The first amendment
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The First Amendment. Introducing Civil Liberties. First Amendment. 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,

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The First Amendment

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The first amendment

The First Amendment

Introducing Civil Liberties


First amendment

First Amendment

  • 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.


Who decides how far our rights go

Who Decides How Far Our Rights Go?

  • The Federal Courts decide (including Supreme).

  • The Balance Test

People’s Rights

Govt. Interest


Common misconceptions

Common Misconceptions

  • Our freedoms are NOT UNLIMITED.

  • Limits usually arise when safety, order, or others’ rights are jeopardized.

  • Rule of Thumb: You have the right to express yourself in many ways unless others are offended or put in harm’s way.


Freedom of speech

Freedom of Speech

  • 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.

  • The freedom of speech does not limit expression to only verbal communication. Non verbal expression is also protected and restricted.


Restrictions to free speech

Restrictions to Free Speech

The freedom of speech is very broad, but there are some restrictions on the content expressed.

  • Defamation of Character

  • Obscenity

  • Fighting Words

  • Subversive Speech


Restrictions to free speech defamation of character

Restrictions to Free Speech: Defamation of Character

  • Defamation: An act of communication that causes someone to be shamed, ridiculed, held in contempt, lowered in the estimation of the community, or to lose employment status or earnings or otherwise suffer a damaged reputation.

  • Defamation is found in two forms:

    • Slander: spoken lies

    • Libel: written lies (pertains to press and…..)


Restrictions to free speech obscenity

Restrictions to Free Speech: Obscenity

  • For something to be "obscene" it must be shown that the average person, applying contemporary community standards and viewing the material as a whole, would find (1) that the work appeals predominantly to "prurient" interest (in the interest of sex); (2) that it depicts or describes sexual conduct in a patently offensive way; and (3) that it lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value.

  • The main problem with obscenity is the VAGUE nature of its criteria.


Restrictions to free speech fighting words

Restrictions to Free Speech: Fighting Words

  • Fighting Words: words intentionally directed toward another person which are so venomous and full of malice as to cause the hearer to suffer emotional distress or incite him/her to immediately retaliate physically.

  • The use of fighting words is not protected by the free speech protections of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.


Restrictions to free speech subversive speech

Restrictions to Free Speech:Subversive Speech

  • Subversive: Expression that threatens the security of the United States

  • Examples: resisting the draft during wartime, threatening public officials, and joining political organizations aimed at overthrowing the U.S. government.

  • Schenck v. United States

  • Brandenburg v. Ohio


Other types of speech

Other Types of Speech:

  • Expression can be in a non-verbal form.

  • Symbolic Speech: Expression that may use actions, symbols, signs, or inaction.

    Examples:

  • Texas v Johnson (1989)

    • Flag burning to protest Ronald Reagan in 1984

  • Tinker v Des Moines (1969)

    • Armbands in school to protest the Vietnam War


Freedom of press

Freedom of Press

  • Freedom of Press: the right to publish newspapers, magazines, books, etc. without government interference or prior censorship

  • 33% of the world’s countries do not have free press

  • A close relative of free speech

    • Similar restrictions:

      • Defamation (Libel)

      • Obscenity

      • Sedition (against the government)


Freedom of the press hazelwood v kuhlmeier

Freedom of the Press: Hazelwood v Kuhlmeier

  • The principal at Hazelwood School District deleted 2 pages of edition of the school newspaper before publishing.

  • He felt as though the articles on teen pregnancy and divorce:

    • Did not keep the students' identity secret

    • Should not have discussed girls’ use or non-use of birth control based on younger student audiences

    • Did not fairly represent a father in a divorce


Freedom of press hazelwood v kuhlmeier

Freedom of Press:Hazelwood v Kuhlmeier

  • In a split 5-3 decision, the Court ruled that the principal did have the constitutional grounds to censor the school newspaper

  • The paper itself was not a "forum for public expression" but was rather a "regular classroom activity."

  • Schools can censor material that is:

    • "ungrammatical, poorly written, inadequately researched, biased or prejudiced, vulgar or profane, or unsuitable for immature audiences."


Freedom of religion

Freedom of Religion

  • Congress shall make no lawrespecting 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.

  • Two clauses:

    • Establishment Clause

    • Free Exercise Clause


Freedom of religion1

Freedom of Religion

  • ESTABLISHMENT CLAUSE

    • The government cannot establish a national religion nor promote any one religion over another.

  • FREE EXERCISE CLAUSE

    • The government cannot restrict someone from worshipping any religion they choose.


Freedom of religion establishment

Freedom of Religion: Establishment

  • The establishment clause is referred to as

    “the wall of separation between church and state”. (Thomas Jefferson)

  • DESPITE the following:

    • Religious sects are tax exempt

    • Chaplains serve in all military branches

    • Oaths of office “under God”

    • Congress opens with prayer

    • Pledge of Allegiance

    • Currency


Freedom of religion education

Freedom of Religion: Education

  • Most establishment clause cases involve schools, because public schools are funded by taxes and occasionally restrict/encourage religious activities. (state/church)

  • Controversy:

    • Prayer in School

    • Student Religious Groups

    • Teaching Evolution

    • Aid to parochial schools

    • Seasonal displays


Freedom of religion religion and education

Freedom of Religion: Religion and Education

  • Engel v. Vitale,(1962) - Court finds NY school prayer unconstitutional.

  • Abington School District , PA v. Schempp,(1963) - Court finds Bible reading over school intercom unconstitutional

  • Wallace v Jaffree, (1985)“ moment of silence” law ruled unconstitutional a one-minute period of silence for “meditation or prayer” every day

  • Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe,(2000) - Court rules that student-led prayers at public school football games violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.


Deciding freedom of religion lemon test

Deciding Freedom of Religion: Lemon Test

  • Based on the case (Lemon v Kurtzman, 1971) involving public money provided to parochial schools for teacher’s salaries and materials, a test was provided by the courts.

    The Lemon Test says public aid must:

    • be secular, or non-religious

    • not promote nor hinder religion

    • not create an excessive entanglement between government and religion.


Freedom of religion free exercise

Freedom of Religion: Free Exercise

  • No law and no government action can violate this absolute constitutional right.

  • Examples

    • A state can not force Amish to attend school beyond the 8th grade.

    • A religious official can not be refused the right to run for public office.

    • A school can not force a student to pledge the flag if it conflicts with their religious beliefs.


Freedom of assembly

Freedom of Assembly

  • The First Amendment 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.


Freedom of assembly1

Freedom of Assembly

  • Assembly, like the other five freedoms, was intended to protect unpopular expression.

  • The right to show power in numbers can be an effective tactic to creating change.

  • Limits on assembly usually include time, place, and manner (behavior) of the assembly.

  • Most municipalities have permit requirements for organized assemblies.


Notable assemblies

Notable Assemblies

  • Marches for civil rights

    • Birmingham

    • Selma

    • March on Washington

    • Inaugural March (women suffrage)

  • Groups that have successfully used assembly

    • Hate groups

    • Women

    • Veterans

    • Gay Rights Advocates


  • Freedom of petition

    Freedom of Petition

    • 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.


    Freedom of petition1

    Freedom of Petition

    • The Supreme Court has ruled that the right to petition the government includes the right to do such things as picket, mail letters, sign petitions, publish materials or use other types of communication to get a message across to the government.

    • It is also generally combined with the right to free speech and the right of assembly to ensure that people can form groups or associations to get their messages across.


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