Why Allow Dissent? “That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”
THE 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.
Symbolic Speech • Conduct is protected by the First Amendment, as “Symbolic Speech” if: • The conduct is intended to convey a particular message, AND • It is likely that the message was understood by those who witnessed the conduct.
Obscenity • Anything that treats sex in an offensive or lewd manner, exceeds recognized standards of decency, and lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value.
Obscenity • Courts ask three questions when deciding whether something is “obscene”: • Would the average person, applying contemporary community standards find that the material, taken as a whole, appeals to prurient interests. • Does the work depict or describe, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically outlawed by state law? • Does the work, taken as a whole, lack serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value?
Fighting Words • Expression which, when addressed to an individual, in a face to face situation, are likely to cause an immediate breach of the peace. • “An invitation to exchange fisticuffs.” Texas v. Johnson.
Questions • Is burning a flag as part of a flag retirement ceremony symbolic speech? • Is it intended to convey a particular message? • Is that message likely to be understood? • Is burning a flag in protest symbolic speech? • Is it intended to convey a particular message? • Is that message likely to be understood?
“We can imagine no more appropriate response to burning a flag than waving one's own, no better way to counter a flag burner's message than by saluting the flag that burns, no surer means of preserving the dignity even of the flag that burned than by--as one witness here did--according its remains a respectful burial. We do not consecrate the flag by punishing its desecration, for in doing so we dilute the freedom that this cherished emblem represents.” Justice Brennan, writing for the Supreme Court in Texas v. Johnson.
Article V. (The Amendment Process) The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress; Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article; and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.