What is the meaning of ‘Free Speech’?
One of the things that the First Amendment protects for all American Citizens, is the protection of Freedom of Speech. Although what exactly defines ‘protected speech‘ has been debated over for quite some time. Even the Supreme Court has had issues determining what exactly constitutes protected speech. Below, we break down some samples or examples of speech, whether it be in spoken word format or actually acted out, that the SCOTUS has determining to be either included as ‘free speech’ or not. Check this out :
The part of the First Amendment that we are concerning ourselves with right now is the statement “Congress shall make no law…abridging freedom of speech.“
According to the Supreme Court of The United States, your Freedom of Speech INCLUDES the right :
- Not to speak (specifically, the right not to salute the flag).
West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624 (1943).
- Of students to wear black armbands to school to protest a war (“Students do not shed their constitutional rights at the schoolhouse gate.”).
Tinker v. Des Moines, 393 U.S. 503 (1969).
- To use certain offensive words and phrases to convey political messages.
Cohen v. California, 403 U.S. 15 (1971).
- To contribute money (under certain circumstances) to political campaigns.
Buckley v. Valeo, 424 U.S. 1 (1976).
- To advertise commercial products and professional services (with some restrictions).
Virginia Board of Pharmacy v. Virginia Consumer Council, 425 U.S. 748 (1976); Bates v. State Bar of Arizona, 433 U.S. 350 (1977).
- To engage in symbolic speech, (e.g., burning the flag in protest).
Texas v. Johnson, 491 U.S. 397 (1989); United States v. Eichman, 496 U.S. 310 (1990).
According to SCOTUS, Freedom of Speech does NOT include the following rights :
- To incite actions that would harm others (e.g., “[S]hout[ing] ‘fire’ in a crowded theater.”).
Schenck v. United States, 249 U.S. 47 (1919).
- To make or distribute obscene materials.
Roth v. United States, 354 U.S. 476 (1957).
- To burn draft cards as an anti-war protest.
United States v. O’Brien, 391 U.S. 367 (1968).
- 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 (1988).
- Of students to make an obscene speech at a school-sponsored event.
Bethel School District #43 v. Fraser, 478 U.S. 675 (1986).
- Of students to advocate illegal drug use at a school-sponsored event.
Morse v. Frederick, __ U.S. __ (2007).
Do you believe your right to Free Speech has even been violated? COMMENT BELOW