Freedom of Speech

When the First Amendment was adopted in 1791, the nation's greatest legal minds couldn't have imagined the many and varied ways freedom of speech would be interpreted. Over the years. the Supreme Court has had to balance the interests of the government with society's interest in free and open discourse on important issues. 

What the First Amendment Says

"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."

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​Historical Background

Free Speech Legal Doctrines

When Can the Government Regulate Free Speech?

Defamation and False Statements

Freedom of Speech for Corporations

Freedom of Speech in Campaign Finance and the Electoral Process

First Amendment Limits: Child Pornography

First Amendment Limits: Fighting Words, Hostile Audiences, and True Threats

First Amendment Limits: Obscenity

Free Speech Rights of Prisoners

Free Speech Rights of Students

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