this country but when the freedom of speech becomes straight for the country or defamatory then it is big dangerous therefore for the security purpose through First Amendment the reasonable restrictions have been imposed.

    Freedom of Speech, its the first part of the first amendment.

    And it means Im allowed to say whatever I want, whenever I want, wherever I want.


    Freedom of speech is one of the cornerstones of the America and has since been adopted by countless other countries. But its also one of the most misunderstood, and lets face it, abused rights that we have.

    So today, lets take a look at what the First Amendment actually says and what Freedom of Speech actually is

    So thats it right?.

    You can say whatever it is you want.

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    What Is Freedom Of The Press

    The First Amendment also provides that the government cannot abridge the freedom of the press. As with freedom of speech, government at every level is prohibited from interfering with the media. It cannot force the media to publish any material and it cannot prohibit the media from publishing any material, unless, of course, it violates any of the limitations noted above.

    As with freedom of speech, there are some limits on freedom of the press. For example, reporters sometimes rely on confidential sources to give them information about what is going on inside the government or a business. There are, however, laws that prohibit leaking certain kinds of information to the press. A reporter who publishes information that has been leaked in violation of the law can be forced to attend a hearing or investigation and required to identify their source.

    In the past, reporters have spent time in jail rather than disclose their sources to law enforcement. This is an ongoing area of conflict between the government and the media.

    Freedom Of Speech Does Not Include The Right:

    Does The United States Have A Free Speech Problem?
    • To incite imminent lawless action.Brandenburg v. Ohio, 395 U.S. 444 .
    • To make or distribute obscene materials.Roth v. United States, 354 U.S. 476 .
    • To burn draft cards as an anti-war protest.United States v. OBrien, 391 U.S. 367 .
    • To permit students to print articles in a school newspaper over the objections of the school administration. Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier, 484 U.S. 260 .
    • Of students to make an obscene speech at a school-sponsored event.Bethel School District #43 v. Fraser, 478 U.S. 675 .
    • Of students to advocate illegal drug use at a school-sponsored event.Morse v. Frederick, __ U.S. __ .

    Disclaimer: These resources are created by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts for use in educational activities only. They may not reflect the current state of the law, and are not intended to provide legal advice, guidance on litigation, or commentary on legislation.

    DISCLAIMER: These resources are created by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts for educational purposes only. They may not reflect the current state of the law, and are not intended to provide legal advice, guidance on litigation, or commentary on any pending case or legislation.

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