Free Speech: Some First Amendment Landmarks

By Montgomery, Leigh | The Christian Science Monitor, October 2, 2010 | Go to article overview

Free Speech: Some First Amendment Landmarks


Montgomery, Leigh, The Christian Science Monitor


The First Amendment right to free speech is the most widely understood US constitutional provision.

The First Amendment guarantees of free speech, press, religion, and assembly may be the constitutional provision most widely understood by Americans. Adopted in 1791 as part of the Bill of Rights, it reads:

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.First Amendment protections have been subject to challenges, particularly in regard to hate speech, wartime security, and the practice of religion as it intersects with the state.

Some landmarks in these areas include:

NATIONAL SECURITY

1798: The Alien and Sedition Act made it a crime to disparage or ridicule government officials with the intent to undercut public support for the government. 1918: The Sedition Act made it illegal to criticize the government or the US effort in World War I. 1950s: The general trend toward widening First Amendment rights hit serious shoals in this period when US-Soviet tensions were running high. The "Red Scare" - fears of the spread of Communism in the United States - propelled Sen. Joseph McCarthy's notorious House Committee on Un- American Activities to identify and designate various loyalties and organizations as subversive.1971: The Supreme Court upheld the publication of the Pentagon Papers (a top-secret Defense Department report on Vietnam), ruling that prior restraints against speech or publication violate the First Amendment except in instances where the government can show an imminent threat to national security.

POLITICAL SPEECH

1969: The Supreme Court ruled that it was a violation of the First Amendment for an Iowa school district to suspend high school students for wearing black armbands with peace symbols.1969: The First Amendment protects speech advocating criminal activity and even the overthrow of the government, the Supreme Court ruled in a case reversing the conviction of a Ku Klux Klan leader in Ohio. In contrast, the court said incitement to imminent lawless action by a speaker is not protected free speech.1978: The right of a neo-Nazi group to march through Skokie, Ill., a largely Jewish community, was upheld by a federal appeals court. While hurtful, the threatened march - which never actually happened - was deemed a protected expression.1989: On free speech grounds, the Supreme Court upheld the right to burn or desecrate the American flag for protest. The court said government may not prohibit the verbal or nonverbal expression of an idea merely because society finds the idea offensive or disagreeable.2010: The Supreme Court invalidated a portion of a federal campaign finance law that made it illegal for corporations and labor unions to spend money to influence federal elections. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Free Speech: Some First Amendment Landmarks
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.