Freedom of Speech

By: Grant Taylor

What is it?

  • Freedom of speech is located in the 1st amendment of the Bill of Rights.
  • The Freedom of speech along with Freedom of Assembly, Freedom of Press, and freedom of Religion make up what we call Freedom of Expression.
  • Freedom of Speech gives a citizen protection to have and voice their own opinion about anything they so choose to. (Voice can be verbally and non-verbally)

What Freedom of Speech Does Not Protect

The ability to speak in such a way that would be harmful to people
  • Ex: You cannot shout "FIRE!" in a theater when there is no fire.

The ability to make or spread obscene material. (Pictures, Videos, Speeches... etc..)

  • Ex: Roth vs. U.S.

To burn draft cards for an anti-war protest

  • Ex: U.S. vs. O'Brien

Foundation of Democracy

The Freedom of Speech is the basic building unit for the U.S. Bill of Rights.
  • Without Free Speech we might as well give up all our other rights.
  • We wouldn't be able to protest peacefully.
  • We wouldn't be able to make art, comics, or music criticizing the govt.
  • We might as well include that our votes would mean nothing.
  • So, Freedom of Speech is crucial for us to remain "free" and with "power" as said within the constitution.

Examples of Court Cases About Freedom of Speech

Roth vs. U.S. (1957)

A case hearing that accused Roth of violating the federal Obscenity statute. Roth had been mailing Pornography for advertising purposes. Roth's case was combined with Alberts vs. California.

  • The ruling was 6 to 3 and was deemed unconstitutional. Therefore any obscene material is still not protected under the constitution.

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U.S. vs. O'Brien

David O'Brien burned his draft card at a Boston courthouse to protest against the Vietnam War, and the Draft. He was convicted and was brought to trial to decide whether or not that O'Brien was just expressing his Freedom of Speech.

  • The ruling turned out to be 7 to 1, and it was decided that O'Brien was not expressing his freedom of speech, but destroying government property. It also had been told that O'Brien's Draft card was in need of urgency or a need from the government which also made it illegal to burn because it was sufficient, or needed for the good of the government.

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As you can see, Freedom of Speech is important in order for our rights to actually work and remain ours. With out Freedom of speech, there would be no First amendment, no Second amendment, no Bill of rights, no constitution, and no United States. Freedom of Speech must be protected for every American.